Security Operations Center (SOC)

Security Operations Center (SOC)

A security operations center (SOC) is a command center facility for a team of information technology IT professionals with expertise in information security (infosec) who monitors, analyzes and protects an organization from cyber attacks.

In the SOC, internet traffic, networks, desktops, servers, endpoint devices, databases, applications and other systems are continuously examined for signs of a security incident. SOC staff may work with other teams or departments but are typically self-contained with employees that have high-level IT and cybersecurity skills or outsourced to third-party service providers. Most SOCs function around the clock, with employees working in shifts to constantly log activity and mitigate threats.

Prior to establishing a SOC, an organization must define its cybersecurity strategy to align with current business goals and problems. Department executives reference a risk assessment that focuses on what it will take to maintain the company's mission and subsequently provide input on objectives to be met and infrastructure and tooling required to meet those objectives, as well as required staff skills. SOCs are an integral part of minimizing the costs of a potential data breach as they not only help organizations respond to intrusions quickly, but also constantly improve detection and prevention processes.

Most large organizations have in-house SOCs, while companies without the staff or resources to maintain one themselves may opt to outsource some or all SOC responsibilities to a managed service provider (MSP), the cloud or a hosted virtual SOC. SOCs are commonly found in healthcare, education, finance, e-commerce, government, military operations and advanced technology industries.

Asset discovery and management

involves obtaining a high awareness of all tools, software, hardware and technologies used within the organization. These also focus on ensuring all assets are working properly and regularly patched and updated.

Continuous behavioral monitoring

incudes examining all systems 24/7 year-round. This enables SOCs to place equal weight on reactive and proactive measures as any irregularity in activity is instantly detected. Behavioral models train data collection systems on what activities are suspicious and can be used to adjust information that might register as false positives.

Keeping activity logs

enables SOC team members to backtrack or pinpoint previous actions that may have resulted in a breach. All communications and activity across an organization should be logged by the SOC.

Alert severity ranking

helps teams ensure the most severe or pressing alerts are handled first. Teams must regularly rank cybersecurity threats in terms of potential damage. Defense development and evolution

Is important to help SOC teams stay up to date. Teams should create an incident response plan (IRP) to defend systems against new and old attacks. Teams must also adjust the plan as necessary when new information is obtained.

Incident recovery enables an organization to recover compromised data. This includes reconfiguring, updating or backing up systems.

Compliance maintenance

Is key to ensuring SOC team members and the company follow regulatory and organizational standards when carrying out business plans. Typically, one team member oversees educating and enforcing compliance.