Security Operations Center (SOC): Definition, Types, and Functions


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.

Repeated Examinations

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.

Crisis Management

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.

AI-SOC Solutions

AI-SOC solutions involve the integration of AI technologies into SOC processes. These solutions help teams by automating routine tasks, reducing response times to incidents, and predicting future threat patterns through machine learning algorithms. By using AI, SOCs can filter out noise and focus on high-priority issues, improving overall efficiency and effectiveness.

The deployment of AI in SOC environments aids in overcoming challenges associated with vast data volumes. AI systems process and correlate data at a speed that human analysts cannot match. This allows for real-time analysis of security events and can lead to quicker isolation and neutralization of active threats. Moreover, AI-driven analytics can identify subtle, unusual patterns that might elude manual detection, closing gaps in the defense perimeter.

What is SOC 2?

SOC 2 is a security framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The purpose of SOC 2 is to provide guidance for evaluating the operating effectiveness of an organization’s security protocols, particularly related to handling customer data stored in the cloud.

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.

The Emergence of SIEMs In The SOC

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems represent a foundational technology within a SOC. SIEMs enable teams to efficiently detect potential security incidents by aggregating and analyzing large volumes of data from various sources within an organization’s network. These systems flag anomalies and suspicious activities by correlating events, offering analysts crucial insights into potential breaches or attacks in their early stages. This crucial ability ensures that SOCs remain ever-vigilant against a variety of cyber threats.

Furthermore, SIEM systems have evolved to include sophisticated pattern recognition and machine learning capabilities. This advancement allows for an even more proactive stance in threat detection. Analysts benefit from the systems’ ability to learn from past incidents, enabling quicker identification of novel attacks that may otherwise bypass traditional detection methods. This continuous learning process equips SOCs with stronger defenses against an ever-increasing and evolving risk landscape.

Another significant facet of SIEMs in the SOC is compliance management. SIEMs provide valuable support in meeting various regulatory requirements by logging security data and providing comprehensive reports. These reports are essential for demonstrating compliance with industry standards and regulations, thus ensuring that the organization adheres to legal and ethical obligations. The increased reliance on SIEMs reflects an organization’s dedication to maintaining robust security protocols, essential in today’s digital environment.

The Rise of Automation In The SOC

The relentless growth of cyber threats requires Security Operations Centers to process security alerts at breakneck speeds. In response, automation has become a linchpin in the operations of contemporary SOCs. By reducing the need for manual intervention, SOC teams can harness the power of automation to carry out monotonous tasks that machines can execute with greater accuracy and efficiency. Automated systems are capable of sifting through mountains of data to pinpoint security threats, flagging them for human analysis, thereby accelerating the detection process and quickening the organizational response to incidents.

Beyond detection, automation enables effective incident response and management. Predesigned response scenarios empower SOCs to act swiftly, often automatically containing or mitigating lesser threats. This operational efficiency not only fortifies an organization’s cybersecurity posture but also frees up vital analyst time. SOC professionals can deploy their expertise where it matters most: investigating intricate attack vectors and refining defensive strategies. As cyber threats grow in sophistication, so too does the need for intelligent automation that can adapt to an ever-changing landscape of risk.

The Rise of Hyperautomation

Building on the foundation of automation, hyperautomation takes the concept further by integrating advanced technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other cognitive tools. The ambition of hyperautomation in the context of SOCs is to enhance decision-making processes, drive quicker resolutions, and reduce the need for human intervention. By embracing hyperautomation, SOCs can improve their operational effectiveness and adapt to the rapidly changing threat landscape more dynamically.

Hyperautomation enables SOC teams to process and analyze vast quantities of data at speeds unattainable by humans. Linking together multiple automated processes and decision-making capabilities, it not only identifies and responds to known threats but can also predict and prevent potential future threats. This proactive stance enabled by hyperautomation allows SOCs to stay a step ahead, ensuring organizations’ resilience against sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Moreover, hyperautomation fosters an environment where continuous improvement is achievable. It allows for the rapid evolution of SOC practices, as machine learning algorithms learn from each security incident. SoCs thus become smarter and more proficient, with their systems developing an increasingly nuanced understanding of the threat environment. The adoption of hyperautomation signifies an advanced phase where SOCs leverage technology to amplify their capabilities and resilience significantly.

Roles and Personas in the SOC

Within a SOC, various roles collaborate to maintain cyber resilience. Analysts scrutinize network data for signs of a security event, while incident responders take charge of mitigating and recovering from breaches. Managers oversee operations, ensuring that the team responds effectively to threats. Beyond these key players, additional roles include compliance officers who maintain adherence to legal standards, and cybersecurity architects who design the secure framework of IT infrastructure.

Furthermore, the SOC team is not complete without its threat hunters. These proactive professionals seek out sophisticated threats that evade traditional detection methods. They play a crucial chess game with attackers by thinking like them and predicting their moves. Forensic analysts also contribute by investigating after a breach to learn from the attackers’ methods. This collected intelligence feeds back into the SOC, enabling a stronger defense against future intrusions.

Challenges Modern SOC Teams Face

Fighting against complex cyberattacks, modern SOC teams need to adapt quickly to a dynamic environment. SOC personnel face the relentless task of updating defenses to match the innovative methods attackers use. They must address the challenge of staying several steps ahead of attackers, future-proofing the network, and ensuring the safety of sensitive data.

The stress of high-stakes decision-making on SOC teams is another significant challenge. Each alert could indicate a potential breach, leading to difficult choices under pressure. Consequently, SOC teams require robust systems to filter the noise and prioritize incidents based on severity and impact. This enables them to allocate resources effectively, focus on critical issues, and make accurate, timely decisions.

The Future of SOC Platforms

The evolution of SOC platforms focuses on integrating more advanced technologies and refining detection and response capabilities. As cyber threats grow in sophistication, the development of more intelligent and automated SOC solutions will be central to addressing future challenges in cybersecurity. Innovations in technology drive SOC platforms to adapt and evolve constantly, ensuring they can defend against evolving cyber threats. Adopting new solutions that offer faster, more efficient, and accurate threat detection are imperative for the survival and effectiveness of SOCs.

Looking ahead, SOC platforms aim to incorporate predictive analytics and machine learning to not only respond to threats but to anticipate and neutralize them before they impact the organization. By embracing these technologies, SOC teams can shift from a reactive to a proactive stance in their cybersecurity efforts. The importance of adaptation and upgrade to keep pace with attackers’ tactics cannot be overstated. Future advancements will likely focus on the integration of threat intelligence and greater automation to support human analysts in decision-making processes.


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.