Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 20, 2023

Complete Guide to SOC Technologies

What Is SOC (Security Operations Center)?

A security operations center (SOC) is a command facility housing a team of information security experts tasked with monitoring, analyzing, and protecting organizations against cyber attacks. The SOC staff continuously examines networks, Internet traffic, servers, databases, desktops, applications, and endpoint devices, for signs of security incidents.

SOC staff typically includes in-house employees with high-level IT and cybersecurity skills. They can work with other departments or teams or outsource tasks to third-party service providers. Most SOCs work around the clock, employing staff in shifts to constantly log activities and mitigate threats.

SOCs enable organizations to minimize the damage caused by a data breach, by rapidly responding to incidents and continuously improving security processes.

How Does a Security Operations Center (SOC) Work?

A SOC is an organization’s central hub for monitoring, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cyber threats. It continuously monitors all traffic, including in the internal network and the public Internet traffic, devices, servers, databases, and applications. Security requires full visibility over all endpoints and resources.

The members of a SOC team usually focus on implementing the organization’s security strategy rather than planning that strategy. They deploy security measures in response to incidents and analyze the aftermath of security events. SOCs rely on technology to collect data, monitor endpoint devices for vulnerabilities, and ensure regulatory compliance to protect company data.

The SOC’s work starts with a clear security strategy based on well-defined business objectives. Next, the team must deploy the right infrastructure to support this strategy and utilize various tools and functions to ensure security.

Key SOC Functions and Technologies

Preparation, Planning, and Prevention

Here are core preparation, planning, and prevention activities SOCs typically engage in:

Asset inventory

SOCs must maintain an exhaustive inventory of all protected components within or outside the data center, including applications, servers, databases, endpoints, cloud services, and all tools that help protect these assets, including firewalls, monitoring software, and antivirus tools. SOCs typically use an asset discovery solution to perform this task.

Routine maintenance and preparation

SOCs typically attempt to maximize the effectiveness of security measures and tools by performing preventative maintenance, such as:

  • Applying software upgrades and patches.
  • Continuously updating firewalls.
  • Maintaining allowlists and denylists, security policies, and procedures.
  • Creating system back-ups or providing support in creating backup policies or procedures to ensure business continuity during data breaches, ransomware attacks, or other incidents.

Incident response planning

A SOC creates an incident response plan for the organization, defining the activities, responsibilities, and roles participating in security incidents. The SOC also defines the metrics used to measure the success of incident response efforts.

Regular testing

SOCs perform comprehensive vulnerability assessments, including source code scanning via static application security testing (SAST) to identify each resource’s vulnerability to threats and the associated costs. Additionally, the SOC conducts penetration tests to simulate specific attacks on one or several systems. The staff uses the results of these tests to fine-tune or remediate applications, best practices, security policies, and incident response plans.

Staying current

SOCs must stay up-to-date with the latest security technologies, malware detection techniques, and threat intelligence about cyberattacks and active hackers. Threat intelligence can include data collected from various sources, such as social media, the dark web, and industry sources.

Monitoring, Detection, and Response

The threat landscape changes rapidly. SOCs must proactively analyze protected assets, including applications, networks, and infrastructure, to ensure timely prevention and defense. It typically involves using predetermined objectives and countermeasures to mitigate damage and prevent attacks.


A breach readiness assessment helps identify security blind spots and deploy the missing security controls. SOCs need to determine the possible attacker’s profile, likely attack vectors, and the assets most desired by attackers.


Threat intelligence enables security operations by providing the context required to inform security decisions and actions. SOCs often integrate threat intelligence with existing infrastructure and processes to better understand activities outside an organization’s network and determine the most critical threats.

Threat hunting

Threat hunting provides deep knowledge of an organization or network to help catch subtler, more deeply embedded attackers. It involves actively looking for abnormal and suspicious behavior to identify changes in tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) before they appear in the threat feed.

Endpoint security

SOCs proactively monitor endpoints to prevent actors from using them as entry points to breach the network. It typically involves using endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools to capture unfiltered data and continuously monitor endpoint activity.

Compliance Management

SOC processes are typically guided by established best practices or compliance requirements. SOCs are responsible for regularly auditing their own systems to ensure compliance with regulations issued by client organizations, the industry, or various governing bodies.

Common regulations include HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. Complying with these regulations helps secure sensitive data and protect the organization from reputational damages and legal challenges that result from a security breach.

SOC Technology Trends

Here are some of the most important trends in the evolution of SOC technologies.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

This technology is a proactive evolution of traditional threat detection and response tools. It integrates with multiple parts of the IT ecosystem to extract data on identity, cloud, endpoint, and network threats.

XDR offers the following capabilities:

  • Automated investigations—reduce the time to detect and triage security events.
  • Network and identity analytics—identify the root cause of events with cross-surface correlation.
  • Integrated threat intelligence—tracks threats throughout the system.
  • AI-powered threat detection—enables faster detection and response, improving the SOC’s productivity.
  • Automated response—reduces the SOC’s workload.
  • Automated logging—minimizes the effort involved in integrating and maintaining logs.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

MDR is becoming mainstream and expanding because many organizations are unsatisfied with mere assistance (i.e., XDR). Most organizations lack the security resources and skills to manage security products alone, so they turn to services to manage their products.

Today, around 85% of organizations use a managed service for security operations. Managed services like MDR can augment an organization’s existing skills and allows in-house teams to focus on strategic security activities.

For example, some vendors offer more than a simple XDR solution, providing professional services and management to help teams make the most of that product. Ideally, these services should augment staff, facilitate deployment, and manage security to support the existing staff.

Operational Technology (OT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICSs)

Many manufacturers have accelerated their digital transformation programs, automating processes to gain a competitive advantage. They use OT to manage operations involved in manufacturing alongside an ICS and management framework. Another related concept is Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Both operational technology and industrial control systems rely on digital systems to provide high connectivity. However, OT and ICS networks are major targets for cyber attacks, given their exposure to threats that usually target IT systems.

Common attack techniques affecting OT and ICS networks include data leaks, protocol vulnerability exploits, remote access trojans, bots, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), and ransomware.

Integrating IT and OT security is essential for managing advanced cybersecurity threats against these systems. Organizations must monitor any ICS or OT in their infrastructure and establish partnerships between OT, IT, and SecOps teams. The benefits of IT and OT SOC integration include:

  • Asset discovery and behavioral analytics—continuously track devices and analyze network behavior to identify anomalies.
  • Vulnerability management—ensure the vulnerability lifecycle and security control configurations comply with organizational standards.
  • Continuous monitoring—monitor all OT, ICS, and SCADA networks and systems to identify and respond to cyber threats.
  • Response—react to anomalous behavior and access.
  • Packet inspection—evaluate packets for malicious activity.
  • Threat intelligence—analyze information specific to OT and ICS security.

Additional SOC Trends

In addition to the tools and services described above, many organizations are leveraging the following approaches:

  • User and entity behavior analysis (UEBA)—SOC teams increasingly rely on behavioral analytics to identify threats. This approach is effective because most adversaries cannot accurately imitate normal system and user behavior. UEBA leverages machine learning (ML) technology to minimize the noise and accelerate threat detection.
  • Hybrid SOC—many modern SOCs reach out to a third-party service provider to reduce the security burden on the internal team. Organizations can build a hybrid SOC with external assistance to alleviate the security skills shortage, manage the large volumes of alerts, reduce security response fatigue, and address larger attack surfaces. Working with an external cybersecurity expert makes a hybrid SOC more scalable and cost-efficient.
  • Cloud native SOC—this strategy responds to the challenges introduced by the global shift to cloud computing. Cloud-based systems require a cloud native security strategy to ensure holistic cybersecurity. The SOC can no longer remain confined within the data center; it must be agile, cloud-based, and operate remotely.

I hope these trends and technologies will help you build a better, more advanced SOC and better protect your organization in the years to come.


Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

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