The Security Operations Centre (SOC) is a team of information security experts that are responsible for the monitoring, detection, analysis, prevention and response to security incidents. A managed Security Operations Centre usually provides consultancy, service design and support to organisations that require external expertise to protect them from security threats.
Besides responding to intrusions, the SOC also monitors networks for unusual activity such as traffic patterns, user behaviour or changes in access restrictions. If something appears suspicious, the SOC then investigates it by going through logs and configuration files on computers and servers to find out what occurred.
The SOC can be considered similar to a central nervous system for the network, as the department is in charge of continuously monitoring the systems and providing analysis to detect and prevent cyber security incidents. The aim is to act before an incident occurs but should be equipped to recover from an incident composed of a new threat.
The SOC must quickly identify problems and ascertain their severity, as well as provide solutions to prevent attacks and stop any current threats.
How a Security Operations Centre Works
A SOC provides critical security intelligence so that teams can quickly respond to cyber incidents. SOCs collect, correlate and analyse data from all of the different computers and networks in the organisation. This includes real-time monitoring, detection and response to vulnerability assessments, intrusion detection, malware analysis and prevention, network forensics as well as maintenance and troubleshooting.
SOCs are most often run by a dedicated member of the security team who works 24/7 to monitor activity across multiple systems and network segments. The SOC member develops reports using information gleaned from logs to track attacks. The information provided by the SOC can be used to prioritise response efforts, to determine the most critical vulnerabilities in the environment, and to get a quick assessment of the overall security posture.
The SOC has access to all of the different security components on the network, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), application firewalls, load balancers and web proxies. The SOC member can combine these disparate pieces of intelligence into one cohesive picture of what is happening in an environment. Furthermore, the SOC member can use this information to quickly evaluate all aspects of the environment, including anomalies in traffic and data, new vulnerability assessments, unusual behavior for known malware tools and scripts, unusual web application activity, penetration testing results and other events.
SOCs are not a replacement for traditional security teams; rather they provide them with a critical layer to cover gaps that security teams cannot directly address.
Why a SOC is so Important for a Business
Security is a big deal. If you’re not fending off the bad guys, your company could suffer a massive loss of data or other confidential information. And that’s why Security Operations Centres are so important – they help big companies monitor their security and keep themselves protected from hackers around the clock, every single day.
In the old days, companies would just have someone at a desk watching for any potential threats. But that’s just not good enough anymore. As companies have grown and processes (and even their own security systems) have become more complicated, they’ve found that keeping tabs on everything can be a mammoth task.
Brute force attacks on corporate networks are becoming increasingly common. They can cost a lot of money, and as an attacker tries to crack a single corporate network’s defences, it becomes clear that spending money on hiring humans is essentially worthless when it comes to ascertaining the real threat level. What’s needed is high-tech monitoring of the security systems themselves. What started as a simple idea for Security Operations Centres has now evolved into a massive industry that relies on highly trained professionals who keep an eye on everything at once, ensuring that corporate data is safe and sound.
Key Benefits of a SOC
Needless to say, having a SOC comes with a long list of benefits for a business. Here are some of them:
- A security operations centre allows companies to gather pertinent data in one central location.
- A security operations centre improves the ability of companies to respond quickly and decisively to emerging threats.
- Companies that invest in a security operations centre are more likely to comply with regulations governing cybersecurity.
- Companies with a security operations centre enjoy easier collaboration with law enforcement.
- A security operations centre allows companies to detect intrusions and attacks more quickly and minimise the impact.
- A security operations centre allows companies to better train their employees on cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them.
- A security operations centre improves the ability of companies to monitor the activity of authorised users within their systems, significantly reducing insider threats.
- Having a security operations centre improves the ability of companies to monitor, respond to, and report on cyber threats.
- Having a security operations centre allows companies to centralise monitoring, reducing the amount of time for reporting an incident and allowing for faster resolution.
- A security operations centre allows companies to provide better service to their customers by meeting industry standards and government regulations.
- A security operations centre allows companies to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with cybersecurity threats.
- Companies that invest in a security operations centre are less likely to be targeted by cybercriminals.
- A security operations centre allows companies to comply with industry standards for best practices of cybersecurity.
- Investment in a security operations centre allows companies to be proactive and report on their risk management measures, improving their reputation among both customers and shareholders.
- Security operations centres allow companies to avoid fines and lawsuits resulting from data breaches.
What are Security Operations Centres’ Biggest Challenges?
Tracking threats and minimising their impact on the enterprise is an ongoing challenge for companies, but it’s a challenge that has been made easier with the evolution of technology. Security operations centres are mission-critical to information security. They are responsible for monitoring, assessing and protecting IT assets.
That responsibility takes significant planning and knowledge of both IT infrastructure and cyber security principles to successfully execute. An ever-growing network population, ageing equipment, vast attack surface and shrinking budgets adds complexity to their job.
To overcome these challenges, security operations centres should embrace innovation and automation to centralise their data. This means moving away from disparate, siloed information to a centralised platform where their data is accessible and shareable. This move can be especially important for companies with physical security operations centres (SOCs), as they have the greatest need for visibility and greater means to defend against physical threats.
The Future of SOCs
In a world where cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, Security Operations Centres need to be able to adapt and evolve quickly in order to stay ahead of the game. This means that they need to have the resources and support of their company’s IT department, as well as having the tools available for security teams to be successful. The future of SOCs will be on the move, responding to threats in real-time, with the help of automation and machine learning. However, they will never be able to replace skilled and dedicated security professionals, who have difficult jobs to do.