What is SOC as a Service (SOCaaS)?

Orion Cassetto Orion Cassetto

Security Operations Center as a Service (SOCaaS) is delivered as a service by a specialized, third-party security provider. This service encompasses a diverse range of critical security functions, including network monitoring, log management, threat detection and intelligence, incident investigation and response, reporting, as well as risk and compliance management—all seamlessly handled offsite.

In line with insights from IDC, businesses increasingly turn to SOCaaS to fortify their security posture, particularly in challenging scenarios like talent shortages or during crucial organizational phases such as startups or mid-life stages. This strategic outsourcing empowers businesses to concentrate on core competencies while entrusting the management of intricate security operations to skilled professionals. SOCaaS equips organizations with a robust shield against cyber threats, fostering a proactive security posture which is crucial for sustained operations, profitability, and compliance with rigorous regulations. 

How Does SOCaaS Integrate into the Security Stack?

SOC-as-a-Service (SOCaaS) should augment existing security infrastructure, offering a seamless integration that fortifies defenses without necessitating the replacement of current systems. The beauty of SOCaaS integration lies in its adaptability, strategically aligning with the nuances of diverse workflows prevalent in modern enterprises. By seamlessly interfacing with existing security frameworks, SOCaaS eliminates the disruptions associated with overhauling systems, providing a cost-effective and efficient means to elevate security posture.

The integration of SOCaaS into the security stack should be orchestrated with precision, ensuring that it harmonizes with diverse security components, such as firewalls, email security, identity and access management, and endpoint protection tools. This harmonious integration not only amplifies the capabilities of the existing security infrastructure but also extends the scope of threat detection and response. In essence, SOCaaS serves as a force multiplier, enhancing the collective strength of the security stack. This integration is not just a technological overlay; it’s a strategic alignment that allows organizations to bolster their cybersecurity defenses comprehensively while seamlessly adapting to the way the organization works. 

SOC as a Service (SOCaaS) Benefits

SOCaaS offers many benefits and several prominent advantages over internal Security Operations Centers (SOCs): 

  1. Ability to scale:
    • SOCaaS mirrors other outsourcing solutions in flexibility and adaptability, allowing teams and services to scale up or down based on organizational needs or specific events.
    • In contrast, internal SOCs face limitations in resources, especially human resources, making swift additions during critical periods challenging.
  1. Enhanced maturity:
    • Outsourced SOC serves as a “shortcut to maturity,” offering organizations access to the latest, most advanced solutions, processes, and highly-skilled staff.
    • This accelerates the evolution of a customer’s security program, fostering faster and more accurate detection and response while concurrently lowering overall risk.
  1. Lower cost than internal SOC:
    • Outsourced SOC proves more cost-effective for most organizations compared to operating an internal SOC, as costs are shared across clients. These costs include staffing, equipment, licenses, hardware, and software. The result is reduced overall operational expenses.
  1. Resource optimization:
    • Amidst the cyber industry’s staffing shortage, SOCaaS addresses workforce availability challenges by offering a solution that not only attracts and retains talent but also frees up in-house employees to focus on security use cases that are more suitable for their roles.
  1. Focus on core business operations:
    • Streamlining core business functions is crucial, and handling cybersecurity internally can prove to be a significant drain on time and attention for companies. Opting for a SOC as a Service allows businesses to delegate their security operations, freeing up essential time and resources to concentrate on core operations and strategic initiatives.
  1. Lower risk for a breach:
    • Operating continuously, SOCaaS provides 24/7 monitoring, detection, and response capabilities, swiftly containing and neutralizing threats.
    • Access to hyper-specialized security experts during specific events enhances the analysis of activity and formulation of effective remediation strategies, mitigating potential risks.
  1. Faster detection and remediation:
    • SOCaaS leverages advanced technology, automation, and human oversight to expedite the identification, categorization, prioritization, and remediation of security events.
    • The combination of these elements ensures swift action, reducing the time spent on investigating false positives and enabling a focused response to real and urgent threats.

In conclusion, the shift towards SOCaaS represents a forward-looking approach to cybersecurity, enabling organizations to navigate the complexities of the modern threat landscape with resilience and agility.

SOC as a Service Roles and Responsibilities

Security Operations Center as a Service (SOCaaS) plays an important role in safeguarding organizations against evolving cyber threats, offering a comprehensive suite of roles and responsibilities managed by expert professionals. The orchestrated efforts within SOCaaS around continuous monitoring, threat detection, incident response, and security assessment, contribute significantly to enhancing the cybersecurity posture of client organizations. The key roles and responsibilities within SOCaaS are defined as follows:

  1. SOC manager:
    • Role: Acts as the security center leader, providing comprehensive oversight of all aspects of the SOC, including its workforce and operations.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Develops an overall security strategy for the client organization, outlining a vision for hiring, process building, and technology stack development.
      • Offers both technical guidance and managerial oversight to ensure effective security operations.
  2. Security analyst tier 1 – triage:
    • Role: Categorizes and prioritizes alerts, escalating incidents to tier 2 analysts for further investigation and response.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Fields and triages alerts promptly, determining their placement in the patch or remediation queue.
      • Automates the triage process to efficiently manage alerts and reduce the daily burden on security teams.
  3. Security analyst tier 2 – incident responder:
    • Role: Investigates and remediates escalated incidents, identifies affected systems, and determines the scope of the attack.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Manages alerts escalated from tier 1, prioritizing real incidents for a timely and effective response.
      • Conducts a deep investigation into the alert, identifying affected systems, and formulating response and remediation plans.
  4. Security analyst tier 3 – threat hunter:
    • Role: Proactively searches for suspicious behavior, tests and assesses network security to detect advanced threats, and identifies areas of vulnerability.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Conducts threat hunting activities to actively search the customer’s network, endpoints, and security technology for undetected threats or attackers.
      • Investigates severe incidents to understand how threats bypassed initial security checks, ensuring a comprehensive security stance.
  5. Security architect:
    • Role: Designs the security system and its processes, integrating various technological and human components.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Builds security architecture, engineers security systems, and implements robust security solutions.
      • Documents requirements, procedures, and protocols of the architecture, ensuring compliance with regulatory and cybersecurity standards.
  6. Compliance auditor:
    • Role: Oversees the organization’s adherence to internal and external rules and regulations.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Ensures compliance with regulatory frameworks, internal policies, and cybersecurity standards.
      • Conducts regular audits to assess and enhance the organization’s adherence to security and compliance requirements.
  7. SOC coordinator:
    • Role: Serves as the liaison between the SOCaaS vendor and the organization’s internal IT and security teams.
    • Responsibilities:
      • Facilitates seamless communication and collaboration between the SOCaaS vendor and internal teams.
      • Coordinates the integration of SOCaaS processes with the existing IT and security workflows.

These SOCaaS roles and responsibilities ensure a well-coordinated and proactive approach to identifying, responding to, and mitigating cyber threats, ultimately bolstering the resilience of client organizations in the face of evolving cybersecurity challenges.

Which Organizations Can Benefit From a SOCaaS Solution?

The choice between establishing an internal Security Operations Center (SOC) or adopting a SOC as a Service (SOCaaS) solution has many implications. Based on our experience, we compiled a comprehensive list of organizational considerations to be taken into account when trying to decide whether SOCaaS makes sense for any specific organization:

  • Resource Constraints: Establishing an internal SOC involves substantial costs, including staffing, software licenses, hardware, and ongoing operational expenses.

For small and mid-sized businesses with limited budgets or security expertise, SOCaaS offers a more budget-friendly alternative for achieving cost-effective cybersecurity protection.

  • Scalability and Flexibility: Creating an internal SOC requires significant investments and scaling becomes a complex and resource-intensive task. Organizations with fluctuating security needs benefit from the ability to scale their security posture up or down with SOCaaS, as this model allows them to adapt their cybersecurity measures with ease. 
  • Predictable Costs & Core Focus: SOCaaS provide a predictable cost model, allowing organizations to focus on core business functions while ensuring robust security.
  • Compliance considerations: Certain industries, such as healthcare and finance, face strict compliance regulations around cybersecurity. Maintaining compliance internally can be challenging and resource-intensive. Leveraging SOCaaS providers with expertise in specific industries makes compliance more manageable. 

In summary, organizations can find SOCaaS particularly beneficial under the following circumstances:

  • Limited IT and InfoSec staff, especially in highly-specialized cybersecurity skills or 24/7 coverage.
  • Lack of dedicated and secure physical space for operating an internal SOC.
  • Haven’t made significant technology investments for internal SOC capabilities.
  • Aim to enhance cybersecurity maturity rapidly through third-party backbone services.
  • Expect variable security needs within the business.

Some organizations may choose to maintain an internal SOC under the following conditions:

  • Have already made substantial technology and human capital investments.
  • Possess high security maturity and expertise to maintain and enhance existing security architecture.
  • Require a high degree of granularity within their security controls.
  • Face complex regulations not fully understood or supported by third-party providers.

Ultimately, the decision between SOCaaS and an in-house SOC depends on the organization’s unique situation, business needs, existing technology investments, and available resources. While maintaining an in-house SOC may be suitable for some, others may find that adopting SOCaaS enables a higher level of security maturity at a more cost-effective price.

Fundamental Paradigm Shift in SOC Operations Is Needed

Whether operating an in-house internal SOC or leveraging SOCaaS, one undeniable truth prevails. In the current landscape, modern SOCs demand cutting-edge, automated, and intelligent solutions to adeptly navigate the dual challenges: 1. An escalating external threat environment and 2. The internal limitations in handling the expanding and intricate threat workloads. 

Today’s threat actors exploit advanced AI techniques to craft sophisticated phishing emails, ransomware, and polymorphic malware, amplifying the scale, intricacy, and effectiveness of their attacks. To counteract this evolving threat landscape, SOCs must proactively adopt and integrate AI into their defense strategies, as traditional methods and SOC capacities often prove insufficient against the surge of AI-driven attacks. Explore how Radiant’s AI-powered SOC co-pilott can assist you. 

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