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8 Important Factors to Look for in a SOC as a Service Provider

Posted by Lydia Dwyer on Mar 11, 2019

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When sourcing SOC as a service, it's important to know what you should expect from the provider. Discover 8 important factors to look for when choosing a SOC as a service provider.

Almost half of CIOs said cybersecurity was a top concern for their organizations in 2018. As threats continue to evolve, it’s unlikely this concern is going to go away in 2019 or beyond.

Experts believe that the cybersecurity problems companies are facing will increase in frequency and complexity – and that the demand for new cybersecurity professionals will outpace supply, making it even harder than before to bring talented people into your organization. What can a company do to keep their operations secure when faced with such a no-win situation?

One solution you may be considering is SOC (Security Operations Center) as a service. Instead of keeping your SOC in-house, in this arrangement you’d send it to a team of experts at a SOC security company, saving you both time and money.

That said, you can’t just entrust the security of your company’s operations and critical data to just anyone. You need to uncover and select a partner that matches your organizational philosophy while providing the high level of service you (and your customers) expect.

Below are eight factors to look for when choosing a SOC service provider to work with; these will help you to easily separate the best from the rest.

1. Look for a Provider Who’s on-Call 24/7/365

One reason to consider moving SOC monitoring to a provider is to improve overall tracking.

Your in-house team is likely too busy to be watching your systems constantly. They have other tasks to attend to, so they may not respond to threats until there’s an alarm. Some security tasks may be forgotten or neglected, or, by the time an alarm sounds, it may be too late.

Your SOC provider should be able to respond to potential threats before there’s a warning or alarm. They also should be available 24/7/365, so you know you’re getting ‘round-the-clock care.

2. Look for a Provider Who Assigns a Dedicated Cybersecurity Advisor to Your Organization

You’re looking for a service, right? The best service will come from people familiar with your systems, processes, compliance requirements and security goals. Look for providers who will assign dedicated security experts to your organization. They should become an extension of your IT team, and specifically working for you:

  • Providing cybersecurity best practices, processes and workflows
  • Pro-actively hunting for threats
  • Researching alerts and eliminating false-positives
  • Delivering recommendations, based on incident investigation and analysis
  • Working with you to continuously reduce your attack surface
  • Helping to create audit artifacts that prove compliance to various compliance regulations

In your evaluation of SOC as a Service providers, don’t just look at technology dashboards. You need to look for proof points around service delivery.

3. Ask for Security Features to Protect Your Investment in SOC as a Service

The best SOC has built-in security features to help prevent compliance gaps. This protects both your company and theirs from security incidents.

Take a look at the provider’s contract and certifications and see if they include the following:

  • Regular performance of, and reporting on, third-party cybersecurity audits
  • Certification in at least one recognized cybersecurity standard
  • The use of encryption to send and receive your data

These are some of the ways you can assess any provider’s security efforts. Looking for them will help you integrate services smoothly and improve security when the time comes to work with an SOC.

4. Think About Location(s)

Where is your service provider located? You may not think about this much if you’re using a virtual SOC, but geography can still be important for a few reasons.

The first thing you want to know is if the service provider operates more than one location. The provider should have two or more sites; this allows them to provide disaster recovery and backup services.

Another reason to ask about location is to determine where your team is working. A virtual SOC means the team you work with could be located anywhere in the world. Compliance may mean you need to have services delivered from a certain country.

5. Technology Supports SOC as a Service

When you consider SOC services, you'll want to take a look at the technology the service provider uses.

Unlike other areas of IT and security, technology takes a back seat when it comes to SOC services. That’s because a human touch is still the defining factor.

Nonetheless, you do want your provider to leverage the SOC real-time monitoring. They should also have analytical tools to help them analyze this data.

The SOC should also have staff trained and certified to use the tools they’ve adopted. That way, you can be sure they’re using these tools to the greatest effect.

Unified-Vulnerability-and-Patch-Management-SOC-as-a-Service-Provider

6. Alignment with Your Security Needs and Plans

When you’re considering SOC as a service, think about how any provider’s offerings fit with your business.

You have your own security protocols and processes already. Some of these may even be required for you to maintain compliance.

Two main lines of cybersecurity service you may want your SOC as a Service provider to offer are:

  • Threat Management, Detection & Incident Response (MDR) - Incident detection and response capability is at the core of many security compliance regulations. Examples of security incidents are unusual traffic on an unsanctioned port, unauthorized access to a specific file share, or and range of other activities that violate an organization’s acceptable standard.
  • Vulnerability Management and Patch Management - A comprehensive patch management program that includes automation change control, and reporting, is the key to reducing your security vulnerabilities and meeting compliance mandates. 

Any service provider you choose to work with should be able to integrate with what you already use. If they can’t, you should be immediately looking elsewhere.

Be sure to align deliverables against your security objectives as well. What should the service provider do to help you achieve your goals? Make sure you define metrics and reporting. This will help you manage expectations from the outset.

7. Consider Pricing Factors

When it comes to cybersecurity operations, cost is often a concern. It may be one reason your in-house team isn’t as large as it needs to be. It might also be the reason you’re considering SOC as a service in the first place.

You’ll want to consider pricing factors along with everything else on this list. Pricing is often the first concern for those in the C-suite. It shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when looking for a provider, however.

There are many pricing models, and it can be confusing: volume-based pricing, user-based pricing, node-based pricing… Some vendors make it very simple to predict what the pricing for their service will be. But predictable costs don't mean lower costs.

Keep in mind that providers at either end of the pricing spectrum may not be your best options. Those who are priced too high will end up costing you too much. Those with lower prices may look like a safe bet, but they might also be unable to deliver the service you need.

Think about value. The right provider may not offer the lowest price, but they will offer the services you need and want in a long-term relationship.

8. The Provider Builds a Relationship

As you search for the best SOC provider, keep in mind that this will be an ongoing partnership between you and them. You’ll be working closely together for years.

Your provider should take steps to build a relationship from first contact. If they’re not concerned about great service or customizing plans now, you can't expect much more later.

Providing great security requires an in-depth understanding of your business. A great SOC services provider knows that. It's why they should be taking steps to understand your business and its needs from the outset.

 

Keep Your Business Cyber Safe

With mounting security concerns, SOC as a Service is a smart cybersecurity value proposition for businesses both big and small.

If you’re looking for the right provider, contact us today.  We’re ready to help you improve security for your business – and build toward a safer tomorrow.

 

Tags: SOC as a Service, Managed SOC, SOC Services

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