Managed SOC Explained: Benefits, Capabilities, and Why It’s Essential

Orion Cassetto Orion Cassetto

Cyber threats are constantly growing in complexity and frequency. Organizations are in a never-ending journey to ensure robust protection, which is essential to avoid reputational damage, significant costs, and a potential customer-trust crisis in the event of a breach. 

Security Operation Centers (SOCs) employ a variety of processes and tools to identify, assess, respond to, and probe unusual behavior and cybersecurity incidents. While the significance of the SOC is clear, not all organizations can establish an internal SOC due to constraints in resources, expertise, or budget. Thankfully, they can still benefit from SOC capabilities by partnering with a managed SOC provider.

A managed Security Operations Center (SOC) is an essential component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. It provides round-the-clock oversight of your network, systems, and data, identifying and addressing potential threats before they escalate. This article explores the advantages of implementing managed SOC services, including their expertise in continuous monitoring, threat detection, and real-time incident response. We will also discuss the integration of AI-driven tools for faster threat analysis and decision-making. Whether you are considering a transition from a traditional SOC or looking to strengthen your existing security measures, a managed SOC offers significant benefits to bolster your cybersecurity defenses.

What Is Managed SOC and Why is it Essential?

Managed SOC (aka  SOC-as-a-Service or SOCaaS) providers are cybersecurity professionals who oversee the company’s IT infrastructure, including networks, devices, applications, and data, for both existing and emerging vulnerabilities, threats, and risks. 

Managed SOC services provide a comprehensive suite of security solutions such as proactive threat monitoring, rapid response to alerts, incident response and resolution services, threat intelligence, vulnerability assessments, intrusion detection and prevention, and security information and event management (SIEM) – all designed to minimize the impact of any security breaches. Additionally, these services include security analytics to help organizations bolster their security posture. Managed SOCs come in two forms: fully-managed and co-managed SOCs.

The managed Security Operations Center (SOC) provider begins by evaluating the client’s current security setup and pinpointing possible weaknesses and risks. They proceed to implement and customize security tools according to the client’s unique requirements. They then provide constant monitoring of the client’s network and security systems for any signs of threats or attacks, operating around the clock with the use of both automated tools and expert analysts. When a possible threat is identified, the SOC team examines the incident to verify whether it is legitimate or a false alarm. If the threat is confirmed, the SOC team takes action to reduce the risk and stop the attack from causing harm.

A managed Security Operations Center (SOC) provider supplies clients with regular reports on identified threats, response times, and the general state of security. 

By outsourcing these responsibilities to a managed SOC provider, organizations can free up internal resources, letting them focus on their main activities while a team of experts handles security monitoring and incident response.

This setup helps organizations enhance their security protocols, and make up for a lack of internal resources or know-how while trusting that their digital assets are being protected by expert professionals.

Later on, we will dive deeper into the various benefits a managed SOC offers both from a cybersecurity posture and operational and cost perspectives. You can discover more about how SOCaaS Integrates into your security stack.

Why Should You Transition from a Traditional SOC to a Managed SOC?

The traditional in-house Security Operations Center (SOC) has been seen historically as a foundational element of a strong defense strategy. Typically housed internally, on-prem, it acts as a shield against the persistent wave of cyber threats. This strategy is based on the idea that overseeing sensitive security tasks internally offers enhanced context, oversight, and protection. It’s comparable to positioning your cybersecurity team directly at the perimeter of your digital realm. In this conventional in-house SOC structure, analysts are organized into different levels, known as L1, L2, and L3, according to their expertise and experience. 

Traditional in-house SOCs commonly use older technologies and standard security practices. These may involve classic firewalls, antivirus tools, and intrusion detection systems. Also, the workflow primarily involves manual methods. Human analysts are key in identifying, analyzing, and responding to threats, frequently relying on minimal automation support.

The Security Operations Center (SOC) model is evolving from the traditional method, which requires a significant initial investment and costly training programs, towards modern service-based SOC. These next-generation services offer adaptable pricing, quick setup, and on-demand access to skilled, professional talent. Instead of creating security centers from scratch or managing them in-house, many organizations are opting for next-generation SOCs. These service-based models can complement and enhance existing security teams and resources.

The next-generation AI-driven SOC model is designed to overcome the shortcomings of traditional SOCs. Its primary goal is to strengthen an organization’s existing cybersecurity defenses by incorporating advanced tools and methods, such as deep analytics and artificial intelligence. In addition, the use of AI, machine learning, and automation tools enables the analysis of large datasets to identify potential vulnerabilities or attack vectors that might otherwise be missed. These modern AI-driven SOCs improve the speed and effectiveness of detecting and responding to threats. Learn more about the components of AI-driven SOC

Automation is a fundamental aspect of the modern Security Operations Center (SOC). By automating routine tasks, threat evaluation, and even response actions, human analysts are freed up to concentrate on more complex and strategic elements of cybersecurity.

As cyber threats evolve, moving from a traditional Security Operations Center (SOC) to a service-based and AI-driven one is not just a choice but a requirement. Modern SOCs incorporate advanced technologies and automated processes, which offer a strategic advantage in staying proactive against emerging threats.

Managed SOC Benefits and Capabilities

A managed security operations center (SOC) offers numerous benefits and capabilities to organizations, such as enhancing security readiness, identifying threats early, and streamlining response coordination. By having an effective SOC in place, organizations can better navigate the complexities of the modern cybersecurity environment. Here are some key features and advantages you can expect when collaborating with managed SOC providers to address your cybersecurity and compliance requirements.

Let’s start with the key capabilities of a Managed Security Operations Center (SOC):

  • Continuous monitoring: Managed SOCs offer round-the-clock surveillance of an organization’s network, systems, and applications to spot potential security threats. This ongoing monitoring ensures that security incidents are swiftly detected and addressed.
  • Expertise and experience: Managed SOCs provide access to skilled security professionals with the expertise and knowledge to efficiently identify and tackle security incidents.
  • Threat detection and response: Managed SOCs utilize cutting-edge security tools and techniques to rapidly identify and proactively respond to threats, helping to reduce the impact of security incidents and prevent future ones.
  • Compliance support: Managed SOCs aid organizations in adhering to compliance standards by offering continuous monitoring, incident response, and reporting capabilities.

Now, let’s look at the benefits in more detail:

  1. Domain-specific expertise: Managed SOCs can attract and retain experts in specialized areas by serving a broad clientele. These professionals offer faster and often more effective solutions due to their extensive experience and knowledge. They also benefit from access to the latest updates and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These advancements help reduce mistakes by automatically triaging alerts and applying behavioral context, surpassing manual methods. Managed SOC experts take on specific roles such as Malware Analyst, Threat Hunter, Forensic Specialist, and Incident Responder. These specialists focus on the intricate details within specific verticals in the Security Operations Center.
  2. Always-on vigilance: Cyber threats are always present and can strike at any moment, whether day or night. Managed SOC offers continuous monitoring of your digital environment, prepared to identify incidents and take prompt action to prevent further escalation and potential damage.
  3. Meeting compliance and regulatory standards: Managed SOC providers typically possess a thorough understanding of industry regulations and compliance standards. They help organizations establish proper security controls, conduct audits, and produce compliance reports, thus minimizing the risk of penalties or reputational harm from non-compliance. Managed SOC services ensure that security practices adhere to regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
  4. Enhanced security insights: Managed SOCs offer real-time scrutiny of security data to promptly detect and counteract threats. Through continuous surveillance of various security data sources, they can identify suspicious activity and take swift action. This ability is crucial for safeguarding sensitive organizational data and blocking unauthorized access. Moreover, a Managed SOC enables teams to achieve broader security coverage and improved awareness of their environment, so they can anticipate and prepare for emerging threats.
  5. Optimized time and budget. A managed SOC provider typically offers services at a monthly fee that is relatively budget-friendly and consistent. This means that the need to allocate budget to hiring and training in-house security personnel no longer exists.
  6. A managed SOC service provider only forwards crucial threat alerts: When you aim to identify potential threats to your network, setting up alert rules is essential. Standard in-house SIEM solutions come with preloaded rules, which may generate a large number of alerts as security logs accumulate. This high volume can overwhelm your security team, making it challenging to address each alert. Additionally, not all alerts are as critical as they may seem. These alerts often lack behavioral analysis, which is needed to distinguish normal patterns from suspicious ones. By partnering with a Managed SOC provider, your organization can benefit from filtered threat alerts that prioritize the most serious and actionable issues. This approach conserves your time and resources, focusing your attention on alerts that truly require your intervention.
  7. Automation & streamlined operations: The use of automated processes within Managed SOCs enhances incident response and decreases the manual tasks involved in maintaining a secure environment. By leveraging automation and advanced analytics, organizations can improve their efficiency, maximize resources, and cut costs. Automation empowers Managed SOC teams to swiftly detect threats and react accordingly, without the need to manually examine each incident. This allows teams to prioritize critical tasks and ensures that all security alerts are promptly handled. Moreover, with automated tools, teams can analyze data more precisely and obtain deeper insights into their security landscape, enabling faster, informed decision-making. 

Choosing a Managed SOC Solution to Counter Evolving Threats

AI-powered Managed SOCs integrate AI technology to automate and optimize processes such as alert triage, incident investigation, root cause analysis, and response plan creation. This approach significantly differs from previous generations of services and products that primarily relied on AI for behavioral profiling and anomaly detection.

AI-driven Managed SOCs efficiently assess every alert, simplifying the process by turning the haystack of alerts into a manageable set of critical issues. While this approach may initially seem unremarkable, it’s actually a departure from the standard practice of filtering and prioritizing alerts to manage workloads. This method is not feasible with human analysts alone.

AI-powered Managed SOCs streamline incident analysis by automating tasks such as identifying the extent and root cause of an incident. When a human analyst gets the alert for review, all the necessary information is already prepared, summarized and easy to digest. This facilitates quick action and focusing on containing and resolving the incident rather than spending time investigating and searching for clues.

By eliminating manual work in previous stages, AI-driven Managed SOCs can create an incident-specific response plan within minutes and then implement it using automated, API-based responses. The process can be executed with or without human approval, depending on the organization’s preference. This approach revolutionizes the efficiency and effectiveness of response efforts.

Interested in finding out more? Radiant’s Next-Gen AI SOC Analysts enhance your ability to detect genuine attacks, significantly shorten containment and remediation times, and greatly improve analyst productivity.

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