CYBER SECURITY | 4.5 MIN READ
Cyber security is a complex and evolving process, which can make it difficult for businesses to efficiently and effectively protect their network from the countless cyber threats that exist. Security Operations Centers, also known as SOC's, can be a solution to this problem. Keep reading to learn what a Security Operations Center is and what kind of businesses could be a good fit for a SOC.
[Quick Summary]: A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a centralized hub for monitoring a business' network, associated devices, and anywhere else that company data may be stored online.
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What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
Security Operations Centers are a centralized hub for monitoring a business' network, associated devices, and anywhere else that company data may be stored online.
Company data can be anything from financial information and intellectual property to employee information and more. The main purpose of a SOC is to prevent and respond to cyber security incidents. Cyber security incidents can range from malware intrusions to ransomware attacks.
SOC's identify network threats through proactive monitoring. Typically, SOC's are led by a SOC Manager or Chief Information Security Officer, who coordinates security efforts and initiatives. Security Operations Centers can be built in-house or leveraged through a contract with a third-party cyber security company.
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How Does it Work?
SOC's perform a few key tasks within an organization:
- Network Assessments: Before a SOC can formulate a cyber security action plan, they must thoroughly inspect every aspect of a business' network, from servers and routers to firewalls and more, to find security gaps.
- Proactive Network Maintenance and Monitoring: To prevent cyber threats from ever having the opportunity to attack, a SOC proactively monitors your network for security gaps and potential threats and then implements processes such as firewall patches and adjustments to security software settings.
- Incident Analysis: After an incident such as a data breach occurs and is resolved, a SOC can work to determine the root cause of the incident and then take steps to prevent it from happening again. This can be done using various security software and diagnostic tools.
- Data Privacy Regulatory Compliance Audits: Compliance with data privacy regulations is becoming an increasingly integral part of a cyber security plan. SOC's can perform network audits to see how an organization is and is not staying compliant to formulate next steps.
Security Operations Centers can take on a few different forms as well:
- In-House SOC — Businesses can opt to build their own SOC in-house to have a more localized and hands-on approach to cyber security.
- Co-Managed SOC — In this scenario, a company's internal IT works in tandem with a third-party SOC to manage their network security.
- Third-party SOC — For businesses that wish to take a hands-off approach to cyber security, they can entrust a third-party SOC with all network security measures.
What's the Difference Between a SOC and a NOC?
A Security Operations Center (SOC) and a Network Operations Center (NOC) are two terms that are typically confused for one another.
While both SOC's and NOC's work with MSP's to remedy IT-related issues, SOC's are more specialized than NOC's in terms of their offering.
A Security Operations Center's main objective is to secure a client's network. Their specialized team dedicates all its resources to threat monitoring and management.
A Network Operations Center has multiple objectives that extend beyond network security. For instance, a NOC may also handle tasks ranging from ensuring uptime and consistent data backups to managing hardware upgrades.
The Service Level Agreements (SLA's) that NOC's sign with clients are where these objectives are typically spelled out to ensure that they're consistently met.
SOC vs. NOC: Which is Better?
Keep reading to learn if, based on the following criteria, your business would be a better fit for a SOC or a NOC.
You have little to no internal IT
If this characteristic fits your business, you could be a fit for either a NOC or a SOC.
If you have little or no fully dedicated IT staff then you are probably leaving the management of your network up to another employee with limited IT knowledge, such as an HR manager or a secretary.
Leaving your network security up to an employee who isn't an IT professional puts your company's security at risk. By outsourcing the monitoring and management of your cyber security infrastructure to a NOC or SOC, this burden is taken off of internal employees and your network is better protected.
You need more full-service network assistance
Businesses that need more comprehensive and full-service network assistance would be a better fit for a NOC.
A Network Operations Centers' functionality can extend past monitoring for cyber threats to more general network health and maintenance projects. They can help upgrade existing network infrastructure, deploy initiatives that minimize network downtime, and more.
You cannot afford to experience network downtime
Businesses that see network uptime as a chief priority would be a better fit for a NOC.
As opposed to SOC's which mainly focus on preventing and neutralizing cyber threats, NOC's can help with more holistic network management projects such as network functionality.
Businesses such as online retailers and law firms are known to operate outside of normal 9-5 Monday-Friday hours.
NOC's take proactive steps to minimize network downtime, which can be especially useful on crucial days like Black Friday. Businesses who experience downtime during crucial times may face steep downtime costs and productivity losses.
Even if your business wouldn't dramatically suffer from occasional network downtime, keep in mind that hackers know that not everybody has 24/7 IT support, which means they might think to take advantage of your network when it's least protected.
Keeping your network security on high alert 24/7 maximizes network functionality and keeps hackers at bay.
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Your in-house IT department needs assistance
Businesses with overwhelmed in-house IT departments could be a fit for either a NOC or a SOC.
In-house IT departments have so many tasks to complete that businesses may benefit from contracting out some of those projects out to a third-party company.
While network monitoring is a task that is important for ensuring network health and security, there is no need to exhaust in-house IT departmental resources on this task, especially when there are other critical projects to be completed.
In this scenario, while both a NOC and a SOC could work with any internal IT staff you have, the function they serve would be slightly different. Since a SOC is specifically security-focused, their main function would be to assist internal security staff with monitoring and mitigating network threats.
A NOC could assist internal IT in a broader sense. While they can help field employee support requests, they can also help implement network projects such as infrastructural upgrades.
By letting a NOC or SOC handle some network-related projects, an in-house IT department is freed up to complete other projects, such as upgrading your network or better positioning it for the future.
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You simply need security assistance
If your business needs help monitoring for and mitigating cyber threats such as ransomware, a SOC could be a better fit.
Since SOC's are security-focused, they can deliver a powerful tiered response to any threats that emerge.
For instance, they collect, maintain, and regularly review logs of all company-wide network activity and communications. Additionally, they can regularly audit their own systems to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations such as HIPAA.
While a NOC can also perform some of these tasks as well, SOC's can be better equipped to handle certain security-specific tasks.
Businesses can utilize Security Operations Centers to protect sensitive data while staying compliant with data privacy regulations. We hope this article helped your business determine if a SOC may be a right fit!
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