Thought Leadership

Jun 21, 2022

Key Roles & Responsibilities of the Modern SOC

Enhance your understanding of basic security operations center (SOC) fundamentals to strengthen your organization against the rising threat landscape.

To keep up with the rapidly evolving threat landscape, an organization must constantly strive to improve the efficiency of its security operations. In today’s blog, we’ll lay the groundwork for optimizing your security operations center (SOC) by breaking down the basic fundamentals behind successful SOC designs.

What Is a SOC?

The SOC is designed to protect a company from security breaches by quickly and efficiently identifying, analyzing, and responding to security threats. Until the past decade, a SOC was a physical room or command center where the different members of a security team worked. This may have included both physical and cybersecurity teams, composed of security analysts, security engineers, and individuals responsible for security operations, blue-team activities, and DevSecOps. While also part of the security team, red-team members usually work elsewhere due to their adversarial role. 

Due to high operating costs and the challenges of building the instrumentation and management planes for security operations, only large enterprises had SOCs until the past decade. Today, many mid-sized organizations now invest in small SOCs due to the wide acceptance of the SOC operating model and the rise of open source and other tooling to automate and streamline many SOC operations. 

A growing number of organizations opt for virtual or hybrid SOCs to enable better global coverage and to accommodate high-skill workers who prefer to work from home some or all of the time. Some enterprises also outsource SOC operations to managed security services providers who leverage institutional knowledge and economies of scale to protect multiple enterprises using the same set of tools and security teams. Virtual, physical, or outsourced, the SOC serves as the unifying element that combines all the information and resources necessary to improve performance and enhance data sharing within an organization. 

What Does a SOC Do?

The SOC is the tip of the spear for an organization’s security strategy, but it also contains a number of subsystems that must be thoughtfully designed and coordinated. In addition, the SOC must work closely with other teams including IT, HR, legal, compliance, and finance. In some instances, SOCs are co-located with network operations centers due to the overlapping responsibilities and the integral role that network security plays in security posture.

To improve efficiency and enhance collaboration between the SOC and other units within an organization, it’s important to first understand the SOC’s key responsibilities: 

  • Maintaining security tools and controls. This is typically handled by security engineers, who work to constantly tune controls to reduce security drift and block new attacks. They also help facilitate patch management efforts.
  • Testing and validating security controls and security posture fidelity. This is the responsibility of the blue team, the vulnerability management team, and sometimes security engineers.
  • Analyzing potential threats to inform strategy and tactical approaches. This is the task of the threat modeling and security intelligence team. 
  • Investigating indicators of compromise (IOCs) or suspicious activities. The incident response team (often the blue team) investigates suspicious and malicious activity within networks and systems. 

Improving SOC Efficiency 

Modern SOCs are complex environments with dozens of tools, overlapping teams, and a constantly growing attack surface to protect. To combat these challenges and keep up with the rapidly evolving threat landscape, security leaders must constantly strive to improve SOC efficiency and keep team members engaged. 

Download our new white paper to enhance your understanding of core SOC responsibilities and design considerations, and gain actionable guidance about how to:

  • Optimize underlying processes and workflows to reduce manual tasks
  • Streamline communications to enhance information sharing
  • Implement and tune smart integrations to minimize information overload 
  • Incorporate breach and attack simulation (BAS) to proactively validate security controls at scale
SOC White Paper

Check back on the SafeBreach blog next week as we continue to explore actionable guidance to optimize your SOC.

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