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Modern SOC – 10 Essential Capabilities

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An organization’s cybersecurity strategy is implemented and coordinated by the security operation center (SOC). SOC handles security issues at both a technical and organizational level. 

The main challenge to the cybersecurity industry is presented by malicious threat actors employing increasingly sophisticated tactics. There can never be sufficient numbers of skilled professionals to analyze and handle the volume of incidents organizations face. Security teams are bogged down on the front lines identifying, analyzing, and mitigating threats.

The modern SOC should be powered by data and visibility across the organization by creating a joint work surface for all team members. The SOC comprises three critical building blocks – people, processes, and technology. The building blocks are tied together through the frameworks of governance and compliance. 

The following are the essential capabilities of a modern SOC:

  1. Ingest: All the data in an organization is relevant. For the modern SOC, data is likened to oxygen that gives and sustains life. Data drives analytics and algorithms and must be ingested from all sources and at scale. Additionally, a SOC must be able to organize the data and make it actionable by humans and machines. 
  2. Detect: The SOC must be able to detect any event that enters the system. Detection should focus on possibilities rather than files and network traffic expected in traditional solutions. The SOC must leverage correlation, analytics, and machine learning to detect events. Threat hunting and detection is a combination of human intuition and machine technology.
  3. Predict: The SOC should predict an alert up to 30 minutes before discovering a security event. The ability to predict security events will help a SOC to proactively escalate incidents to the right people/team or mount a response using an already predefined process. Several emerging predictive technologies provide early warnings, precursors, and indicators of more significant attacks and can also identify unknowns before they become substantial risks. 
  4. Automate: SOC analysts must use automation tools that utilize standard operating procedures to accelerate investigations, threat hunting, enrichment, containment, and remediation. Automation is one of the essential technologies available to SOC analysts. With automation, a SOC can handle more events since events generally take 30 minutes and can be executed in 40 seconds. Automation has now become a mandatory tool. 
  5. Orchestrate: Typically, the modern SOC has the best or most expensive tools to power it and add to an organization’s defense. However, the evolving nature of threats will make some tools obsolete in no time. The products and tools must keep pace in an API-driven world and should be updated to keep pace with the speed of evolving threats. Orchestration allows the SOC to plug in and connect everything inside and outside the SOC. You can use a single browser tab or unified solution logins for the different products to eliminate copying and pasting across other solutions. Through orchestration, you will be removing overheads and the buildup of frustration and facilitating a focus on more critical tasks. 
  6. Recommend: Imagine how good it gets if the platform powering a SOC can tell analysts what steps to take. An event will have passed through several levels of the platform powering the SOC to get to this juncture. A modern SOC will choose the best platform that can make recommendations in digital playbooks or individual actions. Recommendation by the platform will have the following benefits: a) It’s educational for new analysts who will know what to do if a similar threat arises; b) It’s both a sanity test and accelerant for experienced analysts in what they already know.
  7. Investigate: Investigations require detailed, precise human analysis. Using intuitive security tools will help analysts prioritize security needs that must be investigated. Ultimately, up to 90% of tier-1 analyst work will be automated. 

8. Collaborate: Security teams are built on coordination, collaboration, and effective communication. t’s a team effort! The SOC cannot afford to ignore events. It must be a transparent workplace where all events must be processed comprehensively through effective collaboration and connecting the tools, people, processes, and automation. Cooperation must bring information, ideas, and data to the forefront. The effect is that a SOC can collaborate further and invite professionals to help with alerts, share critical time-sensitive details with peers, and share with players within the industry to address widespread threats successfully. 

9. Case Management: Case management should be a core capability of the modern SOC. Even with the best efforts to prevent incidents, incidents will sometimes happen. Security teams must have the necessary skills and tools to manage a response. Critical requirements for a SOC team include response plans, evidence collection, workflows, communication, timelines, and documentation. 

10. Report: The world today is data-driven, and security is not exempted. It’s possible to measure all aspects of the security process. Keep in mind that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Using the right reporting tools will help measure and identify what’s performing, map out existing gaps, and what the security teams need to do now and in the future. A significant challenge for SOCs is the reliance on several platforms that complicates accurate reporting. 

In conclusion, the modern SOC should always provide real-time context on the threat landscape. Incorporating these capabilities makes the SOC a hyper-intelligent system that will offer transparency into threat environments, timely alerts, and context to evaluate an organization’s security posture. 

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