The goal of a Network Operations Center (NOC) and a Security Operations Center (SOC) is to ensure that the corporate network meets business needs. However, they do so in different ways. The NOC focuses on meeting service level agreements (SLAs) and protecting against natural disruptions, while the SOC works to identify and block cyber threats to the network.

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What is a Network Operations Center (NOC)?

The NOC is the team within an organization that is responsible for ensuring that the corporate network infrastructure is capable of meeting the needs of the business. Every organization uses the corporate network for certain purposes, and the NOC optimizes and troubleshoots the corporate network to ensure that it is capable of meeting the needs of the business.

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

An organization’s SOC is responsible for protecting an organization against cyber threats. SOC analysts are responsible for hardening corporate assets to prevent attacks and performing incident detection and response in the event of a security incident.  A corporate SOC may be internal or provided by a third party under a SOC as a Service model.

The Main Differences Between the NOC and the SOC

While the NOC and the SOC are two teams within an organization with very similar roles, some significant differences exist between them, including the following.

1. Objectives

At a high level, the NOC and the SOC have the same primary objective: to ensure that the corporate network is able to meet the needs of the business. However, the details of these objectives differ between the two.

A NOC’s focus is on ensuring that the network is capable of meeting SLAs during normal operations and addressing natural disruptions, such as service outages, natural disasters, etc. The SOC, on the other hand, works to protect the network and business operations against interference by cyber threat actors.

2. Adversaries

The NOC and the SOC are both working to protect the corporate network against disruption. However, they are fighting against different adversaries.

The NOC is primarily focused on preventing network interference by natural or not human-driven events. This includes power outages, Internet outages, natural disasters, etc. SOC analysts, on the other hand, protect against human-driven disruptions. Their role is to identify, triage, and respond to cyberattacks that can disrupt operations or otherwise cause harm to the business.

3. Required Skills

NOC and SOC analysts require many of the same skills. In both cases, they need to be able to monitor the operation of the network and identify and address issues that are causing network performance degradation or outages. However, NOC and SOC analysts apply their skills differently and have different areas of focus.

A NOC analyst will use their network monitoring skills primarily to diagnose and correct “natural” issues within their infrastructure. Additionally, NOC analysts’ skillsets will also focus more on optimizing network infrastructure and endpoints than their SOC counterparts.

SOC analysts, on the other hand, are tasked with protecting the organization against human actors and human-driven threats. This requires the ability to understand how a cyber attack chain works and to remediate infections that are intentionally designed by a human being to be malicious and to evade detection. Instead of network and endpoint optimization, SOC analysts’ skillsets will be tuned more to hardening and ensuring the resiliency and security of corporate IT assets.

Which Is Better: a NOC or SOC?

A NOC vs. a SOC is not an “either-or” choice. Neither is better or worse than the other, and an organization needs both to maintain normal business operations.

The NOC is responsible for ensuring that corporate infrastructure is capable of sustaining business operations, while the SOC is responsible for protecting the organization against cyber threats that could disrupt those business operations. The roles of the NOC and SOC are complementary with both focusing on protecting against different potential risks to network performance and corporate productivity.

An organization will be faced with both natural and human-driven events that can cause network and business disruptions. Making a choice between a NOC and a SOC leaves an organization vulnerable to one or the other of these.

Ensuring Network Performance And Security with Check Point

While these two teams may have different primary goals and go about their duties in different ways, they share a need for deep visibility and centralized control over the corporate network infrastructure.

Check Point Horizon provides NOC and SOC teams with the tools that they need to do their jobs. To learn how to up-level your NOC and SOC with a single tool, check out this IDC Technology Spotlight. Then, watch this demo video to see how Check Point Horizon can help to improve your organization’s network performance and security.

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