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The Business Case for SOC-as-a-Service

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Choosing whether to build your own on-premise security operations center (SOC) or to outsource it to a company specializing in SOC-as-a-Service is a critical decision. An effective SOC is the heart of an organization’s security, operating 24/7 to detect and prevent threats before they cause damage as well as enabling a quick response in the event an attack is able to bypass security controls.

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Most organizations recognize the importance of establishing a SOC as the centralized hub for their security activity. However, building, staffing and managing a dedicated, on-premise 24/7 SOC is costly, time-consuming and difficult. It can take years and costs millions of dollars to simply become operational. And despite best efforts and money spent, a Ponemon Report found that only 42% of organizations rate their SOC as highly effective.

Many factors are overwhelming the SOC as it functions presently, including the dynamic threat environment, alert fatigue, SIEM frustration, tool complexity, the cyber skills shortage, and rising costs. Even the largest enterprises with money to spare are embroiled in the battle. In light of this, SOC-as-a-Service has emerged to enhance and extend the capabilities and operations of an existing cybersecurity team and provide an answer for the headaches associated with many on-premise SOCs.

What Is SOC-as-a-Service?

SOC-as-a-Service, also sometimes referred to as SOCaaS, is a pay-as-you-go, subscription-based model for managed threat detection and response. The service provides organizations with the tools, technology, and human expertise needed to detect, investigate and respond to ransomware, malware, data theft, spear phishing attacks, and more.

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What Are the Benefits of SOC-as-a-Service?

SOC-as-a-Service combines all of the essential elements of a 24/7 Security Operations Center but without the high costs, complexity, and frustrations that come with building, staffing, and managing one. Organizations are able to outsource the people, processes, and technology needed for a SOC, which is operated and managed offsite and delivered as a cloud-based service. 

  1. Faster detection and remediation: SOC-as-a-Service providers keep the spotlight on 24/7 to detect suspicious activity, reducing the burden on security teams. They should also deploy the latest technology, like automation, to speed up detection and to deliver high-confidence alerts for analysts to investigate, giving them more time to investigate higher quality alerts, more thoroughly.
  2. Cost reduction: With consumption-based pricing, organizations can scale SOC services to meet their needs. Rather than completely funding an on-premise SOC, including hardware, staffing, and multiple tools, organizations only pay for what they use on a monthly basis, without all the overhead.
  3. Lower cyber risk: Working with a SOC-as-a-Service provider reduces the risk of a breach and the probability of incurring costs (legal fees, regulatory fines, customer service costs, etc.) and the brand damage associated with a successful attack.
  4. Enhanced business agility and scalability: As companies embrace new trends, such as the IOT and remote work, make business acquisitions, or expand their services, SOC-as-a-Service enables businesses to easily grow and scale. Rather than being concerned with expanding on-premise capabilities, organizations can readily adjust consumption of their outsourced SOC to meet new business priorities.

What Is SIEM versus SOC?

SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management system and is a tool used for log collection and storage within a SOC. A SOC-as-a-Service provider should offer a platform that incorporates a SIEM with threat detection, hunting, investigation, triaging, case management, and remediation. The technology should be paired with human expertise, including security analysts, security engineers, threat hunters, data scientists, and incident response specialists that function as an extension of an internal security team.

Why Outsource Rather than Build Your Own?

There are a number of key considerations when deciding whether to operate your own on-premise SOC or to partner with a SOC-as-a-Service provider.

1. Facilities

Traditionally, a security operations center (SOC) is a dedicated office space where experts work and collaborate together. The cost of acquiring, fitting and securing a space, with room for enough staff with 24/7 HVAC, can be significant.

2. Personnel

Nearly 80% of organizations don't have enough analysts to run their SOC. Beyond analysts, recruiting qualified experts in threat hunting, incident response, security engineering and more is far from an easy task due to the massive global cybersecurity skills shortage. According to the November, 2019 “Cybersecurity Workforce Study” by (ICS)2, there are 561,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in North America alone, and 4 million worldwide. An additional challenge is the rate of turnover. Good staff members are hard to find and harder to keep, whether from burnout or a better job offer elsewhere. This leads to the need to constantly be recruiting, on-boarding, and training new team members.

3. Technology

The backbone of the SOC is the SIEM, but many have become outdated over the years, requiring organizations to layer on new tools to meet new security challenges. The result is a patchwork of disconnected security tools that make it difficult to manage data and coordinate security efforts. The cost of procuring, deploying, configuring, integrating and maintaining the various products required to operate an effective SOC needs to be considered. In addition, organizations also have to take into account the costs of data collection and storage as well as any hardware costs and ongoing management of licenses.

4. Compliance & certification

Data privacy and protection is a business imperative. Organizations must maintain high standards to prevent a breach and align with regulations including HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, PCI DSS, and NIST frameworks. Achieving and demonstrating compliance on an on-going basis can be a time-consuming and expensive process that needs to be factored into the total cost of ownership for a SOC. Aligning with ISO 27001 or achieving SOC II Type 2 certification are just two examples of must-haves for the SOC.

5. Effectiveness

According to Ponemon, “SOCs that are highly effective cost an average of $3.5 million versus $1.96 million if the SOC has very low effectiveness.” But a high price tag alone does not guarantee SOC success. It requires a combination of the right people, processes, and tools to detect, investigate, triage, and remediate a broad range of threats. Not only that, threats are constantly changing, meaning staff needs to be motivated to be constantly learning and tools need to be regularly reviewed and updated to match up with the threat landscape. It takes effort and human knowledge to consistently run a powerful, capable SOC.

Making the Case for Cysiv SOC-as-a-Service

Reliable, accurate, 24/7 cyber threat detection and response is a major undertaking. By building a virtual SOC, Cysiv makes it possible for enterprises to take their security to a higher level, find a resolution for ongoing security issues, and achieve their goals in an affordable, scalable way.

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Cysiv SOC-as-a-Service provides:

  • 24/7 continuous threat monitoring
  • Proactive threat hunting
  • Threat detection
  • Threat investigation
  • Threat triage, and case management that automatically synchronizes with your system
  • Incident management, including containment and remediation recommendations
  • Telemetry collection and storage
  • Monitoring and management of selected security products
  • Ongoing communications via Slack, Teams, Email, Phone and case management tools
  • A team of experts that operate as a seamless extension to your team
  • Service level agreements, runbooks and playbooks

Creating the business case for building a SOC or outsourcing requires a clear understanding of how and why a SOC, and SOC-as-a-Service, can improve your organization’s security posture, reduce cyber risk and costs, and enhance business agility.

Interested in learning more? Download our white paper for a complete look at current SOC challenges and an overview of Cysiv SOC-as-a-Service.