For any company in which technology is a major component of how they work, a Security Operations Center, or SOC, is a critical investment in the company’s health and well-being. A SOC is a dedicated unit within the organisation that will involve people, processes and technologies focused purely on the business’ security. The SOC’s job is to maintain and improve security, while also logging, analysing and responding to any security incidents that might occur.
How SOC works
The first thing to understand is that the SOC (Security Operations Center) is not your IT team. The SOC needs to be a dedicated unit, focused exclusively on security operations. This is entirely different to the role of the IT team.
Typically, the IT team, led by the CIO or IT Manager, will define your security strategy, usually informed by industry best practices. They’ll also select the right technology to help protect your IT environment. Once the security is in place, the job of managing the environment and executing on the security strategy is passed on to the SOC.
IT security is an ongoing process. The reports generated by your SOC team, as well as their expertise in security operations, will help to identify issues in your security environment, and help to shape future operation iterations.
Managing a Security Operations Center
The typical SOC involves a number of roles, under the guidance of the SOC Manager:
SOC Manager: The SOC Manager is the most experienced and senior member within your SOC team, and will act as the chief point of contact with business units outside of the SOC. In other words, your SOC Manager will be the one to report to the CIO or CISO. Beyond an intimate understanding of IT security, this role should have expertise in people management and crisis response.
Incident Responder: As a tier-1 role within the SOC, your Incident Responder will configure and monitor security tools, identify threats, and keep an eye on the hundreds of alerts received each day. They will have an understanding on how to triage, classify and prioritise these alerts, before passing the information on to the next tier.
Security Investigator: Your Security Investigator will identify any threats that have affected hosts and devices, and then evaluate the impact that they have had. They’ll also identify the sources of attacks, methodologies users, and the duration of the attack. More strategic than the Incident Responder, the Security Investigator will also develop a mitigation and eradication strategy for your business.
Advanced Security Analyst: Rather than working on the frontlines, your Advanced Security Analyst works in the background to identify previously unknown threats, develop security strategies, and keep an eye on emerging trends to make product and process changes.
A challenge that many organisations face is in filling all these roles. From the lowest level to the highest, the SOC team needs advanced security skills. Australia faces widespread skill shortages, with a predicted need for 18,000 additional cybersecurity professionals in the country by 2026.
What such a large gap means is that Australian organisations will need to pay a premium to maintain a full SOC within the organisation, with the more senior roles being particularly difficult to fill.
Alternatively, many organisations are turning to managed services, and a managed SOC, to gain access to the capabilities and resources provided via a SOC, without needing to recruit for such roles.
The benefits of a Security Operations Center
The benefits of having an SOC are broad. Better security is the overall goal, as is minimising the costs of cyber attacks. Your business will also benefit in ways that it could miss out on, without a specific approach to security.
Threat monitoring: Without a SOC, your security is likely to be responsive, but only after an event happens will your people investigate the issue. With a SOC, the day-to-day process involves proactively monitoring and managing your environment, limiting the risk.
Response time: SOCs operate on a 24/7 basis, with automation and tech tools sending out alerts that can be actioned instantly if there is a red flag raised.
Skilled expertise: Anyone that specialises in a specific field will develop a level of expertise that can improve that field. With the SOC, that can mean the difference between a small and a multi-million-dollar breach.
A better understanding of the IT environment: Much of the SOC’s job is in collecting data and building reports. Not only is this critical for the security of the environment, but it can help the CIO to better understand how IT is performing within the environment.
Cost control: This is particularly true for those businesses that run a managed SOC, as the costs in comparison to an ad-hoc approach to IT security, can be significant.
Centralised knowledge: Often, a hacker’s efforts to break into an environment rely on the organisation having “gaps” in IT security, with different team members responsible for different parts of your security environment. The SOC consolidates the management of security to one department, making it more difficult to find those gaps.
Your business could be at risk if you conduct your work online. The costs of security breaches are so significant that they are often a business-ending event, particularly for smaller businesses. Simply purchasing technology is only half the story. The technology can provide the tools you need to protect your business, but you also need the right people managing those tools to have a properly secure environment. Too many businesses rely on their IT team to manage the security as part of their overall role. However, to have a properly secure environment, you need true specialists. The SOC is the team that you need to monitor and manage your security environment.
If you’d like to talk to Nexon about a SOC solution, reach out to an expert.