How to evaluate and invest in a SOC

How to Evaluate & Invest in a SOC Service

Introduction

The need for strong cybersecurity including a SOC service is increasingly taking center stage as data breaches and ransomware occupy global headlines. In the past year alone, even prominent security firms have fallen victim to cyberthreats. Now, building a strategy against cyberthreats is a key concern for all organizations. MSPs are facing a high demand for efficient and affordable cybersecurity and quickly seeing that traditional cyber technologies such as anti-virus or anti-malware are not enough when it comes to responding to modern and advanced adversaries.

As these factors shape the threat landscape, a number of industry buzzwords and solutions have saturated the MSP market. It can be a challenge for MSPs to find the right tools for their security stack with so many services to choose from and frequent overlap in their functions, benefits, and shortcomings. What is clear is the need to have both proactive and preventative measures when it comes to security. This mindset is starting to guide more MSPs towards investing in a Security Operations Center (SOC) to help establish the right security procedures and processes.

Before this summer comes to an end, get a clear idea of what you should consider when evaluating and investing in a SOC and how best to bolster your cybersecurity strategy in the long term.

What is a SOC?

When investigating a new security solution, it’s important to cut through the industry buzz and figure out what is legitimate and worth investing in. If you’re asking, “What does a standard SOC look like? What is it meant to do?”, read on to understand what you should be looking for.

Definition of SOC

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a centralized hub that combines dedicated security analysts, processes, and technology to continuously monitor an organization’s security posture. SOCs are focused on using telemetry measured from across an organization’s IT infrastructure and assets to prevent, detect, assess, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

Key Functions to Look For

All SOCs are built differently, and many providers allow organizations to select the specific services that best serve their line of business. These are some of the common key functions that a majority of SOCs will offer:

    24/7/365 Proactive Monitoring: SOCs should be scanning your networks on a 24/7/365 basis through proactive behavior monitoring and analysis. Anytime their technology flags an anomaly or evidence of suspicious activity, the SOC can investigate immediately. This means you can stay ahead of adversaries and prevent or mitigate malicious actions. Further, cybercriminals often schedule their attacks during off hours and weekends to maximize the potential success rate of their operation. Without a SOC monitoring all hours and days of the week, an in-house IT team may not be able to catch and apply defensive processes until the next business day.
    Threat Response: Think of SOC is a first responder for any situation. A SOC works to close the gap between the first alert and the time it takes to respond and remediate. By immediately shutting down or isolating endpoints, they can terminate malicious processes, delete bad files, and stop the threat from moving deeper into other systems. Time is the most crucial factor when it comes to protecting your and your client’s data.
    Incident Recovery: In the event of a security event, SOCs work together with you during the incident response processes by providing expertise and guidance. With this, the organization can more quickly restore their systems back to operational status and try to recover lost or infected data.
    Alert Severity Triage: A significant challenge faced by in-house security teams is dealing with alert fatigue. Especially for organizations relying on Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool to log events, internal teams can be quickly overwhelmed with constant alerts. While some alerts are truly early indicators of breach, false positives and triggers due to misconfiguration are common. This is how some legitimate notifications are missed or not triaged properly. Experienced SOC analysts would be able to offload this task and better sift through the incoming alerts and efficiently assess whether immediate action is needed.
    Post-Incident Investigation: Post-incident work is just as important as catching and eliminating the threat. A SOC performs a root cause analysis and investigation to find out how and why the event occurred and then reports back with clear action items. Post-incident investogations are also important for settings Lessons Learned benchmarks for how better to prevent similar events from occurring in the future.
    Asset Discovery & Management: SOCs manage two main categories of assets: the devices, processes, and applications of the organization they are defending, and the specific tools and software in place to protect the former. In SOC operations, having full visibility and control is key. This allows them to build a complete map of all available assets on the networks and be able to manage any weak or blind spots. With a complete view of all the endpoints, software, servers, services, SOCs can stay on top of the nature of traffic flowing between these assets and monitor for anomalies.
    Activity Log Collection: As the SOC collects, maintains, and reviews all network activity for an organization, it allows the SOC to acquire a baseline snapshot of what normal network operations look like. This is significant for the SOC as it allows the team to better locate threats, malicious files, and changes to assets. Compiling activity logs are also useful for remediation and forensic analysis in the aftermath of a security event.
    Compliance Strategy: Compliance audits ensure that organizations handling sensitive information are held to a standard set of rules and regulations. Should a breach occur, being compliant can shield the organization from reputational damage as well as severe legal and financial ramifications.

The Long-Term Cyber Strategy – Combining SOC & MDR

It is no doubt that, from a security strategy standpoint, having a SOC means responding faster, minimalizing damages and costs, and safeguarding data and business continuity. However, is there a way to level up your cybersecurity strategy for the long-term game?

SOC: Firming Up Your Defense

Investing in a SOC can streamline how MSPs help their clients face modern, advanced cyberthreats. Engaging with a SOC is an increasingly positive option for many businesses, especially those who want to build a robust security framework backed by security experts with experience in dealing with ever-evolving cyber adversaries.

Ultimately, a SOC allows its organizations to operate knowing that cyberthreats can be identified and prevented in real-time. Regardless of how many endpoints, networks, assets, or locations an organization spans, SOCs provide a centralized view to ensure that they are monitored and performing as needed.

MDR: Building Out Your Offense

An optimized security strategy is one that streamlines the right methods of threat management into an effective security solution. To develop the most comprehensive solution, SOCs may augment their services by operating a Managed Detection Response (MDR) platform. As the SOC collects and monitors various data sources within the organization, it is the MDR that adds context and makes the information more valuable and actionable within the overall threat management process.

Fewer organizations nowadays have full in-house SOC teams performing monitoring and detection services on their behalf. A common solution for an increasing number of small to medium businesses is to outsource and rely on a SOC-as-a-Service model to fulfill cybersecurity requirements. SOC-as-a-Service is a model allowing organizations to outsource threat detection and incident response work. What would usually be an internal SOC is now an external cloud-based service that offers these organizations general cybersecurity services such as monitoring, detection, and investigation for threats in that organization’s environment.

However, what a managed SOC cannot do alone is combine network visualization, insider threat monitoring, anti-malware, traffic analysis, and endpoint security into a 24/7/365 managed service focused solely on hunting down compromises and detaining threats in real-time. MDRs, however, focus on exactly those offensive skills.

Summary

Though cyber adversaries move fast, there are ways to get ahead of them with the right security stack in place. Investing in the centralized functionality of a SOC effectively prepares your defense against threats. To take your strategy further, augmenting SOC services with an MDR’s capability for advanced threat hunting and network analysis ensures a comprehensive and optimized security strategy for organizations looking to win the unfair fight against cyberthreats today.

About Blackpoint Cyber

Eliminate cyberthreats before they take root in your network. Blackpoint Cyber’s true Managed Detection & Response (MDR) service delivers real-time threat alerts and immediate response. Our experienced SOC analysts respond 24/7 to critical alerts by isolating infected devices and terminating malicious software, immediately helping to eradicate a malicious actor’s foothold in your network.

Further, our patented SNAP-Defense Security Operations & Incident Response platform allows us to detect lateral movement in its earliest stages and then neutralize threats before they have a chance to spread. Trust our decades of extensive knowledge in real-world defensive and offensive tactics and contact us to safeguard your and your clients’ businesses today.

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