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Network Security Monitoring

MSSP Security Operations Center Explained

February 15, 2024

8 minute read

A picture of the DOT SOC

A security operations center (SOC) is the command room of a cybersecurity operation. It’s a facility outfitted with a suite of top-of-the-line technology and staffed with a roster of cybersecurity superstars.

This concentration of high-powered technology and expertise enhances the capabilities of managed security service providers (MSSPs) allowing them to deliver top-tier cybersecurity to their clients without communication mishaps, work-environment-based delays, or disjointed strategies.

Working with an MSSP that has the power of a SOC behind them brings comprehensive cybersecurity to your doorstep while saving you the time and cost involved in building these capabilities in-house.

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

What is a Security Operations Center?

A security operations center (SOC) is the central HQ for cybersecurity, where specialists monitor, analyze, and respond to threats against an organization's digital assets in real time.

As the central security hub, a SOC allows cybersecurity professionals to collaborate, ultimately facilitating stronger and more thorough monitoring, protection, and incident response and coverage.

The SOC is 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. By housing this separately from other offices, security professionals will be the only staff coming or going from the SOC, heightening security, and adding an additional layer of protection.

All-in-all a security operations center helps the professionals of an MSSP prevent, detect, and neutralize potential cyberattacks as quickly as possible.

Reducing 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 a SOC at their disposal ensures that your cybersecurity team is already gathered and ready to act in the event of an attack.

Minimizing dwell time is a main goal for most cybersecurity strategies, as it’s one of the most effective ways to mitigate the damage threat actors can cause. With a minimized dwell time, even if threats do actively infiltrate the network, they won’t have enough time to cause any notable harm.

Elements of a Security Operations Center?

Security operation centers employ many different tactics that work toward building and maintaining a layered cybersecurity strategy for businesses.

A few of the services offered by an MSSP include:

  1. Preventative Maintenance
  2. Network Monitoring
  3. Threat Response
  4. Compliance Management
  5. Breach Recovery
  6. Cybersecurity Awareness and Education

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, shut down 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. Continual 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 gives SOC operations a serious advantage over one security employee using a program like SentinelOne.

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 a measured response to stop and remediate the attack by shutting down endpoints, ending compromised processes, deleting corrupted files, and halting unnecessary access to slow the spread.

Modern cyberattacks take on a variety of forms. Some 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 is vital to protecting your sensitive data. 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 dealing with sensitive information and complex data security regulations, like those in healthcare or finance, having a team of compliance experts continuously auditing cybersecurity processes is crucial.

A SOC and its team make sure your business always meets the standards for data protection to avoid legal repercussions from the mishandling of sensitive information.

This is particularly important in instances where technologies have been scaled, requiring a compliance manager to ensure that new processes are fully in line with the law.

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.

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. Cybersecurity Awareness and 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 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 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 protect businesses from modern cyber threats and provide the services listed above.

Let’s review a few of the roles that play an integral part in SOC services:

  1. Virtual Chief Information Security Officer

  2. Cybersecurity Analyst

  3. Cybersecurity Engineer

  4. Cybersecurity Developer

  5. Compliance Manager

1. 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.

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, leading vulnerability assessments and risk audits, and being familiar with industry compliance standards.

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

2. Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA)

An Analyst’s job is to execute operational tasks, organize, and (of course) analyze data to 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.

3. Cybersecurity Engineer (CSE)

Engineers are responsible for developing and installing the various programs, tactics, and protocols created. 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.

4. 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.

They also create software patches to block newly developed threats and help clients customize these patches so that normal business operations can continue sailing smoothly. This is especially important to note because one-size-fits-all solutions are extremely rare in the world of cybersecurity.

5. Compliance Manager

A Compliance Manager develops the solutions needed to meet regulatory standards like those in HIPAA, CCPA, GDPR, and beyond. This can include developing internal processes, policies, and even 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 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

Wrapping Up on the Benefits of Partnering with a SOC-Powered 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. When you do, 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 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 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?