It is fair to say that COVID-19 has heavily impacted what we considered to be normal in cybersecurity, from existing processes to operating infrastructure. That has proven to be very true when it comes to the security operations center (SOC). Before the pandemic, most companies with in-house SOCs never considered they would have to manage their SOC remotely. Now these same companies are pivoting to security solutions that enable them to manage vital security operations and protocols around the clock remotely.
In truth, COVID-19 accelerated trends that were already shaping the future of the SOC, from the urgent need for automation to new and evolving threats across the threat attack surface.
Let’s look at three such SOC trends, and what they mean to your cybersecurity strategy in 2021 and beyond.
SOC Trend 1: Taking the SOC outside
Even before COVID-19, companies were facing a lack of highly qualified security talent and expertise needed to manage an effective SOC. In 2019, a significant skills gap existed in virtually every region and industry and affected organizations of all sizes.
What’s creating the talent gap? For starters, IT infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex. Companies are intensely reliant on digital commerce , IoT/IIoT devices, cloud technology, and mobile workforces as part of their standard operations, and the security tools required to monitor and secure it all are becoming not only more costly, but they often only focus on one area are the network, provide disparate information, and are complex to operate.
For many companies, the growing complexity has made the cost of outsourcing their SOC to a MSSP, or determining how to streamline and ease the internal operation, not only appealing but a necessity. Add up the difficulty of sourcing top talent and maintaining system updates, and it’s easy to see why a qualified vendor that can offer round the clock oversight and compliance assurance presents the path of least resistance. The right partner, or solution, can ultimately cost less than internal resources.
SOC Trend 2: Expanding attack surfaces
The number of remote employees, and/or external devices, accessing your network has exploded, leading to a larger threat attack surface, and the increase in shift to work from home because of Covid-19 has attracted the attention of cybercriminals around the world. Organizations are relying heavily on VPN gateways to provide encrypted network access at a scale beyond what the solution was intended for.
This means the increased number of security vulnerabilities are tantalizing to cyber-attackers looking for opportunities to deploy ransomware, credential stuffing, and other methods to breach thinning defenses. Think the risk is exaggerated? During the earliest days of the pandemic, the FBI reported a quadruple increase in cybercrime activity.
It’s a serious issue when you consider most companies already had a difficult time detecting and stopping cyber-attacks even when they had fewer remote workers and onsite resources. SOC teams are now facing the worst-case scenario: preventing cyber threats for an infrastructure that has grown well beyond the confines of traditional security approaches. That’s why many are turning to virtual SOC solutions that use machine learning to detect and neutralize threats in minutes, without the need for security analysts to determine the action.
SOC Trend 3: Seeking interoperability
It’s critical that your SOC is built using applications designed to work together. Without a seamless operation, it is next to impossible for organizations to move from an analyst-driven model to an AI-powered solution. All the important decisions are automated rather than relying on manual intervention.
Additionally, all the various tools in a traditional cyber-security stack tend to be disparate, siloed solutions that are difficult to integrate, manage, and use. Such an approach inevitably adds excessive cost, complexity, and the need for additional team members and resources to attempt to manage it all.
With a SOC framework driven by AI, the necessary remediation happens automatically—in minutes or seconds—versus overwhelmed analysts running through manual checklists for hours while cyber criminals are having their way with your network.
With the right solution, the SOC of the future is no longer a physical entity made up of a handful of engineers and security analysts. Rather, it is any automated, and singular platform that serves up validated alerts for accelerated detection and response, and protects your entire enterprise—no matter what it looks like.