Managed security operations center (SOC) explained

June 23, 2020 | Nick Cavalancia

This blog was written by a third party author and does not reflect the opinions of AT&T.

What is a managed SOC and how does it work?

Managed SOC, also known as SOC as a Service, is a subscription-based offering whereby organizations outsource threat detection and incident response. Based on the concept of turning an internal security operations center (SOC) into an external cloud-based service, a managed SOC offers IT organizations external cybersecurity experts that monitor your logs, devices, cloud environments, and network for known and evolving advanced threats.

Positioned as a managed service offering, SOC as a Service provides organizations with a team of cybersecurity experts dedicated to monitoring, detecting, and investigating threats across an organization’s entire enterprise. In some cases, remediation of detected threats can be accomplished by the outsourced security team, but in others, the SOC team works in partnership with internal IT teams to remediate detected threats.

A SOC as a Service can offer 24x7 monitoring without requiring organizations to make a significant investment in security software, hardware, and other infrastructure. Instead, organizations can rapidly gain access to a SOC and begin monitoring for cyberthreats, cost-effectively improving the organization’s security posture.

Why use a managed SOC?

Organizations that are serious about their cybersecurity posture may quickly realize how significant the cost will be and time necessary to hire security experts, negotiate and purchase security software and infrastructure, install and configure the SOC, and then begin working to monitor for threats.

So, when organizations are considering the barriers to launching their own SOC, the following issues may be top of mind:

  • You have limited internal security and/or SOC expertise – Managed SOC providers are experts in managing the security operations of organizations from all around the world in every industry vertical.
  • There’s not enough budget for capital expenditures - With SOC as a Service, the capital expenditure normally involved with establishing a SOC is traded for a single, simple monthly operating expense.
  • It takes too long to establish your own SOC - The time normally associated with building a SOC team, obtaining infrastructure, and licensing and implementing software is offset by the SOC as a Service provider’s already-running and manned SOC.
  • An internal SOC may not improve the organization’s security posture – Mixing cutting edge threat intelligence, seasoned cybersecurity analysts, and state-of-the-art security monitoring and response orchestration solutions, an organization’s security posture – both on-premises and in the cloud – can immediately be enhanced the moment the service is implemented.
  • An internal SOC may not be cost-effective – A managed SOC offering can be far less expensive than what it would cost an organization to stand up a SOC themselves.  In many cases, the monthly cost for SOC as a Service is less than the cost of just the internal security analysts that would need to be hired (let alone the cost of establishing the SOC itself). At a fraction of the cost of an internal SOC, SOC as a Service is a cost-effective choice.

With SOC as a Service, organizations rest knowing the entirety of their network environment is under constant watch for new cyberthreats by cybersecurity experts, all for much less than doing it themselves.

How does an organization benefit from SOC as a Service?

Organizations taking advantage of a managed SOC can see benefits to their threat detection, threat response, staffing, and budget.  Benefits include:

Reduces SOC complexity

The considerable work necessary to design, implement, configure, test, manage, maintain, upgrade, and operate an internal SOC is not something most organization have the time or expertise to do well, if at all. Choosing to engage a SOC as a Service provider simplifies the equation; you pay for services utilizing a SOC that already exists.

Increases speed of deployment

Because there is no need to build a SOC, the deployment time is significantly reduced. Instead of taking quarters or years to be up and running, some SOC as a Service provider can be up and monitoring an organization’s environment in about a month.

Instant expertise

Not every organization has in-house cybersecurity experts, and not all can afford to hire them. With SOC as a Service, organizations gain the use of a team of cybersecurity experts and analysts that are trained and experienced to monitor for and remediate today’s advanced cybersecurity threats.

Improves threat detection and response

In short, providers of SOC as a Service are often better equipped to provide threat detection and response than their client organizations. Using the latest threat intelligence, a team of dedicated security experts, best of breed security solutions, and automated response orchestration, SOC as a Service increases the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of threat detection and response capabilities far beyond that of internal security teams.

Cost-effective security

Those same considerations around SOC complexity (designing, implementing, configuring, testing, managing, maintaining, upgrading, and operating a SOC) add to the overall cost to an organization. The shift from organizations paying for each aspect of an internal SOC, to making a single payment each month, makes the using of SOC as a Service a cost-effective choice. The relatively safe assumption that the costs will be significantly reduced, matched with improved levels of security, makes SOC as a Service look even better.

Nick Cavalancia

About the Author: Nick Cavalancia

Nick Cavalancia is a Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVP, has over 25 years of enterprise IT experience, is an accomplished consultant, speaker, trainer, writer, and columnist, and has achieved industry certifications including MCSE, MCT, Master CNE, Master CNI. Nick regularly speaks, writes and blogs for some of the most recognized tech companies today on topics including cybersecurity, cloud adoption, business continuity, and compliance.

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