A successful SOC needs to quickly and efficiently sort out signals from noise – the indications of real cyberattacks from false positives. It must also triage the threats by severity and handle them appropriately, including shutting down or isolating endpoints, terminating harmful processes, deleting files, and more.
A strong SOC is 24×7 and ready to identify, react, and resolve threats — and do so much faster than an organization without one. A SOC is also constantly improving its processes to stay ahead of attackers. For example, a SOC will regularly test and evaluate the effectiveness of tools and technologies to determine their security and performance against new and evolving cyberattacks.
SOC teams also use specialized software to monitor the entire environment and detect anomalies or suspicious behavior. These systems, called security information and event management (SIEM) solutions or security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) solutions, gather telemetry and analyze data for the deep visibility SOC teams need to detect hidden threats.
Similarly, SOC teams rely on threat intelligence solutions – often combined with external feeds and product threat reports – to provide insight into attackers and their methods, capabilities, infrastructure, and motives. This intelligence helps the team improve processes and policies, choose more effective cybersecurity tools, and improve incident response plans.
Another critical aspect of a SOC is its ability to create and execute standard operating procedures (SOPs) to streamline detecting and responding to incidents. These SOPs must be clearly defined and easy for any team member to understand, regardless of their level of expertise. In addition, what is SOC must be integrated with the cybersecurity engineering team to ensure consistent and coordinated collaboration.
A SOC must have the right technology to provide a robust cybersecurity defense. This includes monitoring solutions that detect threats as they develop and can take action, such as isolating or removing compromised endpoints, terminating harmful processes, deleting files, and more. It also needs access to threat intelligence – news and information about cyberattacks and the hackers behind them gathered from various sources, including social media, industry research, and the dark web.
A vital component of a SOC is a SIEM (security information event management) solution, which correlates and aggregates data feeds from different systems to create a single view of security incidents. These tools can also identify and prioritize alerts based on severity so that the most serious ones get handled first.
Another critical piece of technology for a SOC is a threat hunting or offensive capability, which enables it to detect and stop advanced attacks. These attacks often rely on machine learning capabilities or anomaly detection to circumvent conventional defenses, so they need special attention from SOC teams.
SOCs must also be able to perform regular penetration testing and use the results of these tests to improve their defenses. This is important because it allows them to spot issues early and reduce their impact on business operations. It’s also an excellent way to keep up with the latest security solutions, technologies, and best practices.
A successful SOC requires a talented team of cybersecurity professionals to monitor, detect and respond to threats. However, finding and retaining these employees is challenging, especially as organizations struggle with a global skills shortage of up to 4 million security specialists. Hiring and maintaining the staff required for round-the-clock monitoring, comprehensive data analysis, and rapid incident response can be expensive.
SOCs are also responsible for prioritizing alerts, ensuring they only receive notifications about real threats and are attended to quickly. To reduce the number of false positives, many SOCs use advanced tools that use behavioral analytics to distinguish between regular and suspicious activity.
During a security incident, the SOC coordinates detection, analysis, containment, and recovery activities and manages communication with stakeholders. The SOC also uses intelligence gathered during an incident to address vulnerabilities and improve processes and policies.
Finally, the SOC must be able to work closely with IT and other business divisions to share information about threats and their impact. This is critical to gaining buy-in from the rest of the organization, particularly when addressing the reputational and financial impact of significant security incidents. Stakeholder buy-in is essential because the threat landscape is constantly evolving, and the CISO/CIO must ensure that the SOC has the capabilities to cope with future attacks.
A successful SOC requires highly trained, security-savvy staff. This means that it’s essential to have a robust training program, especially for new hires and upskilling existing employees.
This training should include a mix of classroom and hands-on activities. It should cover the technical skills a security analyst needs, like advanced troubleshooting and incident response. It should also cover professional skills, such as communicating effectively under pressure and working with a team. This training should also cover the tools a SOC needs, including a SIEM (security information and event management) solution, a threat intelligence platform, and other tools to protect networks.
It’s important to remember that SOC tools constantly evolve, and the security landscape is ever-changing. Keeping current on the latest threats and improving processes takes constant vigilance. A centralized SOC makes it easier to ensure that the right people, tools, and processes are in place to combat any attack against an organization.
An excellent way to test your SOC’s capabilities is through a simulation. This type of testing can help identify gaps in defenses and give an idea of the total time to detect, investigate, and resolve an incident — otherwise known as the mean time to respond (MTTR). It helps SOCs save valuable time and eliminate threats faster by connecting insights, streamlining workflows, and enabling them to respond confidently, automate intelligently, and collaborate consistently.