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Become a Certified Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst

Institute of Information Security
Become a Certified Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst

Why should you get into Security Operations Center (SOC)?

Cyber security breaches are on the rise. Most of these breaches occur due to the lack of a comprehensive monitoring/surveillance strategy and poor implementation of various security controls.

What is a SOC?

A SOC is a centralized hub within an organization consisting of people, processes, and technology that help in continuously monitoring and improving an organization’s security posture. A SOC helps in detecting, analyzing, preventing and responding to cyber security incidents.

Think of SOC like a central command centre, collecting and analyzing data from across an organization’s entire IT infrastructure and assets. SOC receives logs from various technologies and creates events based on a set of pre-configured rules. The SOC must decide how each of these events will be acted upon or managed.

Here are the top responsibilities of a SOC

The primary duty of the SOC is to protect the organization against cyber attacks. SOC teams must fulfil a number of responsibilities to effectively manage security incidents, including:

Investigating Potential Incidents: SOC teams receive a large number of alerts, but not all alerts point to real attacks. SOC analysts are responsible for digging into a potential incident to determine if it is a real attack or a false positive.

Triaging and Prioritizing Detected Incidents: Not all security incidents are created equal, and an organization has limited incident response resources. Once an incident has been identified, it needs to be triaged and prioritized to optimize resource utilization and minimize enterprise risk.

Coordinating an Incident Response: Responding to an incident requires engagement with multiple stakeholders and the use of a variety of different tools. SOC analysts must orchestrate this process to ensure that oversights do not result in delayed or incomplete remediation.

However, the role of the SOC is not limited to incident response. Other SOC roles and responsibilities include:

Maintaining Relevance: The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, and SOC teams need to be able to manage the latest threats to the organization. This includes keeping up with new and trending attacks and ensuring that security systems have an updated set of rules to help detect such attacks.

Patching Vulnerable Systems: Exploitation of vulnerabilities is a common attack vector for cybercriminals. SOC teams are responsible for identifying, applying, and testing patches for vulnerable enterprise systems and software.

Infrastructure Management: As the cyber threat landscape changes and the enterprise network evolves, new security solutions are required. SOC teams are responsible for identifying, deploying, configuring, and managing their security infrastructure.

Addressing Support Tickets: Many SOC teams are part of the IT department. This means that SOC analysts may be called upon to address support tickets from an organizations’ employees.

Reporting to Management: Security is part of the business, and SOC teams need to report to management like any other department. This requires the ability to effectively communicate security costs and return on investment to a business audience.

Obviously, SOC teams have a wide range of roles and responsibilities. And If these teams are understaffed or lack sufficient resources, some of these responsibilities may fall by the wayside.

A SOC Analyst’s role

SOC analysts form the backbone of a SOC. While tools and automation drive most activities in a SOC, the overall management of these tools, telling the tools what to do, and handling all exceptions and escalations is done by SOC analysts. The critical tasks for a SOC analyst roles include

  • Monitoring all perimeter devices
  • Analyzing the flow of information
  • Creating new rules for observation
  • Discussions with clients about requirements
  • Reporting and most importantly, a lot of learning.

Sometimes, one might have the misunderstanding that the role of a SOC analyst is a routine job. Especially with increasing automation and the advancement of technology, there is a false notion that SOC analysts have lesser work to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While it is true that SOCs are getting more and more automated, the complexity of cyber threats is also increasing. Also, with the increasing complexity of tools, there is an increased need for talent to manage these tools. More importantly, while these tools will manage routine tasks, the exceptions need to be handled by SOC analysts who have to use their experience and knowledge to deduce aspects about an event that the tools can’t.

So along with the knowledge of the latest in cyber security, network, etc., the following fundamental skills are essential for this role.

  1. Keen observation
  2. Ability to analyze in-depth
  3. Problem-solving skills
  4. Monitoring skills
  5. Technical writing skills.

In today’s open-source, digital learning environment, various sources are available for equipping oneself with the skills required for a SOC analyst. In addition, there are also various courses and certification programs by reputed institutions like the Institute of Information Technology that can help you become a certified security operations center analyst.

How to prepare for a SOC Analyst role?

Following are a few steps that can help you in your journey towards becoming a SOC analyst.

  1. Check out job descriptions for SOC analyst roles in job searching platforms like Naukri.com and prepare a learning path.
  2. Understand ‘networking’ basics (TCP/IP/switching/routing/protocols)
  3. Learn system administration (Windows/Linux/Active Directory/Hardening)
  4. Use of Wireshark to do fundamental analyses of traffic and detect the vulnerabilities.
  5. Understand high-level perimeter devices like Firewalls, Checkpoints.
  6. Along with certifications, prepare on your own with practical activities like setting up labs, preparing source systems/destination systems, and capturing/analyzing the traffic.
  7. Build your personal brand by writing blogs on case studies you did by analyzing the traffic in tools like Wireshark.
  8. Build a LinkedIn network & keep yourself updated with the latest trends in the industry.

Technical skills required:

  • Network & Security Fundamentals. (OSI Model, ports, Network Devices, Windows, Linux OS architecture, Firewall rules. )
  • SIEM tools. (Qradar, Splunk, Arc Sight)

Last Words: Institute of Information Security offers a Certified SOC Analyst training and credentialing program that helps the candidate acquire trending and in-demand technical skills through instruction by some of the most experienced trainers in the industry. The program focuses on creating new career opportunities through extensive, meticulous knowledge with enhanced level capabilities for dynamically contributing to a SOC team.

Institute of Information Security
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