A security operations centre, or a SOC, is a dedicated team tasked with monitoring, analysing, detecting, investigating, and responding to cyber security threats against an organisation.
There are varying service levels available across SOCs, with some delivering a basic package of out-of-hours monitoring-focused capabilities, and other fully managed services providing comprehensive business cyber security coverage, from 24/7 detection right through to remediation.
While businesses may have historically managed with solely in-house security teams, as threat actors increase in sophistication, and resourcing the expert talent able to deliver continuous protection becomes increasingly challenging, more and more organisations are turning to external SOCs to bridge the gaps in their security provision to create a seamless, extended team.
The Benefits of an Outsourced SOC Over Internal Teams
If you’re in two minds as to whether a SOC service is the right step for your organisation versus maintaining an in-house security team, you should consider the following factors:
As of 2022, the global cyber security industry is suffering a worker shortage of over 3.4 million, and while steps are being taken to remedy the shortfall in the long run, at present, businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit and retain top cyber talent.
With more security solutions and more complex configurations of tools and systems than ever before, existing teams are increasingly stretched beyond their capabilities, and struggling to keep pace with necessary developments and upskilling requirements. Internal teams are also commonly expected to shoulder a portion of the general IT burden alongside their security-focused responsibilities.
Conversely, SOC staff are focused exclusively on the rapid identification and remediation of cyber threats, and this expertise and bandwidth is available for utilisation. Outsourcing to a SOC as a complementary extension of your internal security team immediately bolsters your resources, bridging existing gaps in your team and offering access to niche expertise that can be nigh on impossible to hire for.
24/7 Security Coverage
Day or night, weekday or holiday, threat events happen all the time. And as such, a true premium SOC service will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This resource-intensive level of seamless coverage is incredibly difficult to replicate with in-house teams, and is the driving force behind many businesses’ decision to employ a SOC.
Whether you opt for a 24/7 monitoring service, or a full monitoring and remediation offering, be sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for, and whether the security provision is limited to working hours, a solely automated response, or a combination of automation with a manned operations centre with real people available to respond to threats whatever the day or time.
Regardless of your security protections, attacks do, and will occur. What’s important is how you’re able, whether independently or with the help of your SOC service, to respond to and remediate this threat. A rapid response is essential to contain and investigate suspicious activity to minimise business impact and potential financial and operational penalties.
A rapid incident response ties in directly with 24/7 coverage – even if your internal team are able to respond promptly to a threat alert, unless they’re monitoring continuously, their response is only lodged once they’re aware of the attack, which may be the middle of the night, or on a weekend. A fully managed SOC is able to identify, assess, and most importantly, respond to threats within minutes, 24/7.
Proactive Threat Prevention
Beyond detection and response, a comprehensive SOC has the resources to engage in proactive threat hunting to increase the visibility into and control over your existing security systems, flagging zero-day threats and potential vulnerabilities to stay ahead of potential attacks and maintain a secure posture before threat actors can exploit weaknesses. This may unfortunately rest beyond the capabilities (or bandwidth) of internal teams.
From personnel and training to solutions and consultation, the business costs associated with remaining secure and compliant are numerous and considerable.
While an outsourced managed SOC service may appear a significant up-front cost, the financial burden is largely fixed, and forecastable. And because the capabilities are built-in, there’s little need to expand upon your investment once you’ve chosen a SOC that suits your needs.
There may also be cost saving opportunities associated with outsourcing your security monitoring and remediation to a SOC service. Aside from removing the need to recruit additional security staff, if you’re already paying for in-house staff to perform the tasks a SOC is better suited to, these staff members can be redirected to more specific business needs, filling gaps that would otherwise require further recruitment.
Minimised Business Impact Following a Breach
The consequence of 24/7 monitoring and a rapid response is an overall minimised business impact should a threat actor gain access to your environment or a cyber attack be lodged against your business. Typically, the less time a threat actor spends within your environment, the less damage they’re able to do. Furthermore, a faster remediation means less operational down time, preventing loss of productivity.
For businesses concerned with reputational damage, a comprehensive cyber security team may not align with the size or capabilities of the organisation, but its expertise can be ultimately necessary to ensure a proportionate response to an attack. While your IT requirements may be, on the whole, simplistic, you may still need an advanced security response in case the worst should happen. In this instance, an external SOC is an excellent solution.
Risk Reporting and Business Security Intelligence
The majority of cyber security threats are a result of accidental behaviour, system misuse and poorly configured controls. To maintain a secure business security posture, these risks need to be identified and remediated before they can cause an issue – visibility and contextually informed intelligence is key.
Once a SOC is given full visibility, analysts are able to take a bird’s eye view of your security stack and (increasingly through a combination of granular analysis and machine learning) identify risk behaviours and potential misconfigurations to target threats at the source, providing proactive rather than reactive security.
This objective view of business risks and data vulnerabilities can be challenging to obtain from an internal perspective when day-to-day threat fighting is the primary concern. Threat intelligence reporting from global nodes should also form part of a premium SOC service, providing advance warning and or response capabilities to zero day and other threats.
Whatever the reason, if maintaining a robust security posture with your in-house security team is becoming untenable, it’s worth considering how a SOC may alleviate these pressures and simplify and strengthen your business cyber security. Threatscape’s range of managed security services, powered by SecurityHQ, offer a scalable, compliant, and cost-effective solution to the need for 24×7 cyber vigilance.
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