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Some SOC operators are looking to cut head count as much as possible. One approach is to completely automate Tier 1 tasks, incorporating them into orchestration and automation platforms, for instance. "You cut the number of people," says one CISO from a large company who requested anonymity. Tier 2 analysts become more of the skilled first responder who can move and adapt, and Tier 3 can tackle more proactive threat hunting and IR.
"So you bring in more skilled people," the CISO says, who can be trained to perform more advanced tasks like penetration testing, and operate with a smaller team.
At managed security services provider MKACyber's SOC in Fairfax, Va., data and detection are organized by use cases and attack types that can help guide junior analysts through the SOC process. Mischel Kwon, founder and CEO of MKACyber, says the goal is to operate less as a tiered operation and more as a collaborative one. The analysts have "gates" that lead them step-by-step through the process and release them to the next step, for example, she says.
So when a phishing email generates an alert, for instance, the process flow guides them through a review to confirm whether or not the alert is actually an incident. "They then upload all of the artifacts, and a [senior] analyst reviews their work and approves it for the next level."
By integrating the approvals process and IR actions, analysts of all levels work together, she says.
Kwon predicts SOCs will be more cloud-based in the next five to 10 years. "I'm hoping there's a change for the future with more integration of vulnerability management and remediation in the SOC" as well, she says.
Data-handling in the SOC also will evolve. "In the next few years, I see us doing different types of handling data ... getting more into tagging and more data science-type research as opposed to the SIEM [approach]," Kwon says. "I see us moving away from the SIEM model."
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