What is Security Operation Center (SOC)? [Detailed Explanation]

Written By Sambita Panigrahy  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On October 16th, 2023
Reading Time 11 Minutes Reading

Definition – A security operations center (SOC), also known as an information security operations center (ISOC), is a group of IT security specialists who monitor an organization’s entire IT infrastructure round-the-clock in order to detect cybersecurity events in real-time and react to them as quickly and effectively as possible.

Additionally, a SOC chooses, manages, and maintains the cybersecurity tools used by the company. It also continuously assesses threat information to identify ways to strengthen the security posture of the company.

An organization’s security practices, procedures, and reactions to security incidents are unified and coordinated by a SOC, which is the main advantage of running one in-house or outsourcing it. This usually leads to better security policies and preventative measures, quicker threat detection, and quicker, more effective, and more affordable responses to security threats. Moreover, a SOC can increase customer confidence and streamline and strengthen an organization’s adherence to local, national, and international privacy requirements.

What Does a Security Operation Center Do? Learn Its Key Functions

Most security operations centers have a “hub and spoke” organizational structure, which enables the establishment of a centralized data repository for use in addressing various business demands. Activities and duties of the SOC include:

  • Network monitoring to give full visibility into online activity and improve anomaly detection
  • Techniques for prevention to prevent and deflect a variety of recognized and unknown threats
  • Threat detection and intelligence tools that evaluate the cause, consequences, and seriousness of each cybersecurity incident
  • Using a combination of automated technologies and human participation, make decisions about incident response and cleanup.
  • Making sure all incidents and threats are reported so that the data repository can be updated and made more accurate and responsive in the future
  • Risk and compliance tools to assure adherence to industry and governmental standards

The SOC consolidates several data feeds from each asset in addition to managing specific issues to establish a baseline understanding of typical network activity. This evaluation is then used by the SOC to more quickly and accurately identify anomalous activities.

Also, the SOC provides round-the-clock monitoring, detection, and response capabilities as one of its essential characteristics. This makes it possible for organizations to shorten their “breakout time,” or the crucial window between when an intruder compromises the first machine and when they can move laterally to other parts of the network. Furthermore, it aids in ensuring that dangers are rapidly contained and eliminated.

Key Members of the SOC Team

The principal positions on a SOC squad often consist of the following:

  • The team’s leader, the SOC manager, is responsible for all security activities and reports to the CISO of the company (chief information security officer).
  • Security architects, design and oversee the security architecture of the company. Evaluation, testing, recommendation, implementation, and maintenance of security tools and technologies make up a large portion of this activity. To ensure that the organization’s security architecture is incorporated into the application development cycles, security engineers also collaborate with development or DevOps/DevSecOps teams.
  • Security analysts are essentially the first responders to cybersecurity threats or incidents. Security analysts are also known as security investigators or incident responders. Analysts identify the impacted hosts, endpoints, and users before detecting, investigating, and prioritizing threats. They then take the necessary steps to reduce the impact of the threat or incident and to contain it. Investigators and incident responders are two distinct jobs that are categorized as Tier 1 and Tier 2 analysts, respectively, in some organizations.
  • Threat hunters, also known as specialist security analysts, focus on identifying and neutralizing advanced threats, which are brand-new dangers or versions of existing dangers that manage to get past automated defenses.

Depending on the size of the corporation or the sector it operates in the SOC team may also include other experts. A Director of Incident Response, who is in charge of communicating and organizing an incident response, may be present in larger organizations. Also, some SOCs employ forensic investigators who are specialists in retrieving data from machines that have been harmed or hacked as a result of a cybersecurity incident.

What Happens in a Security Operation Center?

The modus operandi of SOC is as follows.

  • First, SOC team members gather information from various resources of the enterprise.
  • The team then carefully monitors the assets i.e. on-premise servers in the data center, cloud resources, endpoints, firewalls, switches, etc.
  • After that, the SOC team members will interpret the data to get actionable information.
  • Then, they perform Data Normalization which involves removing duplicate information and finding the root cause of the issue.

Using the SIEM tool to view log files is simply not sufficient. The team members must have enough experience and knowledge to precisely interpret the data.

Security Operation Center Challenges

The SOC manages all facets of the company’s cyber security within a constantly expanding remit. It can be difficult for many firms to establish and maintain a successful security operations center. Here are some of the typical issues.

  • Alert Exhaustion – The sheer volume of security alerts, many of which require the use of both sophisticated systems and human oversight to properly categorize, prioritize, and remediate, is the most frequent challenge faced by many organizations. Many notifications present the risk of misclassifying or inadequately addressing some dangers. This emphasizes the requirement for sophisticated monitoring tools, automation capabilities, as well as a staff of highly qualified experts.
  • Complexity – The complexity of protecting the organization and responding to attacks has increased as a result of the global character of business, the fluidity of the workplace, the greater usage of cloud technologies, and other concerns. These days, seemingly straightforward solutions like firewalls are insufficient to protect against internet threats. Security demands a complex combination of technology, people, and processes, which can be challenging to create, integrate, and maintain.
  • Cost – Building a security operations center is quite expensive and time-consuming. The threat landscape is continuously shifting, necessitating frequent updates and upgrades as well as ongoing personnel training and development, making maintenance even more difficult. In addition, cybersecurity is a highly specialized topic, with few organizations possessing the talent required to comprehend the organization’s overall demands as well as the current threat scenario. Many businesses cooperate with managed security service providers to ensure effective results without making major manpower or technology investments.
  • A Skills Gap – A small applicant pool makes it more difficult to build an internal security solution. Due to the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals worldwide, it is challenging to find and keep these people. The security of the organization may be impacted by a change in leadership within the security department.
  • Conformity – Regulations from both the government and the sector can alter. The SOC must be prepared to monitor these issues and ensure that the business is adhering to legislation. This is crucial because the SOC uses data, and the gathering and use of that data may be governed by tight rules depending on the region, industry, or intended use. Adherence to these regulations is essential to the ongoing operation of the organization and the preservation of its reputation.

4 Best Practices of SOC

It takes a lot of work to create a top-notch security operations center and even more work to keep it running. The four SOC best practices are covered in the sections below

1. Begin With a Plan

Setting up a clear plan that supports the organization’s corporate objectives is the first stage in constructing a SOC. An enterprise-wide evaluation should be a part of this procedure so that the team can make a list of the resources and assets already in place and find any gaps or potential weaknesses that may be exploited by adversaries.

A clear, complete set of procedures that will direct the SOC team in all aspects of operation, including monitoring, detection, response, and reporting, is another crucial component of strategic planning.

Organizations will probably need to continuously assess and change their strategy and processes to reflect new and emerging threats given the threat landscape’s growing complexity. To maintain the general health and performance of the company, the organization as a whole must be made aware of fundamental security procedures and best practices.

2. Allow for Company-Wide Awareness

Only known assets can be protected by the SOC. In addition, each device has the potential to jeopardize network security. Determining all digital assets, such as networks, databases, devices/endpoints, websites, and information storage, and incorporating their unique data logs into a unified monitoring and analysis function is therefore vital. Threats may arise from the use of third-party services and traffic between the assets, thus it is also crucial to map these activities.

End-to-end visibility will not only secure each asset separately but also give the business a complete picture of typical behavior and activity. This makes it simpler for security technologies and tools to categorize and rank hazards and suggests future remediation measures.

3. Lay Forth the Technological Foundation

The SOC is a group of people, procedures, and technology that cooperate to safeguard and defend the organization; it is not a single asset. The security center’s digital backbone is made up of some crucial technological elements. They consist of the following:

  • Using network and device security feed data to combine and correlate, a security information and event management (SIEM) system
  • Digital assessment, and monitoring systems that can spot unusual activity or behavior
  • Firewalls and antivirus software are examples of preventative measures.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based threat detection tools that identify suspicious activity and escalate it within the SOC Intelligent automation-based threat response tools that automatically react to low-level security threats and routine incidents.

4. Bring Intelligence and Human Resources Together to Respond to Threats

The most developed SOCs handle security using a combination of automated threat intelligence and human control. The initial security line is typically provided by threat monitoring and detection systems, which recognize and rank dangers. Automation can deal with relatively low-level concerns, while human interaction is necessary to deal with higher-level risks. Organizations may not only secure the safety of their network and assets but also do so with the least amount of time, money, and effort by combining highly qualified security experts with AI-enabled solutions.

The accuracy of detection tools and their capacity to evaluate each risk continues to rise as a result of technological advancements. Additionally, like any AI and ML technologies, cybersecurity systems get stronger over time by utilizing growing volumes of data to better comprehend normal activities and spot anomalies. The most sophisticated automation systems use behavioral analysis to “teach” these tools how to distinguish between routine daily tasks and genuine threats, freeing humans to concentrate on higher-priority tasks.

SysTools and Security Operation Center (SOC)

It can be challenging to see any gaps when you are stuck in a daily habit of alert tiredness. Also, it turns into a luxury that few people have the time for to merely keep up with the most recent trends, technologies, procedures, and dangerous information.

The SysTools Managed SOC Services assists businesses in understanding how to advance their security monitoring and incident response capabilities.

The SOC Assessment involves:

  • Interactive workshops: During these engaging workshops, our specialists learn about your present SOC operations and discuss best practices.
  • In-depth reporting: Based on the workshops, documentation analysis, and follow-up conversations, you get a thorough, customized report.
  • Improved areas that should be given priority: The assessment comes with a prioritized roadmap of suggestions that will build and enhance your SOC’s capacity to quickly identify and address cybersecurity problems.


Q- What is Security Operations Center life cycle?

The SOC life cycle involves various stages. 

  • Planning & design
  • Build & Implementation
  • Monitoring & Detection
  • Incident Response
  • Reporting & Communication

Q- What are the various types of SOC models?

There are 5 different types of SOC models.

  1. External SOC – In this type, an organization hires an outside SOC service provider to manage its needs. 
  2. Internal SOC – Here, the enterprise sets up its own security operations center.
  3. Command or Global SOC – A powerful group that manages different SOCs across a large area.
  4. Virtual SOC – In this type, the security team members work remotely.
  5. Co-managed SOC – Here, the internal IT team jointly manages their security needs with an outsourced SOC provider. 

Q- What are primary SOC functions?

The primary/main function of SOC involves monitoring security incidents, threat intelligence analysis, continuous improvement of the security posture of an organization, etc.

Q- What is the difference between NOC & SOC?

The main difference between NOC and SOC is that NOC focuses on ensuring the availability and performance of an organization’s IT infrastructure and network. Whereas SOC focuses on security i.e. monitoring and responding to security threats.