A Comprehensible Introduction to Security Operations Center
Cybercriminal activity is among the most significant challenges that humanity will face in the next two decades. In 2019, over 15.1 billion records were exposed. According to Cybercrime Ventures, the global cost of cybercrime will rise from US$3 trillion in 2015 to US$6 trillion by 2021. Cybercriminals steadily make efforts to attack and compromise sensitive corporate data; Accenture published the “NINTH ANNUAL COST OF CYBERCRIME STUDY” stating that the total cost of a cyber attack for each company has experienced a surge rising from US$11.7 million in 2017 to a new high of US$13.0 million; thus, security must be a top priority for organizations, whereas some organizations still do not possess an adequate, practical security strategy.
To repel attacks, organizations must stay alert and conscious of potential threats, detect incidents promptly, and respond quickly. According to cybersecurity experts, the best and most effective way to coordinate your organization’s security defenses is with a Security Operations Center (SOC).
A Security Operations Center (SOC) is an establishment within an organization responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and assessing the organization’s security posture 24/7, as well as responding in real-time in case of an actual threat. A SOC detects and investigates cybersecurity threats, responds to them, and makes sure that they will not happen again. However, the role of a SOC varies based on the nature of the compromise or threat; for instance, some threats may be referred to other units and teams such as the computer emergency response team (CERT), or the IT team.
Why Organizations Need a Security Operations Center (SOC)
Regardless of an organization’s size or purpose, a security organizations center is vital for your organization if your organization:
- works online.
- implements e-commerce.
- handles and stores clients’ personal information.
- is a public service company.
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ then it is advisable to have a SOC for the following reasons:
Attacks are getting complex on a regular basis
Technology is progressing rapidly and besides the benefits of advanced technology, it could also provide more sophisticated tools for cybercriminals to pose threats and compromise organizations; therefore, having only an IT department to fight cyber threats and attacks is no longer sufficient enough. It is essential nowadays to have a department or unit exclusively dedicated to monitoring, analyzing, and responding to threats.
Your corporate data is of most importance
A security operations center is in charge of ensuring that unauthorized people will not get their hands on private and confidential data; thus, whether you own a large or small, public or private company, you should consider the implantation of a Security Operations Center.
Consider all aspects, respond in real-time
Implementing a SOC makes it possible for organizations to see the bigger picture, and harden their security holistically. Not only the SOC handles the prevention, detections, and response to threats, but also it can serve as a facility that builds strategies to keep the team aware of bigger, longer-term security trends and issues. Most importantly it provides full visibility in real-time, meaning that you can respond to potential threats and attacks as quickly as possible.
Advance your organization’s security with a team of experts
The SOC team is a full team of experts equipped with advanced tools to shield your organization’s security, reduce the chances of a cyberattack, and fight threats. The SOC team’s mission is to advance threat detection, increase the rate of proper incident response and mitigations, and enhance the management of regulatory compliance.
There are several SOC architecture models that function in similar ways
- In-house: An in-house SOC is a unit established within an organization. Having your own security team allows your organization to take full control of the security and privacy without third party intervention; however, an in-house SOC requires tools and a team of distinguished experts, and most importantly the budget to sustain the facility and integrate the expertise, processes, and human resources.
- Outsourced: Outsourcing cybersecurity is an excellent strategy for organizations to facilitate the implementation of a security operations center at a controlled cost and time.
- SOCaaS: SOCaaS delivers managed threat detection services through firms that provide security operations center as a Service (SOCaaS).
- SaaS: Software-as-a-service is a co-managed approach to implementing a SOC in which an organization operates hand in hand with an outsourced vendor to manage cybersecurity tasks.
The right technology, processes, and security team bring together an effective, functional, and proactive security operations center to implement the Prevention, Detection, and Response to threats.
Prevention: Monitoring to identify any unexpected or suspicious activity, staff and user training, and security incident management can significantly prevent and reduce exposure to cyber-attacks.
Detection: Threats and attacks are different; threats increase the chance of potential attacks; as actual attacks are the act of breaking in or harming a computer or network. Threat detection intends to identify threats before they are exploited as attacks.
Response: A SOC is also in charge of responding to threats properly by prioritizing and quickly triaging the incoming events, as well as finding the root of an attack and best strategy to recover from.
Setting up a security operations center requires a well-defined strategy and framework that clarifies the goals, roles and responsibilities, structures, and security policies, and also facilitates the incorporation of security measures and threat intelligence into day-to-day processes. The next step is building the infrastructure that is capable of thoroughly carrying the strategy.
The information security team in a security operations center uses a set of tools and processes to look for anomalies by monitoring and analyzing data from users, clouds, apps, and IoTs, as well as activity on networks, servers and workloads, endpoints, and other systems. The processes are protocols that determine what measures must be taken once a threat is detected.
The SOC’s goal is to make sure that potential security threats are accurately identified, analyzed, investigated, defended, and reported.
SOC’s Main Functions
1. Asset inventory
A security operations center must be fully aware of the resources and assets they have at their disposal. Their assets include the things they must protect and the tools they acquire for protecting those things. To prevent potential vulnerability exploits, the SOC ensures that all the devices, processes, and applications they must protect, stay on the radar. Moreover, the SOC is required to have a full understanding of the tools they employ to respond to cybersecurity threats. By developing a complete perspective of the assets, the SOC can reach full efficiency.
2. Preventative Maintenance
The best possible option is to always try to prevent a cyber attack from compromising an organization. The SOC is responsible for regular maintenance and updates of systems. The measures taken for keeping systems updated include patching vulnerabilities and whitelisting and blacklisting the alerts.
3. Log Collection and Management
Log management consists of all the activities and processes used to generate, collect, centralize, parse, transmit, store, archive, and discard extensive volumes of data. Through log management tools like SIEM, SOC is able to ascertain real threats, and aggregate and correlate the generated data from users, apps, firewalls, systems, networks, and endpoints.
4. Continuous Proactive Monitoring
Time is vital in threat response; thus, the SOC monitors networks, devices, and other systems around the clock. This would allow SOC to immediately identify threats before they get the chance of bringing the whole network down. By monitoring 24/7 using technology like SIEM, the SOC can develop a better understanding and analysis of behaviors of alerts, and subsequently define what is normal behavior and what might be a genuine threat.
5. Alert Management
Human intelligence is quite significant in dealing with alerts. SOC analysts are responsible for dismissing false positives and determine the gravity of an alert so that they can properly respond to the severe ones first.
6. Threat Detection
Threats are getting more and more sophisticated; in threat detection, instead of analyzing indicators of compromise (IoC) after a threat was forced into the system, the SOC proactively looks for actors in the process of carrying out malicious activities. Alongside SIEM, there are other technologies that the SOC employs to detect threats, including cloud access and security brokers (CASB), endpoint detection and response tools, intrusion detection systems, network firewalls, honeypots, and threat intelligence platforms.
7. Threat Response
The best-case scenario is detecting threats before they are turned into actual attacks. In this case, the SOC responds by patching the known vulnerabilities or employing other methods to solidify the system. However, the response is different once an incident is confirmed. The SOC’s goal here is to minimize the impact of the incident on the business process as much as possible. A range of responses is brought into action, including shutting down or isolating endpoints, terminating harmful processes, deleting files, etc.
8. Root Cause Analysis
The SOC uses various methods to discover the source in the aftermath of an incident. The analysis methods used to identify the root causes of an incident vary based on the circumstances of the incident, the available information, and the classification of the incident. Understanding the root causes can help the SOC to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
9. Security Refinement and Improvement
Cybercriminals are continuously upgrading their tools and methods; in order to stay at the forefront of security, the SOC needs to regularly implement improvements.
10. Compliance Management
Many of the SOC’s processes are carried out by already-established practices; however, some measures are led by compliance requirements. Compliance management in SOC is responsible for regularly auditing systems to ensure that policies and procedures are followed according to their setup.
In part 2 of our “Stay Ahead of Threats”, we focus on the human aspect of a security operations center.