Building an effective security operations center (SOC) is crucial for organizations of all sizes. Just like the companies themselves, every security team is different. Companies that recognize the importance of cybersecurity will invest the necessary amount to ensure that their data and systems remain safe and that their SOC team has the resources necessary to deal with threats. The security operations center roles and responsibilities are fairly straight-forward, but distinct in their requirements.
On the whole, organizations have had a tendency to undervalue cybersecurity. Security operations teams face myriad challenges - they are often understaffed, overworked, and receive little visibility from upper management. If these companies knew what was at stake, you can bet that they would be willing to make larger investments in their SOC and team members. Following security operations best practices will help companies to protect themselves and provide a better environment to SOC teams. With new high-profile attacks capturing headlines daily, organizations are starting to emphasize the significance of cyber security and the security operations center is becoming a valued focal point.
Although all SOC teams may differ a bit from one another, most have roughly the same roles and responsibilities. Building an effective SOC requires foresight and an executable plan of action. Let’s take a look at the basic roles and responsibilities of every SOC team.
Security Operations Center Roles and Responsibilities
The average SOC team has many responsibilities that they are expected to manage across a number of roles. Typically SOC teams have positions that cover two basic responsibilities - maintaining security monitoring tools and investigating suspicious activities.
Maintaining Security Monitoring Tools
To effectively secure and monitor a system, there are many tools that the team must maintain and update on a regular basis. Without proper tools, it is impossible to effectively secure systems and networks. The security operations center roles and responsibilities require team members to maintain tools used throughout all security processes. This includes the collection of data. This data must extend to all systems in the network, including cloud infrastructure. Those logs must then be passed to a SIEM and a log analytics tool. A single break in the chain of information flow could have serious implications.
Investigate Suspicious Activities
With the help of tools mentioned above, the SOC team is responsible for investigating suspicious and potentially malicious activity within the networks and systems. Typically, your SIEM or analytics software will make them aware of potential issues by issuing alerts. Your team of analysts then examine the alerts, perform triage, and determine the scope of the threat. The combination of proper tools and expertise are the necessary ingredients for a successful SOC team.
Security Operations Center Roles and Positions
Although the roles at any company may have different names, all organizations have similar responsibilities when it comes to cybersecurity. Here are the more common roles within a SOC team and the individual responsibilities that are associated with each role.
Security analysts are typically the first responders to incidents. They are the soldiers on the front lines fighting against cyber attacks and analyzing threats. In short, their job is to detect threats, investigate those threats, and respond to them in a timely fashion. Additionally, analysts may have responsibilities that involve implementing security measures as dictated by management. They may also play a role in organizational disaster recovery plans. In some organizations, security analysts are expected to be on-call to respond to incidents that arise outside of business hours.
Security engineers are responsible for maintaining tools, recommending new tools, and updating systems. Many security engineers specialize in SIEM platforms. Security engineers are responsible for building the security architecture and systems. They typically work with development operations teams to ensure that systems are up to date. Additionally, security engineers document requirements, procedures, and protocols to ensure that other users have the right resources.
A security manager within a SOC team is responsible for overseeing operations on the whole. They are in charge of managing team members and coordinating with security engineers. Security managers are responsible for creating policies and protocols for hiring, and building new processes. They also help development teams set the scope of new security development projects. They serve as the direct boss to all members of the SOC team.
Chief Information Security Officer
The chief information security officer (CISO) is responsible for defining and outlining the organization’s security operations. They are the final word on strategy, policies, and procedures involved in all aspects of cyber security within the organization. Additionally, they may also be responsible for managing compliance.
Larger companies may have entire teams dedicated to this task. Typically, a CISO reports directly to the CEO and has direct contact with all of upper management. CISO positions go far past technical skills and also require communicating complicated issues to upper management that may not be knowledgeable in technical matters.
Ofter times, larger security organizations have roles such as director incident response and/or director of threat intelligence. The director of incident response or incident response manager simply oversees and prioritizes actionable steps during the detection of an incident. This person is solely responsible for conveying the unique requirements of high severity incidents to the rest of the company.
The incident response manager oversees and prioritizes actions during the detection, analysis, and containment of an incident. They are also responsible for conveying the special requirements of high severity incidents to the rest of the company.
Building an effective SOC team is imperative for organizations of all sizes. Ensuring that you can catch, investigate, and remedy security incidents is key. Given the roles and complexity within a SOC it is wildly essential to provide visibility across the board. It’s also important to be mindful that a solid SOC is 24/7 and multiple shifts and managing the workflow handoff seamlessly and prudently is a must. Defining the policies and procedures that govern individuals that are part of this team should be an ongoing process to better serve the team and organization as a whole. Defining the security operations center roles and responsibilities helps companies to prioritize and better assess their needs.