You’ve heard of a security operations center or SOC.

You’ve heard of a virtual security operations center or vSOC.

Now there is another new term called an mSOC or modern security operations…you get it.

But here’s the thing about all these variations in names for SOCs: If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck…it’s probably a duck.

The same is with a SOC.

Ultimately all of these variations are security operations centers just utilizing different processes and technology with their people to get different results and offer different services.

The important question is: How do you get the best performance out of a SOC for your organization?

Let’s take a look at the components of what each of these SOCs does in order to get a better read.

It’s a good lead into the people, processes, and technology we at CyberMaxx believe sets a great SOC from the rest of the pack.

SOC

A traditional security operations center’s (SOC) function is to monitor, prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to cyber threats around the clock.

The job of a SOC team is to safeguard an organization’s most valuable assets which can include but are not limited to:

  • Intellectual property
  • Employee data
  • Business systems
  • Brand reputation
  • Customer data

The SOC team implements the organization’s cybersecurity strategy and works closely with other departments to monitor for cyberattacks, assess risks, and take action to defend against them.

While the size of SOC teams can vary depending on the size of the organization and the industry, most have roughly the same roles and responsibilities. A SOC is typically a centralized function within an organization that employs people, processes, and technology to achieve its goals.

Prevention & Detection

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Ben Franklin

It is always better to prevent something bad from happening than to have to react to it after it has already happened. This is especially true in the world of cybersecurity. A SOC works constantly to monitor a network for potential threats and stop them before they can do any damage. This proactive approach is much more effective than trying to fix things after they have already gone wrong.

Suspicious activity can come in many forms. For a SOC analyst, it’s important to gather as much information as possible to get a better understanding of what’s going on for a deeper investigation.

Investigation

From the perspective of an attacker, the security analyst views the organization’s network and operations in order to look for key indicators and areas of exposure before they are exploited. By analyzing the suspicious activity, the SOC analyst gets a better understanding of the nature of a threat and how far it has penetrated the infrastructure.

A security analyst is responsible for identifying and responding to security incidents. They use their knowledge of how attacks unfold, and how to effectively respond before they get out of hand. In order to do this, they combine information about an organization’s network with global threat intelligence that includes specifics on attacker tools, techniques, and trends. This allows them to perform an effective triage.

Response

SOC teams play a vital role in investigating and responding to incidents. They are often the first responders, taking action to isolate affected endpoints, terminate harmful processes, prevent the execution of malicious code, delete files, and more. SOC teams work closely with other security departments to coordinate an effective response and remediation plan.

After an incident has occurred, the SOC team works to restore any systems that may have been lost or compromised, as well as recover any data that may have been lost. This can include wiping and restarting endpoints, reconfiguring systems, or deploying backups to circumvent ransomware attacks. Successfully completing this step will return the network to its state prior to the incident.

vSOC

What is a virtual security operations center (vSOC)?

vSOCs are a comprehensive data monitoring solution that provides continuous surveillance of an enterprise’s digital network. vSOCs detect malicious activity and respond to emerging threats, keeping the organization safe from harm.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Security Operations Center?

Organizations of all sizes are turning to vSOCs to meet their security monitoring needs. From small businesses to large enterprises, more and more companies are seeing the value in outsourcing their security to a team of experts.

Potential threats target networks with a high frequency within organizations that are on the rise, or that employ people across the nation or internationally, are becoming increasingly common. These organizations are often prime targets for attackers due to their large size and high visibility.

Given the current global situation, many companies are choosing to increase their security measures. This includes building internal operations centers or outsourcing services to a vSOC.

There are many factors to consider in whether to build an in-house SOC or outsource the service to a vSOC. Both options have their pros and cons, but outsourcing has become a more popular choice for many businesses.

Organizations that implement vSOCs can take advantage of a broader range of security expertise and tools. Compared to traditional in-house IT and critical operations, building and managing a SOC requires a different approach.

In order to deploy an in-house SOC, you will need personnel who are dedicated and have experience with Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and other security solution tools.

Analysts who work within a company may not have the adequate knowledge or manpower to be able to monitor all of the company’s tools, potentially causing wasted resources and missed threats.

Security analysts who work in a virtual SOC are adept at spotting potential threats and responding quickly to them.

mSoc

mSoc, or modern security operations center is the newest kid on the block.

Or is it?

According to Gartner, an mSOC must be able to handle vast amounts of data collected from networks. This data must be normalized and enriched with security intelligence in order to be effectively analyzed. Big data analytics and machine learning can then be used to identify and prioritize indicators of suspicious activity.

mSOCs are a mixture of 24/7 detection and response from a team of analysts combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated tasks in order to make sure all the bases are covered and there is a higher probability of total coverage.

Whereas in the past SOCs were directly responsible for the detection, prevention, and response of cyber attacks, now there are a lot more responsibilities associated with being an analysts.

Let’s take a look at some of the other tasks a modern security operations center is responsible for:

  • Risk Management: Organizations face many risks, from natural disasters to cyberattacks. To protect their assets and operations, they must identify and manage these risks. This requires making decisions about which risks to take and how to mitigate them. Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling risks.
  • Vulnerability Management: Risk identification and management from technical vulnerabilities is a critical but commonly overlooked aspect of the server, laptop, and IoT device security. Most SOCs (security operations centers) use vulnerability scanners and outside threat intelligence to identify vulnerabilities, but these tools are often insufficient. A more comprehensive approach is needed to effectively identify and manage risks from technical vulnerabilities.
  • Compliance: Assessing and maintaining organizational compliance requirements.
  • Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR): This is part Sherlock Holmes, part Tony Stark, and part Indiana Jones. Imagine analyzing various types of artifacts that could lead to reverse engineering, vulnerability, root cause, remediation, and mitigation analysis. Gathering evidence post-incident to determine the cause of the incident and prepare for legal action. In the event of a security breach, it is essential to take quick and decisive action in order to mitigate the damage. This may include isolating affected systems, notifying team members, and taking steps to remediate the issue.
  • Situational and Security Awareness: Organizations must be aware of the potential threats in their operational environment. This means that analysts provide the organization with awareness of its operational environment and potential threats.
  • Research and Development: As the threat landscape evolves, it is important to research new tools and techniques to stay ahead of the curve. Existing tools can also be modified to improve effectiveness.

Conclusion

Like all the different types of solutions and services available in order to help improve an organization’s security posture, no two operation centers are the same.

Whereas there are many similarities and commonalities between these SOCs, there are divides that are opening that are separating and differentiating these centers – the differentiating factors are a combination of technology used and responsibilities required.

What’s the worst SOC that could be chosen? No SOC for that matter. It’s better to have a team watching over your data security rather than none at all.

So whether it’s a traditional SOC, a vSOC, or an mSOC, they all represent some of the best talents for preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber-attacks that are coming in at an ever-increasing rate.