What is SOC (Security Operations Center)?

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What is a SOC (Security Operations Center)?

Security Operations Centers (SOC) perform as a command base for security teams that detect, investigate, and respond to cyber threats. A SOC gathers telemetry covering your business’s security infrastructure and provides continuous, proactive monitoring across networks, endpoints, operating systems, servers, databases, and applications. The SOC team widens the scope by prioritizing visibility and creating an inventory of all software and systems across the business’s attack surfaces. In simple terms, the SOC is an integral part of an organization’s incident response strategy and is comprised of three key areas: security professionals, processes, and technologies.


So, what is SOC-as-a-service (SOCaaS)?

SOC cyber security focuses on continuous monitoring and alert investigation of suspicious activity and cyber incidents. A managed SOC or SOC as a service team, collects robust threat data from firewalls, probes, and security information and event management (SIEM). SOC as a service (SOCaaS) is a subscription-based service model that bolsters the same capabilities of an internal SOC but is a budget-friendly alternative that involves outsourcing detection and incident response (IR) experts. The Security Operations Center as a service acts as a correlation base where SOC analysts bring together context on event logged information and network activity to identify threats, strategize a plan, and prevent attacks before they do damage.

Visit the Malwarebytes Advancing SOC Incident Response Practices Solution Brief to learn more about automation in endpoint remediation and modern practices to enhance your SOC team’s time to respond and remediate cyber incidents.


Key responsibilities of a Security Operations Center

In support of your organization’s cybersecurity maturity, the SOC or SOCaaS offers numerous benefits, such as:


Detection of suspicious activity

SOC and SOC-as-a-service personnel monitor suspicious activity around the clock. They offer complete visibility to proactively detect anomalies across your network. SOC providers handle the complexity of detecting threats at the attack surface, and they are responsible for seeking ways to improve your business’s security posture.


Investigation of threats

Security operations center analysts oversee the investigation of incidents and closely examine each case by case. Analysts work 24/7 to determine the severity of malicious activity. The SOC relies on security monitoring tools, such as SIEM and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) to detect and decipher alert ranking and possible assets targeted.

Through focusing on finding the root of a breach, SOCs examine log event data and perform behavioral analysis to support the systems interpreting everyday activity from legitimate threat actor behavior.


Response and remediation

Following a cyberattack, the security operations center helps to recover breached data, systems, and company assets. After confirming cyberattack incidents, the SOC team triages infected targets through isolating breached endpoint devices, wiping or restarting systems, and blocking threat actors from executing strategic goals.


Prevention against malware

A SOC performs ongoing monitoring on suspicious activity in your network and maintains systems to ensuring patching and applications stay updated. Through actively detecting anomalies, organizations can catch security breaches, including malwareransomware, and zero-day attacks, before they wreak havoc on company crown jewels (your valuable data).

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Managed Detection and Response takes the guesswork out of sophisticated threats without the cost of an in-house SOC.

Traditional in-house security teams can’t keep up with false positives. Your business can’t afford to let ransomware and other advanced cyberthreats evade your security layers.

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Challenges SOC security face

Tasked with the responsibility to monitor, prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to suspicious threat actor activity and cyber threats, the SOC must overcome several challenges. These obstacles include alert fatigue, time to respond, skill shortage, limited resources, and strict compliance regulations among other areas.


Alert fatigue

SOC security receives an overwhelming volume of alerts. SOC analysts work to identify and prioritize which alerts are false positives. This causes SOC analysts to utilize time and resources classifying suspicious activity. Time consumption is a tremendous challenge for SOCs that deal with high alert volume.


Rapid response

A SOC plays a critical role responding to legitimate alerts with the urgency needed to safeguard your security. After a bad actor gains accesses to your network, the longer the duration the actor spends penetrating security layers results in greater damage and increased cost to remediate the cyberattack. A SOC analyst needs to identify and act on alerts in real-time to avoid and reduce company loss. MTTD (Mean Time to Detect) and MTTR (Mean Time to Respond) are examples of metrics to help measure your SOC’s efficacy in responding to simulated attacks.


Skill shortage and limited resources

SOC teams are comprised of various roles and security professionals ranging in expertise. The cybersecurity industry faces difficult staffing shortages and a SOC will need to navigate security skill gaps that leave organizations susceptible to malwareransomware, and other cyber-attacks.


Cost to build a SOC team

Onboarding SOC staff and building a dynamic SOC team involves a great deal of time and resources. SOC analysts need to stay up to date in threat intelligence trends and must continuously learn in an evolving threat landscape. Maintaining a well-rounded team that consists of a SOC Manager, SOC Analysts, SOC Architect, and Compliance Auditor poses challenges to organizations struggling to attract high-level cyber security talent who understand their company’s full needs. For many small businesses, choosing a SOC as a service model is a more affordable alternative that leverages the expertise of high-skilled SOC professionals without the expense of building an in-house SOC team.


Satisfying SOC compliance

Security operations centers stay up to date on compliance regulation changes within their industry, federal, and local government. The SOC collects and applies data subject to compliance standards. A SOC team’s mission is to protect the organization’s crowned jewels, which includes intellectual property (IP) and sensitive data. By implementing strict security policies to protect data, SOCs need to meet framework requirements which include satisfying industry compliances.


SOC vs MDR

What is the difference between SOC (or SOC as a service) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR)? Managed detection and response (MDR) is a service that combines the analysis of robust correlated data with a team of advanced cybersecurity technicians to bring proactive, purpose-built threat hunting, monitoring, and response helping organizations improve their security posture. Within the security solution, a SOC is a part of MDR.

SOC FAQs

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What is SOC cybersecurity framework?

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