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Tools and technologies used in SOCs

In the previous chapter, we saw the importance of having a security operations center (SOC) team. In this article, we'll take a look at the various tools and technologies used in SOCs.

7 tools and technologies vital to a SOC team

Tools

1. Log collection and management tool

To perform any security analysis, you need to obtain the relevant information first. Logs are the best source of information regarding various activities taking place in your network. However, millions of logs are generated by multiple devices across the network every day. Manually sifting through them is ineffective or downright impossible. A log management tool can automate the entire process of log collection, parsing, and analysis. It's usually included in a SIEM solution.

2. Security information and event management (SIEM)

One of the most fundamental technologies that forms the core of a SOC is a SIEM tool. Logs collected across the organization's network provide a wealth of information that has to be analyzed for abnormal behavior. A SIEM platform aggregates log data from heterogeneous sources, examines it to detect any possible attack patterns, and quickly raises an alert if a threat is found.

Security-related information is presented in the form of graphical reports on an interactive dashboard to the SOC team. Using these reports, the SOC team can quickly investigate threats and attack patterns and gain various insights from log trends, all from a single console. When a security incident occurs, the SOC team can also use the SIEM tool to find the root cause of the breach through log forensic analysis. They can drill down into the log data to investigate any security incident further.

A SIEM solution provides a holistic view of your enterprise network.

3. Vulnerability management

Cybercriminals mainly target and exploit vulnerabilities that might already be present in your network to infiltrate your systems, so the SOC team must scan and monitor the organization's network periodically for any vulnerabilities. Upon discovery, they have to address the vulnerability quickly before it can be exploited.

4. Endpoint detection and response (EDR)

EDR technology commonly refers to tools that are primarily focused on investigating threats aimed at endpoints or hosts. They aid the SOC team by acting as a front line defense against threats that are designed to elude perimeter defenses easily.

The four major responsibilities of an EDR tool include the following:

  • Detecting security threats
  • Containing the threat at the endpoint
  • Investigating the threat
  • Remediating the threat before it spreads

EDR tools continuously monitor various endpoints, collect data from them, and analyze the information for any suspicious activities and attack patterns. If a threat has been identified, the EDR tool will contain the threat and immediately alert the security team. EDR tools can also be integrated with cyber threat intelligence, threat hunting, and behavior analytics to detect malicious activities faster.

Technologies

1. User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA)

Another invaluable tool for a SOC team is a UEBA solution. UEBA tools use machine learning techniques to process data collected from various network devices and develop a baseline of normal behavior for every user and entity in the network. With more data and experience, UEBA solutions become more effective.

UEBA tools analyze logs coming from various network devices on a daily basis. If any event deviates from the baseline, it's flagged as an anomaly and is further analyzed for potential threats. For example, if a user who normally logs in between 9am and 6pm suddenly logs in at 3am, that event is marked as an anomaly.

A risk score from 0 to 100 is assigned to the user or entity based on various factors such as the intensity of the action and the frequency of the deviation. If the risk score is high, the SOC team can investigate the anomaly and take remedial action quickly.

2. Cyber threat hunting

With cybersecurity attacks becoming more sophisticated in nature, how can SOC teams stay one step ahead? Cybercriminals can lurk in the organization network continuously gathering data and escalating privileges without being discovered for weeks. Conventional detection methods are reactive; threat hunting, on the other hand, is a proactive strategy. It's useful in detecting threats that are often missed by conventional security tools.

It begins with a hypothesis followed by an investigation. Threat hunters proactively search through the network for any hidden threats to prevent potential attacks. If any threat is detected, they collect information about the threat and pass it on to the concerned teams so appropriate action can be taken immediately.

3. Threat intelligence

To stay ahead of the latest cyberattacks, the SOC team must be well aware of all kinds of possible threats to the organization. Threat intelligence is evidence-based knowledge of threats that have occurred or will occur shared by different organizations. With threat intelligence, the SOC team can gain valuable insights into various malicious threats and threat actors, their objectives, signs to look out for, and how to mitigate the threats.

Threat intelligence feeds can be used to obtain information regarding common indicators of compromise, such as unauthorized IPs, URLs, domain names, and email addresses. With new types of attacks surfacing every day, the threat feeds are constantly updated. By correlating these threat feeds with log data, the SOC team can be immediately alerted when any threat actor interacts with the network.

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