What's a Security Operations Center (and why do you need it)?

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5 min read

Digitalization brings many advantages with it, but the flexibility that it offers companies to do their business, communicate, and develop ideas without borders, has also attracted an increased number of cyber threats. But fear not: pro-active cyber security is here to save the day.

Content: 

  1. Why do you need a Security Operations Center?
  2. What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
  3. How can you operate a Security Operations Center?

Why do you need a Security Operations Center?

Cyber attacks on companies and organizations are rising exponentially. Research by Check Point Software (via Forbes) found that across all industries, the average of weekly attacks per organization has increased in 2021, with some industries seeing an increase of more than 60% (e.g., education / research, healthcare, consulting, insurance, etc.).

According to a study by Positive Technologies, quoted by Forbes, attackers take two days to penetrate a company's internal network on average, mainly due to credential compromise in 71% of cases.

It's nearly unbelievable to write this in 2022, but weak passwords, the same password for multiple platforms, as well as phishing attacks are still the main culprits resulting in successful cyber attacks. It is therefore crucial to not only train employees but also protect them from harmful communication, e.g., phishing emails, text messages, or chat messages to reduce any risks.

A study by ThoughtLab asked roughly 1,200 large organizations across different industries and countries about their cyber security strategies and found that most organizations struggle with the complexity of supply chains, the digital innovation speed, lack of budgets and executive support as well as the convergence of digital and physical assets.

In short: the infrastructure of any company has become more and more complex which demands stronger but also more flexible security solutions as well as continuous training and education to avoid human errors.

Additionally, the number of regulations and compliance requirements is equally increasing due to the globalization of almost all communication and business. Most SOCs do cover these topics as well since they are closely tied to data security measurements, transparency and control over all sensitive data within a company.

Obviously, companies and organizations need a solution that is just as complex as their infrastructure and needs to protect the assets quicker, in a more innovative and smarter way than the technologies used for cyber attacks. Enter the Security Operations Center (SOC).


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What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

An SOC is the combination of a team of IT security experts that is responsible for the security of a company's infrastructure as well as the facility (technology & processes) set up to

"prevent, detect, asses and respond to cyber security threats and incidents, and to fulfill and assess regulatory compliance" (research analyst Siddarth Deshpande, Gartner).

The Security Operations Center can be in-house or outsourced, it is usually active 24/7 and analyzes, detects, and addresses security issues in real-time with a combination of automated processes, artificial intelligence, and manual actions.

General tasks of the SOC include :

  • The analysis of data, evaluation of tools, and review of processes to manage alerts when detecting security events.
  • The set up to prioritize security events and therefore allocate resources and decide on actions based on the threat risk.
  • The documentation of all incidents, analysis as well as proof that threats have been contained. Combining and interpreting all information that helps the SOC but also the entire company to learn from threats.

Additional tasks that the SOC team can perform are:

  • The management of a threat, which includes Threat Intelligence procedures and the deeper and more proactive, Threat Hunting
  • Make sure all systems withing the organizations are patched against any current vulnerabilities

Operations within an SOC are usually based on the PPT framework which aims to improve operational efficiency: People, processes, and technologies.

GIF: Big letter P - People do the work, above is a people icon. Big letter P - Processes make the work efficient, above is a gears-icon. Big letter T - Technology helps people to do their work & automate processes, above is a node-icon.

The special combination of the many different elements within a SOC are important to fulfill the demand of the complex system landscapes, risks, and other requirements.

AI, existing process automation and the know-how of security experts is being used across all different sectors of the SOC and therefore build a comprehensive arsenal of intelligence and actions to oversee, react, and secure.

Cartoon GIF: How does a security operations center protect your company? A curtain opens up and reveals gears. Monitoring - offers transparency over all existing technologies, processes, and stakeholders. A curtain opens up and reveals a vacuum cleaner cleaning away exclamation marks. Incident Response - Makes sure that any risks are addressed fast and adequately if activities are identified. A curtain opens up and reveals two hands holding a tablet, a finger print and a lock appear. Threat Intelligence - Give insights into attacks to plan actions and best practices to protect the company. Last slide: Secure your company & organization with DIGITALL.

Monitoring offers transparency over all existing technologies, processes, and stakeholders. It can be set up in a way that it is able to identify unusual activities in real-time.

If activities are identified, the incident response makes sure that any risks are addressed fast and adequately.

Threat intelligence is all information that can give insights into past, current, or potential attacks against a company. Since the data is usually unstructured, it needs to be structured, analyzed and turned into actions and best practices to protect the company.

How can you operate a Security Operations Center?

Back to start of article

In-House

The SOC team is located within the company itself and has a dedicated facility and staff for 24/7 services.

The company has full control over all technology, processes, and resources. However, this also means that the necessary skills, resources, and technology need to be allocated.

SOC-as-a-Service (SOCaaS)

SOCaaS is a managed security service, which offers outsourced SOC team that can be dedicated or shared. Oftentimes, a company can choose whether they want to include in-house staff for collaboration.

The company shares control with the provider and can adjust costs depending on the services provided. The provider can set up the SOC, staff it and/or train internal staff to run it. The external staff has all the necessary skills and know-how from the get-go and therefore does not need any additional training.

Dedicated

The SOC is either in-house or SOCaaS with a dedicated staff to a specific customer for 24/7 services.

Distributed

The SOC is operated by full as well as part-time staff and contains both in-house analysts and SOCaaS ones. It can operate as 24/7 or only within working hours. .

The company has full control, and the costs are much lower than a 24/7 fully dedicated SOC. However, reaction times to actual security events are much slower and due to part-time duties, the SOC staff might not be as experienced in handling issues as a fully dedicated staff.


At DIGITALL, we support you with the evaluation, setup, and management of your Security Operations Center. Whether you want to build up your own dedicated department or need managed services for immediate operations, we're here for you.

Secure with DIGITALL

by Bozhidar Ginev

Bozhidar Ginev is a Level 2 SOC Analyst at DIGITALL. He is responsible for Incident Response and Threat Analysis. Ginev works in the InfoSec field, has experience as IAM engineer and is an SOC Analyst. Furthermore, he is assisting the Threat Intelligence Manager at DIGITALL.

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