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Network Security Monitoring

MSSP Security Operations Center Explained

June 08, 2023

8 minutes

MSSP Security Operations Center Explained | Man standing in security operations room, using a tablet and looking at a projected map of the world on a large screen

It’s more apparent than ever before that cybersecurity is a must-have for businesses as cyberattacks continue increasing in gravity and frequency, even for small companies today.

It’s easy for organizational leadership to underestimate the firepower and caliber of defense systems needed in today’s hyper-digital marketplace, even if they understand the threat that cyberattacks pose.

Securing a business network is difficult without top-level expertise and best-in-class technology, both of which can be sought from managed security service providers (MSSPs) operating from security operations centers (SOCs).

Read on to learn more about SOCs and why access to one is an advantage for any and all businesses.

Need an idea of where to start with cybersecurity practices? Review our Cybersecurity Checklist: How Covered is Your Business? And you can get started with cybersecurity best practices right now.

What is a Security Operations Center?

A security operations center (SOC) is a centralized hub for cybersecurity experts in an organization to work collaboratively together in one space. It can be thought of as an MSSP’s control room.

It’s home to a wide array of experts and state of the art technology designed to constantly monitor and assess networks for weak spots, suspicious activity, and any interruptions to daily operations.

Essentially, a security operations center is the headquarters of a cybersecurity operation that allows the security team to work more efficiently and with more open collaboration. This, in turn, helps them prevent and detect potential cyberattacks as quickly as possible.

A Brief Look at MSSP with SOC Benefits

Before delving too much deeper into the details of an MSSP with an SOC, there are some benefits of partnering with a managed security services provider for your cybersecurity needs that are well worth calling out.

- Comprehensive cybersecurity coverage: By partnering with an MSSP with access to an SOC, you can rest assured that your cybersecurity strategy will protect you against the latest and most sophisticated cyberattacks emerging today.

- Expert level consultation and strategy: When you partner with an MSSP you simply get more out of the SOC. Instead of relying on the limited expertise and knowledge of an in-house team, you have access to the best and brightest minds in the cybersecurity space and dedicated specialists who are constantly getting better creating and executing your strategy.

- Significantly reduced dwell time: Dwell time is defined as the amount of time a malicious actor has to complete their goal. In the context of a home invasion, it’s essentially the amount of time the burglar has before risking authority intervention. With cybersecurity, minimizing the amount of dwell time malware or malicious users have is crucial to keeping sensitive information protected. An MSSP with an SOC at their disposal ensures that your cybersecurity team is already gathered in the event of an attack.

- Continual monitoring and 24/7 support: In order to deliver top-tier cybersecurity and network protection services, an MSSP can outfit their SOC with state-of-the-art technology that facilitates 24/7 monitoring over client networks.

Elements of a Security Operations Center?

As the central hub for a cybersecurity team, the SOC employs many different tactics that work toward building and maintaining a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for businesses. Here are a few of the most crucial functions a security operations center covers.

1. Preventative Maintenance

Sometimes the cheesiest sayings stem from the deepest pools of truth. This is certainly the case with that age old adage, “defense is the best offense.” In the realm of cybersecurity, proactive and preventative defense are two of the fundamental pillars you need included in your strategy.

The cybersecurity experts within the SOC are always maintaining security infrastructure and running diagnostics to help prevent potential attacks, shutdown attack vectors, and minimize network security risk exposure.

This includes regularly updating defensive software (firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware, etc.), patching vulnerabilities, managing blacklisted websites and applications, and monitoring devices.

2. Constant Network Monitoring

One of the biggest benefits of a SOC is the ability to monitor a business’ network 24/7, flagging suspicious activities and reacting nearly instantly to potential breaches and emerging threats.

This constant monitoring allows faster reaction times when threats arise, helping to mitigate the damage of a cyberattack and reducing the amount of overall recovery time an organization needs in the wake of an attack.

3. Threat Response

If a breach occurs, the SOC is ready with an immediate, measured response to stop and remediate the attack by shutting down endpoints, ending compromised processes, deleting corrupted files, and shutting down unnecessary access to slow the spread.

Modern cyberattacks take on a variety of shapes and forms. Some larger scale attacks take days or even months to pull off. The large majority of cyberattacks, though, are much smaller in scale and only take a few minutes to be successful.

Reducing the amount of time an active threat has to corrupt your network and documents (dwell time) is vital to protecting your sensitive data and private information. Operating with sophisticated technology and a central headquarters, SOCs are able to cut dwell time down significantly, helping you avoid major damage when a threat emerges.

4. Compliance Management

For businesses and organizations dealing with sensitive information and complex compliance regulations, like healthcare or finance, having a team of compliance experts continuously auditing cybersecurity processes to ensure compliance is crucial.

A SOC and its team shoulders the responsibility of making sure your business always meets the compliance standards for data protection to avoid fines or legal repercussions from the mishandling of sensitive information.

This is particularly important in instances where technologies and solutions have been scaled, requiring a compliance manager to understand how to ensure that new processes and data are fully in compliance.

5. Breach Recovery

Post-incident, the experts stationed at a SOC get an action plan in place and ready to execute. In the case of a breach, the team can immediately jump into the process of recovering lost data, reconfiguring endpoints, and deploying backups, ultimately minimizing your downtime.

The goal is to restore a business’ ability to continue running smoothly as quickly as possible with unblocked access to their crucial data and documents, without compromising customer information.

To put it plainly, if a SOC is responding effectively, downtime will be kept to an absolute minimum.

6. Education

Part of the job for cybersecurity experts is to stay up to date on the latest news, trends, threats, and innovations.

The constant research and continual education helps to strengthen security strategies, ensuring they are built to fight the modern threats that businesses will face.

An SOC also provides the space and opportunity for cybersecurity professionals to continue their certification training, keeping them on track with the latest cybersecurity threats and the appropriate mitigation strategies for each.

Who Works in a Security Operations Center?

The SOC is home to an entire team of cybersecurity experts who work to protect businesses from cyberthreats.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the roles and experts you can find working at an SOC:

Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO)

A virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is the main point of contact for a business who partners with an MSSP. A vCISO takes place of an in-house CISO who would join the c-suite executives and demand an appropriate salary for that role. Rather, with a vCISO, you can save money and also gain access to an entire team of cybersecurity professionals with an SOC to work out of.

The vCISO takes on a variety of responsibilities for clients which include but are not limited to organization-wide security structuring, updating and enhancing cybersecurity strategies, performing vulnerability assessments and risk audits, and being familiar with industry compliance standards.

Virtual Chief Information Security Officers play an integral role in the development and execution of cybersecurity strategies for MSSP clients.

Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA)

An Analyst’s job is to execute operational tasks and organize/analyze data to help make informed decisions on future strategies and assess the effectiveness of the current plan.

They’re responsible for executing a cybersecurity plan through daily monitoring and the management of deployed solutions.

Cybersecurity Engineer (CSE)

Engineers are responsible for building and developing the final solutions as well as overseeing their implementation. They are tasked with implementing information security concepts into the design of highly secured networks that are protected from a wide variety of current digital threats.

Cybersecurity Developer (CSD)

Developers build and maintain custom IT security assessments and work with businesses to improve, automate, and custom-build security processes.

Specifically, Cybersecurity Developers write programs geared toward protecting computer networks and data systems.

Compliance Manager

A Compliance Manager develops the solutions needed by businesses to meet regulatory standards like HIPAA, CCPA, GDPR, and beyond. This can include developing internal processes, compliance policies, and even document or data architecture.

Compliance Managers are vital to ensuring that your business is handling sensitive data in an appropriate and responsible manner.

Why is an SOC Necessary for Modern Cybersecurity?

The advantages of having a SOC for cybersecurity, like access to world-class expertise and state of the art technology, cannot be overstated.

Modern cyberattacks are getting smarter, and more difficult to avoid every single day—a simple “set it and forget it” approach to cybersecurity is not substantial enough to head off attacks and keep you protected.

Businesses need backup from true experts who can improve the comprehensive cybersecurity strategy in several ways, like:

  • Improving response times
  • Increasing transparency and control
  • Increasing organizational visibility
  • Reducing the chance of major breach
  • Reducing dwell time

Partnering with an MSSP

Access to a SOC and its expert team is just one perk of choosing to partner with a managed security service provider (MSSP) like DOT Security, whose teams of skilled professionals are ready to help businesses shore up their defenses, meet compliance standards, and manage the security of their networks.

Access to an MSSP’s SOC means access to experts who are always watching and keeping their eyes peeled for suspicious behavioral anomalies in a network and, when a breach occurs, are prepared to respond instantly.

Learn more about DOT Security’s state-of-the-art security operations center in Lake Forest, Illinois and explore all our cybersecurity solutions. If you want to see where your cybersecurity efforts currently stand, take a look at out our Cybersecurity Checklist: How Covered is Your Business?