How to Build a Winning SOC Strategy

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In the high-stakes game of cybersecurity, your Security Operations Center (SOC) holds the key to swiftly detecting and responding to incidents that can lead to costly data breaches. But to ensure your SOC is a winner, you need more than just a poker face. You need a solid strategy, the right people, and the best tools. Here are some tips on how to outline and implement a winning SOC strategy.

Choose Your Model Wisely to Improve Your Odds

First, you need to consider the operating model that best suits your organization’s needs. You can opt for a centralized in-house SOC, multiple distributed in-house SOCs, a managed/outsourced SOC, or a hybrid SOC with a combination of in-house and outsourced capabilities. Each model has its pros and cons, and you will improve your odds by choosing the one that best aligns with your goals and resources.

Keep Your Players Sharp

Establishing roles and responsibilities is a crucial first step. Then you’ll want to focus on keeping your SOC players at the top of their game. Provide opportunities for growth and development by prioritizing trainings and allowing your team to attend industry conferences and webinars. Investing in their skills and knowledge helps ensure they stay on top of ever-evolving technology and cyberthreats. You can also create a culture of peer-to-peer learning by establishing a mentorship program or holding in-office or virtual team workshops.

Invest in the Royal Flush of SOC Tools

The right tools can make or break your SOC’s efficiency and effectiveness, so you’ll want to upgrade your tooling based on current visibility and control gaps, automation needs, and budget considerations. Make sure to avoid tool sprawl and manage stack complexity by carefully selecting tools that align with your strategy. Your team will succeed if you ensure they have access to what we call the royal flush of SOC tools:

  • Ace: A security data platform.
  • King: Automated case management and incident response capabilities.
  • Queen: The ability to identify and communicate threat activities using a common language, namely through the MITRE ATT&CK® framework.
  • Jack: Automated correlation and searching of incident and threat intel data.
  • 10: Access to the broader security community as a resource.

Prepare to React Swiftly and Effectively

It’s important to standardize processes and procedures for different detection and response scenarios. Create playbooks that guide your analysts and responders, ensuring they know how to react in various incident response situations. By establishing a well-defined detection and response framework, your security team will be ready to tackle any threat that comes your way.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Regularly test and validate your SOC controls through tabletop exercises, simulated attacks, penetration tests, and red/purple team exercises. Uncover any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your strategy and fine-tune your incident response plans. Practice makes perfect, so keep refining your playbook to stay one step ahead of the game.

Improve Your Game with Measurable KPIs

Establish measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) to track security outcomes over time. Monitor metrics such as the total number of alerts, mean time to detect (MTTD), and mean time to respond (MTTR). By tracking these KPIs, you can gauge your SOC’s performance and make data-driven decisions to improve its effectiveness.

To outline and implement a winning SOC strategy, collaborate closely with business stakeholders, listen to your analysts’ needs and pain points, and be mindful of any gaps in coverage that could impact risk assessments. Invest in your people, develop their skills, and provide the right tools to maximize their efficiency. By prioritizing thoughtful planning and investing in the right strategy, you can stack the deck in your favor and ensure your SOC wins — and a winning SOC means a winning organization.Are you ready to play your cards right and dominate the cybersecurity game? Download our full guide on how to set your SOC up for success.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you determine which SOC operating model is best for your organization’s needs?

An organization’s size, industry, regulatory requirements, and security needs are important factors to consider when determining an appropriate SOC operating model. Depending on these requirements, an organization may opt to choose one of three models. The first is a fully in-house SOC model, which, as the name suggests, gives in-house security teams director oversight of an organization’s security tools, technology, and people. Organizations can also choose a co-managed model, which enables their in-house security team to elevate their SOC’s capabilities with additional resources from a security services partner. The last option is a fully managed SOC model. In this option, SOC operations are fully outsourced and managed by a highly skilled security services partner, enabling organizations to focus their security team’s skills on other core competencies. 

A well-defined SOC detection and response framework typically includes robust incident detection capabilities, efficient incident response processes, threat intelligence integration, continuous monitoring, and well-defined escalation procedures. Implementing these components ensures a proactive and effective approach to managing security incidents.

Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) commonly tracked to gauge a SOC’s performance include mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to respond (MTTR), percentage of incidents resolved, false positive rate, and the effectiveness of security controls. These KPIs provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of the SOC.

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