What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

Security Operations Center

In IT, a Security Operations Center (SOC) or Information Security Operations Center (ISOC) is a centralized location where an organization’s security team monitors, analyzes, detects and solves any security events that might arise. A SOC is usually established to protect sensitive data and comply with industry or government regulations. It involves a very proactive approach to cybersecurity and quite an investment.

A centralized location for security operations

This centralized security unit usually deals with security issues both on an organizational and technical level. Therefore, SOC facilities are usually highly protected with physical, electronic and computer security measures. In an ISOC, the company’s IT systems — data centers, servers, networks, applications, websites, databases, etc. — are monitored, analyzed and protected against any cybersecurity issues and threats. The same applies to the Network Operations Center or NOC, which nowadays often shares the same space as the SOC.

As a centralized location for security operations, a company’s Security Operations Center is operational 24/7. People, processes and technology are organized in a SOC in order to manage and enhance the company’s security posture. They do so by providing situational awareness through the monitoring, detection, containment and resolution of cyberthreats. 

Security Operations Center: technology and organization

Establishing and operating a Security Operations Center has always been more common among large organizations and governments, as it is complex and expensive. However, the number of companies having a SOC is increasing as there are more and more affordable solutions available in the market. This is especially important now that the number of cyberattacks is going through the roof all over the world.

To establish a SOC, it is necessary to: define a strategy and implement the necessary infrastructure and technology to support the strategy. SOCs usually rely on a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system to aggregate data from different sources, for instance:

  • Governance Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software
  • Vulnerability Assessment solutions
  • Endpoint Detection and Remediation (EDR) tools
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) solutions

Furthermore, relying on the right professionals is as important as defining the proper strategy and implementing the necessary technology and infrastructure. The members within a SOC team usually come from different training backgrounds, such as: computer engineering, network engineering, computer science and cryptography. The security team that composes a SOC includes: SOC managers (IT and networking experts), security engineers and SOC analysts, among others. SOC managers usually report directly to the CISO.

What is the SOC responsible for?

These are some of the tasks the Security Operations Center is in charge of:

  • Keeping control and visibility of all the resources available, from the devices, applications and processes to be protected, to the systems and tools used for monitoring, detecting and protecting them.
  • Ensuring continuous, proactive monitoring to detect threats early or even before they happen, in order to mitigate and prevent harm.
  • Implementing preventive measures by staying updated about the latest security innovations, designing a Disaster Recovery plan and security roadmap, and periodically updating, patching and maintaining systems. Continuous improvement is essential to stay ahead of cybercriminals.
  • Assessing and managing alerts to sort them according to their criticality and priority.
  • Managing and analyzing the log of all network activity to detect threats proactively and prevent security issues from occurring. SIEM systems are often used for aggregating all data from endpoints, apps, operating systems and firewalls.
  • When a security incident is confirmed, responding and performing actions to ensure the smallest impact on business continuity possible. As well as restoring systems and recovering any data that might have been compromised or lost.
  • Assessing and reporting the origin and cause of security incidents to help avoid similar issues in the future.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance.

Benefits of having a SOC

In our digital economy, where data protection and governance are becoming increasingly important both for citizens and companies, having a Security Operations Center can bring many benefits. For example:

  • Improved security incident detection
  • Faster incident response times
  • Proactive defence against incidents and intrusions
  • Cost savings when facing security incidents
  • Data protection and increased customer trust
  • Increased transparency and control over security operations

At Stackscale, as part of our proactive approach to security and availability, we monitor all our cloud services, infrastructure and systems via our Stackscale Automation and Monitoring Platform (SAMP), integrating several software and hardware technologies. Our monitoring service includes, but is not limited to, the core network, the access network, network storage, computing nodes, backups and the SAMP itself.

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