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Security Operations Centers and Their Role in Keeping Organizations Safe Pt.1

Security Operations Center

An increasing number of high-profile cybersecurity incidents – from Sony Pictures to Apple App Store hacking – encouraged enterprises to invest and develop their Security Operations Centers (SOCs). Businesses confirmed that it is becoming more challenging to handle sophisticated security events around complex environments varying from physical IT tools, to private and public clouds.

The truth is, it is becoming more and more challenging to manage security in hybrid environments. Businesses are investing in the development of SOCs to provide a centralized platform for a rapid response to cyber breaches. A SOC is an organized and highly skilled team whose mission is to monitor and improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture while preventing, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cyber security incidents using both technology and precise procedures. Cybersecurity experts working at SOCs analyze threats from malware to phishing attacks detected by the sequences of tools to keep the organization secure.

To support business, a SOC must reduce both the time and impact of security-related incidents that exploit, deny, degrade, and disrupt business operations. Monitoring is the most effective tool to prevent major cyber incidents. The SOC is a machine for incident prevention; it needs to maintain an effective staffing level responding to the size of the business operations. Continuous education assures that SOC’s staff stay up-to-date with trending threats, cybersecurity tools, and best practices.

Web proxies, sandboxes, endpoint breach detection solutions and forensics tools among others contribute to a complete SOC ecosystem. All of the involved systems generate events, logs, flows, and telemetry data that a machine must ingest, process and analyze – eventually, a human being does too. A security information and event management (SIEM) managed and maintained drives enterprise security program at SOC.

Finally, the size of the organization, the amount of sensitive data kept, and potential threat level drive the size and scale of the SOC.

SOC benefits
  • Efficient response time
  • Identifying attacks and responding before they can cause damage
  • Helps recovery in a reasonable time
SOC functions
  • Real-time monitoring & management
  • Reporting
  • Post-incident analysis

The service function of a well-organized SOC would include monitoring and incident detection, diagnostics and incident isolation, problem correction, working with devices, systems, software and endpoints, escalation and finally closure of incidents. The SOC benefits come from the good SIEM tool and its staff, that consolidates all data, analyzes it intelligently and provides visualization.

SOC tasks

The SOC would detect attacks from the internet, detecting insider threats, monitoring compliance, incident response. The SIEM solutions will integrate with disparate systems and provide comprehensive threat detection. A SIEM tool would utilize security intelligence data to proactively monitor for suspicious activity and actions. Additionally, the tool will be able to provide metrics reporting and analytics to spot problem areas and reports to management.

Logging mechanisms including the ability to track user activities are essential. Secure log collectors, correlation and analysis environment are integrated to end systems. SIEM then collects the logs from different systems, correlating them together to generate influential and useful information for SOC analysts.

The ticketing system helps create, update, and resolve reported issues and track progress. If a SOC receives more alerts, then more work needs to be done. So, a higher number of alerts also requires more resources needed to address these alerts. On another hand, you can automate many alerts. Cybersecurity experts should only be solving more complex alerts.

Finally, an incident is a violation or imminent threat of policy, or standard security practices like denial of service, unauthorized access, vulnerability identification, hacking, data loss and etc. Incidents have to be addressed and closed decisively. The impact, severity, and timeline of the response must be defined for every assigned incident. If an incident remains unresolved at any level, then an escalation to the next level is required and procedures documented.