As the home of your information security team, the SOC (security operations centre) should be at the heart of your cyber defence efforts. Dedicated to detecting, analysing and responding to the myriad cyber threats assailing your business, a strong SOC is a central component of your defence.
However, weak SOCs with overly complicated procedures and unclear lines of communication can leave any organisation with limited network visibility and a lack of direction. Both can severely hamper incident response times.
An increasingly popular objective for many businesses is to become Secure By Design, where every facet of the organisation has been designed with security in mind. Implementing security at a foundational level can greatly reduce your business’ vulnerability and ensures security is placed at the forefront of your IT strategy.
If you’re looking to rebuild your organisation to be Secure By Design, then a secure SOC is your ultimate weapon
The challenges facing your SOC
For a deeper understanding of what a SOC needs to be effective in its duties, it’s best to first examine the wider challenges facing SOCs today.
One issue commonly encountered is the confusion arising from abstract security processes that have not been properly documented or committed to ‘company law.’ Instead, these procedures may be memetic, with each generation of staff adding their own tweaks and modifications to protocols over time. Without a clear company directive, this confusion has the potential to slow your SOC to a crawl. It can also confuse everything from what to do in the event of a breach, to who needs to be briefed on security logs, or even how to correctly file an incident report.
Lack of synthesis with the business’ objectives is also a problem. According to the Ponemon Institute, just 19% of IT and security practitioners trust that the objectives of the SOC are fully aligned to the organisation’s wider business goals.
Not only can this lack of alignment result in a business being exposed to risk, it can also lead to the SOC team feeling undervalued.
This absence of shared objectives is part of a wider theme in the challenges facing SOC teams. Indeed, many are uncertain about what their overall mission really is.
Without a guiding objective set out in a mission statement, SOC managers may be unsure of specific threats to the business or misunderstand which business assets they are expected to protect.
To combat this operational clag, senior management must involve themselves in the process of establishing new SOC mission parameters and procedures that are continually reviewed and updated. To be effective, SOC teams should be provided with the information they need to protect the business, and it is essential this leadership comes from the top of the organisation.
Creating a mission statement for your SOC
When devising a mission objective for your organisation, focus on the following three areas:
- Which assets need to be protected?
- Which threats could compromise these assets?
- How will the SOC detect and neutralise these threats?
Of course, some organisations will have higher volumes of business-critical data spread across multiple environments, and this does require in-depth analysis. But, by answering these three questions you will have a foundational mission for your SOC that is aligned to the business goals of the organisation, which can be expanded upon as required.
Developing a strong base of expertise
Your organisation should aim to cultivate a wide array of talent, spread across three different operational tiers: SOC I, II, and III.
The first tier of SOC I Engineers should focus on detection and identification of threats, including finding the most effective way to neutralise them. SOC II Engineers are your shock troops, and it will be their duty to actually stop the attacks. SOC III Engineers are the more senior security professionals, and they are responsible for improving the methods and tools used by SOC I and II.
With a clear hierarchy and defined roles, you can greatly improve the Secure By Design credentials of your SOC and, by extension, the organisation as a whole.
Finding the right tools
A person is only as good as their tools, so when it comes to arming your SOC, it’s imperative to provide your team with the equipment they depend upon. These requirements can also be broken down into three key areas.
To begin with, you’ll need to implement tech capable of identifying and monitoring each data source in the organisation – it is essential to be thorough and to root out any blind spots that could leave you vulnerable. Obvious data sources include network and security activity, but you should also look at all endpoint activity, as well as authorisations to ensure there are no gaps in your defences.
Next, all of these data sources need to be collated on a Security Intelligence Platform. This is essentially the god view of the entire network, which can aid with identifying and flagging any possible incidents that need to be addressed.
Lastly, you will need a way to manage incidents or tickets to ensure each issue is properly dealt with and recorded for posterity.
A word of advice: avoid purchasing unnecessary security tools and platforms that do not address the specific needs of your organisation. Not only can this help to keep costs down, it can also reduce the risk of analysis paralysis in a team that is required to make swift, critical decisions.
Working with your people
Last but certainly not least, it’s crucial to properly manage the people within your SOC. If staff are confused by their duties and procedures or feel as though they are out of the loop, you may end up with an indifferent workforce who feel less able to do their jobs effectively. The cybersecurity skills gap is already proving to be a challenge for many businesses, and a happy workforce is a great way to avoid lengthy and expensive hiring processes.
Incidences of cybersecurity burnout and overwork have increased in recent years, making it essential to look out for your security team as well as the security itself. Strong security requires an efficient partnership between people, processes, and technology. It is vital that this equilibrium is maintained.
With cybersecurity threats on the rise, all organisations should aim to be Secure By Design. It is only through rigorous and well-designed security embedded throughout the business that you can hold the cybercriminals at bay. By fortifying your central SOC, your organisation will be well positioned to face down the threats and mitigate the effects of security incidents if and when they occur.
To learn how to implement strong, best practice cybersecurity that keeps your business protected as it grows and scales, download our Secure By Design whitepaper here.
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