Expanded Definition: Security Operations Center (SOC)

What is a security operations center? 

security operations center (SOC) is typically a 24-hour team of experts who proactively hunt for, triage, and respond to cyber threats in real time. SOC teams rely on a combination of expert personnel, advanced technology, and a comprehensive set of processes to maintain effective threat detection and incident response strategies around the clock. 

In a time when threat actors are constantly changing the tactics and tools they use in data compromise attempts, a SOC can serve as the backbone of an organization’s cybersecurity efforts. Strong cybersecurity measures have become table stakes for companies that want to not only survive but thrive in the modern digital world. 

For those that ignore the crucial role of cybersecurity, the repercussions can be severe: According to the IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Reportthe average total cost of a data breach is now $3.86 million. However, the negative effects go beyond financial impact and loss of data: One of the most significant consequences of a breach is diminished customer trust. A survey from PCI Pal found that 83% of U.S. consumers will stop patronizing a business for at least a few months following a breach, and more than 20% said they will never return. All of these effects highlight the need for better threat detection and response solutions such as SOCs. 

Some of the high-level objectives of a good SOC include: 

  • Decrease time to response so that the threat can be stopped as soon as possible. 
  • Reduce impact to prevent minor security incidents from becoming major compromises. 
  • Maintain security visibility by keeping track of all IT assets and implementing near-real-time security monitoring.  
  • Predict the activity of threat actors to shut down cyber attacks before they have even begun. 
  • Keep the organization informed of risk through frequent reporting so that the company can make informed cybersecurity decisions 

A SOC may be situated in a physical location, often referred to as a “SOC headquarters,” or it may be organized in a virtual environment. Outsourced virtual SOCs have become a popular option for organizations, especially SMBs, that need powerful threat detection and response capabilities but can’t take on the significant expense of a full-time internal SOC.  

The managed service provider’s role in supporting security operations 

As MSPs continue to play a larger role in providing cybersecurity protection for companies, it’s important to learn how you can help improve your clients’ security through SOC offerings and other services. 

Providing threat intelligence 

Remaining proactive about your clients’ cybersecurity and taking steps to stay ahead of potential threats can drastically reduce the effort you as the MSP would have to expend to remedy an actual data compromise. In other words, offering an outsourced SOC can be both a revenue stream and a cost savings opportunity for you as an MSP. 

Additionally, more and more MSPs are turning to threat intelligence providers, such as Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), to gather data about emerging threats as they develop across the world. This allows MSPs to search for potential vulnerabilities in clients’ networks and patch them ASAP. 

To streamline this process, MSPs can even use a fully-managed SOC solution capable of integrating with multiple threat intelligence providers. This allows MSPs to better manage their clients’ threat indicators and gives them more control over data security.  

24/7 monitoring of security threats  

Cyber threats can strike at any time. That’s why MSPs should have “always on” threat detection and response capabilities, such as those provided by a SOC, in order to protect themselves and their clients. 

Most businesses don’t have the budget and resources required to build out a full-time, embedded SOC, and your MSP and its clients are likely in the same boat. According to our researchcreating an internal SOC team costs $2.3 million on average. 

To solve this challenge, MSPs can leverage the power of an outsourced 24/7 SOC to get all the benefits of a full-time security team without breaking the bank. This includes the ability to offer your clients SOC-as-a-Service solutions that can easily scale as needed.  

Offering risk assessments  

Your clients likely know that cybersecurity is important. What they may not know is where their existing security risks are and how to protect themselves against threats. Offering strategic risk assessments is a great way to show customers that your MSP takes cybersecurity seriously, and that you know how to provide actionable insights for remediating any issues.  

A comprehensive risk assessment should highlight: 

  • Network vulnerabilities 
  • Insufficient device management 
  • Data compliance issues 
  • Internal threats 
  • Potential impact of an incident 

It is also recommended that the risk assessments you offer are based on an internationally recognized standard, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF).   

Did you know?

73% of organizations with a SOC say that these teams are essential or very important to their overall cybersecurity strategy. 

Additional resources

work plan icon How to Provide 24/7 SOC Services without the Need for In-house Expertise

Have the costs, complexity, and staffing needs that are required to get started with a security operations center (SOC) been holding you back? Here’s how you can offer your clients flexible SOC-as-a-Service options without having to hire a full-time SOC team.   

Guide >>
toolbox icon ConnectWise Cybersecurity Starter Kit

Want to start selling cybersecurity? We’ve put together a kit to help. Download the kit today for helpful resources that will transform your business from an MSP to an MSP+ model, including educational information for your SMB customers, templates, and more.

Kit >>
work plan icon The SMB Cybersecurity Checklist

How secure are your SMB clients? Chances are, they may not fully understand their risks and exposures. Use this 30-item checklist to start the conversation around cybersecurity, help them understand the cybersecurity landscape, and assess their security postures. 

Checklist >>
reporting icon Creating Opportunity from Adversity: The State of SMB Cybersecurity in 2020

SMBs are not immune from cybersecurity risks—quite the contrary. Our 2020 survey of 700 SMB decision makers uncovered interesting findings about how these businesses are thinking about cybersecurity, their spending plans, and what motivates them when it comes to security.

Report >>
ebook icon The Security Journey Self Assessment

Wondering where you stand in your cybersecurity journey? Take this assessment to understand how advanced your cybersecurity knowledge is and to identify areas where you can expand upon your understanding of key cybersecurity concepts and precautions. 

eBook >>
blog icon Scary Stories from the SOC

If you’re looking for ways to be more proactive about cybersecurity and uncover potential threats in unexpected places, we have you covered. Here are a few cybersecurity incidents we’ve helped our partners solve, plus our advice for dealing with a similar situation with your MSP.

Blog post >>