Small Businesses Can Pull Their SOCs Up
Posted: Wednesday, Jul 03

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Small Businesses Can Pull Their SOCs Up


The ever-present threat of cyberattacks and a rapidly changing technological landscape have forced organisations of all sizes, particularly small businesses, to prioritise cybersecurity. An increased focus on centralised security operations for companies handling sensitive data, processing payments, or undergoing digital transformation is pushing more organisations towards Security Operations Centres.

Companies looking to bolster their defences with this strategy should start by mapping their assets, optimising collection, management and storage, leveraging security information and event management capabilities, and implementing orchestration, automation and collaboration.

Security Operations Centres, or SOCs, are no longer the exclusive domain of large enterprises. Cost-prohibitive legacy on-premises security solutions have given way to the cloud solutions offering greater scalability for enterprises. Meanwhile, the influx of cloud-generated data overwhelms traditional security information and event management (SIEM) platforms and security tools. Finally, the convergence of IT and OT (operational technology) creates new vulnerabilities as legacy systems are replaced.

The urgency for action is undeniable. Last year’s Cyber Threat Report by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) indicated more than 2000 victims suffered an average financial loss of $39,000 from business email compromises. The ASD is due to hand down its latest report in the second half of this year, it’s safe to say we’re expecting that figure to climb.

Meanwhile, 62% of Australian small businesses have experienced a cyber security incident, yet 1-in-5 don’t know the term “phishing”.

These figures are in line with the experience internationally.  According to Cybersecurity Ventures, global cybercrime costs are projected to reach a staggering £10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Meanwhile, a 2023 report by (ISC)² reveals a global cybersecurity workforce gap of 3.4 million.

An international skills shortage combined with surging global demand is the recipe for higher prices, especially for in-house SOCs. Which is why small businesses should look at SOC-as-a-Service to keep a lid on unnecessary overheads.

What is a Security Operations Centre?

A SOC is a central unit staffed by IT security professionals who continuously monitor and safeguard an organisation’s IT infrastructure from cyberattacks. This includes internet traffic, networks, devices, and applications. They also analyse activity for suspicious behaviour, allowing for prompt detection and response to security incidents. By coordinating these cybersecurity functions, the SOC team maintains constant vigilance over the organisation’s networks, systems, and applications, proactively defending against cyber threats.

SOCs come in various sizes, ranging from small, part-time teams to large national centres with hundreds of specialised analysts. However, regardless of size, all SOCs share these core functionalities: proactive prevention, real-time monitoring and detection, incident response, situational awareness and reporting and SOC technology management. From the user’s point of view, the structure enhances security posture, protects business operations, simplifies regulatory compliance, cuts costs and boosts both customer trust and organisations proactivity.

Mastering Security Operations: A Step-by-Step SOC Guide

Next-generation SOC components empower proactive detection and response, enabling your security team to maintain a detailed action plan and respond swiftly to attacks.  This guide outlines key SOC best practices to help you transition your SOC from a reactive posture to a proactive driver of your security programme. By implementing these best practices, you can build a more effective and efficient SOC that can better protect your organisation from evolving cyber threats.

  1. Define Log Collection: What Needs to Be Included?
  • Identify assets: The first step is to identify all the assets, tools, technologies, and applications that need to be integrated for log collection.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Log collection should encompass on-premises applications, cloud-hosted apps, SaaS applications, and all regional offices, remote workers, and data centres (where relevant).
  • Microsoft XDR integration: If using Microsoft XDR (extended detection and response), ensure log collection includes identities, endpoints, data, email, collaboration tools, IoT, OT, cloud infrastructure, and cloud applications.
  1. Tackle the Data Side: Collection, Management, and Storage
  • Optimise collection & management: Once log collection points are defined, implement effective collection, data management, and storage strategies. Cloud-native SIEMs can simplify collection from cloud sources and offer auto-scaling for efficient management.
  • Data prioritisation: Some organisations might require data parsing before storage in a security data lake. Consider data tagging and filtering to optimise storage costs associated with data ingestion.
  • Leveraging technology: Solutions like Azure Log Analytics can streamline log collection from all sources, including existing Microsoft investments and security controls.
  1. Security Analysis: Leveraging the Capabilities of a SIEM
  • SIEM for anomaly detection: Utilise a SIEM to analyse logs with detection rules to identify anomalies and monitor log source functionality.
  • Reduced response time: An effective SIEM helps reduce the time to acknowledge and remediate threats, minimising the attacker’s window of opportunity.
  • Improved efficiency: A well-tuned SIEM filters out false positives, allowing your SOC team to focus on genuine threats. Consider cloud-native SIEM solutions like Microsoft Azure Sentinel for advanced features like threat correlation, rule-based analytics, and machine learning for anomaly detection.
  1. Implement Orchestration, Automation & Collaboration 
  • Addressing resource shortages: Increased adoption of orchestration, automation, and collaboration tools helps address the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals.
  • Empower your team: Automation frees up your SOC analysts to focus on higher-level tasks like threat hunting and level 2 investigations.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Orchestration and automation allow for faster incident resolution and provide a centralised view of threat intelligence. Collaboration features like ChatOps facilitate real-time communication for faster incident response.

The increasing frequency and severity of cybersecurity attacks is intimidating smaller customers into a posture where they simply hope the incident doesn’t happen to them.

Instead, what we should be doing as an industry is, where appropriate, lifting their ambitions to the most comprehensive cybersecurity solutions that make their operations cheaper and easier.

Shane Maher
Shane Maher is the Managing Director at Intelliworx, responsible for providing overall business direction and supporting businesses in their digital transformation journey. Shane specialises in empowering businesses by providing comprehensive IT support and developing cutting-edge infrastructure solutions. His expertise lies in guiding MSPs through the transition to cloud services, leveraging the power of cloud technologies to enhance business operations. Shane's passion for supporting businesses' IT infrastructure and his extensive knowledge in cloud computing make him a valuable asset in driving successful digital transformations. With his wealth of knowledge and experience, he is committed to driving IT success for clients and helping them navigate the evolving technological landscape.
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