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The year-over-year rise in cyber attacks has business leaders losing sleep. Although organisations continue to onboard the latest antivirus software and enterprise-level firewalls, hackers seem to brush these standard defences aside. The Annual Cyber Threat Report 2021-2022 indicates the Australian Cyber Security Centre fielded a stunning 76,000 cyber crime reports. This marked an alarming 13 per cent spike from the previous year, or a cyber attack  in Australia every 7 minutes.

That’s why an increased number of decision-makers are considering a Security Operations Centre (SOC). A SOC brings together people, technologies, and security techniques designed to detect threats and take proactive measures to prevent data breaches. Companies have the option of hiring a full-time staff to monitor systems around the clock or hiring a SOC services provider. The latter proves far more pragmatic and cost effective, if you can find the right SOC as a service firm.

How to identify and qualify effective SOC providers

Hiring a managed security service provider (MSSP) to protect your valuable and sensitive digital assets tasks company leaders with conducting significant due diligence. You are entrusting the very foundation of your company to a third party and any failure on their part could have an impact on your organisation. When online criminals breach a business network, they gain access to confidential records and banking information. Vetting SOC as a service companies before selecting the right one for you is crucial. These are things to consider when narrowing your search of existing managed SOC providers.

SOC provider should be available 24/7/365

One of the primary reasons companies gravitate to SOC as a service involves constant monitoring. A preferred SOC firm has the bandwidth to maintain a watchful eye over your network even while the business is closed. The 24/7/365 model ensures hackers in another time zone don’t take advantage of cyber security downtime.

By that same token, it’s not uncommon for an organisation to reduce costs by engaging a managed SOC services firm either within or outside business hours. In one such a scenario an organisations may have an inhouse team that can cover tasks during work hours, but need after hours support. Thus with the support of an afterhours SOC gives them peace of mind that their systems are secure 24/7. This flexibility allows organisations to define the SOC service that will best align with their unique business risks as well as any commercial constraints. This cost-reduction option is worth discussing with SOC as a service companies.

Technology supports SOC as a service

Some firms believe that technology should take a backseat to the human factor. While a managed IT security outfit must have a staff of experienced experts, forward-thinking companies deploy what is known as security orchestration, automation, and response, also known as SOAR. This issue of technology helps coordinate and automate cyber security tasks between SOC team members within the platform and can be used to a ensure rapid respond to threats.

Communication and trust is top priority

It’s important to understand that working with a managed SOC provider will be an integral part of your organisation. You are entrusting people involved in a new business relationship with protecting the keys to your kingdom.

Feeling confident everything possible is being done to protect your business calls for open communication. The ability to speak to a real person or receive timely alerts helps build a lasting trust. If you don’t feel comfortable about this priority after speaking with a third-party firm, it may be wise to scratch it off your list.

Pricing is appropriate to the value the provider brings

The shortage of professionals and the high cost of maintaining in-house staff led many businesses to outsource managed IT security needs. SOC as a service is fast becoming a standard business practice because it can be tailored to fit your budget. Small, medium, and large corporations need to invest in a fashion that delivers a reasonable return on investment. By that same token, a recent Gartner study indicates that cybersecurity investment will swell by 11.3 per cent this year alone to meet growing threats.

The point is that the right SOC services provider isn’t necessarily the one that charges the least. It’s the one that protects your digital assets by customising a monthly plan that can be integrated into your budget.

Use of threat response integration

Threat detection and response uses big data analytics to identify anomalies and risks across your entire network. The goal is to determine whether these items pose a clear and present danger before a cyber incident occurs. The process helps eliminate false positives, validate actual threats, and analyse the situation for an appropriate response.

Building in automated threat detection leaves the respond-after-the-fact model behind. Instead of rushing to fix the damage and expel intruders, malicious files are banned and quarantined. A SOC as a service provider that employs this type of threat informed defence via threat intelligence indicators of compromise to alert on suspicious activity can greatly reduce the risk of a network intrusion.

SOC provider allows customised services

It’s not unusual for some SOC services providers to offer limited options. They create packages that involve what seems like discounts as you spend more for upgraded packages. This sale-driven approach may be good for the company’s bottom line. However, it does not maximise your investment.

When making a decision to establish a relationship with a firm, the willingness to customise a package is essential. This more personal approach allows you to pay only for what your niche operational needs. It also represents the most cost effective and determined approach to a cyber security uplift.

What kind of SOC fits your business needs?

Identifying the right SOC services firm for your business is not necessarily rocket science. You need a third party cyber security partner that delivers ongoing monitoring and response in a cost-effective fashion. Don’t hesitate to ask pointed questions when discussing the possibility of working together.

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Questions to ask a SOC provider

The company should have basic information handy that includes items such as certifications. Although some outfits make bold claims on their websites, check if they possess certifications such as ISO27001 and SOC2, among others. Earning these and other appropriate accreditations takes time, effort, and an in-depth knowledge of a SOC. Also, consider running through the following checklist of questions before signing a contract.

What type of Security experts are on the team?

While advanced technology and automation are important, people make decisions. Ask about the educational backgrounds, certifications, and experience of those monitoring your business network. If they don’t appear up to the task, find a SOC provider you feel confident hiring.

What type of security features do they have?

Consider how the managed SOC provider’s technologies and approach mesh with your existing cyber security measures. In some cases, it may make sense to work with someone who can seamlessly slide into the situation and onboard perks such as managed SIEM services. So, what is managed SIEM? It's the practice of outsourcing the implementation, monitoring, and maintenance of SIEM solutions to a specialized service provider. On the other hand, if your cyber defences are outdated, it may be prudent to have them overhauled and integrated with a new SOC method.

Security Operations Centre

Where are they located?

Some professionals feel comforted knowing they are working with a local company. The reasoning is generally sound for a wide variety of vendors. But it may be best to work with a SOC firm that has multiple locations or an organisation that employs a remote SOC system. Having a SOC team that is geographically diverse ensures that local issues do not prevent monitoring of your network. Additionally, it enables local support for your offices which may also be dispersed.

How will they produce compliance audits?

It’s not unusual for a SOC services provider to include audits as part of certain packages. Others may charge an additional fee, while a few will refer you to another outfit altogether. Working with a managed SOC company that handles audits makes things simpler. Consider the cost, time, and effort involved when making your decision and the impact on compliance and governance.

Will they scale with my business?

The vast majority of SOC as a service companies are open to scaling managed IT and cyber security needs on a monthly basis. This policy has proven to be a win-win because companies can budget accordingly, and managed IT firms are better able to maintain ongoing and prosperous relationships. Scalability remains a fundamental aspect of the managed IT and cyber security sector.

How Canon Business Services can help your business with IT Security 

Canon Business Services provides scalable and effectively managed SOC services for organisations across industries. CBS is one of Australia’s most highly accredited Cybersecurity services organisations. We’re proud to be among the few Australian SOCs in the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association, which means we can better defend you against a world of increasing cyber threats. 

CBS is one of the few providers holding three Azure Advanced Security Specialisations, across Identity & Access Management, Cloud Security and Threat Protection. We know what’s required to safeguard your organisation today. If your company would benefit from the expertise of our fully staffed SOC services, contact CBS for personalised support. 

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