What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
When we talk about SIEM’s a question comes into our mind that if an organization is managing all of their networks and infrastructure how are they going to analyze and monitor all of that information?
So in short SOC or Security Operations Center is a centralized facility within the organization that is continuously monitoring and analyzing the organization’s security posture. The SOC team’s goal is to detect, analyze, and respond to Security incidents using different tools and technology solutions.
In the SOC, internet traffic, corporate area networks (CAN), desktops, servers, endpoint devices, databases, applications, and other systems are continuously examined for signs of a security incident. The SOC staff may work with other teams or departments to increase cybersecurity awareness within the organization and work on fixation of different security vulnerabilities.
Additionally, most SOCs function around the clock as employees work in shifts to constantly log activity and mitigate threats. The SOC is responsible for ensuring that potential security incidents are correctly identified, analyzed, defended, investigated, and reported.
SOC is to monitor, detect, investigate, and respond to cyber threats around the clock. Security operations teams are charged with monitoring and protecting many assets, such as intellectual property, personnel data, business systems, and brand integrity. As the implementation component of an organization’s overall cybersecurity framework, security operations teams act as the central point of collaboration in coordinated efforts to monitor, assess, and defend against cyberattacks.
As its the first line of defense for any organization as all the activity within the organization with gives SOC team greater visibility of the entire system and detect anomalies and stop the attack that why it is highly recommended that any organization that is using SIEM and has a SOC should have a well trained and skilled team for their Security Operations Center.
How a Security Operations Center Works?
Rather than being focused on developing a security strategy, designing security architecture, or implementing defensive measures, the SOC team is responsible for the ongoing, operational components of enterprise information security. Security Operations Center staff is comprised of security analysts who work together to detect analyze, respond and report to prevent cybersecurity incidents.
What does SOC do?
The whole idea of SOC revolves around data and logs that are being continuously collected and stored by the organization and to analyze that data for suspicious activity in the organization and make it more secure.
Raw data that is collected form firewalls, threat intelligence, intrusion detections systems, probes, and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems. It is the responsibility of the SOC team to monitor those logs and in case of any alert they are immediately shared with the team member and solution is devised for that.
In general, the basic responsibilities of a SOC are:
- Asset Discovery and Management: This includes obtaining a great understanding of tools, software, and hardware that is being used in the SOC. It also focuses on making sure that all of the company assets are working properly.
- Continuous Behavioral Monitoring: All the systems are examined 24/7 by the SOC team. This approach enables the team to be pre-paired for proactive and reactive measures as any irregularity inactivity is instantly detected. This model is also used in better training the data collection systems on what counts as suspicious activity and can be used to adjust information based on that and remove any false positives.
- Maintaining Activity Logs: It is the responsibility of the SOC team to keep logs of all the communication and activity in the organization. This enables the team to take better measures in case of an attack and allows them to pinpoint the previous action that might have resulted in a breach.
- Alert Severity Ranking: Vulnerability management is making sure that the vulnerabilities or threats having most severity are handled first and fixed. It is on the SOC team to categorize the cybersecurity threats in terms of potential danger.
- Defense Against Threats and Attacks: SOC team should create an incident and response plan (IRP) to help defend systems against attacks. And in case of any new information that is obtained the team should be able to adjust the plan as necessary.
- Incident Recovery: In addition to preventing and stopping data breaches from occurring, SOC is also responsible for recovering data that has been compromised in the event of an attack. This could include reconfiguring, updating or backing up systems.
- Compliance: All the SOC team members must follow regulatory compliance standards when carrying out business plans and there should be a team member that is responsible for educating and enforcing compliance.
There could be other responsibilities based on a specific organization like Reverse Engineering, Forensic analysis.
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Security Operations Center Best Practices
As cybersecurity tool and technology have continued to grow and advance, there are many agreed upon industry-recognized best practices for running SOC. The most common suggestion is to implement some kind of security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) process whenever possible. When using such automated tools are combined with the technical skills of an analyst it helps to improve the overall efficiency and incident response time.
SOC highly depends on the skill set of the team how much technical knowledge do they have in cybersecurity and incident response. Therefore it is recommended that the team managers should ensure that proper training are conducted to provide up to date knowledge about emerging cybersecurity threats, incident reports, and vulnerabilities. Any SOC monitoring tools should then be updated to reflect any new changes.
For best results, the SOC must keep up with the latest threat intelligence and leverage this information to improve internal detection and defense mechanisms. As the InfoSec Institute points out, the SOC consumes data from within the organization and correlates it with information from a number of external sources that deliver insight into threats and vulnerabilities.
This external cyber intelligence includes news feeds, signature updates, incident reports, threat briefs, and vulnerability alerts that aid the SOC in keeping up with evolving cyber threats. SOC staff must constantly feed threat intelligence into SOC monitoring tools to keep up to date with threats, and the SOC must have processes in place to discriminate between real threats and non-threats.
Benefits of a Security Operations Center
- Uninterrupted monitoring and analysis for suspicious activity.
- Improved incident response times and practices.
- Decreased gaps between the time of compromise and mean time to detection (MTTD).
- Software and hardware assets are centralized for a more holistic approach to security.
- Effective communication and collaboration are highly emphasized.
- Costs associated with security incidents are minimized.
- Customers and employees may feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information.
- More transparency and control over security operations.
- Established chain of control for data which is needed if an organization is expected to prosecute those attributed to a cybercrime.
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