What is SOC-as-a-Service?
A number of different factors impact an organization’s ability to operate an effective and mature SOC in-house. The cybersecurity talent shortage makes skilled personnel difficult and expensive to attract and retain. Additionally, effective cybersecurity requires investment in an array of security solutions designed to address and mitigate a wide variety of potential threats.
SOC-as-a-Service offerings allow an organization to outsource their security responsibilities to a third-party provider. Instead of manning a full-service SOC in-house, the SOC-as-a-Service provider takes responsibility for the round-the-clock networking monitoring and defense required to protect against modern cyber threats.
Benefits of SOC-as-a-Service
With a SOC-as-a-Service offering, an organization is handing off security responsibility to a team of security specialists. These types of managed SOC services provide a number of benefits to an organization, such as:
- Improved Security Staffing: The ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage means that many organizations struggle to attract and retain skilled security personnel. Partnering with a managed SOC provider means that an organization can supplement and fill gaps in its existing security team.
- Access to Specialized Security Expertise: Organizations periodically require access to specialized security experts, such as incident responders, malware analysts, and cloud security architects. These skill sets can be rare and difficult to retain in-house. A SOC-as-a-Service provider can offer access to skilled cybersecurity specialists to its customers when needed.
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership: Deploying, maintaining, and operating a complete SOC in-house can be expensive. With a managed SOC, organizations can share the cost of equipment, licenses, and payroll with their provider’s other customers. This reduces both the capital and operational expenditures (CapEx/OpEx) of strong cybersecurity.
- Increased Security Maturity: Building up the solutions and institutional knowledge for a mature cybersecurity program is an extended process. Partnering with a SOC-as-a-Service provider can help to shortcut this process by providing an organization with access to their provider’s existing solution stack and security experts.
- Up-to-Date Security: Keeping up-to-date with the latest SOC tools and capabilities can be difficult with an organization’s limited IT and security budget. A managed SOC provider, on the other hand, has the scale necessary to keep its toolset up-to-date and provides the benefits of cutting edge security to its customers.
Challenges of SOC-as-a-Service
Despite the many benefits of a SOC-as-a-Service offering, outsourcing security is not always a simple task. Some challenges that organizations opting for managed SOC services commonly encounter include:
- Onboarding Process: Managed SOC providers typically have their own security stack that they use, and these solutions must be deployed and configured within a customer’s environment before the provider can start offering services. This onboarding process can be time-consuming and may leave an organization vulnerable to cyber threats during the transition.
- Enterprise Data Security: An organization’s SOC-as-a-Service provider needs deep insight into an organization’s network in order to identify and respond to potential threats. Achieving this insight requires the organization to send large amounts of sensitive data to their service provider. This need to hand over control of a large amount of potentially sensitive information can make enterprise data security and risk management more challenging.
- Cost of Log Delivery: SOC-as-a-Service providers commonly operate their cybersecurity solutions on-site using data feeds and network taps from their customers’ networks. This means that log files and other alert data are generated and stored on the provider’s network and systems. Gaining access to full log data from a managed SOC provider can be expensive for an organization.
- Regulatory Considerations: The regulatory landscape is rapidly growing more complex, and organizations need to put into place security controls and policies to achieve and demonstrate compliance with regulations. While a managed SOC provider may offer support for regulatory compliance, the use of a third-party provider may complicate regulatory compliance requirements and requires trust in a service provider to fulfill their compliance-related duties.
Providing the SOC with the Right Tools for the Job
The decision to go with a SOC-as-a-Service offering vs. an in-house SOC depends on an organization’s unique situation. For some companies, maintaining a SOC in-house is the best fit for their business needs and existing technology investment, and they have the resources to do so. For others, a managed SOC may enable them to gain a higher level of security maturity at a lower price than is possible otherwise.
However, regardless of the location of an organization’s SOC, having the right tools for the job is essential. SOC analysts need tools that enable them to achieve certainty when working to detect and respond to cyber threats.