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What Is a SOC and How Do SOC Teams Work?

Vishal Padghan
Published: December 23, 2022

With the growing complexity of IT environments, it is essential to have robust security processes that can safeguard IT environments from cyber threats. This blog will explore how security operation centers (SOCs) help you monitor, identify and prevent cyber and operational threats to safeguard your IT environments.

What Is a Security Operation Center (SOC)?

A security operations center (SOC), pronounced ‘sock,’ is a team made of security experts that provide situational awareness and management of threats. A SOC looks after the entire security process of a business. It acts as a bridge that collects data from different  IT assets like infrastructure, networks, cloud services, and devices. This data helps monitor and analyze future threats and then take steps to prevent or respond to them.

  • Management: Oversee management of security processes, including updates and patching work. 
  • Monitoring: Monitor event logs, systems, and infrastructure for suspicious activities. 
  • Incident Analysis and Response: Track, route, manage and respond to threats or incidents. 
  • Recovery: Recover lost data, analyze compromised resources, address vulnerabilities, and prepare for future incidents or threats.

SOCs were more of physical centers in the past, a place where security professionals could gather in person and work. Recently, there has been a rise in the use of cloud-based platforms. With more and more people working remotely, SOC has become more of a function than a physical center.

Roles and Responsibilities of SOC Teams

SOC Managers 

They oversee the SOC team. They are responsible for the assessment and review of incident and compliance reports. Furthermore, they communicate SOC activities to other business leaders, stakeholders, and audit and compliance heads. This role demands strong people management and crisis management skills. 

Security Analysts 

They are responsible for monitoring, threat detection, analysis, and investigation. They often work in the background, identifying unknown vulnerabilities and reviewing past threats and product vulnerabilities. Furthermore, they also suggest new practices or changes needed for process improvement. 

Threat Responders 

They are responsible for activities associated with threat and incident response. They configure, monitor, and use security tools to identify and mitigate threats and are also responsible for alerting, triaging, and classifying threats. After resolution, the information is handed over to the security investigator. 

Security Investigators 

They identify the affected areas and also investigate what processes are running or terminated. They dive deeper to track sources of attack and carry out lateral movement analysis. Likewise, they craft and carry out mitigation strategies.

SOC Tools

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools: These solutions or tools offer real-time event monitoring, analysis, and alerts. They help with data aggregation, threat intelligence, correlation, compliance, and alerting capabilities. 

Intrusion Detection Tools: These tools are used by security experts for detecting an attack or a threat in its initial phases. 

Endpoint Detection and Response: These tools offer more visibility into threats and give security professionals more containment options. 

Asset Directory: These offer data and insight on systems and tools that operate in your environment. 

Cloud-based Tools: These tools collect data from third-party services, cloud vendors, or social media platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft 365, Google Cloud Platform, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and perform data analysis. 

Mobile Data Acquisition Tools: These devices acquire data from mobile devices which can be used for analysis. 

Log Collection and Aggregation: They help collect log-related data and offer insights into log availability and retention for improved analysis. 

Threat Intelligence Platforms: These tools collect and aggregate information from internal and external sources for investigation.

Pros and Cons of SOC Outsourcing

An organization can build and manage its security operations in two ways: it can either do it in-house or outsource it to a third party. Whether to do this in-house or outsource it is critical to any business. Numerous organizations benefit from outsourced IT security consultation services, especially given the complex nature of modern-day IT environments. Here are some pros and cons associated with SOC outsourcing.

Pros of SOC outsourcingCons of SOC outsourcing
The cost of setting up SOCs is high. It is easier to budget and manage costs when SOC tasks are outsourced.Since you store data outside the organization’s perimeter at the outsourced SOC, your data can be at risk if the outsourced SOC is under threat.
You can get immediate access to a pool of cybersecurity experts at competitive pricing and investment.With multiple clients and their different requirements, it is difficult for an outsourced SOC to provide a dedicated IT security team and can rely on resources from clients.
Complex IT environments are difficult and expensive to scale in-house. You can get a better return on investment when outsourced.There can be compatibility and reversibility problems, given the outsourced SOCs will have limitations in customization.
Outsourcing also offers access to threat intelligence and multiple threat research databases that are up-to-date for information exchange and better threat prevention.External SOCs serve a number of enterprise-grade clients that could limit their knowledge of the organization’s specific business requirements, or they may not align with your business needs as you want them to.
Outsourced SOC helps minimize conflicts across the organization’s departments.With tiered pricing and service levels, your pricing may increase with the growing complexity of your requirements.

Conclusion 

It is essential to have SOCs for efficient threat monitoring, detection, and response capabilities. SOCs play a vital role in identifying, protecting, and remediating dangers such as data breaches, insider threats, and other forms of incidents and cyber threats.

Source: dzone.com