What is Managed SOC? A Guide to Security Operation Center

A survey by Syntax revealed that 83% of IT leaders with in-house security teams were considering outsourcing their operations to a managed SOC. More than half of the IT leaders reported that they would increase their budget by at least 40%. 

The big question is why? Why are enterprises dedicating significant budgets to outsourcing their security operations to SOCs? 

It turns out that the intensity of cyber threats ready to wreak havoc on systems and extract data at the slightest opportunity, many organizations are overwhelmed. Meanwhile the threats are getting more and more advanced every minute. You may have lately heard of dark web threats, where another web or malicious actors is lurking. The best way out is to invest in a dedicated solution and managed Security Operation Centers (SOCs) are perfect for this purpose. As such, businesses are outsourcing their IT safety operations to managed SOCs with great enthusiasm so they can experience high-level security.

Get ready to learn about managed SOCs and why they are important to businesses. We will also get to learn their core functions and some of the technologies they utilize to tackle the toughest security challenges. 

Also Read: Managed Service Provider Trends

What is managed SOC? 

SOC security meaning — what is it? A Managed Security Operations Center (Managed SOC) is a cybersecurity service that provides 24/7 monitoring, detection, and response to security threats. A Managed SOC is operated by a third-party service provider that specializes in managing security operations, and it can be hosted either on-premises or in the cloud. Not sure which one is right for your organization? Check out this guide that compares the cost of cloud -based vs and on-premise solutions. 

Managed SOCs typically use advanced security tools which we’ll discuss further down in detail. These include SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) systems, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), threat intelligence platforms (TIPs), and other security software to detect and analyze security events. 

A typical managed SOC provider also offers consultation services and technological solutions to help businesses enhance their IT capabilities.

Also Read: Network Infrastructure security — what is it? 

The key functions of a managed SOC

Carrying on from the definition above, a managed SOC performs several key functions, which are critical to maintaining the security of an organization's systems and data. 

This table illustrates their key roles or functions. Have a look:


A managed SOC keeps an eye on network activity, log files, and systems to identify potential security incidents and any irregularities.


The managed SOC is responsible for detecting potential security incidents and responding to them in real-time.


When a security incident is detected, the managed SOC performs an investigation to determine the root cause and scope of the incident.


They respond to security incidents by containing the incident and mitigating the damage.


After a security incident, the SOC team ensures that all affected systems are restored to their previous state and that all necessary patches and updates are applied.

Incident management

They are responsible for managing security incidents from start to finish, including tracking and documenting all incident details.

Threat intelligence

This simply means leveraging threat intelligence to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability management

All about managing vulnerabilities by identifying, prioritizing, and remediating them.

Endpoint protection

The management of security for all endpoints, including laptops, desktops, and servers, to ensure they are protected against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Security system administration

The administration of all security systems, including firewalls, intrusion detection & prevention systems, and security information & event management (SIEM) systems.

The main components of a managed SOC

Managed SOCs typically include a combination of liveware (people), hardware, processes, and software that work together to protect an enterprise’s IT infrastructure. 

Understanding these components is important because when you want to hire a managed SOC, you want to check and make sure that they have the core components in place. This also applies to those who want to set up business as a managed SOC provider. 

Here are the vital elements that make up the typical managed SOC:

1. People

These are essentially the key personnel behind the security Operations Center.  It’s a team that consists of the following professionals:

  • SOC manager — The SOC manager is the leader during security operations and takes charge of everything to ensure all processes meet Key Performance Indicators (KPIS).
  • SOC security analyst — The SOC analyst is the team member responsible for constantly monitoring the enterprise systems for potential threats. They analyze security events, investigate alerts, and determine if there are security threats that need to be addressed.
  • SOC engineer — The SOC engineer is like a handyworker, as they practically select and install the technologies that will handle the security operations of the enterprise’s systems. SOC engineers are also responsible for conceiving ways to keep out future threats.
  • SOC operator — Responsible for maintaining the team’s tools and keeping the managed security operations and processes in check to ensure they are always running optimally.

Other team members include the network security engineer who is responsible for designing and implementing network protection infrastructure such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Another constituent is the compliance officer. They are responsible for ensuring that the organization’s security operations and processes comply with relevant laws and regulations.

2. Processes

Managed SOC services typically follow well-defined and documented processes that provide consistent, repeatable security operations. These processes cover everything from incident triage and escalation to vulnerability management and threat intelligence analysis.

Processes are important because they ensure that security incidents are handled in a timely and effective manner, and that critical steps are not overlooked.

For example, in the event of a security incident, a SOC team will follow a defined incident response process that outlines the steps to be taken, such as triage, containment, investigation, and remediation. Each step is clearly defined, with specific criteria for moving from one step to the next.

3. Technology

The technology stack used by a managed SOC typically includes security tools that help to automate threat detection and response, and provide security analysts with the necessary visibility and context to investigate security incidents.

The SOC engineers are responsible for recommending, creating or customizing solutions to fit the operational security needs of both the SOC and its customers. 

These are some of the common tools you’ll find in a typical managed SOC: 

  • SIEM — A security information and event management system utilizes real-time and historical data to detect threats and comply with the SOC security protocols to help the team resolve the issues at hand.
  • EDR/XDR — Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) and Extended Detection & Response (XDR) monitor the enterprise system endpoints for threats and generate reports which SOC analysts can then study for any unusual activities.
  • Cyber threat intelligence tools — These tools gather information on various attacks. The information is then used by the managed SOC teams for remediation and prevention of  future attacks.

Benefits of outsourcing a managed SOC

As we highlighted at the beginning, many companies are moving to the managed SOC model. These are the compelling benefits that are attracting them: 

  1. Cost-effectiveness — Hiring and maintaining an internal SOC team can be costly. A study by CISCO found that 55% of companies outsourced security operations because this approach is cost-effective.
  2. Proactive threat detection and prevention -The same study above by CISCO found that 53% of companies that outsourced their security operations did so because of the need to respond to threats timely. Managed SOCs have data that can help them identify and handle vulnerabilities quickly, making them efficient for the job.
  3. Expertise — Managed SOCs have senior security experts who understand how to spot and hire the best talent that there is. Outsourcing to them gives you access to the best professionals in the industry.
  4. Improved security standpoint — A Ponemon survey found that 52% of the sampled organizations rated their MSSPs or cybersecurity service providers as effective or highly effective. This level of satisfaction can only mean that outsourced security operations greatly boost a company’s security posture
  5. Peace of mind — If your enterprise is driven by complex systems and sensitive data, it’s easy to constantly worry about the potential security holes. Outsourcing your security operations to a competent SOC gives you the much needed peace of mind since you know your IT infrastructure is in the safe hands of experts.

Also read: MSP vs MSSP: Differences, Key Services & Making Right Choice

Top 5 must-have skills for a Security Operations Analyst

According to Coursera's analysis of LinkedIn’s job postings and other external job listings, the following are the top 3 most needed skills. 

  1. Critical thinking — This despite not being a technical skill, is a major skill that is required of a security analyst since hackers are always devising ways to escape detection. With adequate critical thinking skills, SOC analysts can gather the right intelligence from security reports and spot unusual activities.
  2. Intrusion detection — Being able to utilize SOC tools such as SIEM and EDR to detect cyber attacks is a fundamental skill for all SOC analyst. 
  3. Incident response — Responding quickly to incidents is critical since it helps reduce information loss and damage. You would want your security analyst to always be prepared for vulnerabilities that bypass the existing preventive measures. According to the CISCO study we referred to earlier, 53% of companies prefer SOCs to manage their security operations because of timely incident response.

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Many organizations are discovering that moving to SOC outsourcing is far much superior to running the SOC network in-house. Some of the top benefits include cutting down costs and timely response to incidents. 

With 24/7 access to the latest technology and an elite team of industry-leading specialists, SOC outsourcing enables more effective detection, prevention and response to security incidents, all in real-time.

If you are still managing your security operations in-house and you are beginning to feel overwhelmed but unsure what to do, please consider transitioning to the managed security operations framework  and experience the benefits first hand.

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