Evaluating SOC-as-a-Service providers? Assess these 5 attributes.

Evaluating SOC-as-a-Service providers? Assess these 5 attributes.

Today’s security teams are under enormous pressure. Organizations continue to embrace digital transformation initiatives, expanding the digital attack surface that security teams are responsible for safeguarding. Environments are more complex and interconnected than ever, requiring teams to contend with a high volume of alerts, tedious tuning exercises, and repetitive manual processes. Meanwhile, the evolution of the cybercrime industry–such as Ransomware-as-a-Service operations–has malicious actors enhancing their tactics and introducing new, more complex attacks designed to evade detection. Businesses across all industries are feeling the effects of these complexities: 84% of enterprises fell victim to one or more breaches in the last 12 months.

Growing your security team is a natural idea in response to these challenges. Yet finding, hiring, and retaining qualified candidates is easier said than done. According to Fortinet research, 56% of organizations worldwide struggle to recruit talent to fill open roles. Nearly 70% of these same organizations say they face additional risks attributable to the cybersecurity skills shortage.

Given these hurdles, an increasing number of businesses are choosing to outsource select security functions to dedicated experts, at least as an initial measure if not as a fundamental decision. Embracing a SOC-as-a-Service (SOCaaS) offering is one example–giving teams a quick, effective way to augment their internal capabilities and fill critical security gaps.

The benefits of embracing SOC-as-a-Service offerings

Organizations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from using a SOCaaS. Considering the costs associated with adopting new security tools, hiring and retaining staff, and investing the time required to identify and manage incidents, SOCaaS is an economical option for organizations looking to reduce their risk of cyberattacks and/or the routine (but constant) alert triage effort.

A SOCaaS can either replace or support your organization’s existing security operations center (SOC), handling some or all of your cybersecurity monitoring and incident response processes. Using a combination of skilled professionals together with detection and automation technologies, SOCaaS providers monitor your environment to identify, prioritize, and help you respond to security threats.

Organizations can use a SOCaaS provider for a variety of activities, including:

  • Gathering and analyzing threat intelligence to offer visibility into new cyber threats
  • Implementing better detection rules for higher-fidelity alerts and fewer false positives
  • Helping develop a comprehensive strategy to address breaches and keep the organization secure
  • Enhancing network security
  • Monitoring user and device access to business resources
  • Collecting and analyzing the forensic data needed to meet compliance requirements

Additionally, many security teams rely on their SOCaaS provider to offer an outside perspective- “pressure testing” their existing defenses and ultimately improving their risk management strategy.

What to look for in a SOC-as-a-Service provider

Whether you’re contemplating an initial investment in a SOCaaS offering or evaluating your current provider, here are five key areas to assess–along with questions to ask–when choosing a vendor.

  1. Monitoring: Continuous monitoring capabilities are the foundation of any SOCaaS. When evaluating providers, ask how the SOCaaS provides 24×7 monitoring. Does the vendor have SOCs around the globe? How do they ensure their analysts have “eyes on the glass” for you around the clock?
  2. Detection: A SOCaaS should offer advanced threat detection capabilities. A great provider should use a robust threat intelligence foundation with tightly integrated security technologies. Ask about how the provider reduces noise caused by false positives and alerts and how quickly they notify customers after discovering suspicious activity.
  3. Investigation: The faster a SOCaaS identifies the root cause of an incident, the less damage attackers can do. When evaluating a provider, take a close look at the technologies they use and determine the experience level of their staff. Ask the provider if they combine human analysis with automation to reduce response times.
  4. Response: After identifying the root cause of an issue, a SOCaaS needs to contain the attacker, remediate vulnerabilities, and restore systems. What are the provider’s incident response procedures and processes, and how will they coordinate with your internal team?
  5. Resiliency: While your SOCaaS partner should support your team’s daily responsibilities, a highly effective SOCaaS provider should also help your security practitioners consistently improve their capabilities. Ask your vendor to share specific examples of how they help other customers fine-tune technologies, conduct tabletop exercises, and enhance processes and playbooks.

Shifting from proactive to reactive with SOC-as-a-Service

Consider what strategic priorities your team could work on if they weren’t consumed with daily alert monitoring and triaging. What results could you achieve if your security staff shifted their time to primarily focus on proactive efforts instead of reactive, recurring tasks? How would the performance of your overall risk management program improve?

With the rapid changes occurring across the threat landscape, the barrage of alerts security practitioners are expected to monitor and investigate is both daunting and, for most teams, completely unrealistic. Harnessing a SOCaaS provider can offer your organization numerous benefits, alleviating the daily burden of alert monitoring your team manages today. Further, using a SOCaaS allows your staff to engage in higher-level (and more fulfilling) projects that will enhance the organization’s security posture not only today but for years to come.

Learn how Fortinet’s SOCaaS offering helps organizations regain focus and control within their SOC.


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