Security operations centers (SOC) consist of the people, processes, and technology that comprise an organization’s cybersecurity management. These teams provide the critical efforts that defend digital and physical IT assets. Adopting security operations center best practices will help ensure your team successfully protects your data and your company.
Security Operations Center Best Practices to Adopt
If someone attempts to build furniture in the dark, there’s an overwhelming likelihood that assembly will go poorly. Similarly, managing a successful SOC team also requires visibility, documented processes, and knowledge of the tools and assets at their disposal.
SOC best practices primarily revolve around identifying and codifying what to protect and how it must be protected:
- Determine organizational strategies
- Create an asset inventory
- Establish and document incident response plans
- Test cybersecurity and incident response plans
- Consider managed services
- Provide security awareness training for non-technical users
An expert managed security services provider (MSSP) can assist any enterprise with adopting these security operations center best practices.
1. Determine Organizational Strategies
The security strategies your organization intends to pursue predetermines many of the implementations and processes your SOC team will manage. As a result, the organization’s operations comprise one of the most significant factors for successfully deploying cybersecurity, network access, and resources.
Therefore, best practices for security operations centers should begin with establishing IT service obligations, such as:
- IT environment – Organizations must determine whether their IT environment will be hosted on-premise, in the cloud, or as a hybrid of both.
- Remote workforce – Organizations supporting a remote workforce (whatever the percentage) must implement tools and processes to facilitate productivity without sacrificing protection. SOC teams’ considerations should include:
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – A VPN will provide a secure network connection for remote workers on laptops and other devices, commonly through “tunneling” protocols and encrypted traffic. VPNs can provide access to network resources for individual workers or for entire branches and departments (if geographically separated).
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – MFA adds one or more layers to login processes for network and other resource access. Generally, users enter their standard username and password credentials. Then, they are prompted for another password or PIN code, often displayed or stored on another device (e.g., one-time password or authenticator app, physical token, SMS).
- Disk encryption – Disk encryption, or hard drive encryption, secures physical workstations and portable devices’ data. Once encrypted, a hard drive and its contents (e.g., operating system, stored data) cannot be read without the associated cryptographic code. Disk encryption is a critical protection for portable devices should they become lost or stolen.
- Industry and business activity – Organizations operating in specific industries or conducting certain business activities must remain compliant with all applicable regulations. Efforts to adhere to frameworks such as HIPAA, HITRUST, PCI DSS, and the CMMC will predetermine some of the cybersecurity measures and processes that organizations need to implement and factor into broader IT strategies.
2. Create an Asset Inventory
Organizations’ security teams cannot provide comprehensive security for assets of which they remain unaware. Therefore, in addition to determining organization strategy, SOC best practices require a digital and physical asset assessment to create a baseline inventory and complete management scope.
A comprehensive inventory comprises the entire IT infrastructure and must include all network-connected hosts and endpoints alongside stored data. Special consideration should be made for sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), credit card primary account numbers (PAN), and encryption keys.
MSSPs, such as RSI Security, can assist with scanning for these various assets.
3. Establish and Document Incident Response Plans
SOC teams must follow incident response plans whenever they discover vulnerabilities and threats. Generally, SOC analysts review scan results for suspicious and irregular activity, escalating incidents that warrant further investigation. Response plans must patch vulnerabilities, remediate threats, and restore service delivery.
Documenting your organization’s incident response plan establishes and preserves the proper course of action for SOC team members in all situations.
4. Test Cybersecurity and Incident Response Plans
Once cybersecurity infrastructure has been fully implemented, SOC teams begin conducting threat monitoring and vulnerability efforts. In addition to regular scanning and analysis, organizations can thoroughly test their implementations and incident response plans with “fire drill” type scenarios:
- Penetration testing will simulate how systems and security measures operate when confronted with a cyberattack.
- Table-top simulations will let your SOC team walk through and refine the established incident response plan so that they’re more experienced should an actual attack occur.
5. Consider Managed Services
Regardless of the security operations center best practices adopted, the fact remains that team members face a demanding yet monotonous grind. Many SOC team members suffer from burnout due to overextension, contributing to high turnover (and making documentation all the more critical). To reclaim SOC team bandwidth, consider which cybersecurity responsibilities your organization can outsource to an MSSP.
6. Provide Security Awareness Training for Non-technical Users
Sometimes forgotten, the difficulties SOC teams face can be reduced by the general efforts of security-conscious employees. Conducting regular training sessions and utilizing services such as mock phishing tests will increase all employees’ vigilance against cybersecurity threats.
For SOC team members, security training can help keep them up-to-date on the latest threat intelligence.
Adopt SOC Best Practices to Protect Your Organization
SOC teams manage the critical cybersecurity infrastructure that defends organizations against cyberthreats. Hackers only require one successful attack, whereas SOC teams must neutralize threats every time. Adopting security operations center best practices will help ensure that your organization remains the successful one, every time.
Contact RSI Security today to equip your SOC team with the best services and practices.