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What is a Security Operations Center (SOC) and how does it work?

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC) and how does it work?

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC) and how does it work?

Despite the advancement of existing cybersecurity measures, criminal cyberattacks are still on the rise. In fact, the 2021 World Economic Forum report found that many of these measures are being rendered obsolete by the increasingly complex tactics and technologies employed by cybercriminals. Staggeringly, reports reveal that it takes an average of 287 days for security teams to identify and contain a data breach.

A single attack of any kind costs companies of all sizes an average of $200,000, and many targeted companies go out of business within six months of the attack. Protecting against increasingly sophisticated criminal attacks requires more than a firewall or an antivirus – it needs an around-the-clock team dedicated to safeguarding your data, finances, and employees. 

When considering the cybersecurity your company needs, it can be hard to keep up with ever-evolving threats, despite knowing you need to take action. If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re not alone: 70% of IT professionals say their company can’t respond appropriately to a cyber threat.

A Security Operations Center (SOC) centralizes industry information and technological skills to protect organizations from attacks. Informed by high-level expertise, it is designed to respond proactively and reactively to today’s threat landscape. Below, we’ll explore why the SOC is a crucial component of the contemporary cybersecurity environment – and vital to the preservation of your business.

What is a SOC?

A SOC is a team of security experts dedicated to maintaining and improving an organization’s security posture. The SOC team is focused on anticipating attacks, monitoring threats, and implementing rapid responses to security breaches by employing the power of three key forces: innovative technologies, strong processes, and human intellectual agility.

In general, the SOC is responsible for:

  • Proactive and continual monitoring of alert systems for criminal activity and possible vulnerabilities
  • Providing expertise on third-party software
  • Maintenance of endpoints and system security 
  • Managing exclusions for alerts triggered by safe processes
  • Analysis of security log data 
  • Analysis and research of emerging cybersecurity threats and protections
  • Incident response coordination and investigating breaches

Essentially, the SOC is responsible for developing and maintaining a company’s cybersecurity strategy and functions as a centralized hub, coordinating efforts to build, manage, and improve your security posture. 

What does a SOC do?

In cybersecurity, experts are often split into teams to comprehensively test and improve a company’s defenses. These are referred to as the red team, which is offensive, and the blue team, which is defensive.

The red team is responsible for projects such as performing a security audit of a web page to find vulnerabilities, as well as carrying out exercises to exploit those vulnerabilities and gain access to your organization’s internal infrastructure.

The blue team’s responsibilities include monitoring the alert system to detect any security breach, responding to such alerts and incidents with appropriate actions, and maintaining a high level of threat intelligence. This team utilizes its combined experience and expertise to maintain a sophisticated understanding of the current threat landscape. The blue team is also responsible for forensics, which entails collecting and analyzing evidence and digging deep into computer systems in search of criminality. 

The SOC is part of the blue team, meaning its responsibility lies in responding to attacks, managing threats, and monitoring the client’s infrastructure. The purpose of the SOC is to preserve your business’s security posture and improve it by continually learning from its surroundings.

Inside Ackcent’s Security Operations Center

At Ackcent, the SOC consists of security specialists ranging from providing customer support to monitoring alert systems. This team uses a range of third-party software to reinforce operations, including but not limited to:

  • System Information Event Management (SIEM), which analyzes all the events generated by the security products, the domain controller, and other software installed on a client’s infrastructure. Our SIEM collects all of those events and centralizes them in the cloud. Then, it formats that data to enable it to be searchable. Based on the data we create use cases, the intelligence that generates alerts
  • A Ticket Managing System (TMS) to record the tickets created by the SIEM, which are used for bidirectional communications and as a documentation platform to record the investigations
  • SentinelOne, an Endpoint Detection Response (EDR) software capable of responding to threats on an endpoint using behavioral analysis and recording telemetry 
  • Imperva Incapsula, an application delivery service that includes a web application firewall, comprehensive Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) protection, a global content delivery network, and an application-level load balancer
  • Qualys VM, which continuously scans and identifies vulnerabilities across endpoints, internal networks, and the cloud 
  • We automate most of our tasks via several Amazon Web Service (AWS) accounts, which gives more control over the process and greater scalability 

Our experience and expertise allow us to utilize a range of software in our everyday operations to offer our clients the most sophisticated protection package possible. We work directly with these third-party software providers, so you don’t have to worry about selecting or managing several external relationships.

How a SOC can help mitigate risks

Let’s take an example of an e-commerce business heavily dependent on its customer-facing website to process sales. It’s first thing in the morning, and you fire up your laptop only to realize that your company’s server is down. You’ve been attacked. A hacker has encrypted your data and is demanding money from you to restore it: this is a ransomware attack. Today, businesses suffer ransomware attacks every 40 seconds, netting criminals one billion dollars a year

You need your server to manage your entire online business; every minute it’s down, it’s losing you money. You have an anti-virus, but no one has been actively monitoring it, so you and your team have missed the generated alerts. It might take days to recover from the attack, and you may have to restore from months-old backups, meaning that the work you’ve done in the interim will be lost.

In these types of scenarios, here are some of the ways Ackcent’s Security Operations Center may respond to an attack:

  1. We would immediately assess the extent of the attack and define the reach of the impact
  2. The next step would be to take a forensic image – a copy of unaltered data of a system – or retrieve artifacts for investigation
  3. We would then conduct an investigation into the logs from other devices, such as the domain controller
  4. We’d typically ask you to start the recovery process you have. For example, by recovering from a backup, in parallel to the incident response, and without impacting the investigation
  5. We’d be continuously and actively monitoring new threats during the incident response in case the network remains compromised in any way
  6. After the analysis, we would mitigate the damage, preventing the attack from tearing through your systems and gaining any additional administrative privileges that might amplify the scale of the problem

Apart from providing critical support and responding to attacks, a SOC works round the clock to identify and avoid potential threats. For organizations that leverage Ackcent’s SOC, a sophisticated alert system would have flagged the attempt much quicker and immediately taken the appropriate action to prevent the crisis from forming. 

Don’t worry; even if you aren’t already partnered with Ackcent, you could still contact us immediately to begin a preliminary investigation into an incident like this. The quicker you respond to any threat, the less impact it’s likely to have.

Further benefits of a Security Operations Center

Organizations enjoy numerous benefits from working with a Security Operations Center like Ackcent’s, such as:

  • The intelligence that Ackcent absorbs across its entire operation means that we’re always staying abreast of cybersecurity trends, so you can benefit from being part of a network of information
  • The SOC provides constant availability, meaning there’s no time of day or night when you can’t get in touch
  • A SOC will manage the partner relationships with third-party products, removing the requirement for the customer to choose and oversee which software to use
  • A service delivery manager ensures that you receive personalized customer support.
  • Ackcent’s products are cloud-based, providing scalability, so we can create new resources quickly, on-demand, and based on need
  • Over time, we’ll generate information specific to your organization, allowing us to develop protection that responds to your requirements

Is your organization protected?

A Security Operations Center is responsive, comprehensive, and continually vigilant. Many companies don’t have the time or the resources to devote to continually maintaining their security systems. Even the most devoted internal security teams can feel that they’re always playing catch-up instead of staying one step ahead.

Ackcent’s SOC employs industry insights, continuous employee availability, and a comprehensive range of software to form a responsive protective shield around your operation. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you and your organization find cybersecurity peace of mind.
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