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How to get the most out of your security operations center (SOC) in 2024

January 25, 2024

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Security operations centers (SOCs) continue to be pivotal in safeguarding organizations against a spectrum of physical and cyber threats. As technology evolves and security challenges become more complex, maximizing the effectiveness of your SOC is crucial. This guide provides insights and strategies to ensure your SOC is not only equipped to handle current threats but is also prepared for future challenges, helping you maintain a robust and proactive security posture.

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What is a security operations center?

A man is sitting at a desk with several monitors in front of him.

A security operations center (SOC) is a central hub for overseeing an organization’s security. It’s where technology, processes, and people come together to identify, analyze, and respond to security incidents, as well as provide guidance to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

With a history dating back to the early days of information technology, the concept and role of SOCs have evolved significantly. Initially focused on monitoring and responding to network threats, modern SOCs now encompass a broad spectrum of physical and cybersecurity tasks.

They are essential for proactive monitoring, real-time incident response, and maintaining an overall strong security posture in an organization. This evolution reflects the growing complexity and sophistication of security threats, emphasizing the need for a centralized, coordinated approach to security.

SOC functions

Security operations centers (SOCs) perform a variety of functions, each critical to the overall security and resilience of an organization. These functions can be broadly categorized into proactive, real-time, and reactive aspects. Solink’s cloud VMS can help you with all three.

Proactively, SOCs work to identify and close security gaps, preventing incidents before they occur. Real-time functions involve swift incident response, where the SOC acts immediately to mitigate the impact of active security threats. Reactively, SOCs assess incidents post-event, understanding what happened so that similar events don’t happen in the future as well as managing the case through follow-up actions with law enforcement and other stakeholders. 

This comprehensive approach ensures that SOCs not only deal with immediate threats but also learn and adapt from each incident.

Most security operations center functions fall under one of the following five umbrellas:

  • Physical security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity
  • Training and security awareness
  • Vendor risk management

Physical security

Physical security in an SOC is crucial for protecting an organization’s tangible assets, employees, and visitors. This involves managing access controls, surveillance systems, and responding to physical security breaches. 

The SOC plays a pivotal role in preventing unauthorized access, vandalism, or theft, ensuring a safe environment. It coordinates with local law enforcement and emergency services, providing a rapid response to any physical security incidents. 

Moreover, the physical security function of an SOC often involves regular review and upgrading of security equipment and protocols to stay ahead of potential threats.

Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity functions of an SOC focus on protecting the organization’s digital assets from cyber threats such as hacking, malware, and data breaches. This function involves continuous monitoring of the network for suspicious activities, immediate response to cyber incidents, and implementing strategies for data protection and recovery. 

Cybersecurity in an SOC is not only about responding to threats but also about proactively identifying vulnerabilities in the system and patching them before they can be exploited. Training employees in cybersecurity best practices and staying up to date with the latest cyber threat intelligence are also key elements of this function.

Disaster recovery and business continuity

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are vital functions of an SOC, especially for international businesses that are faced with many human and natural disasters. This involves developing and maintaining plans that enable an organization to quickly resume operations after a major disruption, whether due to natural disasters, cyberattacks, or other crises. 

The SOC’s role here includes regular testing and updating of these plans to ensure they are effective and can be executed smoothly when needed. This function ensures that, in the face of a disaster, the organization can continue its critical operations, minimizing financial loss and maintaining customer trust.

Training and security awareness

Training and security awareness programs run by SOCs are essential in fostering a security-conscious culture within an organization. These programs educate employees about common security risks, how to avoid them, and what actions to take in the case of a security breach. 

By empowering employees with this knowledge, SOCs create a human firewall, reducing the likelihood of security incidents caused by human error or negligence. Regular training sessions, updates on the latest security threats, and continuous awareness campaigns are key strategies in this domain.

Vendor risk management

Vendor risk management in an SOC involves assessing and mitigating risks associated with third-party vendors and service providers. This function is crucial as vendors can often have access to sensitive company data and systems, making them potential weak links in the security chain. 

The SOC’s role in vendor risk management includes conducting thorough security assessments of vendors, continuously monitoring their compliance with the organization’s security standards, and ensuring contractual obligations regarding security are met. This proactive approach helps prevent data breaches and other security incidents that could arise from third-party interactions.

security camera illustrations in row

SOCs in different industries

Security operations centers (SOCs) are not onae-size-fits-all solutions; they vary significantly across different industries. Each industry faces unique security challenges and risks, requiring tailored approaches in their SOCs. 

Retail sectors need to focus on loss prevention and fraud detection, while financial institutions prioritize data security and compliance. The role of an SOC in each industry involves not only addressing specific security concerns but also aligning with the industry’s regulatory environment and operational needs. Understanding these variations helps in crafting an effective and industry-specific security strategy.

Here are four industries that commonly employ security operations centers:

  • Retail
  • Financial Institutions
  • Manufacturing
  • Education

In the retail industry, SOCs play a critical role in loss prevention, asset protection, and ensuring the safety of customers and staff. Retail SOCs manage surveillance systems, detect and prevent theft, and handle any security incidents in stores or distribution centers. They also focus on cybersecurity to protect customer data and prevent online fraud. 

The key to a successful retail security operations center lies in its ability to adapt quickly to changing retail environments and consumer behaviors, using data analytics to identify and mitigate potential threats.

Financial institutions require SOCs to protect sensitive data, ensure compliance with financial regulations, and monitor for fraudulent activities. The primary focus is on cybersecurity, protecting against data breaches, and maintaining customer trust. However, proper integration of bank security systems allows real-time monitoring of the safety and security of every branch. 

Financial SOCs also monitor transactions for unusual activities that might indicate fraud or money laundering. Given the highly regulated nature of the financial industry, these SOCs must stay abreast of the latest regulatory changes and ensure compliance at all times.

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Manufacturing SOCs focus on protecting physical assets, intellectual property, and supply chain integrity. They monitor manufacturing plants and warehouses to prevent theft, espionage, and sabotage. Cybersecurity is also crucial for protecting sensitive data and intellectual property. Manufacturing SOCs often work closely with supply chain partners to ensure end-to-end security, mitigating risks in a sector that is increasingly reliant on interconnected digital technologies.

Education sector SOCs focus on campus safety, cybersecurity, and protecting student data. They manage access to facilities, monitor online threats, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations. 

Cyberbullying and other online threats are also a concern, requiring SOCs to be vigilant in monitoring school security cameras and responding to incidents. The key challenge for education SOCs is balancing security with an open and welcoming learning environment.

Security operations centers best practices

While best practices for security operations centers (SOCs) can vary depending on the industry and specific SOC functions, there are general guidelines that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of any SOC. 

Adhering to these best practices ensures that SOCs are well-prepared to face both current and emerging security challenges. From defining clear objectives to fostering inter-departmental collaboration, these practices are designed to optimize SOC operations, ensuring they are efficient, responsive, and aligned with the overall security strategy of the organization.

Here are some universal SOC best practices:

  • Define clear objectives: Establish specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) for your SOC. This clarity helps in aligning the SOC’s activities with the organization’s broader security objectives, ensuring that resources are effectively utilized and the SOC’s efforts are focused on areas with the highest impact on security.
  • Implement robust training: Regularly train SOC staff on the latest security trends, tools, and response protocols. Continuous education keeps the SOC team updated and prepared to deal with new and evolving threats, ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage security incidents.
  • Ensure tool integration: Integrate various security tools and systems to provide a comprehensive view of the organization’s security posture. Effective integration allows for more efficient monitoring, quicker detection of threats, and a more coordinated response to incidents. Solink integrates with POS systems to make it easier to find risky transactions and view the paired video footage.
  • Foster collaboration: Encourage collaboration between the SOC and other departments within the organization. This inter-departmental cooperation is key to ensuring a unified approach to security, as it enables the sharing of critical information and resources and helps in developing a more cohesive security strategy.
  • Regularly update policies: Keep security policies and procedures up-to-date with the latest threats and best practices. Regular reviews and updates to policies ensure that the SOC remains effective in the face of changing security landscapes and can adapt its strategies to new challenges.
  • Utilize predictive analytics: Leverage advanced AI video analytics and machine learning to predict and identify potential threats before they materialize. Predictive analytics can provide valuable insights, enabling the SOC to take proactive measures to mitigate risks.
  • Maintain robust data recovery systems: Implement and regularly test data backup and recovery systems. Ensuring that these systems are robust and reliable is crucial for maintaining business continuity in the event of a security breach or data loss.

Adopting these best practices can significantly improve the performance and effectiveness of a security operations center, making it a cornerstone of an organization’s overall security strategy.

Security operations tools

Security operations centers (SOCs) utilize a range of tools to effectively manage and respond to security threats. These tools are essential for various SOC functions, from real-time threat detection to post-incident analysis and reporting. A well-equipped SOC combines software and hardware solutions to create a comprehensive security framework. 

This integration of tools enhances the SOC’s ability to monitor, analyze, and respond to incidents swiftly and accurately. The selection of tools often depends on specific organizational needs, industry requirements, and the nature of the threats faced.

The toolkit of a modern SOC typically includes cybersecurity software, physical access control systems, employee monitoring tools, and advanced surveillance technologies. Each tool plays a distinct role in the SOC’s operations, contributing to a layered and robust security strategy. 

By leveraging these tools, SOCs can proactively identify threats, manage access to sensitive areas, monitor employee activities for potential risks, and maintain comprehensive surveillance over their physical and digital environments.

Advanced surveillance technologies

Advanced surveillance technologies, such as Solink’s cloud video surveillance solutions, play a vital role in modern SOCs. These technologies include high-definition cameras, video analytics software, and integrated alarm systems. 

The benefit of using advanced surveillance in SOCs is the enhanced capability to monitor physical spaces in real-time, quickly respond to incidents, and gather visual evidence for post-incident analysis. Solink’s solutions stand out in the market for their integration capabilities with existing systems, providing a seamless security experience.

Cybersecurity software

Cybersecurity software is a cornerstone in SOC operations, providing the necessary capabilities to detect and respond to cyber threats. This software includes solutions for intrusion detection, antivirus protection, firewall management, and network security monitoring. The benefits of using cybersecurity software in SOCs include enhanced ability to identify vulnerabilities, immediate detection of malicious activities, and robust defense against a wide range of cyber threats. 

Popular tools in the market include Symantec Endpoint Protection, McAfee Endpoint Security, and Cisco’s Advanced Malware Protection, which offer comprehensive protection against advanced threats.

Two people working at a computer in a dark room.

Physical access control systems

Physical access control systems are critical for managing access to facilities and sensitive areas within an organization. These systems range from traditional lock-and-key setups to advanced biometric authentication methods like fingerprint and facial recognition. The primary benefit of these systems in an SOC context is the ability to control who accesses certain areas, thereby preventing unauthorized entry and potential security breaches. 

Well-known systems include Honeywell Access Control, Bosch Access Control Solutions, and HID Global’s physical access control solutions, which offer scalable and customizable options to meet various security needs.

Employee monitoring tools

Employee monitoring tools are used in SOCs to ensure that insider threats are detected and mitigated. These tools can track user activities, flag unusual behavior, and help in safeguarding against potential data leaks or security breaches from within the organization. The advantage of these tools is their ability to provide a detailed view of employee activities, enabling SOCs to identify and respond to risky behaviors before they lead to security incidents. 

Tools like Teramind, Veriato, and ActivTrak offer comprehensive monitoring solutions that can be tailored to an organization’s specific requirements.

Benefits of an in-house security operations center

An in-house security operations center (SOC) provides a multitude of advantages for organizations aiming to bolster their security posture. By maintaining an internal team dedicated to security, organizations gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of their unique security challenges. 

This in-house team is uniquely positioned to customize security measures effectively, ensuring they are closely aligned with the organization’s specific needs and risk profile. Moreover, the integration of an SOC within the organizational structure allows for rapid response and adaptation to evolving security threats, enhancing overall resilience and protection.

An in-house SOC not only offers tailored security solutions but also ensures that the organization maintains complete control over its security operations. This control is crucial in developing and implementing security strategies, protocols, and responses that are in direct alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives. 

In an ever-changing threat landscape, the agility and responsiveness of an in-house SOC are invaluable assets, ensuring continuous and comprehensive security coverage.

Here are some of the primary benefits of building a security operations center within a large organization:

  • Tailored security solutions: An in-house SOC can customize security measures to precisely fit the organization’s unique needs and risk profile.
  • Swift incident response: Having an internal SOC team enables quicker and more effective responses to security incidents, minimizing potential impacts.
  • Complete operational control: Organizations maintain full control over their security strategies and responses, allowing for greater flexibility and precision.
  • Deep organizational integration: The SOC is deeply integrated into the organization’s processes and culture, enhancing the effectiveness of security measures.
  • Agility in threat response: In-house SOCs can quickly adapt to evolving security threats and changing business environments, ensuring ongoing protection.
  • Long-term cost savings: While initial setup costs may be higher, in-house SOCs can be more cost-efficient over time compared to outsourced alternatives.
  • Enhanced regulatory compliance: In-house SOCs are well-positioned to ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards, tailored to the organization’s specific requirements.
  • Regular employee training: In-house SOCs facilitate continuous training and security awareness programs, fostering a security-conscious culture among employees.
  • Proactive threat detection: Security operations centers provide large enterprises the ability to identify and mitigate potential threats before they escalate into serious incidents.
  • Informed strategic decisions: Utilizing security data and analytics from an in-house SOC aids in making more informed business and security decisions.
  • Boosted stakeholder confidence: Demonstrating a commitment to security through an in-house SOC increases trust among customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Streamlined internal communication: An internal SOC improves coordination and communication within the organization, especially during security incidents.
  • Ongoing security improvement: In-house SOCs enable continuous updating and enhancement of security measures based on the latest trends and intelligence.
  • Effective intellectual property protection: They provide more effective safeguarding of sensitive data and proprietary information.
  • Improved vendor risk management: In-house SOCs can better manage and mitigate risks associated with third-party vendors.

The establishment of an in-house SOC brings clear and significant benefits, offering a comprehensive, integrated approach to security management that is closely aligned with the organization’s overall objectives.

Security operations center use cases

Security operations centers (SOCs) play a crucial role in a variety of scenarios, addressing diverse security challenges across an organization. Their adaptability allows them to manage everything from digital threats to physical security incidents. 

The following use cases highlight the diverse ways in which SOCs contribute to maintaining security and operational integrity:

  • Cyber attack response: When a cyber attack occurs, such as a ransomware incident or data breach, the SOC quickly identifies and isolates the threat. The team then works on mitigating the attack, preventing further damage, and restoring systems to normal operation.
  • Prevent OSHA fines: SOCs play a pivotal role in ensuring that all locations adhere to safety regulations, thereby preventing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines. Through direct camera monitoring and the implementation of advanced video analytics, like Solink’s Blocked Exit Detection, SOCs can oversee and verify compliance with safety standards. Continuous surveillance and analysis help in quickly identifying and rectifying any safety violations, ensuring a safer workplace and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Physical security management: SOCs are responsible for managing responses to physical security threats like unauthorized access or on-site disturbances. They use surveillance systems and coordinate with security personnel to ensure incidents are resolved effectively.
  • Fraud detection: SOCs monitor transactions for fraudulent activity. They employ advanced analytics to identify unusual patterns, such as those indicative of employee POS theft, helping to protect against financial loss and safeguard customer information.
  • High traffic network security: SOCs manage network security during periods of high traffic, such as online sales events. They monitor for threats and manage network resources to prevent service disruptions and cyber attacks.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity: SOCs develop and implement disaster recovery plans to ensure business continuity during crises like natural disasters or major technical failures. They coordinate efforts across departments to minimize downtime and financial impact.
  • Regulatory compliance monitoring: SOCs help organizations stay compliant with industry regulations. They monitor for compliance breaches, ensuring that the organization adheres to legal and regulatory standards.
  • Employee monitoring and insider threat detection: SOCs use employee monitoring tools to detect potential insider threats. By analyzing behavior patterns, they identify risky activities and prevent security incidents and internal theft from within the organization.
  • Vendor risk management: SOCs assess and mitigate risks associated with third-party vendors. They ensure that vendors meet security standards and contractual obligations, reducing the risk of data breaches.
  • Incident response and case management: Following a security incident, SOCs manage the case from start to finish. They investigate the incident, coordinate with law enforcement if necessary, and ensure all stakeholders are informed and involved in the resolution.
  • Data leakage prevention: SOCs implement measures to prevent data leakage. They monitor data transfer and storage, ensuring sensitive information is protected and secure.
  • Threat intelligence and analysis: SOCs gather and analyze threat intelligence to predict and prepare for potential security threats. This proactive approach enables them to stay ahead of emerging risks.
  • Security awareness and training programs: SOCs conduct regular training and awareness programs for employees. These programs are crucial in building a security-conscious culture within the organization.
  • Technology and system evaluations: SOCs regularly assess and update security technologies and systems. This ensures that the organization’s security infrastructure remains effective and up-to-date.
  • Crisis management and emergency response: In case of a crisis or emergency, SOCs coordinate the organization’s response. They ensure that all actions taken are timely, effective, and in line with the overall crisis management plan.
  • Alarm verification: Using video alarms and real-time monitoring, SOCs can prevent false alarm fines while ensuring better and faster emergency response when needed. This capability is crucial in distinguishing false alarms from genuine security threats, allowing for a more accurate and efficient deployment of emergency services and internal response teams.

Solink stands at the forefront of enhancing security operations centers (SOCs) with its innovative and evolving features. By integrating tools like Blocked Exit Detection and Video Wall, Solink demonstrates a steadfast commitment to providing new and tangible ROI to SOCs. 

Solink’s continuous innovation in security technology makes it an invaluable asset for any SOC, ensuring that organizations stay ahead in their security management and maintain a robust, proactive security posture.

To see how Solink continuously brings new ROI to large enterprises, sign up for a demo today.

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Solink stands at the forefront of security solutions, excelling in loss prevention and asset protection for businesses. Our content is rich in industry expertise and crafted to provide actionable insights and innovative strategies. We empower businesses to enhance their security systems, optimize operations, and protect their assets more effectively. Discover how our advanced cloud video management system can transform your security approach.