What is a security operations center?

A security operations center (SOC) is a team of cybersecurity professionals who monitor networks for cybersecurity threats 24/7/365 while responding to cyberattacks and incidents that occur. A SOC’s information security team’s job is to detect, analyze, and respond to cyberattacks. SOCs manage these security incidents in real-time with security tools, machine learning, monitoring tools, threat detection software, and expert SOC analysts. According to Gartner, 50 percent of all SOCs will begin to integrate incident response, threat intelligence, and threat hunting capabilities by 2022.

Who works for a SOC?

A SOC staff usually includes managers to oversee SOC processes, cybersecurity analysts, and engineers, along with a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) to manage the SOC. SOCs and security analysts work hand in hand with incident response teams and IT security both internally and externally to ensure security issues and potential threats are remediated quickly after they are discovered. A SOC can be an in house facility at a large organization, an outsourced SOC, a virtual SOC, or a “SOC-as-a-service” provided by an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider) cybersecurity team.

SOC team members will monitor and manage:

  • Network vulnerability monitoring
  • Endpoint security
  • Triage alerts
  • Interpret security alerts, data, and metrics
  • Reports on end-user activity
  • Detects suspicious activity on your network
  • Real-time response to security breaches and cybersecurity incidents

What security tools do SOCs use?

  • Firewalls
  • IPS/IDS
  • Breach detection solutions
  • SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) system

How a Security Operations Center Works

Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated, orchestrating larger attacks on more businesses each year. This is why a SOC is an important part of an organization’s security posture in 2021. A SOC provides customers with cybersecurity experts who monitor their network 24/7/365 to search for potential attacks and threats to their network. When a vulnerability or incident is found, the SOC contacts the organization’s on-site IT professionals to respond to and investigate the threat.

SOC Mechanics

Audits

Compliance Audits – SOC providers have to carry out audits of their systems and practices on a regular basis to ensure they are following the proper rules and regulations for the areas and industries they operate in.

Alerting

Alert Management – SOCs use automated alerting systems which they analyze, triage, and respond to or escalate based on the severity of the alert.

Monitoring

Continuous Monitoring – SOCs also use automated monitoring tools to help scan your network and devices for potential signs of suspicious activity.

Maintenance

Continuous Maintenance – Although SOCs are not meant to function as a full-service cybersecurity team for your organization, a good SOC will perform general maintenance to ensure the safety and security of your network. This includes security patches, insider threat hunting, and updating firewall policies.

What is a NOC?

A NOC is a Network Operations Center that is used to maintain an organization’s optimal network performance. A NOC is simply another part of a business’s well-rounded cybersecurity team. A NOC operates from a central location with IT professionals who can manage remote monitoring and management (RMM) software and manage clients’ network operations. NOCs are often managed by MSSPs and MSPs to help manage client operations. NOCs monitor networks and endpoints for possible data breaches, security issues, and suspicious activity. They also watch for potential false positives that may cause network security continuity issues.

NOC team members will monitor and manage:

  • Network hardware like firewalls
  • Network software
  • IoT monitoring
  • Updates and patch management for software and hardware
  • Data flow and backup management
  • Network communications
  • Recommend security solutions and cybersecurity strategy
  • Remediation of threats like malware, ransomware, and other security alerts

Implementing a SOC or a NOC in your Cybersecurity Risk Management Program

We strongly recommend that you use a cybersecurity framework throughout your organization such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, along with a certified SOC or NOC. Your cybersecurity program should focus on protecting your most valuable IT assets as part of a broader enterprise risk management strategy.

No network is 100% safe from a cybersecurity breach. Unfortunately, 56% of Americans have no idea what to do if a data breach occurs.. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 32% of breaches involved phishing. Your own internal IT team could work around the clock to implement and maintain cybersecurity defenses, but if the rest of your employees click on suspicious links and reply to phishing emails, this puts your entire business at risk.

This is why your business needs a comprehensive cybersecurity incident response plan, SOC, and NOC to protect your data. After a cyberattack, seconds and minutes matter, delaying your response to an incident or outage can cost your business time, money, and valuable data. An effective response plan will help ensure you and your employees know exactly what to do when an incident occurs and how to mitigate that risk. You should also consider how the incident response process will impact your business continuity efforts.

If you currently do not have a cybersecurity program, your IT/security teams should focus on implementing security measures such as authentication, firewalls, and access control on the highest risk systems first before moving to lower risk systems. Your cybersecurity program should be based on your organizational risk profile and should include at a minimum:

  • Endpoint Protection
  • Network Security
  • Incident Response Planning
  • Security Policies and Procedures
  • Appointment of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Engage an Incident Response Team (even if you don’t need one yet). Having ransomware removal experts at your disposal can turn a catastrophic breach into a minor security incident.

Unsure about managing your cybersecurity risk? Touchstone Security can help.

Finding a cybersecurity solution that works for your business is tough. Most offerings on the market consist of a set of rebranded tools resold at exorbitant prices. Touchstone Security is different. We will work with you to create a flexible, streamlined cybersecurity program that integrates directly with your business and provides concrete, measurable security. Our team has experience designing, implementing, and managing cybersecurity programs for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and businesses around the world. We are ready to help you build a competent and comprehensive cybersecurity risk management strategy.