Security Operations Center (SOC) Best Practices

The Security Operations Center (SOC), responsible for protecting the organization against cyber threats, includes not only security personnel but the tools and techniques that they use to fulfill their role.

As the cyber threat landscape evolves, a SOC becomes an increasingly vital component of an organization. Without a SOC, an organization may lack the capabilities required to identify and respond to advanced cyber threats.

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How the SOC Works

A SOC’s responsibilities include monitoring corporate IT environments for potential threats and responding to identified intrusions. SOCs can generally be classified into one of two categories:

  • In-House SOC: Some organizations have the resources required to maintain a full internal SOC. This includes the ability to perform round-the-clock security monitoring and to attract and retain personnel with specialized security expertise.
  • Managed SOC: For many organizations, maintaining a mature SOC in-house is neither feasible nor desirable. Organizations can take advantage of various SOC as a service offerings, such as managed detection and response (MDR), to protect the organization against cyber threats.

Best Practices for a Successful Security Operations Center

Whether in-house or external, a SOC should implement the following best practices.

Align Strategy with Business Goals

Security is often seen as being in conflict with the rest of an organization’s operations. This adversarial relationship between security personnel and other business units can result in security policies being violated or ignored. Additionally, a lack of understanding of the importance of security and its value to the business can make it difficult for the SOC to acquire the funding, resources, and personnel it needs to do its job.

Aligning the SOC strategy with business goals helps the SOC to be perceived as an asset and a critical component of the organization’s success. By performing a risk assessment, the SOC can identify corporate assets and evaluate the potential risk and impacts of a cyberattack on these systems. Next, the team can identify metrics and KPIs that demonstrate how the SOC supports the rest of the business. Finally, the team can define processes and procedures designed to achieve these goals.

Establish a Technology Tools Stack

SOC personnel must manage a wide variety of systems and potential security threats. This can make it tempting to acquire and deploy all of the latest tools to maximize the SOC’s capabilities. However, new tools provide diminishing returns and must be deployed, configured, and monitored, which takes resources away from identifying and managing other threats. A SOC’s technology tools stack should be carefully considered to ensure that the benefits of each tool outweigh the costs associated with them. Ideally, SOCs should use integrated security platforms whenever possible to simplify and streamline security monitoring and management.

Use Comprehensive Threat Intelligence and Machine Learning

Rapid threat detection and response are essential to minimizing the probability and impact of a security incident. The longer that an attacker has access to an organization’s environment, the greater the opportunity to steal sensitive data, plant malware, or do other damage to the company.

Threat intelligence and machine learning (ML) are essential to a SOC’s ability to rapidly identify and respond to threats. Informed by comprehensive threat intelligence, machine learning algorithms can sift through large volumes of security data and identify likely threats to the organization. When a threat is detected, this data can be provided to a human analyst to inform further actions, or remediation actions can be automatically triggered.

Ensure Visibility Across the Network

The modern corporate network is large, diverse, and expanding. Corporate IT environments now include on-prem and cloud-based systems, remote workers, and mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

To manage risk to the organization, SOC personnel need end-to-end visibility across the network. This requires security integration to ensure that the need to switch between multiple displays and dashboards does not cause security analysts to overlook or miss a potential threat.

Continuously Monitor the Network

Cyberattacks can occur at any time. Even if threat actors are operating within an organization’s timezone, they may deliberately time attacks for nights or weekends when the organization may be less ready to respond. Any response delay provides the attacker with a window to achieve attack objectives without detection or interference from SOC personnel.

For this reason, a corporate SOC should have the ability to monitor the corporate network 24×7. Continuous monitoring enables more rapid threat detection and response, reducing the potential cost and impact of attacks on the organization.

SOC Security with Checkpoint Horizon SOC

A SOC is the cornerstone of an organization’s security program. To be effective, it needs trained personnel armed with tools that allow them to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats at scale.

Check Point Horizon SOC leverages threat intelligence, machine learning, and automation to identify, investigate, and terminate threats across the corporate network with 99.9% precision. Learn more about how Horizon SOC can help up-level your organization’s SOC by checking out this IDC Technology Spotlight. Then, see the capabilities of Check Point Horizon SOC for yourself in this demo video.


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