When it comes to the first line of defense for any company, its Security Operations Center (SOC) is an essential component. A SOC is a dedicated team of professionals who monitor networks and systems for potential threats, provide analysis of detected issues and take the necessary actions to remediate any risks they uncover.

Unfortunately, SOC members spend nearly one-third (32%) of their day investigating incidents that don’t actually pose a real threat to the business according to a new report from Morning Consult. These false alarms waste valuable resources, time and money that are needed to deal with real and significant threats.

Why is this SOC statistic so high?

With the current labor shortages in cybersecurity-related fields, no one wants to waste time on meaningless tasks. So why is the percentage of false alarms this high?

One potential explanation is that businesses are not utilizing the right security tools to help reduce false alarms. The Morning Consult report found that nearly half (46%) of surveyed SOC professionals stated the average time to detect and respond to a security incident has increased over the past 2 years. Manual investigations were the number one contributor to slowed detection and response according to 81% of surveyed SOC professionals. If a SOC team uses manual-based processes or antiquated technologies to detect and investigate events, the likelihood of false positives increases dramatically.

Another possibility is that the team does not clearly understand the threats their organization faces. As a result, they cast too wide a net and end up wasting time investigating potentially harmless alarms. This is usually due to a lack of training (or appropriate budgeting) to ensure teams use the most up-to-date security technologies and processes.

How can businesses combat this issue?

Despite the current high rate of inefficiency in today’s SOCs, it’s not all bad news. There are proven ways to maximize the effectiveness of these teams while minimizing false alarms and wasted resources.

Incorporating SOAR security principles

The Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) model aligns and enhances various security operations into a seamless and unified process. It helps SOC teams to integrate their security tools, automate manual processes and facilitate intelligent decision-making capabilities.

SOC teams can incorporate SOAR principles into their operations in a few different ways:

  • Automate repetitive tasks: SOC teams often spend a lot of time and resources on repetitive and mundane tasks. The SOAR model can easily automate them, allowing SOC teams to focus on more critical security operations.
  • Collaboration and communication: The SOAR model emphasizes collaboration and communication between different stakeholders, including security teams, IT teams and business units. This can help SOC teams to gain more visibility into the current security situation and make more informed decisions.
  • Contextual intelligence: By leveraging internal and external threat intelligence, SOC teams can better understand emerging threats. SOAR models use machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze threat data and provide real-time insights that can help SOC teams respond to threats more likely to pose a risk.
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Investing in SIEM tools

To minimize the risk of cyber threats, SOCs must invest in advanced security analytics tools, including Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software, to identify, prioritize and respond effectively. SIEM software improves accuracy when detecting and responding to real threats while also minimizing the chances of false positives.

SIEM software analyzes the organization’s security logs and alerts SOC teams when a security incident occurs. However, without sufficient context, a SIEM tool can generate many false-positive alerts. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play. More AI and automation capabilities throughout toolsets would have the biggest impact on improving threat response time, according to 39% of SOC professionals survey in the report.

AI security tools are designed to use contextual data (such as network traffic, user activity, and external threats) to detect new and emerging patterns that may indicate malicious behavior. By providing the SIEM tool with this additional context, SOC teams can reduce false-positive alerts significantly while improving their ability to detect and respond to real-time threats.

Maximizing productivity through well-defined incident response plans

Another way to significantly reduce false positives’ impact on SOC team productivity is to have well-defined incident response plans. By implementing a well-defined incident response plan, SOC teams can maximize their productivity and focus on genuine threats.

Here are a few ways incident response plans can positively impact SOC teams:

  • Standardizing processes: Incident response plans provide a standardized approach to handling security incidents. This means that SOC teams can quickly identify the type of event, assess the potential impact, and respond accordingly. By having a consistent process, teams can save time and reduce the risk of overlooking critical issues.
  • Prioritizing alerts: With a well-defined incident response plan, SOC teams can prioritize alerts based on their severity level and potential impact. This means that teams can focus on the most critical issues and reduce time spent investigating benign events.
  • Enhancing communication: Incident response plans also facilitate better communication between team members. With a transparent process, team members can quickly understand their roles and responsibilities during an incident. Clear communication can help teams work more efficiently and ensure everyone is on the same page when working towards resolutions.
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Make sure you’re getting the most out of your SOC

Running a SOC can come at a significant cost. As such, it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment. Equipping your team with the tools and processes necessary for success is critical.

If a SOC is only running at two-thirds of its potential, it could cost your organization more than the initial investment. By investing in advanced security analytics tools and well-defined incident response plans, SOC teams can maximize their efficiency and reduce the risk of false alarms.

More than ever, it’s vital for companies to set their SOCs up for success. Ensuring SOC teams are equipped with the right tools and processes today will build a more secure and cost-effective future.

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