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3 Functions of a Security Operations Center

A security operations center (SOC) is a command center facility for a team of information technology (IT) professionals with expertise in information security (infosec) who monitor, analyze, and protect your business from cyber-attacks. 

A SOC aims to identify, investigate, prioritize, and resolve issues that could affect the security of your business’ critical infrastructure and data. A properly developed and run SOC can conduct real-time threat detection and incident response, delivering rapid security intelligence to see when an attack starts, who is attacking, how the attack is being conducted, and what data or systems are being compromised.

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How Does a Security Operations Center Work?

The SOC team implements the organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy and acts as the midway point of collaboration in coordinated efforts to monitor, assess, and defend against cyberattacks. 

Given that technology systems in modern businesses run 24/7, SOCs (Security Operations Centers) usually function around the clock in shifts, ensuring a rapid response to emerging threats. SOC teams may collaborate with other departments and employees or even work with expert third-party security providers. 

Typically, a SOC is designed using a security information and event management (SIEM) system. Depending on the needs of your business network, this could involve several different tools. Some tools may include endpoint detection, risk and compliance systems, governance protocols, vulnerability assessments, threat-intelligence platforms, and behavior analytics.

A SOC performs the following tasks:

  • Monitoring a network to proactively identify potential cybersecurity threats 24/7/365. 
  • Analyzing identified anomalies for any potential impact and then prioritizing them for remediation. 
  • Isolating cyber incidents and implementing controls to prevent any future events.

3 Functions of a Security Operations Center

Although the staff size of security operations teams varies, most have the same roles and responsibilities.

1. Prevention and Detection

When it comes to cybersecurity, preventing attacks always works better than reacting to them. So, rather than respond to threats as they happen, a SOC works to monitor the network proactively. By doing so, the SOC can detect potentially malicious activities, preventing any damage from happening.

2. Investigation

During the investigation stage, the SOC analyst analyzes the suspicious activity to determine the nature of the potential threat and the extent to which it has penetrated the infrastructure. The security analyst will review the organization’s network and operations from the perspective of an attacker (looking for any indicators and areas of exposure before they are exploited).

3. Response

After the investigation, the SOC team will coordinate a proper response to remediate the issues. As soon as an incident is confirmed, the SOC takes actions such as isolating endpoints, putting an end to harmful processes (preventing them from executing), deleting files, and more. 

In the aftermath of an incident, the SOC works to restore systems and recover any lost or compromised data. This may include wiping and restarting endpoints, reconfiguring systems, or, in the case of ransomware attacks, deploying viable backups to circumvent the ransomware. When successful, this step will return the network to the state it was in prior to the incident.