Certain core functions must be done whether your organization has a SOC on the premises or retains managed security services. These include inventory, monitoring, threat detection, response, and recovery. SOC teams monitor the entire infrastructure, including on-premises servers, endpoints, and cloud systems, using tools like security information event management (SIEM) and XDR solutions. These tools gather and parse telemetry so security analysts can see only relevant data.
Recruiting, training, and retaining cybersecurity personnel remains one of the biggest challenges facing any SOC. The SOC must develop a talent pipeline that provides a steady stream of engineers, analysts, and architects. This will help ensure the SOC has enough resources to manage daily operations and respond quickly and accurately to incidents.
One of the critical functions of the SOC is to train staff on new cybersecurity tools and technologies as they emerge. This includes security awareness training, designed to prevent the accidental use of malicious software, and security incident response (SIRT) training, which teaches how to detect and contain threats quickly.
A SOC also trains staff to reduce an organization’s attack surface by applying security patches, assessing misconfigurations, and identifying vulnerabilities in applications, firewalls, operating systems, and endpoints.
This helps limit the “breakout time” that attackers must spend on each machine before moving laterally through an environment. The SOC also performs regular testing and simulations of attacks to identify areas that need improvement.
This involves scanning and analyzing data from systems, applications, endpoints, firewalls, and network equipment to identify anomalies. SOC teams also use tools to filter, correlate, and aggregate alerts for convenient, centralized analysis. This allows SOC analysts to find the needle in the haystack of security alerts, often false positives that divert teams from investigating real threats. A SOC must be able to determine when a threat is in progress and take action to contain it while minimizing operational impact.
This includes shutting down or isolating impacted assets, wiping and reconnecting disks, deactivating compromised accounts and resetting passwords, cutting over to backup systems, restoring network traffic and restarting applications, and remediating any impacted data. Detection is also about tapping into global cyber intelligence to stay ahead of the latest attacks and trends in bad actors’ tool sets so that the SOC can better anticipate new threats.
A SOC must quickly and efficiently identify threats to protect critical business processes and customers. This requires a broad range of detection capabilities, including SIEM and XDR solutions that can detect threats using a single agent across multiple platforms and analyze unified information.
A SOC can’t safeguard devices and data it doesn’t know about. SOC teams are charged with gaining a comprehensive view of the business’s threat landscape, including networks, endpoints, servers, software, and third-party services, and traffic between them. When a threat is detected, the SOC must respond. This includes addressing a current incident and investigating how the threat got through, its goal, and where it came from, among other questions.
After a threat has been addressed, the SOC must use any intelligence it learned to address vulnerabilities, update policies and processes, choose new cybersecurity tools or improve existing ones, and determine if the incident revealed any emerging trends the organization needs to prepare for. This is a crucial role for any SOC, and it can be challenging to carry out effectively without the right tools, training, and support. A fully staffed, in-house SOC can help with this, but that comes at an additional cost and often involves significant ongoing maintenance.
Whether the SOC team responds to an attack or takes a preventative approach, its members must understand how their tools work. Like a carpenter who knows which kind of hammer to use for a particular task, the SOC must know how to utilize its tools to identify and mitigate threats in an ever-changing cyber threat landscape.
This entails using a security information and event management (SIEM) system to analyze log data and alerts to determine how a threat infiltrated the network, which systems it affected, and where it came from. The analysis also helps to discover any vulnerabilities or poor security processes that contributed to the incident.
This type of data-driven analysis also allows the SOC to improve existing cybersecurity, incorporating processes like DuploCloud SOC 2 security. A new firewall policy or a better patching regimen is recommended. It also ensures the organization meets external compliance standards, such as those related to the GDPR, ISO 27001x, and NIST CSF.
These types of improvements help to protect critical assets, such as intellectual property and customers’ personal information, while reducing the risk that an attacker can defeat them.
In addition to improving their processes, a SOC team must stay connected with the wider cyber intelligence community to glean information and implement new solutions as they emerge quickly. This prevents them from falling behind the ever-evolving tactics used by bad actors. A SOC must carefully examine each alert their tools generate to ensure they’re not wasting time investigating false positives.
They also need to understand how aggressive any actual threats are and what they could be targeting so they can prioritize their response and triage the most critical issues first. A SOC should be able to limit the impact of any security incidents that do occur by isolating endpoints, terminating harmful processes, and deleting files.
This helps reduce the “breakout time” and keeps the attackers from spreading to other network parts. It also helps ensure that users, regulators, and law enforcement are notified of the incident promptly.