A SOC or Security Operations Centre is the security team’s facility from where the information security team analyzes and monitors the organization’s security continuously and on an ongoing basis. This team needs to analyze, detect, and respond quickly to cybersecurity threats and incidents using technology solutions combined with an unbeatable set of processes. People who work on this team are typically security engineers, security analysts, and security managers who work as a team close to beat and deal with the discovery of incident reports of a security or data threat.
The team from the SOC analyzes and monitors the Syslog messages from the servers, databases, networks, websites, data endpoints, applications, and all other systems, looking for an activity that is a precursor of a data compromise or security incident. The SOC thus is the team responsible for correctly analyzing, identifying, defending, reporting, and investigating all potential incidents related to a breach in data or process security.
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How Does the SOC Work?
The SOC team is rarely involved in the implementation of protective measures, designing security architecture, or developing a security strategy. The SOC team is tasked with the continuous operations of enterprise information security operations. The security operations center staff have managers, security analysts, and engineers who work as a team to respond to, detect, report on, analyze and prevent cybersecurity threats and incident reports. Some SOC teams may even have facilities for cryptanalysis, malware reverse engineering, and advanced forensic analysis to deal with such cybersecurity incidents.
As in all organizational plans, the establishment of a SOC is firstly to define the cybersecurity strategy and includes the various department’s business-specific goals as well as the executive’s support and inputs. Next, the infrastructure support required is addressed and implemented. Such support may stem from the use of the IPS/IDS, probes, firewalls, solutions for breach detection, and security and event information management systems. The technology tools should be able to collate and analyze the data via telemetry, data flows, Syslog, packet capture, and other methods. This data is then analyzed and correlated by the SOC team members. In addition, the SOC staff also monitors and scans endpoints, networks, etc for vulnerabilities to ensure sensitive data is protected and all compliance measures set out by the government are followed.
Benefits Of SOC
- The main benefit of having a SOC- security operations center is the vast improvement of detection of security incidents through continuous analysis and monitoring of the data activity.
- By analyzing the data activity across the organization’s endpoints, networks, databases, and servers continuously 24/7, the SOC team is critical in the management, response to, and detection of security breaches, data issues, and incidents.
- The SOC team provides organizations with the means and advantage of defending an organization against intrusions or incidents immaterial of time of day, source, or the attack type.
- The gap between when the attackers launch their attack to the time when the enterprise is able to detect, analyze, mitigate and document the attack should be reasonably small. The SOC team helps in closing this gap and rising above the security threats in the environment.
The SOC “framework” has the security software and tools with the individuals who form the SOC team. The roles that are popularly present in most SOC teams are –
- The Security Manager who leads the team oversees the security procedures and systems, oversees the security procedures and systems while being able to step into any security role as may be required from time to time.
- Basically, Security Analyst analyses and compiles the data collected over a time period or immediately after a data breach.
- The Security Investigator analyzes the what, why, and how of the incident or breach in close collaboration with the first responder of the breach. At times the investigator plays both roles simultaneously.
- The First Responder is the individual who responds to the breach as and when it occurs and must undertake a number of crisis tasks that are crucial when a data breach or security threat is detected.
- The Security Auditor is responsible for the mandates that come with future or current legislation. The auditor is mandated with the task of risk compliances and ensuring that all legislation is followed to the letter.
Note: At times, depending on the organization’s size and needs, one individual may have to undertake multiple roles.
Staying a step ahead of cybercriminals is no easy task. It is compounded by factors like –
- Skilled staff shortages: Dimensional Research’s survey says 53% of the SOCs have a chronic shortfall of skilled people with cybersecurity skills to man the posts. This affects their response and mitigation times besides overburdening the available staff who also may have outdated skill sets.
- Skill gaps: The Workforce Study by (ISC)² estimates growth of 145% in cybersecurity personnel is required to fill the acute personnel shortage and make up for the skills gap of cybersecurity professionals worldwide.
- The rise in the number of alerts: With newer tools and solutions used by organizations the volume of security threat alerts is rising quickly. This could lead to the threat fatigue syndrome. Plus many of them are without the context to investigate, lack sufficient data intelligence, or are reported false positives. Such incidents are impacting the resources and time spent on them while being a real-time distraction for SOC teams.
- Operational costs: Quite a few organizations use disconnected security tools making the security policies and alerts of various tools a task to figure out by the SOC team. This also means additional overheads, lack of a uniform environment, increase in costs, rise in complexity in operations, and inefficient security procedures or operations.
SOC Best Practices
A large number of security leaders are focusing on the human element rather than the script or technological tools in the assessment and mitigation of perceived threats. As the SOC teams work 24/7 they can fit the organization’s or client’s need for security within their risk tolerance limits. Working with IPS, firewalls, etc, the human element is crucial in the mitigation of serious perceived security threats.
To mitigate these risks and keep your access management routine efficient and secure, SecureLink states that it’s in your organization’s best interest to conduct periodic user access reviews. To help you set up an efficient process, you should consider some of the most important user access review best practices. These include: developing a user access review policy, creating a formalized user access review procedure, implementing role-based access control and least privileged access, granting temporary – not permanent – user access, getting the right people involved, and educating your staff.
Best results are often developed when the SOC team stays alert and ahead of threat intelligence while leveraging such information with the tools available to provide better internal defense mechanisms and threat detection procedures.
The SOC not only uses organizational data but correlates it with externally sourced information to predict and gain insights into vulnerabilities and threats. Such security intelligence in the form of signature updates, news feeds, incident reports, vulnerability alerts, and threat briefs can help the SOC team in its efforts to place the right procedures in place as well as monitor the non-threats, real threats, etc. When in doubt, it is better to hire a professional SOC team than allow your data to be compromised. Third-party vendors now offer SOC services with highly trained analysts and the infrastructure to support them, which are then offered as a managed service package to customers on smartphones, cloud services, etc.
If you are a working professional or a fresh graduate and want to make cybersecurity your career specialization, getting the best cyber security training is essential. At Great Learning, you can try either the postgraduate cyber security courses or earn your cybersecurity certification from reputed universities and colleges like Stanford, Texas McCombs, etc studying online over the weekends in an accelerated course. The curriculum followed is taught by doing under mentors and industry-drawn instructors with a wide variety of projects in cybersecurity drawn based on real-time and real-life scenarios. If you want to impress at an interview, let your practical skills speak for you even at their own placement and career fairs.
As explained above, cybersecurity is of utmost importance to individuals and organizations. The need for a SOC team cannot be overlooked even when your data is stored on the cloud. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is huge and the pay packets can be the envy of other professionals.