Best Practices

SOC Meaning: What’s in a Security Operations Center?

To understand the SOC meaning, let’s look at who makes up a security operations center team, what outsourced SOC is, and how to implement SOC the right way.
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Cybersecurity concerns are top of mind for companies around the world. This sobering conclusion was drawn from the Allianz Risk Barometer, an annual survey that examines the most significant risks across the global business community.

According to the report, fear of cyber incidents accounted for 44% of responses followed by business interruptions and natural disasters at 42% and 25% respectively.

There’s plenty of awareness around the importance of information security. At the same time, few possess the advanced knowledge necessary to effectively reduce exposure and improve their security posture; nor the resources required to foster the right environment. That brings us to our word of the day: SOC. However, not everyone understands the SOC meaning.

This article will take a deep dive into the definition of SOC, its significance, function, and role in the modern IT security infrastructure.

What Does SOC Stand For?

SOC meaning: software developer using a computer

Don’t confuse this SOC meaning with “system on a chip,” the robust CPU technology that powers Qualcomm's Snapdragon line of products. This SOC meaning is all about what the acronym (not an abbreviation) stands for: “security operations center.” The acronym represents a centralized hub for the IT and human resources deployed to safeguard critical assets. Think of it as the headquarters or command center for the professionals tasked with managing security for an organization.

From threat monitoring and detection to incident response and data recovery, the SOC team handles virtually every aspect of cybersecurity. These activities are performed around-the-clock, making it possible to uncover and remedy existing threats before they have a chance to make a crippling impact.

Security operation centers are staples in many fields, including healthcare, financial services, and military deployments. In the latter, SOC plays a role in the larger Special Operations Command, which is the epicenter for the special operations units of the US Navy, Marines, Army, and Air Force.

Meet the SOC Team

SOC meaning: co-workers watching something using a computer

A security operations center is manned by the best and brightest security experts. A good team is diverse in makeup, featuring a mix of strategy design planners, problem solvers, and project managers. Here's a more detailed breakdown of the typical SOC team:

  • Security analyst: Like a crime scene investigator, the analyst is the first to respond to a security incident. Their job is to investigate potential threats as well as past events. Their insights are vital to planning, training, recovery, and other aspects of cybersecurity.
  • Security architect: The architect is responsible for designing the systems and strategies that form the foundation of the security infrastructure. This role often calls for a collaborative effort with software developers to ensure that applications are built with security in mind. An architect takes a hands-on approach in the SOC, managing active systems, updating existing tools, and recommending new solutions that improve overall security.
  • Security manager: Steering the entire security operation is an IT security manager, who typically reports project activities to a senior officer. In addition to supervising team members, the SOC manager provides essential resources, coordinates with vendors and stakeholders, generates incident reports, and performs other administrative tasks so the operation runs as seamlessly as possible.
  • CISO: The chief information security officer, or CISO, has the final word on all SOC operations. Their responsibilities primarily involve approving any security plans, policies, or procedures. A CISO also reports all SOC-related activities to company executives.

While the titles may vary from one organization to the next, the roles and responsibilities remain the same. An effective SOC team is made of seasoned professionals with the expertise, certifications, and dedication to manage the most complex security environments.

Dedicated vs. Outsourced SOC

SOC meaning: icons of connected people

Security operations centers exist in many forms. The two most common options are dedicated and outsourced.

A dedicated SOC is a self-managed implementation that operates internally. This scenario uses in-house IT and human resources teams to provide security. The advantage here lies in the fact that the organization controls all security operations. With that control, however, comes the burden of costs and maintenance challenges many smaller firms are not equipped to handle.

An outsourced security operations center is a managed security offering supplied by a third-party service organization. In this subscription-based model, companies benefit from offloading cybersecurity functions such as network monitoring, threat detection, risk management, and incident response onto experts who specialize in delivering these tasks as a service.

SOC Implementation Considerations

SOC meaning: entrepreneur using a calculator and looking at a document

Whether you opt for the DIY route or outsourcing to a service organization, deploying a SOC requires thoughtful planning and execution. The following recommendations will guide you in some best practices.

Identify Business Needs

How will a SOC align with your business plans and objectives? This is an important question that must be answered before moving forward. Company leaders and stakeholders need to understand exactly how such an investment brings value to the organization.

A comprehensive risk assessment can prove incredibly useful in this scenario. Once potential issues and security gaps have been identified, you'll have a clearer image of what a SOC can bring to the table. Moreover, the results of that assessment can be used as reference points to help the security operations team perform with optimal efficiency.

Focus on Cybersecurity Skills

Deploying an SOC will challenge you to hone in on a very particular set of skills.” The ideal SOC team will bring a broad range of technical abilities and soft skills to the table, including:

  • Threat monitoring: The ongoing surveillance and evaluation of networks and infrastructure endpoints performed to detect cybersecurity threats. Threat monitoring provides the visibility necessary to streamline incident response efforts and minimize damage.
  • Incident analysis: A cybersecurity forensics method designed to determine what happened during a security incident and the events that led to it. The insight an analysis provides is essential to preventing those same events from occurring in the future.
  • Incident response: An incident response specialist transforms the aforementioned analytical insights into actionable measures. From containment to mitigation, this skill is critical to getting business back up and running.
  • Objective analysis: The SOC team must apply factual, data-driven analysis to all aspects of the operation. This critical thinking is invaluable when it comes to dissecting security incidents from the inside out.
  • Troubleshooting: The IT security space is burdened by a constantly evolving threat landscape, fraught with new challenges and cyberattacks. A SOC team must be able to use their skills to develop solutions that address problems as they arise.
  • Communication: A security operations center requires seamless communication between team members, management, and business leaders. This means everyone can listen and give and take direction. Communication is key to making sure information is accurately conveyed, interpreted, and put into action.

Get the Right Tools

Even the most proficient cybersecurity professionals and all their lofty certifications are limited without access to capable technology. The best tools will provide key visibility across the operating environment while addressing each point of emphasis.

Here are some of the security tools a security operations center should have:

  • Asset discovery: Identifies assets that exist across the network. This is typically reserved for data and applications. A good asset discovery tool helps streamline IT management, troubleshoot problems, and mitigate security risks.
  • Risk assessment: Identifies, analyzes, and evaluates hazards that pose a threat to cybersecurity. Risk assessment tools yield baseline results that guide the SOC team through the various stages of risk control.
  • Application security: Secures software applications by addressing vulnerabilities at the source code and configuration level. A good application security tool should protect software from outside and inside threats alike.
  • Network monitoring: Tracks network components around-the-clock to determine the overall health of the network. From desktops and servers to Android and iOS devices, network monitoring provides visibility that fuels optimal network security.
  • Intrusion detection: This is based on an advanced network monitoring principle that specifically hunts for potentially dangerous network activity. Intrusion detection systems typically report suspicious activity to an IT security manager or connected SIEM system.
  • SIEM: Centralizes network analysis for the purpose of threat detection. SIEM is an acronym for security information and event management. A SIEM combines the best of network monitoring and intrusion detection with a strong analytical slant. It serves detailed reports on all infrastructure components.

Measure SOC Success

When it comes to cybersecurity, gauging ROI can be tricky. Although traditional performance indicators are useful, there are benefits to tracking a few areas.

For instance, what impact does implementing a security operations center have on productivity and availability? How much money and time is your firm spending on patrolling the network, performing routine maintenance, and responding to reported issues? 

Adopting this straightforward approach across a systematic reporting period will deliver tangible metrics that highlight the benefits and strides your SOC produces over time.

SOC Simplified

SOC meaning: two employees analyzing graphs

The commitment and nonstop grind cybersecurity demands can leave the most skilled IT security professionals feeling frustrated and burnt out. Unfortunately, any lapse in judgment or execution could lead to catastrophic vulnerabilities. This is where ThreatKey comes into play.

Our team is made of cybersecurity experts with certifications in risk assessment, threat analysis, incident response, and beyond. Whether you have a small IT security team or a full-fledged security operations center, we can help your existing staff. We can provide alerts, recommendations, and insights key decision makers need to address issues fast.

ThreatKey's cutting-edge platform reduces the hassle of recruiting, training, and retaining cybersecurity professionals. As a result, our clients have more time to spend on business objectives that foster growth, longevity and prosperity.

Applying the SOC Meaning: the Ideal Cybersecurity Model

Developer using a computer

So what does SOC mean to you? A security operations center values sound planning and robust security measures. These should align with existing infrastructure components and specific business goals, continuous monitoring, detailed analysis, and rapid response. Together, these elements form a safeguard against an uncertain cybersecurity landscape.

Ready to optimize your cybersecurity infrastructure? Contact us to learn more about how ThreatKey can help.

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