The beginning of 2020 marked a serious turn of events for the corporate world. Operational efficiency, collaboration, and revenue were all concerns that were suddenly outpaced by security, the biggest concern of them all. The nightmare of every SOC manager had turned into a reality.

Employees had to access and utilize business assets remotely. Extensive file sharing, VPN overload, alert fatigue, widening of the attack landscape, and a rise in social engineering attacks were just a few pandemic challenges out of the hefty pile.

Three years later, distributed workforces have become the norm globally. Many organizations and employees realized that it can improve productivity and save costs. Employees are also prepared for reduced pay to sustain their remote work lifestyle. As a SOC manager, what can you do to embrace this new world? This blog will dive into:

What are the challenges associated with a distributed workforce?

There are plenty of challenges a SOC team faces even when employees are on-premises; a distributed workforce just adds additional variables to the mix. These concerns include data protection, widening of the attack surface, shadow IT, and network security. Let's look at these challenges in a bit more detail.

Data protection: Remote work demands collaboration, and this in turn leads to extensive file sharing. The risk of a data breach is significantly higher when data is accessed and shared from remote locations. Therefore, the SOC team has to work hard to prevent the leak of sensitive information. The cost of a data breach, both operational and opportunistic, will be catastrophic. A SOC manager must hence push their team to secure remote ports and engage in more effective VPN monitoring.

Widening of the attack surface: Employees are now accessing resources from various locations and devices. This gives attackers a larger attack surface to deploy their attack vectors. The SOC team is faced with the responsibility of monitoring and protecting a larger threat landscape. This pushes SOC managers to invest in SIEM solutions that give their team granular visibility into and control over the potential attack surface.

Network security: With a distributed workforce, coffee shops, co-working spaces, and even parks have been transformed into mini offices. However, the Wi-Fi these places provide may not be secure when compared to an office network. Unsecure access to corporate resources through these networks can cripple the organization's security posture. Fixing duplex mismatches, disabling unused ports, and password policy enforcement are all ways in which the SOC manager can nudge their team to improve the network security. SOC managers can also lead the team by identifying and prioritizing critical assets and plugging respective vulnerabilities.

Shadow IT: Employees use multiple third-party tools and services to enhance their productivity. These include cloud-based file sharing applications, video conferencing tools, and grammar checkers. Some of these applications could pose a security risk. Since it's outside the security radar, the chances that policy violations, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations go undetected are high. While in the corporate network, the SOC team can disable access to third-party tools; in a remote environment, it becomes almost impossible to track. Larger attack surfaces, compliance breaches, and data insecurity are all potential by-products of using shadow IT. SOC managers can invest in SIEM solutions with CASB capabilities, which allow their team to track all incoming and outgoing traffic to cloud-based applications and defeat shadow IT once and for all.

Protecting your distributed workforce

So, what can SOC managers do to alleviate these challenges? Let's take a look.

SIEM with behavioral analytics: Attackers can enter your network, but replicating a user's or entity's behavior is next to impossible. Creating behavioral baselines and risk scores for both users and entities and monitoring time, count, and pattern anomalies can help SOC managers to a large extent. To learn more about user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), check out this blog. This way, SOC managers can help their team tackle shadow IT and achieve greater network security.

SIEM with security automation and orchestration (SOAR): SOAR is a capability that relieves SOC teams from redundant manual labor. SOAR allows for the automation of alert triaging, streamlining of incident response, reduction of alert fatigue, and execution of predefined workflows. This way, SOC teams can prioritize and dedicate their time more efficiently.

Threat simulation and awareness: The SOC manager is responsible for introducing their team to the security challenges in the transformed landscape, and helping them adapt. Processes such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, documentation, and tabletop exercises can evaluate the capabilities and maturity level of the team. Simulating a threat within your environment and tweaking the response mechanism to perfection can induce the team with confidence.

Integrating threat intelligence: Threat intelligence helps SOC analysts block malicious sources, prevent data breaches, and intercept malicious site visits. Threat intelligence also enables the team to triage security alerts, prevent exfiltration, and reduce false positives.

Zero Trust architecture: Never trust, always verify is the core of Zero Trust architecture. Zero Trust talks about how trust can be managed effectively. Constant monitoring, re-authentication, and access control are all part of this architecture. Multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, UEBA, end-to-end encryption, role-based access control, just-in-time access, just-enough access, and the principle of least privilege are all ways to enforce Zero Trust.


Constant change forces SOC managers to keep up with evolving practices. In the security world, losing can never be an option. Dealing with sensitive data and resources of both clients and employees requires SOC managers to be on their toes. But it's not all bad news, as defensive mechanisms are also growing more capable.

A SIEM solution is no longer a purchase that should be dwelled over and is an essential aspect of any cybersecurity strategy. ManageEngine Log360 is a unified SIEM solution with SOAR, UEBA, and threat intelligence capabilities. Security has never been this simple: Sign up for a personalized demo now!

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