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Benefits of Using Security Operations Center (SOC) as a Service Provider

The cyber security landscape is changing rapidly, sometimes daily.  Many IT security teams are stretched to their limits, finding it challenging to manage the ever-multiplying threats and sometimes even decipher real risks from false alarms.  To combat this and more quickly identify authentic threats, many organizations have turned to the option of building their own security operations center (SOC).

This is a dedicated area in the business or even at a separate facility in which IT security staff can house dedicated resources to track down threat variants within their own environment, while also detecting any sort of malicious or anomalous behavior threatening their customers.

While the intention of this process is to mitigate cyber threats in real time, a major deterrent of an exclusive SOC is that they can be very expensive to run and can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of the company. An alternative has come into existence though - the security operations center as a Service, or SOCaaS.

What is a SOCaaS?

The concept is rather straightforward.  Instead of trying to do all the above mentioned in house, businesses simply outsourcing all of this to an external third party.  In fact, this is very similar to what is known as a vCISO as a Service.  Rather than having to spend a lot of money in hiring and keeping a dedicated CISO at a company, organizations can outsource one on a flat fee for a fixed period. These options allow companies to keep more money in their pockets, without having to put additional strain on smaller IT department or on the office’s makeshift IT person.

The third party works with the current IT security staff, learns their cyber security practices, and from there, can manage all the threat monitoring and risk mitigation so IT resources are freed up to handle everything else that is coming their way, which, let’s be honest, is usually a lot. Many times, those outside IT or in upper management do not understand just how much work the standard IT department does, and on a strict or limited budget with more and more tasks and responsibilities being added on.  This can cause major security risks when an IT department is taxed beyond its limits. This is why a SOCaaS can prove invaluable to many businesses.

It is important to keep in mind that by using a reputable SOCaaS, also gives businesses the opportunity to engage a group of individuals with deep knowledge and an advanced skill set when it comes to ever evolving and always challenging security technology.

Benefits of Using a SOCaaS Provider

Using an SOCaaS provides a number of strategic advantages, including:

API Security

This is a prime concern to businesses today as they deploy more web applications dependent on the usage of APIs, especially when using those provided by a third-party software developer.  The SOCaaS provider examines in closer detail the APIs being used, reports any vulnerabilities found and provides  solutions to remedy them quickly.

Enhancement of Endpoint Security

Many businesses, concerned about maintaining a strong level of security for network lines of communication, tend to overlook the endpoints where these connections originate from and terminate at.  Cyber attackers are aware of this and it has become a prime target.  SOCaaS teams have the in-depth knowledge and expertise to fortify these endpoints for you, enhancing overall security posture.

Access to Additional Intelligence

Apart from offsetting IT security staff filtering through false threats, SOCaaS teams have access to other kinds of intelligence and data feeds that can be used for strategic initiatives like building out artificial intelligence (AI) tools. By combining data across different sources, it paints a much more comprehensive and realistic picture of the cyber security threat landscape.

Maintaining Software Patches and Updates

One of the cardinal rules in cyber security today is to make sure that your business is doing software patches and updates regularly and in a timely fashion.  However, this can be missed, making systems vulnerable.  Hiring a SOCaaS provider adds extra hands on deck to ensure all patches and updates are applied on a regular schedule.

Evidence of Proper Security Measures

Having an SOCaaS team shows not only internal stakeholders, such as the C-suite and the Board of Director,  but also external stakeholders that cyber security is a top priority for the company and measures are being take to fend off any sorts of security breaches.  SOCaaS typically is a fixed cost and therefore fairly easy to justify the return on investment (ROI). This can help get a budget increase for cyber security needs.

Additional Security Perspectives

In the world of cyber security today, it is crucial to get insight from a team of trusted individuals, rather than just relying on a single perspective.  Using a SOCaaS team gives objective and unbiased views on how to fortify defenses, which can be used in conjunction with the plans of in-house IT.  This gives a more sophisticated approach to addressing risks by having a team outside the organization and “thinking outside of the box”.

How to Choose a SOCaaS Provider

Selecting an appropriate provider is crucial, not only because businesses will depend on them to augment existing IT security staff, but more than likely, they will also need to have access to some internal assets as well. 

Here are some considerations when choosing a SOCaaS:

What kinds of tools (such as agents and servers) will they deploying?

An SOCaaS provider will most likely be using their own technology tools, which will be utilized in conjunction with the business’ existing systems.  Therefore, one of the first questions should be if their tools are compatible and inter-operable with current IT infrastructure.  Any inter-operability issues must be resolved first.  If not, there is the potential for more security risks.

How often are vulnerability scans conducted?

Each SOCaaS provider will have their own timetables for running these kinds of scans.  For example, they may be done every few hours, or just once a day, or even just once or twice a week.  There needs to be a timeline in place that fits the model of the business' security policy.  The ideal option would be to have your provider run scans on a 24 X 7 X 365 basis.

Are audit and compliance reports produced?

With the passages of the GDPR and the CCPA, most companies now must come into compliance with them, and if not, face stiff financial penalties.  Part of this process also means that are conducting audits of IT infrastructure on a regular basis and remedying any known threats and vulnerabilities in a timely fashion.  A SOCaaS will most likely conducting specialized auditing based on the business needs.  It is important to find out how often audits are conducted, and how the reporting format is structured and presented to always remain in full compliance with various pieces of legislation.

What kind of model does the provider use?

Many providers, if they are large enough, will make use of other distributors and resellers that will offer SOCaaS solutions.  Because of this, businesses need to know exactly who they are working with.  All distributors and resellers must be fully licensed and certified to provide services.  

How much scalability is offered?

Most providers have a niche, or a sweet spot that they work in.  For example, it could be the Fortune 500 or small to mid-sized market. Businesses need to make sure that the provider is scalable to meet changing security needs and can do so in the right manner.  Establishing a long-term relationship with a single SOCaaS provider is always best for them to understand the business and environment.

What is the experience of the staff?

Most SOCaaS providers have highly experienced and skilled staff.  Still, it is important to make sure providers have the proper credentials for the type of IT infrastructure in place.  This should be verified before signing an engagement contract.  Trusting an outsourced team with some of a business' most prized IT assets is a very important decision and organizations need to do their due diligence.  Businesses can engage Tech Guidance (for free) to vet the right providers based on experience and offerings. 

Is training provided?

Some SOCaaS providers will include training for a business' IT staff as part of the agreement.  Newer employees can receive training on the latest threat variants, and most importantly, how to react appropriately.  As a result, this will free up valuable time from more senior employees to focus on present risks.

SOCaaS providers offer many big benefits, including cost savings, to SMB and enterprises. Businesses can get expertise for a fraction of the cost of having a dedicated SOC in house. But selecting the right SOCaaS provider can be tedious and challenging. Businesses need to be aware of their needs and the right questions to ask. 

Request a consultation and the Tech Guidance team can help you determine your security needs and suggest the best providers. All consultations and vendor comparisons are free of charge.