5 Tips for Modernizing Your Security Operations Center Strategy

A solid, dependable SOC strategy that is scalable in the face of various security threats is essential to reduce cybersecurity risks to your business.

Andrew Hollister, CISO, LogRhythm; VP, LogRhythm Labs

June 9, 2023

5 Min Read
Screens in a security operations center
Source: Ton Snoei via Alamy Stock Photo

Investing time, money, or resources to improve security maturity, increase resilience against cyberattacks, and lower risk to the company in the contemporary digital world is known as modernizing your security operation center (SOC) strategy.

The cybersecurity sector has experienced tremendous growth during the past 10 years. Due to factors including digital transformation, mobile devices, dispersed and remote workforces, and the convergence of IT and operational technologies (OT), organizations everywhere face a continually changing landscape. Chief information security officers (CISOs) must create a solid and dependable SOC strategy that is scalable in the face of various security threats to reduce risk to the business. Change is continuous; economic, social, and geopolitical factors will continue to drive digital transformation, which will, in turn, continue to change the threat landscape.

There are many business advantages of a modern SOC approach. These include building consumer trust and brand loyalty, enabling growth while protecting sensitive and proprietary data, enhancing return on investment, avoiding operational disruptions, and exceeding compliance requirements.

Drivers for SOC Modernization

Two major drivers for SOC modernization include:

Aligning with changes in business environment: Due to COVID-19, organizations globally had to transition rapidly to remote work, thereby increasing the risk to sensitive data. Many made security compromises to keep things running, including bringing less secure home networks and personal electronics into use. Even though many businesses were already moving away from perimeter-based protection strategies, the changing business environment demonstrated the necessity for implementing zero-trust principles and updating security processes. As organizations looked to improve business operations and cut costs, cloud adoption also increased the attack surface.

Enhancing the cybersecurity analyst experience: Making the cybersecurity analyst's work as straightforward and efficient as possible is a primary justification for updating your security processes. Most SOC teams' heavy workloads add to the pressure of effectively managing cyber-risk. Attrition rates are notoriously high in the sector, but there are actions you can take to improve the analyst's daily experience. Automation, machine learning (ML), and similar tooling can simplify operations and alleviate repetitive efforts involved in qualifying threats. Automation and consolidation can help reduce false positives and provide higher-fidelity notifications, thus reducing analysts' fatigue.

How to Modernize Your SOC

SOC modernization is critical in today's cybersecurity environment. Five considerations for modernizing your SOC include:

Align your security strategy with business objectives: The overemphasis on technology in cybersecurity is a persistent problem. According to a study commissioned by LogRhythm, 85% of businesses face unintended security solution duplication, which increases maintenance costs.

Siloed teams with divergent objectives or conflicting priorities result from a lack of an organization-wide, top-down strategy and consistent communication. Today's CISO requires a certain level of business savvy to cultivate connections with stakeholders and explain risk to corporate boards. It's crucial to collaborate with key stakeholders to align security with business goals to create a strong program that is supported and funded.

Assess your current security maturity: Once you are aware of the business risk, evaluate your current security posture and identify any gaps. You can then develop a cybersecurity road map that addresses the business risks in a structured way, step by step. This road map can help you build a business case for any required investment, be that staff, process, or technology.

Work toward a zero-trust architecture: Never trust, always verify is the cornerstone of the zero-trust security model. A zero-trust strategy assumes that no network can be trusted, uses least privilege access, presumes that there has been a breach, and responds by utilizing continuous authorization and monitoring. Many organizations are choosing this architecture, and should you choose to adopt it, you will need a solid business plan that outlines the benefits and operational efficiency advantages of pivoting to a zero-trust architecture. You will also need a high degree of collaboration between leaders in security and IT.

Map to industry standards and detection frameworks: There are many frameworks and standards that can assist as you seek to modernize your SOC. One such framework is the MITRE ATT&CK framework, which is focused on tactics and techniques that have been seen "in the wild" and can help SOCs prioritize the techniques most commonly used in their industry or region. Other standards like NIST and ISO27001 can further help to fill any gaps in your overall security program.

Streamline incident response: To reduce risk and successfully remediate an incident before exploitation or data exfiltration, SOC analysts require solid processes and procedures and training in incident response. Playbooks for commonly seen incidents can also be a valuable help for more junior analysts, ensuring that all the necessary steps are followed to see an incident to a successful conclusion.

Benefits of Modernizing Your SOC

Aligning security outcomes with business goals gives insight into how the organization's operational priorities are impacted by the risk posture. Many security professionals struggle to explain or quantify how their security or compliance activities support the business and ultimately deliver value. SOC modernization can help simplify processes for reporting key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate to company goals and demonstrate alignment with the overall business strategy.

It's a cliché, but cybersecurity is a people, process, and technology challenge. Modernizing your SOC involves improving all three elements, and it is not just about investing in more technology. Building the right team with the appropriate skill sets and developing the right policies and processes are key parts of the journey — outside of acquiring any new technology. Security leaders should ensure they are aligned with the business priorities and do more than just "check the box" on their security program as they seek to address the ever-changing threat landscape and keep their organizations secure.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Hollister

CISO, LogRhythm; VP, LogRhythm Labs

Andrew Hollister has over 25 years’ experience in software, infrastructure, and security roles in both the private and public sectors. He joined the LogRhythm team in 2012 with a keen interest in using machine-based analytics to solve cyber security problems. He maintains a close interest in this area, contributing content, expertise, and vision to the ongoing development of the company’s roadmap and platform offerings.

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