4 Simple Tips for Maintaining SOC Productivity Through the Holidays

Security Operations Centers (SOCs) face significant challenges during the holiday season, primarily due to staffing issues. With most personnel wishing to take time off simultaneously, SOCs, which often operate with skeleton crews, struggle to maintain optimal staff levels. This reduction in manpower makes it increasingly difficult to provide continuous 24/7 security operations. Essential functions like effectively detecting, investigating, and responding to security incidents are hindered, increasing the risk of security incidents escalating into full-blown breaches. Meanwhile, attackers do not observe holiday breaks; they remain as active as ever, if not more so, capitalizing on the reduced vigilance and response capacity of SOCs. This seasonal dilemma puts additional strain on the already limited resources of security teams, challenging their ability to safeguard against threats during these critical periods.

This post will offer 4 simple tips that security leaders can use to keep their SOC humming throughout this year’s winter holiday season. 

Reduce Workloads through Automation

Simply put, the most straightforward method to extend the capacity of existing security analysts is by reducing their workload. In most SOCs, a few key workloads tend to consume the majority of the team’s efforts. These usually involve critical yet time-consuming tasks, such as alert triage and incident investigation. By using modern tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to perform these processes, SOCs can automate substantial portions of these workloads. This automation not only lightens the burden on SOC teams but also effectively reduces the overall staffing needs of the SOC, making it more manageable and efficient.

Figure 1 – A dashboard showing an 88% work reduction based on AI triage and investigation of alerts.

Facilitate Efficient End-user Communication 

During the holiday season, it’s not only SOC analysts who are away from their regular routines; rank-and-file employees also tend to travel, leading to a surge in identity alerts, such as suspicious login attempts, within SOCs. This increase in alerts necessitates additional scrutiny to determine whether an alert signifies a compromised credential or is simply the result of an employee logging in from a new location or using a VPN for personal activities like watching Netflix. Enhancing SOC workflows with the capability to automatically communicate with employees, ideally through platforms like Slack or Teams, can be highly effective. This automation allows for quicker responses and clarification of alerts, significantly reducing the time and resources spent on triaging each alert. By streamlining these processes, SOCs can manage the heightened load of alerts during the holiday season more efficiently, maintaining robust security even with limited staff.

Figure 2 – Automated end-user communication using Slack to validate a suspicious login.

Enable Analysts to Efficiently Work on the Go

The holiday season poses a unique challenge for SOC, as assembling a team willing to be on-call during late hours or on the eve of holidays becomes exceptionally difficult. Even those who are on-call may have limited capacity to engage deeply with security tasks. For instance, SOC analysts might only be able to give a cursory glance at a security alert or phishing email from their phone while they are out. However, they could more feasibly review and validate the findings of a detailed investigation.

This is where AI-driven automation plays a crucial role. By employing AI to automatically triage and investigate security alerts and phishing attempts, analysts can remain impactful and effective wherever they have internet connectivity. The transition from needing to actively ‘do the work’ to simply ‘validating the findings’ presented by AI, including incident scope and summary, root cause analysis, and response plans, is significant. It transforms the nature of the work from being potentially overwhelming and time-consuming to more manageable and efficient. This shift is often the key difference between work being effectively addressed or neglected during these challenging times. Utilizing AI in this manner ensures that security operations remain robust and responsive, even with reduced staffing and availability during holiday periods.

Figure 3 – A security analyst reviewing a security incident on the go.

Intelligently Automate Response

SOCs equipped with security automation capable of intelligent, precise responses are more adept at responding effectively and swiftly, especially when staffing is limited. A common issue with automated responses is that they typically require manual triage and investigation to be completed before activation, creating a bottleneck in most SOCs. However, with AI handling the automation of triage, investigation, and even response plan generation, SOCs are better positioned to utilize semi or fully automated containment and remediation processes. This advancement in technology means that tasks can be accomplished even when staff are occupied or unavailable, significantly enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of SOCs in managing security incidents.

Figure 4 – A list of security issues that must be resolved as part of an incident along with one-click actions to address them.

About the Radiant’s AI-Powered SOC Co-pilot

Radiant Security is an AI-powered SOC co-pilot that helps detect more real attacks, drastically reduce containment and remediation times, and exponentially boost analyst productivity. 

To learn more, visit us at https://radiantsecurity.ai.