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Maximizing Incident Response with a Modern SOC

  Shawn Murphy     May 31, 2024

Maximizing Incident Response With A Modern SOCThe goal of every security organization is to protect its data. This mission has become increasingly complex in the face of an expanding attack surface and increasingly sophisticated and frequent attacks waged by relentless adversaries. Effectively responding to security incidents requires the Security Operations Center (SOC) to validate alerts and provide the IR team with critical details on the scope of the threat so they can quickly and reliably remediate the issue. However, several obstacles hinder the SOC from gaining the necessary visibility to deliver this critical insight.

Today’s SOC must monitor security across a wider digital footprint that can span multiple data centers, multi-cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, various domains and more. Gaining visibility across this enlarged IT surface can be challenging as many environments require their own tools. The lack of integration between specialized tools greatly increases the volume and frequency of alerts, making it difficult for SOC analysts to keep pace. This often results in a high burnout rate of Tier 1 SOC analysts, who typically triage alerts.

Read: 6 Benefits of Cortex XSIAM For The Modern SOC

The existing three-tiered SOC structure also limits understanding of the threat landscape. Tier 1 SOC analysts manage individual alerts, without an opportunity to view them in a larger context. This restricts their ability to build threat intelligence, assess alert efficacy and deliver a comprehensive picture of the incident to the IR team. Without the necessary experience and visibility, many Tier 1 analysts escalate alerts unnecessarily to higher tiers, pulling senior analysts away from verified events that need their attention.

To manage today’s more complex security demands and provide the IR team with the intelligence it needs to address threats quickly and effectively, the SOC model needs to evolve. WEI can help organizations maximize their IR capabilities with a modern SOC.

Modernizing the SOC

When it comes to security, time is of the essence. The inherent siloes of the legacy SOC can impact an analyst’s ability to triage and tune alerts and arm the IR team with a full view of a threat. Without this thorough understanding, IR can lose precious time trying to piece this information together.

The modern SOC requires a new level of integration that speeds its team’s ability to assess alerts for efficacy and deliver the full scope of a threat—including the impacted systems, users and networks; the incident timeline; the initial access vector; identified activities and behaviors; and the tools utilized—to IR. This enhanced visibility can help IR remediate issues quickly and contain them at a micro level without impacting more systems, business units and users than necessary. It can also help IR understand root cause to ensure a threat is not lying dormant, waiting to reestablish a foothold.

To improve threat awareness, organizations must modernize three key areas of their SOCs:

  • The SOC team structure
  • The security platform
  • The SOC-IR relationship

Read: Achieve Comprehensive Endpoint Security With Cortex XDR and WEI

Integrate the SOC Team

By moving away from the tiered, legacy SOC structure, in favor of a more integrated SOC, analysts can see other aspects of the security investigation and response pipeline to help build their awareness of the threat landscape. This broader context helps the SOC more definitively verify existing alerts and provide IR with the critical details it needs to remediate the threat, identify its root cause and return the environment to a healthy state. This awareness also helps analysts fine tune alerts to improve their future efficacy.

Many organizations are also outsourcing triage duties to managed security service providers (MSSP), staffing their internal SOCs with more experienced analysts.

Utilize an Integrated Platform

The modern SOC should also employ a holistic platform—enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and automation—to aggregate alerts across disparate sources. These advanced technologies can identify alert commonalities to form a more comprehensive understanding of a potential threat. They can also group similar alerts to reduce the volume of notifications the SOC must manage. This can help temper the burnout rate of SOC analysts, helping organizations retain knowledgeable analysts.

With improved insight into a threat, the SOC can provide the IR team with a concise package of intelligence to help them more quickly contain a threat. Additionally, by automating specific security tasks, the platform helps speed responses to limit potential damage and better protect the organization.

Foster a Symbiotic Relationship Between the SOC and IR

While the SOC commonly feeds data to the IR team, IR should also relay its findings back to the SOC. This reciprocal relationship helps strengthen threat intelligence, offering a more complete, real-world security picture that bolsters alert management, IR and the overall security posture. This closed-loop feedback cycle should also extend beyond the SOC and IR teams to include cloud engineers, service providers and other IT stakeholders to ensure all reoccurring issues and vulnerabilities are addressed fully and do not continue to impact the organization.

Video: Harnessing A Diverse Talent Pipeline For Cybersecurity Personnel

Strengthening IR with Preparedness Training

To be truly impactful, the modern SOC should carry forward the best practice of preparedness training. Simulations such as tabletop exercises enable security teams to rehearse their IR, ensuring all team members recognize and can execute their duties seamlessly during a real incident. Conducting frequent simulations of specific security events also allows the team to iron out issues and adapt specific responses, if necessary.

In addition to regular exercises with the security team, an enterprise-wide simulation should be performed at least annually to encourage mindfulness that security is everyone’s responsibility. Additionally, the security team should involve nontechnical stakeholders, such as general counsel, business partners and the public relations team, in select sessions to ensure they understand their roles as well.

WEI is Your Trusted Partner

Modernizing the SOC can be challenging for organizations without deep-seated security experience. WEI’s seasoned security experts can help organizations redesign their SOCs to integrate the structure, technology and practices required to effectively triage and tune alerts in a fast-paced and ever-evolving threat landscape.

WEI partners with the world’s most lauded technology providers, yielding expertise in the modern tools designed to address increasingly complex security demands. Working as an extension of an organization’s internal team, WEI gains a thorough understanding of the organization’s goals, direction and requirements. Our knowledgeable team can help organizations navigate the full spectrum of security needs, from assessing the current environment and building an innovative security strategy to implementing the tools, platforms and processes necessary to manage risk effectively. Contact us today to get started. 

Next Steps: Following a cyber incident, cybersecurity teams often resort to their data sources to identify how the incident transpired. While analyzing these data sources, a critical question must be asked - what prevented cyber personnel from stopping the cyberattack in real time? 

In this data-driven era, cybersecurity practices have increasingly focused on the prevention phase, made possible by leveraging the data already present in a cybersecurity environment. Prevention is your first line of defense, it is time to leverage its power and potential.

Download our free tech brief to learn more about this cloud-based, integrated SOC platform that includes best-in-class functions including EDR, XDR, SOAR, ASM, UEBA, TIP, and SIEM.

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Tags  IT Strategy security management cybersecurity cybersecurity strategy Enterprise Cybersecurity security operations center SOC incident response

Shawn Murphy

Written by Shawn Murphy

Shawn has over a decade of experience in cybersecurity ranging from incident response and threat hunting to threat intelligence and automation. He is passionate about applying analytics and automation to modernize security operations. Shawn holds numerous industry certifications in incident handling, detection engineering and automation, and has experience deploying, tuning, and managing a wide array of products (e.g., EDR, SIEM, NTA, ASM, SOAR). As a cybersecurity solutions architect at WEI, Shawn consults on Security Operations Center (SOC) projects that involve simplifying security architecture while improving outcomes.

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