Security Operations Center (SOC): Definition, Types, and Functions
February 21, 2023, 6 min read
A security operations center (SOC), also known as an information security operations center (ISOC), is a 24/7/365 in-house or external team of IT security professionals tasked with monitoring an organization’s entire IT infrastructure to detect and respond to cybersecurity incidents as they occur in real time.
What is Soc?
The Security Operations Center (SOC) does more than just monitor and respond to security incidents; it actively selects, operates, and maintains the company’s cybersecurity technologies. Additionally, it analyzes threat data to identify opportunities for improving the company’s security posture.
What does soc stand for?
A security operations center (SOC) is responsible for proactively monitoring a business’s security. While traditionally associated with a physical location, factors like COVID-19 have led to dispersed SOC teams. Nowadays, a SOC is defined more by its crucial security role than a centralized group of individuals.
In many cases, SOC team members can effectively perform their duties from home, without the need for a dedicated facility.
The primary advantage of having a SOC, whether in-house or outsourced, is the integration and coordination of security technologies, procedures, and incident responses. This results in improved precautions, faster threat detection, and more efficient and cost-effective incident response. Additionally, a SOC facilitates compliance with privacy regulations at industrial, national, and global levels.
The Functions of SOC
SOC teams may contain anywhere from a few people to hundreds of employees, depending on the company’s size and the nature of its business, but they all have a common set of responsibilities. A Security Operations Center (SOC) is an organization-wide hub for monitoring and enhancing a company’s security posture, as well as for detecting, investigating, and responding to cyberattacks.
Regarding cybersecurity, prevention is always going to be more effective than detection. A SOC’s job is to constantly monitor the network for any signs of trouble, rather than to react to threats as they arise. The SOC team can intervene to prevent further damage caused by the malicious activity.
Prevention, forethought, and preparation
A security operations center (SOC) must keep track of everything that needs protection, both within and outside the data center, as well as all the tools utilized to secure it. This includes firewalls, antivirus/malware/ransomware tools, monitoring software, and more. For this purpose, many SOCs will turn to asset discovery software.
Maintaining and getting ready for regular use
The SOC maintains and updates the security infrastructure, including firewalls, whitelists, blacklists, security policies, and procedures. During a cybersecurity crisis such as a data breach or ransomware attack, the SOC assists with system backups and policy implementation.
The SOC plays a strategic role in emergency preparedness, formulating the incident response plan. This plan outlines actions to take during security breaches or incidents and assigns responsibilities.
The SOC staff conducts vulnerability assessments, which are in-depth analyses of how vulnerable each resource is to potential threats and how much those threats could cost. Penetration tests are also performed, which are simulations of attacks on many systems. Based on the findings of these tests, the team makes adjustments to the apps, security rules, best practices, and incident response plans.
Being up-to-date: The SOC uses social media, industry sources, and the dark web to obtain the most recent threat intelligence, which includes news and information on cyberattacks and the hackers who perpetrate them.
Tracking, identifying, and reacting
24-hour surveillance for maximum safety. The SOC keeps a close eye on the network, applications, servers, system software, computers, cloud workloads, and more, looking for signals of known exploits and suspicious activities around the clock.
Security information and event management, or SIEM, has been the backbone of many SOCs’ monitoring, detection, and response infrastructure. Alerts and telemetry from network software and hardware are continuously monitored by a SIEM, which then analyses the data in real-time to spot dangers. Extended detection and response (XDR) technology has recently been implemented by several SOCs; this allows for more in-depth telemetry and monitoring, as well as the automation of incident detection and response.
Data logging and analysis
Log management is crucial for monitoring and analyzing log data generated by networking events. It helps identify regular behavior and abnormal activities that may indicate malicious intent. Hackers exploit businesses that overlook log data monitoring, enabling their viruses and malware to persist undetected for extended periods. Additionally, most SIEM tools include a log management interface.
SOC teams prioritize and differentiate genuine cyber threats from false positives, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in modern SIEM solutions. AI automates these processes and enhances its anomaly detection capabilities through data analysis.
The SOC takes action to mitigate an attack or event. The following are examples of possible responses:
The framework sets high standards based on the trust service principles of security, privacy, availability, confidentiality, and processing integrity, with defined criteria for maintenance.
A SOC facilitates effective incident response and recovery by implementing measures to minimize harm and ensuring open communication channels. Merely monitoring activity and issuing notifications is inadequate; post-incident assistance is vital. Examples of recovery efforts include resolving urgent cases of malware or ransomware.
SOC analysts offer data-driven research during remediation to help companies address security vulnerabilities and enhance their monitoring and alerting systems. Analyzing log files and other data enables SOC members to suggest improved network segmentation plans and system patching routines. Enhancing cybersecurity is the primary role of a SOC.
Having a SOC in place ensures compliance with security standards like ISO 27001x, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring adherence to up-to-date guidelines.
What is SOC 2?
Principles of SOC 2: An Explanation
While other compliance frameworks have standard conditions that all businesses must meet, SOC 2 requirements are customizable. Each business must develop its own set of security measures to ensure it complies with the five trust principles in a way that makes sense for its unique operating model.
Security. The security principle generally mandates the prevention of unwanted access to information and computer systems. Therefore, you may need to set up access controls, such as an ACL or an identity management system.
You may also need to implement intrusion detection and recovery systems, multi-factor authentication, and stronger outbound and incoming firewall rules.
Confidentiality. Confidential information is any piece of data that should only be seen by a limited number of persons.
Valuable items include app source code, user login credentials, credit card numbers, business plans, and more.
Sensitive information should be encrypted at all times, not only during transit. The principle of least privilege should guide access decisions, granting users only the necessary privileges and access.
Availability. SLAs for system availability should be met without fail. To achieve this goal, robust, fault-tolerant systems must be constructed. In addition, businesses need to have disaster recovery plans and network monitoring tools in place.
Businesses must follow their data usage and privacy policies, along with the GAPP by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, to protect individuals’ privacy.
PII includes personal details like name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, credit card number, social security number, and more.
To prevent unauthorized access to personally identifiable information, an organization must implement stringent controls.
Honesty in processing. No delay, hacking, error, or flaw is acceptable; all systems must always run perfectly. Tools and processes for quality control and performance monitoring are important for making this a reality.
To secure your systems against attackers, hire specialized cyber-defense experts who understand harmful behaviors and strategies. Trusted MSSPs offer automation, integrated tools, incident response, and other benefits that enhance SOC efficiency and reduce staff burnout.