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Security Operations Center (SOC)

What Is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

A security operations center (SOC) consists of a team of IT security professionals who detect, respond, analyze, and monitor cyber threats in real-time. System logs, network traffic, and security alerts, among other things, can be used at a SOC to gather and assess the IT infrastructure. While some organizations may set up their own SOC, others may work with an outside vendor.

What Does a SOC Team Member Do?

SOC team members can be responsible for various tasks. On a given day, a SOC team member might monitor security logs and alerts to identify potential threats. They may also investigate incidents by analyzing alerts and logs.


Depending on what they find, a SOC team member may have to respond to an incident and help the organization recover from a cybersecurity attack. This can include restoring data and systems, notifying necessary team members and leadership, and taking steps to prevent incidents from happening in the future.


Those on a SOC team may also counsel or advise organizations on how to improve their security posture and take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of future incidents.


SOC team members are generally divided into tiered roles based on the severity of alerts. In the higher-tiered roles, SOC members are responsible for finding lesser-known threats and managing the team. There is also often a cybersecurity engineer on the SOC team who configures and maintains security systems and tools in the environment - providing updates, troubleshooting issues, and working with settings.

How Does a Security Operations Center Work?

To work effectively, a security operations center needs to include tools and practices that address threat detection and monitoring, response and recovery, incident investigation, threat intelligence, and training.


Threat monitoring and detection can involve security information and event management (SIEM) systems, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), managed firewalls, antivirus for endpoint security solutions and incident response tools.. These tools are designed to identify potential threats, and in the case of IPS tools, they can even block malicious traffic.


With response and recovery, the most important steps include containing the incident, limiting the damage done, notifying affected users, gaining a better understanding of the incident through investigation, and recovering the system to its normal state. During the response and recovery phase, team members may need to restore backups, remove malicious code, rebuild systems, and provide training to users to limit and prevent further incidents.


Incident investigation is part of the response process where team members will gather evidence from the previously mentioned tools to figure out the root cause of the incident, identify vulnerabilities, gather evidence via screenshots and logs, and take actions to prevent incidents.


If you can prevent incidents instead of merely responding to them, that's always preferable. That's where threat intelligence plays a role. SOC team members should be knowledgeable about the general threat landscape - current trends in cybercrime and common attack vectors - as well as specific threats that may be pertinent to the IT environment they're protecting. Every SOC team should rely on multiple sources of threat intelligence, not just one, to allow for a more wide-ranging view of the threat landscape.


SOC team members need to be trained on the latest threats and methods to mitigate and restore systems from attacks, but they may also be called on to train other employees in the organization who aren't as well-versed in cybersecurity. This might look like lunch and learns, video courses, fake phishing tests, and interactive exercises.

Skills Needed to Work in a Security Operations Center

The skills necessary to work in a security operations center extend beyond the technical and include the ability to communicate, identify key details, problem-solve, work under pressure, and collaborate as part of a team.

Technical Skills

To work in a SOC, team members need to have basic technical skills, such as an understanding of security, networking, and incident response. They should also be familiar with SIEM, IDS/IPS, and other threat intelligence and monitoring tools.


The threat landscape can be complex, and SOC members need to be able to communicate what's happening effectively to people with less technical experience. They should be able to clearly convey the scope of a threat and the steps that non-technical team members need to take to secure their end of things.

Attention to Detail

Anomalies in logs and data can be indicative of larger problems. SOC team members need to have an eagle eye to spot these differences.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Some problems may appear repeatedly and become easier for a team member to address over time, but there will also be novel situations that arise, which will require more creative problem-solving.

Performing Under Pressure

When an IT environment is experiencing a threat or intrusion, the pressure can quickly mount. SOC employees need to be able to perform under pressure and handle incidents with a cool head.


It would be difficult for one person to handle every task in a Security Operations Center. Oftentimes, a team is required to successfully protect an organization. All SOC team members need to know how to collaborate and work as a team, sharing information and solving problems as a unit.

What is a Security Operations Center Model?

A security operations center (SOC) model provides the framework for how organizations will operate and structure their SOC, as well as how it might be managed.


An internal SOC is an in-house operation where an organization will hire enough full-time employees to manage all of the threat detection, management, and response duties in-house. This can get expensive if a business is not enterprise-level, and even with that, staffing can be difficult.


Distributed SOCs are where team functions are split across more than one location. If an organization has an IT infrastructure that is distributed, and not centralized, or has a global presence, distributed SOC may make sense.


A command SOC operates by having a main point of command where most of the analysts and tools reside, but there are also independent SOCs that respond to directives from this parent location.


Some organizations can benefit from a co-managed, or hybrid, SOC, where some responsibilities are outsourced and others are kept in-house. Businesses can offset costs and expertise to a partner while leveraging the abilities team members possess.

How TierPoint Can Help With Your Security Operations Center

Whether you're looking to augment your current security team or outsource operations completely, TierPoint has proactive security services to fill in the gaps.

Related Services

We can serve as your security command center or work alongside your experts to build out a more comprehensive threat detection and response approach.