How to build a Security Operations Center on a budget

5 Mins read

These days, cybersecurity is a buzzword heard across many different industries. Healthcare, finance, even “mom and pop” retail shops are all spending money to protect their digital data — and they have a good reason to. Research from the University of Maryland reports that in 2021, a cyber-attack occurs every 39 seconds, and these attacks can wreak havoc on your business.

Of course, building and maintaining cybersecurity for your business can be very expensive. The initial cost can be a real deterrent for small businesses or companies with a tight annual budget.

Is it possible to protect your company data without overspending? Yes! Here are a few tips to help you build a security operations center (SOC) on a budget.

Building Your Security Operations Center

Creating a Security Operations Center for your business can feel like a very overwhelming task. This is such an important part of your business’s security. Where do you even begin? If you’re trying to build a successful SOC — particularly if you’re trying to do so on a budget — slow and steady is the key to success.

Evaluate where you are

The first thing you need to do is make an honest assessment of your current cybersecurity measures. Do you have a firewall on your network? Do you have any cybersecurity professionals on your team? Before you can figure out the kind of SOC you need to build, you must first understand where you currently are.

Define the business objectives

Once you have a clear picture of your current cybersecurity, it’s time to figure out what kind of SOC you need. While every company can benefit from having comprehensive cybersecurity, the needs of your company will vary. For example, a blog or online magazine (which has a large cache of IP data) will want to protect their content, but they won’t need as much security as a finance company that has customers’ personal data in their system.

Figure out the security level your company needs to best protect your data and begin building your SOC with that level in mind.

Choose a SOC Model

Now you’ve reached the exciting part: it’s time to start building your SOC. But what kind of center do you want to create? There are three main types of SOC in use today:

  • In-house: All SOC analysts are employees of the company, and they do their work on the company premises.
  • Virtual: The virtual SOC is not located on the company property. In this case, SOC analysts might work from home as employees of the company or they might work for a third-party cybersecurity business.
  • Hybrid: As the name suggests, the hybrid model is a mix of in-house and virtual SOCs. In this model, a company handles some of the responsibilities of a SOC in conjunction with an outside third party.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each SOC model, so the choice rests entirely with you. Take your time and assess the pros and cons (as well as the costs involved) with each model so you can make the right decision for your company.

Ways to Save

Running a successful SOC is all about investing in the right areas. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend well beyond your budget trying to give your SOC analysts a variety of tools to protect your network. But if you’re careful about how you spend, you can have a thriving SOC without overspending. Here are a few ways to save.

Choose the right technology solution

Think about your business objectives before you purchase a new software or other security tools. Remember, the newest and most advanced (and most expensive) system might be overkill for your needs. It’s also important to use tech solutions that your team is familiar with; if your SOC analysts are overwhelmed with learning a new program, they won’t be as successful monitoring your network.

Analyze your paid subscriptions

All paid subscriptions may seem important when you sign up. However, some of these subscriptions can be redundant — and you don’t need to pay for them at all. Do a thorough assessment of your subscriptions and see if there are any you can eliminate.

Consider third-party vendors

This may seem counterintuitive (after all, third-party vendors are an additional cost), but vendors often bundle many systems or services together at a reduced rate. This can help you get everything you need without paying for everything a la carte.

Let SOC be SOC

As we mentioned earlier, one of the greatest costs you’ll face with a SOC is your employees. This cost is difficult to reduce (especially if you want to have competent professionals), so it’s important to make sure you get the most for your money. Part of this means letting your SOC team do their jobs without overloading them. If your team takes on too many responsibilities, this will result in burnout and an ineffective SOC.

Be careful trying to save too much

Finally, it’s important to remember that cybersecurity is very important to your business’s success. While it can be tempting to slash the budget at every turn, remember that you will get out of your cybersecurity what you put into it. Don’t try to run your SOC on a shoestring budget; just make sure the investments you make are enough to protect your company.

What is a SOC?

A SOC is a facility or department focused on protecting your company’s digital network. In the SOC, a team of IT experts (your SOC analysts) monitors your network for security breaches, runs tests and develops new ways to protect your network, and responds in the event of a cyber-attack. Any organization can benefit from a SOC, but the companies that need them most are those that deal with large amounts of customer data, like healthcare facilities or credit card companies.

Levels of SOC Analysts

One of the greatest expenses you’ll face in building your SOC is employee costs. This is because SOC analysts are highly-trained, specialized individuals — and you need a lot of them to run your SOC effectively. There are four main tiers of SOC analysts:

  • Tier 1 — Alert Analysts: These professionals are typically just beginning their cybersecurity careers. Their role consists of monitoring the network for suspicious activity and escalating any concerning logins or other activity to higher-tier analysts.
  • Tier 2 — Incident Response: With so many cyber-attacks happening on a regular basis, it is only a matter of time before your company is targeted. Tier 2 SOC analysts will respond to any suspicious activity, assessing the damage and how the attack has impacted the network as a whole.
  • Tier 3 — Hunter: The best way to protect your network from a cyber-attack is to have strong security measures in place before the attack happens. This is where hunters come into play. These highly sophisticated SOC professionals conduct penetration tests to assess the network’s strength. They may also work with software developers to design security measures against new forms of hacking.
  • Tier 4 — SOC Manager: Finally, your SOC needs a manager to keep everything running smoothly. This individual will also be a cybersecurity expert, who can help steer your analysts in the right direction so you get the greatest protection against hackers and other bad actors.

Each of these tiers performs a vital task within your Security Operations Center, so it’s important to invest in the most qualified and competent professionals you can find.

Read Next: How to find secure web hosting platforms on a budget

Author Bio:
Glenn Mabry is a senior Instructor / Tech Researcher for Legends of Tech. With over twenty years in the industry, Glenn is a tech expert with experience in cyber security training, data science, cloud, networking, coding and more. Legends of Tech is a technology training platform that gives the industry's top Subject Matter Experts the ability to showcase their skills and learners the advantage of staying ahead of the extremely fast-paced industry.

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