What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
A Security Operation Center (SOC) is a group of cybersecurity professionals who work together for monitoring, penetration testing and fixing security vulnerabilities for organizations. Traditionally, a security operation center is also known as the physical place for analyzing and taking security actions for an organization. However, where cybersecurity professionals work is the Security Operation Center (SOC).
Employees from the SOC collaborate closely with business disaster response teams to ensure that vulnerabilities are handled as soon as they are discovered.
Network infrastructure, computer servers, numerous endpoints, apps, webpages, as well as other assets are monitored and analyzed at security operations centers, which check for unusual behavior that might indicate a security threat or breach. The SOC is in charge of properly identifying, analyzing, defending, investigating, and reporting possible security events.
The Security personnel is subject to the continuous, functional part of the business cybersecurity, instead of defining the approach to cybersecurity, building a security plan, or deploying protection mechanisms. Cybersecurity experts collaborate in the centralized model to identify, evaluate, deal with, notify on, and mitigate security problems. To examine attacks, certain SOCs have an extensive detailed investigation, cryptographic algorithms, and virus reverse engineering technologies.
The first stage in building a company's SOC is to explicitly identify a policy that takes into account corporation objectives across multiple divisions, along with management involvement and support. After the approach has been defined, the technology that will allow it must be set up in place.
What is The Importance of the Security Operations Center (SOC)?
Since businesses lack the capabilities to identify and react to risks responsibly without SOC assistance, cyberattacks can go undetected for a long period.
As a result, a SOC would enable businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their IT infrastructures, as well as acquire new methods, procedures, and constant up-gradation. As cyberattacks become more common, most businesses are centering existing cybersecurity capabilities on identification and fixing the issues.
A security operation center monitors the integration of internal and external traffic and constantly checks its affiliation with the company's IT resources. Furthermore, the security operation center is responsible for blocking any fraudulent traffic that doesn't have legitimate access to the digital property of the business. Though the process seems to be simple, it needs to go through keen observation and regular up-gradation. So, the centralized place for cybersecurity is the best option for a company for better cybersecurity management.
How does a Security Operations Center Work?
The SOC's principal purpose is to analyze and notify cyberthreats. This comprises data collecting and evaluation to detect unusual performance and enhance the confidentiality of data. Cybersecurity protocols, web application firewalls, sensitive data management systems, and malware detection are all used to analyze risk information. When inconsistencies, aberrant patterns, or other symptoms of compromise are detected, alerts are delivered to the team members. The SOC is in charge of compiling, monitoring, and evaluating a record of all internet traffic and interactions for the whole business.
Previously, the security operations center was thought to be a massive structure that could only be afforded by very big or security-conscious companies. With the emergence of technology tools and features and vulnerability management, many entrepreneurs are establishing remote security operations centers (SOCs) that do not require a permanent site and may be staffed by component protection, administration, and development personnel.
What are the Benefits of Having A Security Operations Center?
The benefit of having a security operations center is not only limited to facing cyber threats but also to remain the whole IT environment convenient and secure for users from different end-points. The main advantages of having a SOC are outlined below:
- Better Threat Management: Threat management includes identifying and neutralizing any security vulnerabilities and monitoring cybersecurity issues promptly. Over the years, it is proven that a centralized place for security operation performs better than contemporary threat management protocols. Thus, the security operation center provides better threat management to the businesses.
- Minimize the effect of the breach: All that a SOC does is aimed at reducing the effect of privacy violations and other vulnerabilities on the company's IT resources. The SOC's efforts to reduce the attack duration period between discovery and identification to reduce the effect of breaches. Appropriate prioritizing of SOC operations, different variables such as the seriousness of risks in an object, vulnerability data concerning incident patterns, and the properties' direct impact on the company are also significant. Security management operations centers may make a massive difference in preventing small security events from turning into massive cybersecurity incidents.
- Always be one step ahead of the attackers: SOCs try to develop their operations above responsive incident response to include aggressive unique security. The most cunning offenders fight hard to stay undetected, hence why seasoned SOC analysts trawl over digital signs for initial reports of attacks that don't always activate warnings yet are worth investigating.
- Security Transparency: A reputable outsourced SOC team will also disclose their results as quickly as feasible. Everyone can, in a sense, "see through the walls" of your company. In comparison to most security systems, it will also work and handle repair quickly and effectively.
Additionally, using a single SOC saves the expenses of operating IT security technologies. The security operations center handles all of the equipment and machines as well.
How to Build a Security Operations Center?
When the companies decide to build a security operation center, they often deep into complex situations choosing components, fixing the strategy and the objectives of the security operations center. Here is how to build a security operation center:
Fix a Strategy First: First of all, the strategy is a must. The strategy will include the working process and the objectives of the security operations center. According to the company functionality, the strategy will differ from business to business. However, a plan for further work is highly needed to design and develop a security operations center.
Design Your Security Solution: A perfect design for a security solution could decrease the total cost of the security operations center. Without the design of a security solution, the company may bear unnecessary costs for equipment.
Operational Action: Operation action includes the procedure and the working pattern of the security operations center. For example, when the operation center will suspect any activity in the network which is not legitimate the process of neutralizing and fixing the issue will be included in the operational activities.
Prepare the Environment: After fixing the strategy and operational actions, the environment of the business and IT resources should be prepared to adopt new equipment and modules for the security center. The dedicated security monitoring zone needs to comply with the existing IT resources of the company so that it could manage it easily.
Implement the Equipment and Solutions: Here goes the most important part: implementing the security equipment and solutions for the security center. Keen observation is required to ensure a hassle-free deployment of the equipment. However, the equipment needs to be worked efficiently altogether.
Deploying the End-User: The last work is to make the security center accessible for the end-users. This means, all the users should go through the security protocol set by the operations center when they are communicating digitally within the IT resources of the company. None should allow accessing the IT resources bypassing the security protocol to ensure a highly secure IT environment.
What are SOC Challenges?
The main SOC challenges are as follows:
- Flooding Notifications Fatigue: The current popular difficulty for SOCs is a large number of warnings, which can result in "Notification Fatigue". Warning fatigue is a term used in political jargon to indicate the decrement of individuals who should attend to a large number of warnings. The key problem in a contemporary SOC is to rank alerts by assessing the intensity and relevance of the event to choose how and when to emphasize.
- Using Threat Intelligence (TI): Experts must employ threat intelligence (TI) to enhance the accompanying data and analyze the complete breadth of the breach, which includes all compromised devices after a warning has been judged important enough to explore deeper. Employing early and appropriate threat intelligence can assist in determining which additional assets have been compromised by the compromise and what the origin of the cybercrime may be.
- Gathering Evidence: Portions cybercriminals are experts at hiding their tracks, and they may remove or remove some of their "electronic fingerprints," making the inquiry hard to finish. As a result, while proceeding with the inquiry, experts must swiftly gather all relevant data, including internet logs.
- Migrations to the Cloud: The ongoing movement of business processes and cloud storage services has enlarged the attack surface thus bringing new accountability and education programs for security operations centers (SOCs) at several companies.
According to research, many businesses will just migrate on-premises capabilities to the cloud, whilst others seek cloud-native options yet others will attempt to supplement on-premises security compliance with cloud-based solutions.
38% currently employ cloud-based cognitive computing and security solutions that manage technologies, particularly for clear threat prevention and analysis, vulnerability management supervision, and threats counterintelligence.
What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Security Operations Center?
There are four layers of SOC analysts. Security information and event management alarms are firstly routed to Tier 1 analysts, which track, evaluate, and examine issues. Actual dangers are forwarded to a Tier 2 analyst with more relevant experience, who does more investigation and determines a management plan.
Major intrusions are assigned to a Tier 3 senior analyst, who is in charge of managing the event and actively looking for risks regularly. Whenever serious security events occur, the Tier 4 analyst is the SOC administrator, with the responsibility of recruiting, planning, targets, and the complete control of SOC workers. The roles and responsibilities of a Security Operations Center are summarized below:
Alert Investigator: Security certificates such as CISSP or SANS SEC401, administrator abilities, server-side scripting languages including PHP, Ruby, Python scripting languages monitor vulnerability information and event management alerts, administer security tracking tools, and assemble them. Takes precedent alerts or concerns and conducts triage to ensure that a true security event is occurring.
Incident Response: An incident responder receives events and does an in-depth assessment, comparing it to risk information to determine the malicious activity, the type of the attempt, and the devices or data that have been impacted. Determines that implements a confinement, cleanup, and restoration plan.
Managing Value and Importance: As the cybercrime environment evolves, SOC professionals must be prepared to manage the most current risks to the enterprise. This meant maintaining current emerging threats and guaranteeing that security protocols are equipped with the most up-to-date rules for detecting them.
Updates and Patches Unsecured Infrastructure: Fraudsters frequently use weaknesses as an attack vector. Updates for insecure business systems and software must be identified, applied, and tested by SOC experts.
Systematic Approach: Additional security approaches are needed as the threat intelligence conditions change and the company's network develops. Security Operations Centers are in control of finding, implementing, establishing, and maintaining their security apparatus.
What are the Tools Included in a Security Operations Center?
The following are some of the SOC tools that you will understand the need in the operations center:
- FTK (Forensic Toolkit): The acronym FTK refers to the "forensic toolkit". It's a data investigation and imaging tool that's used to meticulously capture data while also producing duplicates of the data without modifying the entire evidence document. Generating diagnostic photos of native storage devices, examining the visual content saved on the native workstation, and transferring files and directories from files are all functionalities of the FTK Imager. The FTK imager additionally has an integrated validation feature that generates a hash analysis that can be used to validate the authenticity of the proof both before and after it is imaged.
- Wireshark: Wireshark is a network traffic software application. Ethereal was the label given to it at first. It catches messages as they go via the internet and transforms them into an understandable form. The Color scheme, filtering, and other capabilities of Wireshark allow us to go deep into the streams and analyze them separately. It's an open-source tool for creating and understanding protocols. The main goal is to raise awareness of how data packets are retrieved and processed from the computer's real-time environment, as well as the challenges and complexity involved. It's a terrific way of learning about and investigating the subject.
- Network Miner: A network miner is an internet forensic investigation program that is mostly used by Microsoft but also supports iOS, and Linux-based operating systems. It's a free and open-source program. The benefit of utilizing a networking miner is that it works without generating any internet traffic. This application gives data about primarily or centered networks instead of the overall infrastructure; such knowledge aids in the presentation of information for forensic investigations. Active sampling is a function of this program that allows us to collect traffic via the connection but is restricted by the buffering capacity. It can transfer pcap files at a speed of 0.581 megabytes per second. It can also do OS identification, which is crucial in any forensic investigation.
- Splunk: Splunk is a framework for searching, analyzing, and visualizing business data from websites, apps, monitors, Internet of things(IoT) devices, desktops, and other sources. Splunk is a real-time data collection, monitoring, and visualization tool. Splunk allows for distributed data conveyance and visualization, as well as real-time analytics; it helps the work simpler. It analyzes system logs instantaneously. Splunk may be installed on any computer and used to track and analyze IP packets, as well as how many users are visiting your webpage and what activities individuals are attempting.
What are SOC Models?
There are a variety of models, and knowing the fundamental distinctions may help an organization decide which road to pursue whenever it comes to safeguarding its regular activities from a monitoring and warning standpoint. It is significant to mention that no institutions are the same as each other, and the prototype selected will be heavily influenced by the four considerations,
i. The organizational size
ii. The budget of IT Security
iii. Cybersecurity professionals
iv. Earlier incidents the businesses have encountered
It is significant to mention that no institutions are the same as each other, and the prototype selected will be heavily influenced by the four considerations. All of these factors influence how you develop, build, and structure a SOC.
1. Virtual SOC
Choosing the proper security features for your SOC may be difficult, especially with so many options available. Numerous dissimilar technologies need time and resources to purchase, implement, configure, and maintain. One of the main reasons for this is that maintaining warnings and screening out false positives may be a critical resource impact. Furthermore, the information security sector's growing skills deficit renders acquiring competent employees with the necessary capabilities expensive and complicated.
A virtual security operations center (SOC) is a protected web-based application that enables you to analyze the cybersecurity of businesses in real-time. This centralized management & control unit combines integrated security administration, a clearer perspective into the company's overall security, as well as a plan for all your security and surveillance and crisis response needs, neither to forget helping you satisfy those pesky inspections.
Operators may concentrate system vulnerabilities by concentrating on the events that have the most effect on the organization, utilizing far more up-to-date threat information to identify, react, and fix, using a virtualized SOC.
2. Internal SOC
Internal Security Operations Center gives a company the most authority over its IT security activities and the highest chance of getting precisely the capabilities it requires. The basis for potential efficient security solutions, such as vulnerability assessments, threat detection, public and private security monitoring, and risk monitoring, may be laid by establishing an internal cybersecurity operations center.
An internal SOC indicates that a company's security professionals are completely focused on safeguarding its infrastructure. This creates a degree of expertise with existing systems and communication topology that an external supplier would struggle to meet.
3. Hybrid SOC
Although both the internal and external strategies have drawbacks, a hybrid SOC approach, when set up with the appropriate amount of competence, may combine their benefits. To complete a new security operation, the hybrid SOC combines the expertise and capabilities of in-house experts and IT security staff with the managed security service provider (MSSP).
Specialists of the combined team work together to determine how SOC enhancements should be concentrated and how they should be fine-tuned. They also collaborate on accountability areas, such as MSSP handling the initial line of defense while the company manages threat data, cybersecurity technology, and infrastructure.
How to Optimize a Security Operations Model?
Optimizing the security operations model is the priority to design a productive security operations center within the company security budget.
Start with evaluating the security model. Learn about the pros and cons of different SOC models and choose the right model for your business. Then implement advanced analytics to check the initial data flow and transfer policy. After that, integrate commands and make the process automated for further purposes.
You can boost your capability by adding extra tools and solutions to meet your requirements. However, do not forget to measure the performance.
What are Industries That Must Have a (SOC)?
A security operations center needs some budget to maintain which many companies do not want. Even, all businesses do not require to manage a security operation center. But some sectors must need to have a security operations center.
Finance: Financial sectors are the common target of cyberattackers and the security of financial businesses and companies need to be highly monitored and remain free from vulnerabilities to keep the data secure. A dedicated security operations center is a must for these kinds of organizations.
Government: Often sensitive and confidential governmental data remain at risk of getting compromised by cybercriminals. So, the government must have security operations centers among all the departments. Otherwise, it is hard to maintain proper security for such huge data.
Healthcare: Healthcare industries keep the personal data of users for serving better features for the users. However, data of the individual users or the whole bunch of information could become an easy target for the hackers to get in. Security protocols could help to prevent the situation but a security operation center is highly needed for the healthcare industry.
Manufacturing and Retail: Above other industries, the manufacturing and retail industries should maintain a security operations center for better management of companies' cybersecurity resources and capabilities. So, the business is getting benefited from keeping the data in proper security. On the other hand, important trading information is routed through secure channels which the administrator can monitor.
Figure 1. What are Industries That Must Have a SOC
What is the Difference Between Network Operations Center and Security Operations Center?
Whereas the Network Operations Center and the Security Operations Center are different teams inside a business with quite related tasks, there are some important variations among both these.
Perspective: The Network Operations Center and the Security Operations Center share the very same fundamental goal to a greater extent: to assure that the business network infrastructure can satisfy the demands of the company. The specifics of these goals, nevertheless, vary here between groups. The objective of a Network Operations Center is to assure that the system can achieve service-level agreements throughout regular operations while also dealing with natural disturbances such as service interruptions and natural catastrophes. The Security Operations Center, on the other hand, is responsible for defending the network and business processes against cybercrime activities.
Protection Level: The Network Operations Center's primary goal is to prevent networking disruption affected by external or non-human-caused catastrophes. This covers things like power disruptions, communication failures, and natural calamities, among other things. Experts in the security operations center, on either side, guard against human-caused interruptions. They are responsible for detecting, triaging, and responding to cyberattacks that might interrupt processes or produce other losses to the organization.
In contrast, Security Operations Centers use real-time monitoring to discover internet risks. A SOC administrator is in charge of coordinating security operations and initiatives.
What is the Difference Between a SIEM and a SOC?
Companies must continuously monitor, network equipment, and the protection technologies responsible for defending company resources and information in a protected manner. Organizations would be ignorant if a theft deterrent malfunctioned or if cyber-criminals violated security and began stealing data if they were not monitored. Infections would also go unnoticed, making leaving the environment unmonitored equally riskier. However, SEIM and SOC are different in some aspects.
SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management as a compact solution for companies. Where the Security Operations Center is the place where the professionals deal with security components to keep the IT environment secure from potential security threats.