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Empowering Modern Businesses: The Role of Security Operations Centers (SOC)

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By Amit Chaudhury, Vice President and Practice Head – Cloud and Security, Bharti Airtel

In today’s interconnected world, businesses of all sizes maintain a significant online presence. With this increased digital footprint, the risk of cyber threats and attacks has grown, making the establishment of an effective solution a necessity. Enter the Security Operations Center (SOC), a robust and state-of-the-art tool designed to provide end-to-end visibility and integration across applications, devices, servers, and virtual machines.

Cyber threats in today’s world require constant vigilance, as they don’t adhere to standard working hours. Modern businesses need a centralized solution that can monitor, prevent, investigate, detect, and respond to these threats effectively.

A SOC is a vital necessity for modern businesses, providing 24/7 protection for IT assets, intellectual property, customer and personnel data, and business systems. It offers a centralized approach to security, making use of advanced technologies, appropriate tools, and skilled personnel to create, operate, and maintain a robust security architecture.

A SOC is dedicated to enhancing enterprise security, irrespective of the scale or industry of a business. Its comprehensive responsibilities include:
• Continuous 24/7 monitoring
• Threat detection and intelligence analysis
• Root cause analysis
• Playbook development
• Device management
• Security assessment and audits

A SOC enhances an organization’s compliance with national and global regulations and builds customer confidence by focusing on three primary tasks:

Prepare, Plan, and Prevent

Asset inventory: A SOC maintains a comprehensive inventory of IT assets, including applications, databases, cloud services, devices, and more, both within and outside the data center. It also manages protection tools like firewalls and monitoring software.

Routine maintenance: Continuous preventive maintenance, including firewall updates, security policy adjustments, and software patching, ensures business continuity during potential attacks.

Incident response: A SOC develops incident response plans, defining roles, responsibilities, and metrics to measure the success of the response plan for refinement.

Monitor, Detect, and Respond
Round-the-clock monitoring: The SOC monitors servers, applications, networks, devices, cloud workloads, and system software 24/7, looking for signs of suspicious activities to trigger a timely response.

Security information and event management (SIEM): SIEM serves as the core for monitoring, detection, and response, aggregating real-time alerts and analyzing them to identify potential threats. It utilizes advanced detection and response technology.

Log management: The SOC extensively records all events and conducts regular analyses to establish baseline activities and detect anomalies.

Threat hunting and detection: Proactive threat hunting relies on behavioral cues, business context, and intelligence, leveraging AI, machine learning, and UEBA to identify risks.

Incident response: A SOC takes multiple steps to limit the impact of a breach, including root cause analysis, network isolation, and password decommissioning.

Recovery, Refinement, and Compliance

Response, recovery, and remediation: In the event of an incident, the SOC swiftly initiates cleanup, resetting passwords, and restoring networks, devices, and applications.

Post-incident analysis and refinement: Based on newly acquired intelligence, the SOC refines vulnerabilities, policies, and response plans to prevent reoccurrence.

Compliance management: The SOC ensures compliance with regulatory mandates and assists in enhancing an organization’s security posture and cybersecurity awareness.

Critical SOC Services: What to Expect from Your Service Provider

Businesses often outsource their security management, relying on SOC specialists. Key services to expect from a SOC provider include:

Incident Monitoring (IM): Curtailing losses, fixing vulnerabilities, and implementing effective post-event recovery plans.
Vulnerability Management (VM): Monitoring, prioritizing, and remediating vulnerabilities.

Penetration Testing (PT): Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities by simulating real attacks.

Privileged Identity Management (PIM): Limiting access to sensitive information for privileged users.

Identity Access Management (IAM): Role-based access management to prevent data theft and misuse.

Governance, Risks, and Compliance (GRC): Strengthening governance, managing risks, and ensuring compliance through audits and risk assessment.

Forensic Analysis (Packet Capture): Analyzing network traffic to identify and block suspicious activity.

Challenges Faced by SOCs

SOC teams often encounter several challenges, including:
> Overwhelming numbers of alerts leading to threat fatigue
> Understaffing and a lack of expertise to handle advanced threats.
> Difficulty in creating documented procedures, resulting in inconsistent incident response

>  Non-compliance with stringent regulations without adequate staffing and automation
> Increased cost, complexity, and inefficiency due to disconnected security tools

Many providers offer event-based SOC services, billing based on the number of events raised each month. Ideally, choose service providers which offer stable and affordable pricing, charging a constant rate regardless of the number of events.

In conclusion, the Security Operations Center (SOC) is an essential component for modern businesses in addressing the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. It is crucial to identify your specific security needs and strategy to ensure a successful SOC solution. Choose a service provider whose SOC is adaptable for businesses of all sizes and industries, offering a next-generation extended detection and response (XDR) system powered by cutting-edge technology, intelligence, and automation.

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