What Is SOC (Security Operations Center)?
What Is an SOC?
An SOC, or Security Operations Center, is a facility used by an information security team that is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and ensuring an organization’s security. The main goal of the team is to find and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents with the use of set processes and technological solutions. The security staff, composed of engineers, managers, and analysts, works closely with incident response teams to quickly address any security issue.
The SOC is responsible for monitoring and analyzing activities on different networks, databases, websites, applications, servers, and any other systems that the organization is using. It looks for any anomalous activity that could be an indication of a security threat. Once detected, the SOC is then tasked to respond to the incident; identify, analyze, and report it; and create new defensive processes against it if necessary.
How Does an SOC Work?
Instead of focusing on developing new strategies or designing security architecture, the SOC is responsible for the now, ensuring the safety of the organization’s systems. It is staffed primarily by security analysts working to detect and analyze cybersecurity incidents. They will then respond, report, and prevent said incident upon discovery. The team can also usually perform advanced forensic analysis, as well as cryptanalysis, and has the ability to reverse engineer malware to understand it better for future defense.
In order to establish an SOC, the organization first needs a clear strategy that incorporates the business’s goals from the different departments. Once this is developed, it is time to create an infrastructure to support that strategy. Security officer Pierluigi Paganini says that typically, SOCs include firewalls, breach detection capabilities, probes, IPS/IDS, and of course, a Security Information and Event Management System (SIEM). The infrastructure should also be able to collect data from different data flows, packet capture, syslog, and telemetry, as well as other data activities that can be collected and analyzed by the security staff.
Lastly, the SOC needs to have the ability to monitor networks and different endpoints for vulnerabilities to protect the sensitive data they may have in order to comply with industry- or government-laid regulations.
The main benefit of an SOC is to improve the overall security incident detection and response of the organization. By doing an analysis on all data activity, any breach should be quickly identified and responded to accordingly. This is a 24/7 monitoring channel that aims to block any and all malicious attacks against the organization.
SOC Best Practices
A shifting focus in the industry is going more with the human element in order to assess and mitigate threats rather than relying on a script to do so. Security personnel of SOCs continuously manage known threats while trying to identify new ones. While technologies such as firewalls and UPS can prevent most basic attacks, it is the human analysis that leads to discovering and responding to major incidents.
Any organization should have their SOC updated with the latest intelligence to use against potential malicious attacks. They need to keep up to date with what is happening and watch out for growing threats. At the same time, they need to keep updated with internal procedures and changes, as well as make proper adjustments in data collection and correlation and provide insights on threats and vulnerabilities. Lastly, tools need to be updated to be able to keep up with ever-changing security threats from external attacks.
You get a very successful SOC by combining highly skilled security analysts and efficient security automation. This is a huge undertaking, and many organizations that cannot have the proper in-house resources turn to managed service providers that offer SOC services instead.
Julia Sowells950 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.