Running a business involves managing a lot of moving parts, but one thing every business must prioritise is security. Cyber threats are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, with financial loss and reputational damage being the most common consequences. 

There are several reasons why threats are on the rise, including; a rapid shift to the cloud to accommodate hybrid or remote working, a lower cost of entry for criminals with a ransomware operation costing as little as £50 to set up, and an increase in the sophistication of credential phishing attempts. All these aspects combined mean a robust cyber security strategy is essential.

To ensure your company’s online safety, you need a team dedicated to monitoring, analysing, and responding to threats in real time, 24/7/365. This is where a Security Operations Centre (SOC) comes in.

Key Takeaways

  • Cyber-attacks continue to rise and, with them, comes the threat of financial loss and damage to reputation.
  • A security operations centre secures your business’s cyber safety with continuous monitoring, analysing, and incident response in real-time, all the time.
  • SOCs can be in-house or outsourced to companies specialising in managed detection and response.
  • Depending on the SOC team, a security operations centre can engage in regular security monitoring, external vulnerability scanning, threat intelligence collection, and threat hunting.
  • If you opt to outsource your SOC, there may be several options available to you, depending on your needs and the services you use. For example, you should consider coverage across multi-cloud, software as a service, on-premise and hybrid environments.

What Is a Security Operations Centre (SOC)?

A Security Operations Centre (SOC) is a facility that houses professional cybersecurity analysts. They can be hosted in-house or outsourced to companies that offer secure managed services. These experts are responsible for monitoring your enterprise networks and systems for any signs of security threats or data breaches. They are charged with protecting your business data and reputation by identifying and mitigating different types of threats from the most simple to the most sophisticated. 

The SOC team leverages various cybersecurity tools, including:

  • Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Intrusion detection and prevention system (IDS/IPS)
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR)
  • Vulnerability scanners 
  • Threat intelligence feeds 
  • IR platforms 
  • Forensic tools 

The best security operations centres use a combination of experts, processes, and tech to ensure an organisation’s security posture is resilient to cyber threats.

How Does a SOC Work?

The SOC team works in a highly coordinated manner to detect and respond to security incidents. These security professionals monitor incoming data from many sources, such as server logs, network traffic logs, and firewall logs, to identify potential security risks.

They also use advanced analytics tools to look for signals of a potential attack or compromise. Once they confirm a security incident or an actual attack on the system has occurred, the SOC team works fast to contain the threat and prevent further damage.

Security analysts also perform forensic analysis to identify the root cause of the security incident and implement security controls to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Why Does Your Business Need a SOC?

Security breaches can cause severe financial and reputational loss to your business, from lost revenue to damage to customer trust. Thecost of a security breach has only increased over the years, and without adequate protection, your enterprise could be the next victim.

Your business can benefit from a SOC in the following ways:

Quick response to security incidents: A SOC can quickly detect, analyse, and respond to security incidents before they can cause significant damage.

Reduced downtime: Monitoring your network in real-time helps prevent downtime as your business can identify and resolve security issues before they impact operations.

Improved regulatory compliance: Compliance standards such as GDPR and HIPAA require businesses to have a strong security posture. A SOC can help ensure compliance with these regulations.

Enhanced brand reputation: By implementing robust security measures, you can assure your customers that their data is safe with you. This can increase their loyalty to your business and set you apart from your competitors.

The Nuts and Bolts of Security Operations Centres

We’ve briefly mentioned what a SOC does and how it works. Here, we’re going to drill down into its functions and the different security tools it can utilise.

Security Monitoring

A security operations centre is like having an expert security team in your corner. They monitor your systems for anything suspicious and alert you the second something looks suspicious.

This makes a difference as, in the past (and even now), many businesses relied on outdated intrusion prevention systems that only served as noisy alarms. With SOC security alerts, you also benefit from expert security analysts who can respond to and resolve issues quickly.

External Vulnerability Scanning

What people see from the outside can tell you a lot about what’s happening within. External vulnerability scanning acts as a virtual security guard for your business – it regularly monitors your public IP addresses and URLs. And it keeps an eye on your external exposure to protect you against obvious weaknesses.

Vulnerability scanning identifies and assesses security vulnerabilities, whether it’s an outdated SSL certificate or unsafe encryption levels. All of this helps reduce the likelihood of a nasty surprise when you need it least.

Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence uses research and analytics to identify, assess, and mitigate cyber threats. This kind of information helps organisations build a proactive security strategy by gathering data from several sources, such as:

  • Open-source intelligence
  • The deep and dark web
  • Threat signatures
  • IP addresses and domain names

By collecting this data, businesses can take action to protect themselves from emerging threats and better prepare for future events.

In addition to researching threat data, threat intel also provides guidance on how best to respond when an attack occurs. Organisations can use collected data insights to develop an action plan based on various responses that could be taken depending on the nature of the attack. The latest threat intelligence also helps organisations set up preventive measures like malware scanning, firewalls, and regular vulnerability testing that reduce their risk exposure over time.

Overall, threat intelligence is about arming your business with knowledge so you’re prepared for any potential cyber-attacks or malware outbreaks before they happen – allowing you to stay ahead of new threats as they evolve instead of fighting them after they have already struck.

Threat Hunting

When it comes to network security and potential security incidents, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. When deciding on an in-house or third-party SOC team, ensure that they conduct regular hunts for threats. They should perform these on demand whenever relevant threat intelligence related to your industry surfaces. You should also have full visibility of what’s going on and what the security experts are doing to keep your network secure. 

Internal SOCs vs SOC as a Service

Setting up an internal SOC can be expensive and time-consuming, requiring substantial investment in technology, staff, and training. However, you can still benefit from SOC services by outsourcing to a managed security services provider.

A SOC, as a service, provides your business with all the related benefits but without the cost and hassle. Through a secure managed service, you can access a skilled and experienced team of cybersecurity professionals who will monitor your network and systems 24/7, providing real-time threat detection and response.

What Are the Types of SOCs Out There?

SOCs can also differ in the layers of security and features they provide. This is apt for businesses that have very specific needs or for companies that need scalability.

iomart offers three different SOC options, including:

  • Essential Security Operations Centre: an entry-level centre with 24/7 threat monitoring
  • Enhanced Security Operations Centre: provides 24/7 monitoring and proactive threat hunting
  • Enterprise Security Operations Centre: the full package with all the tools, offering robust cloud security and comprehensive threat training workshops for your security teams

Find out more about our types of SOCs here.

Prioritise Your Security with the Right SOC

Cybersecurity threats are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated, with businesses of all sizes at risk. Therefore, a Security Operations Centre (SOC) is essential for any business that wants to maintain a strong security posture and improve its incident response.

A SOC can help prevent financial loss, reduce downtime, maintain regulatory compliance, protect sensitive data, and enhance your brand reputation. Don’t wait until it’s too late; prioritise cyber security today and protect your business by implementing SOC services.

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