Since the inception of the internet, cyber-attacks have led to a loss of billions of dollars across the globe, along with damage to the victims’ reputations, resources, and infrastructure. For instance, in September 2000, NASA had to shut down its computers that supported the international space station for 21 days due to a breach of security caused by a 15-year-old computer hacker. This cost NASA $41000, along with reputational damage after being unable to prevent a juvenile’s intrusion. This is just one example of countless cyber-attacks that happen globally.
The big questions here are: How do we prevent cyber-attacks or mitigate their impacts through early detection and remediation? We can imagine an alternate scenario where preventive measures and early detection could have saved NASA money and time. And this is where SOCs, including Managed Security Operations Centers, come into the picture.
What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
Security Operation Centre or SOC is a centralized facility that continuously monitors and improves an organisation’s security. Often referred to as the backbone of cyber security, the SOC’s operations are not restricted to 9 AM to 5 PM but 24*7*365 hours a year since the risk of getting attacked is always omnipresent. The job of a SOC is to prevent security incidents from happening and to detect, inform, and remediate quickly whenever such events happen. The responsibilities of SOCs include assessing available resources, conducting continuous monitoring, threat response basis the threat intelligence received from multiple sources and recovery and remediation in case of a security breach.
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Managed Security Operations Center or SOC-as-a-Service is the outsourcing of SOC to a third party distinct from the client’s functioning. As opposed to Internal SOCs, in Managed SOCs the Security Operations Center and related tools are managed and owned by external cybersecurity experts. These experts continuously monitor the organization’s entire IT infrastructure, including its devices, applications, and data flow across channels for vulnerabilities, threats, and breaches of security. Usually, the client base of an MSOC is an amalgamation of organizations belonging to both SME & Large Enterprise categories, where in many cases, the client cannot afford an internal SOC, and in other cases having an MSOC is more feasible. MSOCs are subscription-based, and services provided vary based on the chosen plans. These can either be fully managed by the third party or co-managed along with the organization.
It is convenient for organizations to outsource security operations rather than setting up an entire infrastructure, which is one of the reasons why many organizations these days are opting for Managed Security Operations Centers. MSOC is the only available option for small businesses that cannot afford their own security solutions and is an easy switch for organizations with an outdated SOC. Let us look at the benefits in detail:
MSOC providers can hire and retain subject matter experts by serving a large client base. These experts provide quicker solutions through prior experiences and knowledge. MSOC providers also have access to better updates and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, which help in minimizing errors through alert filtering and behavioural analytics, thus, overtaking manual efforts. MSOC specialists have some specific roles: Malware Analyst, Threat Hunter, Forensic Specialist, Incident Responder, etc. These specific roles look at the minutest details in a Security Operations Center.
Internal SOCs are known to be CAPEX intensive. It is often stated that only Fortune-500 companies can afford a well-equipped internal SOC. Outsourcing SOC through subscriptions becomes affordable for various reasons, including sharing of resources, infrastructure, experts and technologies amongst multiple clients. Fixed costs remaining the same, lead to affordability for each client. Technically equipped, Managed Security Operations Centers can minimize manual labour through automation, saving tons of capital.
The presence of a well-established infrastructure, employee base, and technical tools make MSOCs an attractive choice to Companies. By opting for MSOCs, Companies can allocate their infrastructure, employees, and machinery for Core Competence areas, which otherwise would be dedicated to Security Operations. As a result, employees are prevented from being overburdened by additional work and stiff working hours.
Through technological advantage and the availability of highly capable experts, MSOCs quickly detect security breaches and possible threats. The availability of alternate paradigms of dealing with threats prevents shutting systems down for long durations. Additionally, a quicker response means shutting down the source of a breach before it reaches other parts of the system, saving efforts and capital that would have been dedicated to remediating a larger part of the system.
According to markets and markets report on the data-centric security market, the global Data-Centric Security Market size was worth approximately $4.2 billion in 2022 and is expected to generate revenue of around $12.3 billion by the end of 2027. Thus, the sheer size of the market brings in a massive scope of scalability, where a Managed Security Operations Center provider can allocate the same resources for different clients and make its processes scalable. Emerging technological solutions like AI can greatly reduce human efforts and save time leading to quicker solutions with a lesser likelihood of a false positive.
To understand the difference in experiences between an Internal and Managed SOC, let’s take the example of two hypothetical companies, A and B, where A has opted for an internal SOC, while B has opted for a managed SOC.
Company A is under pressure because of its massive investment in setting up infrastructure for its internal SOC. It must regularly perform technological upgrades to match the rising external challenges. Hiring and retaining skilled talent is difficult in the highly competitive landscape, and the costs involved increase with the expected level of security. The existing employees find it difficult to complete their primary tasks timely because of their involvement in SOC processes. Eventually, the costs associated with running and managing internal SOC go beyond the perceived risks. Hence, company A decided to convert its internal SOC into a delivery centre and looked for a suitable subscription service from a reputed MSOC provider for security operations.
On the other hand, the initial costs incurred by B are much lower compared to A as it has only paid for the subscription of a service for a short duration to evaluate the effectiveness of the services of the Managed Service Operations Center provider. The Managed SOC provider already has a pool of dedicated experts and is Technologically well-equipped. The AI-enabled systems detect patterns amongst alerts, filtering false positives and saving time. B does not have to worry about hiring, retaining talent, or the quality of the workforce, as the Managed SOC provider assures B of that. The working of B’s current employees remains unaffected, and it receives reports about vulnerabilities and threats from time to time. Once satisfied, Organization B extends the subscription and switches to a plan customized for it instead of a generic plan.
Given the importance of Managed SOC for businesses, irrespective of their size, it is important for enterprises to identify and evaluate the right SOC service provider so that they can efficiently and effectively improve their organization’s security posture. Some of the key criteria that need to be considered while choosing a Managed SOC Services Provider are as follows:
Hughes Systique fits the bill as it is ISO 27001 certified, has GDPR compliance, and employs certified engineers who have experience working on commercial tools like Splunk, Microsoft Sentinel etc. As a GDPR-compliant organization, HSC ensures the safety and integrity of customer data.
Just as we have countless examples of Cyber intrusion, we have innumerable examples where successful preventive measures and early detection by MSOCs have saved Millions of dollars of Governments, Companies, and individuals across the globe. A 200% increase in the identification of threats was witnessed when an International professional services network, Deloitte-Brazil, opted for Managed SOC. Similarly, LTI, a Global technology consulting and digital solutions company, was able to save 4000 employee hours per year by outsourcing threat detection and research. Microsoft is involved in Security Operations Centres, has delivered more than 300 security innovations in 2022, and currently partners more than 15000 integrated across its security ecosystem.
A seamless integration of a relevant MSOC with continuous operations and technological upgradation prevents blunders from happening. Technological integration and shared resources save time, human effort, and capital, while with superior technological expertise MSOCs quickly shut down endpoints mitigating risks in the event of a security breach. The benefits of outsourcing a SOC far outweigh the cons associated with it. In many security incidents, the victims don’t even know that a security breach has occurred; in some cases, they never come to know. So, if you are asked how many attempted security breaches you faced in the last year and your answer is zero, you might want to consider subscribing for an MSOC and re-answer a year later.