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What Is a Security Operation Center?

A security operation center (SOC) is a hub of experts, processes, and monitoring tools that protect the safety and security of an organization. Most importantly, a SOC is responsible for preventing, catching, analyzing, and responding to security threats, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. In the modern world, a SOC looks less like a room filled with analysts and more like advanced security monitoring technology that is supported and overseen by experts.

A SOC isn’t a 9-5 function, either; with most cyber threats happening at night, on the weekends, or during the holidays, the SOC programs and teams must be alert and running 24x7x365. Without the protection of a security operation center, businesses leave their networks, applications, devices, and other assets at high risk of data breaches and other fraudulent activities.

If your business needs better protection and you’re looking for the most secure option out there, a dedicated SOC team is a great solution. This article will review just what a SOC does and what it’s responsible for, as well as what your business needs to look for in a reliable security service.

What Do Security Operation Centers Do?

The goal of a SOC is to protect businesses and organizations from fraud and crime that targets data and devices, which is largely done by anticipating what that business or organization cannot anticipate for itself. Carefully and actively monitoring networks, applications, databases, cloud services, endpoints, and other targeted data hubs is what SOCs do best. By doing so, cybersecurity teams can ensure the following benefits for an organization.

  • Faster response times. Speed is a critical component when it comes to combatting cybersecurity threats—a hacker only needs seconds to exploit an organization’s weakness, and the faster SOCs detect an issue or vulnerability, the safer the data and privacy. With the right systems in place, SOC solutions have a real-time perspective over the entire network of business operations, even ones with hundreds of devices and cloud-based resources.
  • Protected consumer and customer trust. If an organization’s private information is breached and used by criminals, that organization is no longer as reputable in the business world, which turns away partners, customers, and other stakeholders. SOCs protect a company’s brand reputation and prevent operational disruptions from a cyber breach, which feeds into customer trust and industry credibility.
  • Minimized costs. Setting up the proper barricades and defenses against cybersecurity threats is far less expensive than dealing with a security leak. Corrupt data or loss of customers due to poor protection will have a lasting financial impact. Plus, the right security company will optimize your budget and use only the most efficient tools rather than overspending unnecessarily.

These primary priorities of a SOC are most important for midsize organizations and larger—though small businesses deal with more localized risks, larger businesses are the main target of high-level security threats. Some of the most notable ways that security operation centers protect these organizations include the following topics.

  • 24x7x365 surveillance is key. It’s not enough to be active during business hours; instead, SOCs run constantly, especially because there are greater, more strategic threats that come during off-time. This surveillance includes monitoring hardware, software, networks, endpoints, and any other potential vulnerability.
  • Expertise and well-seasoned professionals are a part of the security package. A business or organization has enough to worry about that the SOC team should be able to handle threats while keeping others informed. This includes related third-party vendors and other related communication.
  • Maintaining applications by installing, updating, and troubleshooting issues is another responsibility.
  • SOCs should regularly monitor and oversee firewall and intrusion prevention systems.
  • Anything that goes in or out of a digital source, like email, video, and voice traffic, is a potential medium for viruses, malware, or other threats, which should be monitored.
  • SOCs also verify patching and ensure other coding procedures are secure and whitelisted.

The Key Functions of a Security Operations Center

We’ve discussed some of the work a SOC does, but let’s go over some of the specific roles a company can expect the security team to perform. Here’s what you can expect from the team.

Take Stock of Available Resources

SOCs are responsible for the assets of the company, such as IoT devices, networks, applications, and even processes that are vulnerable to hackers and viruses. They are also in charge of managing and understanding the resources, tools, and systems that keep other assets safe—and need to be functioning themselves.

Such defensive tools and systems provide security experts with greater visibility over a company’s assets. Essentially, a SOC cannot monitor or protect devices or data that they cannot see or do not have access to, which means understanding the threat landscape, potential blindspots, hardware on and off company premises, and other services from outside sources that interact with internal resources. A reliable SOC will have the tools to handle a company’s digital assets at scale and the experts who know how to run those tools correctly.

Preparation and Preventative Maintenance

The best way to protect a business and its data is to prevent a threat from occurring at all. Remediation is a much more complicated process that cannot usually be completely undone, so preventative measures should be the priority.

Being prepared means SOC professionals need to be fully equipped with the right systems while staying up to date with the latest technology, threats, and innovations in the cybersecurity world. This should give the security team not just a better perspective, but also the means to create a well-rounded and in-depth strategy for all levels of your business. Knowing the information most at-risk of being targeted, what you’re protecting, (like confidential data or consumer information), how local or global your networks are, how involved the cloud is, etc. will all affect how a team prepares both systems and people.

Another element of preparedness is the preventative maintenance that goes into security systems and tools. A system or application that isn’t updated has cracks in its security. Same with firewalls—being up to date is an essential part of its effectiveness. This also includes patching, whitelisting applications, and more.

Proactive Monitoring

Waiting for bad news isn’t the best strategy—instead, SOC security should be proactively analyzing and anticipating potential threats using innovative monitoring tools and techniques. This includes flagging abnormalities or suspicious activities near real-time to have the best chance of stopping a threat before it forms. Programs like ThreatWatch® Hunt that use AI and machine learning can catch threats in the earliest stages with both speed and accuracy so that every endpoint is secure, which empowers SOCs and companies with the best monitoring practices and resources.

Alert Ranking and Management

Deciding what threats are legitimate and how to act on those threats that come via alerts is an important job that calls for skills, experience, and competence. With the advanced methods of hacking and sophistication of malware, there are seemingly endless threats against the company, and realistically, members of that company don’t have the time to assess every single one. That’s why a SOC security team analyzes each one and determines the best course of action depending on the aggressiveness of each. This reduces the number of false positives and false negatives that otherwise bog down communication, stifle accuracy and flow, and increase unnecessary noise.

Log Management

Monitoring the feeds of networks, endpoints, firewalls, applications, and other data sources also comes with a need for analysis. SOCs are constantly collecting, maintaining, and reviewing the log of all relevant activity and communications that may pose some threat. It’s essential to have a baseline to reference so that when there are abnormalities or spikes in the network activity, security teams are prepared to catch and assess them.

Investigation

Should an issue occur, it’s also a SOC’s responsibility to discover the root cause of the issue to repair the current weakness and prevent future failures. This also provides opportunities to refine procedures, update systems, and find general ways of improving a current strategy. If it happens once, there are no reasons it should be able to happen again.

Compliance

A security operations center has logical and knowledgeable strategies to protect businesses, but there are also usually some form of regulations, either from their own policies, based on industry standards, or ensured by government bodies, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. Staying compliant by completing audits and adjusting practices is better for all businesses, and most importantly, safeguards a company’s data.

Recovery and Remediation

Should a threat break through and compromise some type of data, software, network, etc., the SOC will usually assist in recovering systems and restoring order, adding better protective measures, and recovering any lost or infected data. This could be reconfiguring those systems, restarting endpoints, and even deploying backups if necessary.

The Different Roles in a Security Operation Center

A security operation center is made up of analysts and engineers that are trained to monitor and manage security threats while also understanding the infrastructure of a company. Perhaps most importantly, these skilled experts know how to use advanced security tools that can prevent, detect, and remediate threats better than they themselves can.

Engineers are mostly responsible for designing and implementing security architecture while an analyst takes on a more supportive role and helps maintain and monitor that architecture. Like any organization, SOCs need both specialists and leaders that perform well under pressure. The basic roles that come with SOC solutions include:

  • Junior security analyst: A junior security analyst, also sometimes called an operator, is responsible for regularly monitoring security tools and applications for threats, such as intrusion detection system (IDS) applications, security information and event monitoring (SIEM) applications, and any other flagged cybersecurity threat.
  • Senior security analyst: Like the junior analyst, the senior security analyst handles most security tools and threats, though they take on more unique or challenging issues that arise, especially if something does go wrong. They typically lead out on incident response activities.
  • Threat hunter: It’s great when a SOC is notified of an issue, but it’s also important to proactively search for issues. The threat hunter takes on the role of actively pursuing potential threats via analytics and testing skills. Modern SOCs use a dedicated service like ThreatWatch® Hunt, which can scan and sweep network devices using a Big Data Analytics Engine that detects both known and unknown threats, especially when human skills fall short.
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) manager: When a business hires a SOC, it needs a trustworthy team that can troubleshoot threats, including via threat intelligence feeds. A CTI manager or Threat Recon Unit helps strategize beyond security and considers the specific business factors and industry-relevant threats of an organization.
  • Manager: Even the best professionals need direction and guidance, especially during a situation that can easily devolve into a crisis. A manager is responsible for hiring and training, ensuring the quality of work, evaluating the performance of others, and managing the technology being used.

Security On-Demand’s Security Operation Center

Protecting your organization, its data, and integrity is no longer a privilege, but a necessity as privacy and security are threatened in an increasingly digital world. It’s also not enough to rely on human expertise alone—criminals are smarter and more resourceful than ever before, as are the risks posed to organizations via the cloud and the internet. This means security operation center teams need to be just as equipped with cutting-edge technology that can keep up with the aggressive and technology-driven threats of modern data breaches.

That’s where Security On-Demand services come in. Not only do we have top-notch security experts, but more importantly, those experts are armed with tools like our market-leading platform ThreatWatch® Hunt, a powerful and innovative system that detects threats in near real-time and enables security teams to prevent, discover, and manage security breaches faster than ever. With honed and efficient teams, our security force is designed to analyze large volumes of data that are being attacked from every angle.

Our security operations center doesn’t do this with massive and inefficient teams that add to the noise and jack up your security costs, but with a system that no human can outperform—not even ill-intended hackers. You can expect:

  • 24×7 managed threat detection and analytics (MDR + Threat Analytics)
  • Fewer false positives
  • Strategic dashboards and custom reports
  • Implemented threat intelligence and threat advisory reports
  • Executive reports
  • And so much more

If you’re ready to bolster your strategy and hand over the stress of cybersecurity, trust Security On-Demand—but you don’t have to trust us blindly. Schedule a demo today and see for yourself the ease, power, and protection our highly advanced systems have to offer.

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