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On the Frontlines with the Security Operations Center (SOC) Analysts Fighting Cyber Threats

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Security Operations Center (SOC) analyst

In the time it will take you to read this blog post, threat actors will target the cybersecurity infrastructure of roughly eight businesses––one attack every 39 seconds. Not only are breaches increasing in frequency, but they are also becoming more costly. The global average cost of a data breach increased by 2.6% from $4.24 million in 2021 to $4.35 million in 2022, representing a significant risk to business continuity. It’s no wonder that, in response, more enterprises are either standing up their own Security Operations Centers (SOC) or augmenting their in-house security capabilities with “SOC-as-a-Service” or “SOCaaS” delivered by a Managed Cybersecurity Service Provider (MSSP)

A SOC (pronounced “sock!”) is a centralized hub within an organization that monitors, detects, analyzes, and responds to cybersecurity threats and incidents. The SOC’s primary goal is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the enterprise’s IT systems, data and assets. SOC teams use advanced technologies, processes and skilled personnel to manage and mitigate security risks in real-time. 

SOC analysts on the frontlines, whether in-house or working for an MSP, assess cybersecurity alerts and incidents and mitigate threats swiftly and efficiently. Here’s a look at a day in the life of a SOC analyst: 

  1. Review alerts and incidents. If the analyst works the day shift, their first task will be to conduct a thorough review of any alerts and incidents that occurred during the previous night’s shift. Ideally, the analyst has access to advanced AI tools to assist with the process of assessing and prioritizing the incidents based on severity and potential impact. (Without AI, this task can be cumbersome and tedious.) 
  2. Conduct root cause analyses. Then the analyst goes to work uncovering the root cause for each issue of concern. This is a lot like solving a puzzle -- they look at log data, network traffic and system behavior to piece together a picture of what happened. This phase demands keen attention to detail and a knack for critical thinking. Here too, advanced technology and tools can provide essential data and insights. For example, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) can detail the type of attack, the source and destination IP addresses, timestamps, and other relevant information; as well as classify attacks into different categories, such as network-based attacks (e.g., port scanning, DDoS attacks), host-based attacks (e.g., malware infections, unauthorized access attempts), or policy violations (e.g., unauthorized data access, configuration changes). Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems can help the analyst aggregate, correlate and analyze data from various sources for a more holistic and comprehensive view of security events and incidents. SIEM findings help to uncover patterns and identify anomalous behavior across a network. 
  3. Collaborate and share information. Throughout any given day, analysts collaborate with their peers, incident responders and external third-party partners. When alerts and incidents occur, they ask each other questions and cross-reference details. Sharing specifics enables SOC teams to identify and resolve issues more effectively. 
  4. Respond to incidents. When a high-severity incident happens, it's typically “all hands on deck.” Analysts coordinate with incident response teams, strategize to contain the threat, and determine how to mitigate the impact and ensure a rapid return to normal operations. 
  5. Document the day’s events. Because SOCs operate ‘round the clock, analysts must document their findings and activities at the end of each shift for their colleagues who pick up where they leave off. By referencing recorded details, other analysts can get up to speed on issues promptly to fortify network defenses and maintain continuity. 

As the seconds tick by, and businesses around the world continue to fend off digital foes, remember the unsung heroes in the SOC. They're the ones who work 24/7, fending off threats, adapting to new tactics, and staying vigilant against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber danger. They might not wear capes, but they're helping to keep our digital world safe, one alert at a time. 

The SOC is just one piece of a comprehensive cybersecurity solution -- visit the Hughes website to learn more.