Security Operations Center Best Practices

Posted on August 28, 2021 How-To Guides

It’s an exciting time to work in IT security. Firms face considerable challenges in defending their networks. They must also manage to protect their customer and employee data from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

A security operations center is also called a SOC. It’s the hub of cybersecurity for any organization. In today’s world, cyber threats such as ransomware are increasing in frequency and sophistication.

Organizations need a centralized team that can watch their network 24/7. These teams help to identify and mitigate potential breaches as fast as possible.

Many companies open new offices worldwide. Still, they fail to have a proper plan for managing public cloud and private cloud cybersecurity. Yet, the last thing you want is an underutilized or neglected SOC.

Keep reading to learn more about security operations center best practices.

Wrapping Your Head Around Security Operations

A security operations center is a mix of people, processes and technology. It protects the data systems of an organization.

Proactive design and configuration are a part of a SOC. Monitoring the state of a system is also the responsibility of this business unit.

The SOC continually monitors to detect undesirable states and unintended actions. In doing so, it minimizes the fallout from unwanted effects.

Some companies manage the SOC’s role internally. Others completely outsource the responsibility. Yet other companies maintain a hybrid of the two practices.

In either case, the capability to respond to problems is a key component of the SOC.

The SOC typically handles architecture, planning and security administration. These tasks keep company information safe. They also ensure that organizations remain in compliance with laws and industry standards.

The SOC will perform security assessments. These assessments might include:

• Penetration testing
• Purple-teaming
• Threat intelligence gathering
• Threat intelligence use
• Vulnerability scanning

These kinds of tests are highly specialized and usually unfamiliar internally. Many companies will hire an outside company for these kinds of assessments for this reason.

Every company is unique. However, there are some best practices followed by most SOCs.

Best Practice 1: Technology Allocation

The technology coverage of a SOC involves which assets the unit manages and those it doesn’t. Usually, the scope of coverage is based on resource constraints.

Many organizations cannot defend everything at all times. In these instances, they leave assets exposed or less protected.

Staffing and budgeting restraints limit many of these companies to focusing solely on IT systems. However, they don’t provide coverage for nonoperational technology or other specialized systems.

It’s important for firms to address the monitoring of new technology in today’s environment. Companies must ensure that SOC teams align with IT operations—and the entire organization.

SOCs must work seamlessly with your company’s network operations center (NOC). By deploying these two teams in tandem, you won’t overlook efficiencies and knowledge opportunities.

Cyber savvy companies ensure that their SOC and NOC teams are fully integrated. At a minimum, forward-thinking firms make sure that the two units work together.

Here, it’s important to leverage the native capability of cloud computing technology. If needed, play catch up and make sure that you’re monitoring all devices that you’ve deployed.

Best Practice 2: SOC Funding

It’s vital to fund your SOC. Your cloud security operations center is tightly coupled with your firm’s governance structure.

Fortunately, there’s no SOC manager who’s had to work with a nonexistent budget. Also, SOC managers typically benefit by not having to justify staffing and technology costs each year.

Some companies fund their SOCs as a tax on business units. The business units paid the tax whether or not it uses the services of the SOC.

This inefficient scenario is an added incentive to use centralized SOC services. You can provide a stable base of funding in this way.

It helps to identify potential funding vehicles that you’re currently not using. You’ll also want to look for funding sources that you’ve underutilized.

Here, you’ll want to apply metrics to the task. You’ll need to demonstrate the value of funding your SOC.

Also, you want to find ways to share assets with your NOC. It’s also important to share assets with the governance team.

Likewise, you want to spread available resources among your risk management and compliance teams. This kind of shared allocation will drive tighter coordination and unification.

Best Practice 3: SOC Scope

Security managers often ponder over how many people should staff the SOC. It’s challenging to come up with a discrete number for a SOC. All SOC’s are different, as are all companies.

Unfortunately, benchmarking the scope of your SOC against other companies isn’t necessarily helpful either. Some SOCs operate underfunded. The staffing maintained by one company may not match the status or maturity of your company.

Alternatively, malicious actors may target your organization more persistently. Even if you find a comparable organization, you’d need to beef up your SOC staffing for this reason.

If you must compare your SOC to that of another company, begin by figuring out if a given firm is suitable for comparison. Again, there are many variables that can make it hard to find a suitable benchmark in this regard.

As a result, you may find that benchmarking your SOC against another is ineffective. Otherwise, the assessment may prove unfair.

Here, you’ll want to look at the size of the comparison firm’s SOC. You’ll then need to develop a justification for adding staff if that’s the result of your assessment.

Still, adding tech staff is challenging in today’s market. You’ll most likely need to pursue internal career development to meet your SOC staffing needs.

Best Practice 4: SOC Architecture

Some SOCs operate as a sole entity out of a single room and from one location. Other companies operate SOCs as a globally distributed team.

There are more SOC team structure variations than it’s possible to record.

The most common format is a centralized team that addresses all data. This format, however, creates a centralized problem.

Data protection laws vary by region, as do data protection needs. It’s important that SOC team members understand the tactical use of systems in different areas.

Fortunately, companies are slowly starting to realize that the one-room SOC paradigm is dated. They’re moving away from this kind of architecture.

Here, it’s vital to define an architecture for your security operations center. If you don’t have one already, you’ll want to start the process right away.

You can begin by developing a clear understanding of the architecture that you’re authorized to deploy. Next, you want to address regional data protection laws.

Now, you can plan for an optimized architecture. In doing so, you’ll increase efficiency. More importantly, you’ll increase the alignment of your SOC with your system needs.

What’s the State of Your Security Operations Center?

A SOC unit is a considerable investment. It accompanies substantial operational costs. Also, it requires substantial staffing.

Of course, you want to minimize these costs. You may also want to mandate staffing restrictions.

However, other organizations outsource their SOCs instead. Usually, the outsourced SOCs perform the previously mentioned specialized and unfamiliar tests, such as penetration testing and digital forensics.

It’s a great idea to choose an external SOC team to save on costs. However, it’s important to choose a team with a strong understanding of your internal business processes.

A service provider with a cookie-cutter solution will most certainly miss the mark. This kind of service provider lacks intimate knowledge of your industry.

Typically, a firm will hire this kind of company simply to meet regulatory requirements. However, you’ll enjoy tangible results with a cloud service provider that understands the crown jewels of your business.

If you don’t have a current outsourcing strategy, it’s time to develop one. You want to pay careful attention to articulating your needs to a particular managed services provider.

Under any circumstance, an outsourced SOC partnership begins with growing pains. Over time, however, a company service provider will exceed your expectations. Luckily, you’re in the right place to find just such a provider.

Only the Leading Security as a Service Provider Will Do for Your Company

Now you know more about security operations center best practices. Hopefully, you see the importance of bolstering your SOC.

The state of your security operations center is a reflection of success or failure in protecting your organization. We hope that the best practices mentioned above will help you create an effective SOC.

If you’re not sure if you’re managing your SOC in the best way possible, NETdepot can help.

We have a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity services available, including managed detection and response, vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, incident management, and more. What’s more, our experts are on call 24/7 to provide you with the best protection possible.

Contact NETdepot today at (844) 25-CLOUD or connect with us online to learn more about our highly effective security-focused services.

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