What is SOC-as-a-Service?

What is a SOC? Understanding its role.

Before explaining about SOC-as-a-service, here’s a brief explainer on what a SOC is:

A SOC or Security Operations Center is a central platform of an organization that manages and carries out its cybersecurity operations. It consists of a team of information security specialists along with systems and mechanisms to monitor, analyze and manage the organization’s security posture.

The role of a SOC is to prevent, detect, analyze and manage cyber threats across the entire fabric of the organization’s digital infrastructure. It includes networks, servers, databases, applications, websites, and other systems. Today’s business environment is filled with a complex interweb of people, systems and processes. With heightened information security risks and stringent compliance requirements, an effective, well-managed SOC is proving to be a crucial factor in protecting business systems and data.

The typical scope of a SOC’s functions includes agent-based response, asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, intrusion detection, behavioral monitoring, log management, and cloud-based SIEM (security information and event management).

What is SOC-as-a-service?

SOC-as-a-service refers to an outsourced-SOC model wherein an organization outsources its security functions to a third-party service provider. This third-party service provider is referred to as an MSSP(Managed security service provider).

In a SOC-as-a-service offering, the SOC operations are carried out by the MSSP. Apart from the cost associated with building and manning an in-house SOC from the ground up, several other challenges are motivating businesses to prefer SOC-as-a-service to meet their organizational security needs.

Here are four key areas in which SOC-as-a-service offers a better alternative to a traditional in-house SOC:

  • High cost: A SOC requires hiring and training staff members, technical and physical systems in place, additional infrastructure to monitor the entire digital chain and several other resources to properly function and carry out its operations. All these measures require a sizable initial investment and present high operational costs. SOC-as-a-service enables organizations to have the cybersecurity deterrence, monitoring and response capabilities of a SOC for a lower cost.
  • Shortage of skilled personnel: The demand for cybersecurity professionals has dramatically increased in the last few years. The availability of cybersecurity professionals has not kept pace with the rapid demand which has led to a shortage across the industry. In the SOC-as-a-service model, organizations have access to skilled personnel and specialists of their MSSP at all times to ensure that their security needs are always tended to.
  • Management oversight: A SOC requires a certain level of integration into a company’s existing systems and departments. This not only pertains to the technical aspect of a SOC requiring insight into data and systems but also extends to the administrative domain. A SOC would require considerable leadership and management oversight from the organization’s executives who may or may not be able to provide the same.
  • Complexity: A SOC can be complex to build and maintain. It is especially true for smaller organizations. Modern businesses are often very specialized. They possess the know-how and professional capacity to perform well in their niche but implementing a major security component such as a SOC might present a significant challenge. Also, a SOC often needs to be tailored to suit the needs of the target organization and requires specific processes and methodologies to be developed.

Even if they could, it presents an additional point of concern for the organization which is not directly related to its core business function. With a SOC-as-a-service offering, the security responsibilities and management oversight are handled by the MSSP. Thus, ensuring a seamless experience for the organization.

With technical expertise, first-hand experience, and specialized processes, a third-party SOC-as-a-service provider would be better suited to handle the SOC needs of an organization.

SOC-as-a-service offerings are gaining increasing traction and adoption across the world. The main draw of the SOC-as-a-service model lies in the fact that businesses have a scalable, round-the-clock solution to address their organizational security concerns at an overall lower cost with added convenience. Employing SOC-as-a-service offers many advantages. But an organization must also consider compatibility, regulations, and MSSP capabilities, etc to select the best MSSP to suit its needs. There are certain benefits and downsides to each type of SOC. Every organization must consider its own organizational security requirements before choosing an in-house SOC vs SOC-as-a-service.