Enhancing SOC productivity is essential for a successful cybersecurity program

by Vinay Sharma, Regional Director, India and SAARC, NETSCOUT

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In the digital economy of today, organizations must maintain agility to accommodate the significant transformations occurring in corporate digital infrastructures. With organizations increasingly adopting cloud technologies and extending operations across globally distributed ecosystems, protecting the expanded threat surface becomes vital through the implementation of a robust cybersecurity strategy. Central to this strategy is the security operations center (SOC), serving as the backbone of any network security team, ensuring the effectiveness of the cybersecurity program. This is essential for sustaining the productivity of the team during their investigative efforts.

Challenges encountered

Many large enterprises face cybersecurity challenges as they continue to expand through acquisitions and establish a presence across multiple locations. These challenges stem from the lack of seamless integration among various security tools such as endpoint detection and response (EDR), network detection and response (NDR), extended detection and response (XDR), and security information and event management (SIEM). This leads to a fragmented cyber alert organizational structure characterized by different user interfaces (UIs) and alert delivery methods across these solutions.

Consider the scenario of a sprawling manufacturing conglomerate, boasting a widespread domestic footprint with manufacturing facilities spanning various geographical regions.  Over several decades, the organization has collected a diverse range of products and systems through numerous acquisitions.  Within its IT infrastructure, numerous products, security and operational tools, and SCADA systems are complexly interconnected through various custom systems across several locations.

The SOC faces the challenge of monitoring and reviewing all the alerts across different locations resulting in an extended Mean Time to Respond (MTTR).  Despite the functionality of individual systems, the task of reviewing all the different alerts in their siloed UIs, and maintaining these different UIs is a challenge. The analysts also have to manually search for network evidence whenever an actionable alert occurs.  This manual process is prone to mistyping information as analysts search for evidence across different tools. 

The presence of different solutions across locations requires each SOC analyst to have access to and knowledge across multiple UIs to monitor and respond to all alerts on time, creating friction in the process of logging issues in the alert ticketing system. It also creates delays in the verification of alerts when confirming whether they are legitimate or false positives. Integration between platforms emerges as the key solution to mitigate these challenges, enabling a consistent data source and delivery mechanism throughout the network.

To address these issues, there is a need for a centralized location to aggregate and categorize alerts from all security tools, alongside a streamlined method for swiftly searching for packet-based evidence.

SOC Solution

It was imperative to integrate advanced NDR solutions with a powerful SIEM platform to help in the verification and consolidation of alerts. The SIEM platform allows users to combine several security tools into a single dashboard while the advanced NDR solution can deliver packet-level evidence for each alert or incident.  The intelligence provided by the latter should be powered by network packet data, providing consistent and detailed information to assist SecOps teams.  This consolidated intelligence helps expedite response times to resolve cyber threats faster and more easily.  The single-pane-of-glass view delivered by this amalgamation gathers all relevant data in one location to create operational efficiencies.

Increasing SOC Productivity

This integrated solution eliminates several challenges associated with manual trouble ticket creation.  The solution improves workflows by linking directly to the source of the data to help enhance the time it takes to determine if an alert is legitimate or a false positive.  It helps to reduce MTTR by upwards of 75 percent reducing downtime and outages that can cost organizations tens of thousands of dollars per hour in lost revenue.  Increasing SOC productivity pays a higher ROI when compared with the revenue-loss risk associated with major outages as the result of a cyberattack.  Enhanced handling of threat alerts by security teams enables organizations to more effectively dismiss false positives.  The duration dedicated to addressing genuine threats will be extended, concurrently eliminating malicious entities from networks before any service disruption.