The SOC needs to rely on tools that monitor the network around the clock and flag potential threats. For the SOC team to find abnormalities and respond to threats, these technologies combine and correlate data from firewalls, endpoints, and operating systems. These tools need to minimize false positives to maximize the time analysts spend investigating real threats. They also need to detect a breach as quickly as possible.

Core Functions

A key function of a SOC is to gain visibility into all components of the organization’s network. It includes in-house software, hardware, and endpoints clients and partners use to interface with the company for meetings and professional collaboration. Without this complete system visibility, blind spots may exist that cybercriminals can exploit to gain entry and infiltrate the network. The SOC also analyzes technology infrastructure 24/7/365 to detect anomalies and potential threats. It uses reactive and preventive measures, including installing the latest security patches, implementing firewall policies, and whitelisting and blacklisting systems. By learning to differentiate between legitimate activity and malicious conduct, advanced solutions incorporating behavioral monitoring can also aid in lowering the number of false positives SOC teams must deal with.

When a threat is detected, the SOC team must determine its severity and where it infiltrated the network, so it can take corrective action to remediate the problem and prevent similar incidents from occurring. It does this through forensic analysis, which involves examining log data and comparing it to previous events to identify the presence of a threat. Effective SOC features must also adhere to external security standards, such as those set by regulatory bodies like the PCI DSS or GDPR. It also must research the development of innovative threats and the tactics used by cybercriminals to stay one step ahead of them.

Key Challenges

SOCs must contend with the ever-increasing volume of security alerts and threats. A SOC’s human analysts, IT engineers and managers need the proper tools to analyze this incoming data to determine the true nature of a threat. It involves utilizing tools like security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA), and security information event management (SIEM). A common problem is a disconnect between the SOC’s leadership and the people on the ground managing day-to-day operations. It can cause a breakdown in cooperation during an event and slow down how quickly a problem is resolved. It is also important for a SOC to establish its core mission to align operational capabilities with it. It helps to ensure that the SOC is not only working to protect the organization’s technology infrastructure from cyberattacks but also protecting consumer and customer trust.

In addition, a SOC needs to be able to identify and prioritize its alerts. While automated systems can filter and prioritize this incoming data, human experts must provide the context and situational awareness necessary to remediate threats. It is especially important given that attackers only need to be successful once to cause significant damage. Staffing issues are often a key challenge for SOCs, with many respondents to the Ponemon 2021 survey indicating that they felt their jobs were stressful and high-pressure.

Operational Requirements

The SOC must also ensure the full visibility of all the devices, software and servers on its network. Without this visibility, a SOC could have blind spots where attackers can exploit weaknesses or misconfigurations. It includes a business’s in-house assets and endpoints that customers and partners use to interface with the network for meetings or professional collaboration. SOC teams must also be able to prioritize, and triage detected incidents. Human analysts are critical to this effort, as they can provide context and situational awareness that automated tools cannot replicate. Unfortunately, the cybersecurity skills shortage has created a war for talent that has left many SOCs at least somewhat short-handed, as the Micro Focus report cites.

Developing and documenting processes is another key SOC responsibility. These procedures must be portable and easily accessible, and a process-management system must support these efforts. SOCs that fail to create and maintain these systems become reliant on tribal knowledge, making them less predictable when facing incidents or other challenges. In addition, SOCs must coordinate their efforts with the network operations center (NOC), which may have different capabilities that need to be exercised to detect certain threats. It can affect the scope, cost and timelines of SOC projects. A careful cost-benefit analysis is a good way to help define the trade-offs.


A SOC requires a broad range of technology to function. It includes everything that comprises a business’s IT infrastructure, from cloud resources to endpoint devices used by employees or customers. It also requires an incident response framework to manage a security event and tools for automating detection and responding. SOCs should also have access to a threat intelligence platform to tie multiple indicators of compromise together.

Moreover, SOCs should have full visibility into their entire network and its components through a single security management system that provides data analytics. A SOC needs tools to protect against DDOS attacks and other brute-force attacks that threaten the integrity of a network and its services. It requires a combination of firewalls, anti-malware and antivirus software, a DDoS mitigation service and other tools. Finally, a SOC needs a security operations center management tool that helps staff handle the high volume of alerts and other tasks that can overwhelm cybersecurity professionals. It should be able to prioritize threats, track incidents, and implement processes that scale to support an expanding organization. It should also have a clear chain of control for the data it collects, which is necessary for prosecuting cybercriminals.

Anika Trey