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SOC and SIEM: What They Are & Why You Need Both for a Strong Defense

March 7th, 2022 | IT Security, Security Technology

Security Operations Center (SOC) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) have become trending topics among business leaders looking to keep up with evolving cyberthreats. You may have heard of these solutions, and you may even be ready to try them within your own business. However, before you take action, it’s key to understand the purpose of each, how they are different, and why it’s best to leverage these tools together in your approach to threat detection and response.

What is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is an IT security software that streamlines data from a company’s various applications and network hardware devices to deliver real-time activity analysis and potential threat alerts. SIEM works to correlate and compile security activity across an organization’s entire IT environment, which a Security Operations Center (SOC) can then leverage to detect suspicious patterns and mitigate threats. When effectively implemented, SIEM can:

• Integrate with other products
• Streamline data points from multiple systems and applications
• Provide a consolidated data source for custom dashboards and alert workflow automation

Without using a SIEM solution, your IT security team could be operating with tunnel vision, limited to reviewing one application’s activity log at a time without ready visibility to what is happening elsewhere. SIEM enables a bird’s eye view of security events across your organization’s entire IT environment to help your security team more effectively see developing risks.

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

The Security Operations Center (SOC) uses a combination of human and machine-based intelligence to recognize patterns and anomalies across the SIEM’s compiled security events. The SOC team uses the data provided by the SIEM to identify and take a deep dive into suspicious activity patterns, assess risk, and to then take action to mitigate threats.

The SOC creates alerts and actionable events that align with the specific environment’s security standards as the business and cyberthreat landscape evolves. The SOC team then uses its insights and expertise to refine security controls to block threats in the environment.

When used together, SOC and SIEM provide a fluid defense against both known and unknown risks. The SOC team can be as good as the quality of data the SIEM monitors and the threat-blocking controls the SOC has available – together, they, in turn, depend upon the right level of IT operations expertise and business knowledge to configure appropriately and refine as business needs and risks change.

SOC & SIEM: What is the Difference?

While a SOC team is dependent on SIEM’s data flow and insights, a SIEM solution is not reliant on the SOC to run its functions. However, this does not mean SIEM is meant to serve as a standalone solution for threat mitigation. In fact, a SIEM solution can benefit from the human intelligence of the SOC team to help validate that the software is delivering actionable data and legitimate alerts.

For example, if a user’s activity shows they are logging in remotely using a legitimate username and password and running functions within applications that they usually do not use, these activities may appear normal by the SIEM’s standards. However, let’s say the user is also logging in from an unusual location across the country from where they live. While this may not raise a red flag for the SIEM, the SOC service can connect these series of events as a potential threat and act to investigate the pattern in real-time.

Why SOC is Key to Detecting New Cyberattack Strategies & Tactics?

While a SIEM solution is key to piecing activity timelines together, it can only tell you what has happened in the past, not what is happening in the present. If you do not know how a new threat executes, neither does the SIEM solution. These types of information gaps can leave your business blind to threats facing or already within your environment.

Most companies operate on multiple systems with various department-specific apps and integrations, and cybercriminals are continually evolving their practice to target vulnerabilities within these tools. While SIEM is designed to detect known risks, it does not automatically know to look for activity patterns associated with unknown, newly evolved threat tactics. So, a new form of cyberattack can go further within your network, faster, without a SOC solution in place to proactively review data from the SIEM, recognize new attack methods, and refine the SIEM’s parameters to account for evolving threat tactics as they arise.

Why Do You Need Both SOC and SIEM?

All businesses can benefit from some level of SOC services if these services are provided by a qualified team that has the experience and business knowledge to implement the solution effectively. If your staff use more than one application or system to do their day-to-day jobs, you need a combination of a well-configured SIEM solution and a qualified SOC service team capable of assessing, refining, and acting on the data the SIEM delivers.

SIEM software alone will not alert you of the evolving threats that can live in your network for weeks, if not months, and a well-equipped SOC service depends on the SIEM’s streamlined flow of information from across the organization’s network. Together, these two solutions provide the most value by maintaining a strong defense against potential threats targeting midsized and growing businesses today.

How to Get Started

Whether or not you’re ready to implement SOC and SIEM for your business, you need to understand and plan for the implementation. Before moving forward, ensure your business and IT leaders align with the solution’s intent and expectations and are willing to spend the time and resources necessary to implement and maintain an effective approach.

How We Can Help

We are a SOC II type II certified provider and have successfully implemented SOC and SIEM within our own business. Our team is experienced in delivering these solutions to our clients and has the business insight and technology expertise key to implementing and managing these solutions successfully.

Our SIEM and SOC services provide our clients with access to enterprise-level security resources at a fraction of the cost to retain such qualified talent in-house. To learn more or speak with a member of our team, visit our IT Security Services page, and schedule a time to chat.