A small-business guide to security operations centers

A small-business guide to security operations centers

Small businesses like yours face a daunting task when it comes to cybersecurity. You have to strike a balance between protecting your data and operations and staying within budget. Luckily, there's a solution in the form of a security operations center (SOC). With a SOC, your small business can deploy an effective defense against cyberthreats without breaking the bank.

Let's explore what a SOC is and how operating or outsourcing one can benefit your small business.

What is a SOC?

At its core, a SOC is a centralized command center that creates and manages a plan for identifying, responding to, and mitigating security threats. It comprises a team of cybersecurity professionals working together and implementing specialized tools and strategies to ensure the safety of your business's information and systems.

You can operate a SOC in house or outsource it to a third-party provider. Regardless of your choice, the goal of your SOC is the same: to monitor and address potential threats from both inside and outside your network.

Related reading: Why outsourcing your security operations center makes perfect sense

What are the key functions of a SOC?

A SOC performs several primary functions, including the following:

Taking inventory of relevant assets and resources

To ensure the security of your IT environment, the SOC team must first understand the full scope of their protection. Taking stock of existing software, hardware, users, and other assets enables the SOC to identify potential vulnerabilities or weak links within your system. Likewise, creating a list of the cybersecurity tools at your business's disposal allows the team to develop a more comprehensive and tailored defense plan.

Preparation and preventative maintenance

Prevention is key when it comes to cybersecurity, and while a SOC develops and implements robust response processes, it's always better to prevent problems from happening in the first place. To accomplish this, the SOC team implements preventative measures that can be divided into two categories: preparation and preventative maintenance.

Preparation involves keeping up to date with the latest security innovations and cybercrime trends. By staying informed about emerging tech and threats, your SOC can create a security roadmap that provides direction for your company's cybersecurity efforts.

On the other hand, preventative maintenance involves regularly scheduled monitoring and maintenance tasks to keep attacks from happening in the first place. This includes consistently updating existing systems, updating firewall policies, patching vulnerabilities, and securing applications through whitelisting and blacklisting.

Continuous proactive monitoring

As with any security system, the effectiveness of a SOC is only as good as its ability to detect potential threats. To do this, the SOC team continuously monitors for suspicious activity and anomalies that could indicate a possible attack. This includes monitoring user activity, scanning for malicious programs, and looking for other indicators of compromise, as well as using advanced threat detection technologies, such as security information and event management platforms, to collect and analyze security event data in real time.

Alert ranking and management

When it comes to security events, not all threats present the same level of risk. A SOC uses its own threat intelligence database and various other sources to assign each reported event a priority rating that determines its urgency. This helps the team prioritize alerts and respond more quickly to high-risk incidents.

Threat response

This is what most people associate with a SOC. As soon as an incident is confirmed, the SOC team acts as a first responder and takes immediate action. This can include shutting down or isolating endpoints, terminating harmful processes, preventing malicious software from executing, deleting files, and more.

A SOC's ultimate goal is to respond to the incident to the extent necessary while minimizing the impact on your operations. This means that it strives to minimize any disruptions to business continuity, while still effectively containing and neutralizing the threat.

Recovery and remediation

Once the SOC team has identified, contained, and neutralized an attack, they must then focus on recovery and remediation. This involves restoring any services or data that were damaged in the attack, as well as identifying any weaknesses or vulnerabilities that led to the incident and validating that the security issue has been fully resolved.

Log management

Log management is an important part of a SOC's role in ensuring that all suspicious activity and incidents are tracked, monitored, and reported. The SOC team will collect log data from systems across your business network to identify any anomalies or threats that require further investigation. This information also helps them analyze past incidents and security trends, allowing them to develop better strategies for future prevention.

Root cause investigation

A SOC conducts thorough investigations into the root cause of security incidents and identifies any underlying issues that opened the door to malicious actors in the first place. By analyzing log data, interviewing key stakeholders, and conducting other forms of forensic analysis, the SOC team can gain a better understanding of how an incident happened and use this information to improve your overall security posture.

Security refinement and improvement

Threats are constantly evolving, so the SOC team must stay ahead of the curve by continually testing, refining, and improving your business's procedures and strategies. This can include periodically running vulnerability assessments, strengthening authentication requirements, or implementing additional monitoring capabilities. By continuously assessing the security landscape and making adjustments as needed, your SOC can ensure that your systems are protected against future attacks.
Compliance management

Finally, a SOC plays an important role in ensuring that your business meets all of its compliance and regulatory requirements. This includes monitoring for any security issues that could lead to noncompliance, as well as conducting audits and reviews to prove your organization's adherence to industry best practices. A reliable and up-to-date compliance management system is essential for avoiding fines and other legal ramifications.

By performing these functions and more, a SOC helps ensure that your business has the tools and processes needed to stay resilient in the face of any security threat. With the right team and resources in place, you can be confident that your systems are safe from harm.

Don't leave your company's cybersecurity to chance — take action and contact outsourceIT today to learn more about how our SOC services can help protect your valuable assets.

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