Digitization has taken the world by storm. In this era, every business, be it a startup or a multinational corporation has adopted technology to store and protect their important data. However, due to the easy accessibility of information, hackers have designed various ways of infiltrating the system. Incidents of data breaches have increased substantially over the years. 
To tackle such scenarios, businesses have become more vigilant and have started employing specialized cybersecurity teams such as a security operations center (SOC). The cybersecurity industry is an amalgamation of different teams working together to detect and prevent data breach incidents.
A diverse team like this comes with the scope of employing more and more cybersecurity enthusiasts and professionals. If you are a cybersecurity buff trying to secure a job in this domain and looking for more information, your search ends here! This blog will provide you with vital information about SOC teams, focusing on a SOC analyst’s role and everything that the job entails.
What Is a Security Operations Center?
A security operations center is an umbrella term for a diverse team of IT professionals who possess information security expertise. The security operations center framework comprises of both the security tools and the individuals who form the SOC team. The primary role of the SOC team is to monitor, analyze, and protect organizations from cyberattacks. This team works at the front line of businesses and functions around the clock, operating in shifts to continuously keep a tab on all activities and mitigate threats.
A SOC team is an integral part of every business as they help minimize the cost of an impending data breach. Their quick response to intrusions and advanced ways of detecting and preventing threats is a boon to the cybersecurity domain. A SOC team can be found in industries like e-commerce, education, finance, government, healthcare, military operations, and sectors that use advanced technology.
How Does SOC Works?
Now that you have a better understanding of SOC, let us understand the working of the security operation center.
The major objective of the security operation center is security monitoring and alerting. It can include collecting and analyzing information to identify any suspicious activity for the improvement of organizational cybersecurity.
The SOC analyst can collect threat data from intrusion detection systems, firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, SIEM, and other threat intelligence tools. The security operation center sends alerts to team members as soon as any discrepancies or abnormal trends are detected.
Who Is a Security Operations Center Analyst?
A security operations center analyst is a cybersecurity professional who is part of a SOC team. This job role entails the monitoring and prevention of threats to an organization’s IT framework. A security operations center analyst also assesses the security systems, looks out for any weak points, and subsequently works out a solution for it. This job role is both for newbies and experienced cybersecurity professionals. If you are looking for a great stepping-stone to upgrade your career in the cybersecurity domain, a SOC analyst’s role is your best bet!
Top Skills Required to Be a Security Operations Center Analyst
Understanding the network activity and defending an organization from malicious attacks is the primary role of a SOC analyst. The must-have skills required for a security operations center analyst are:
- Knowledge of networking:Knowledge of the fundamentals of networking is the primary skill of a SOC Analyst as networks are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks.
- Security:A keen eye for detail and the ability to identify security threats is a very important skill for a security operations center analyst. There are various patterns used to launch a cyberattack. If you are proficient with security fundamentals, you can easily identify dangerous and suspicious activity.
- Incident response: A SOC Analyst often deals with a breach situation and suggests necessary modifications in the existing security systems to prevent future attacks.
- Documenting incidents: Documenting incidents is an essential skill of a SOC Analyst as various incidents could take place and the same could be passed around and escalated within a team. All the records or actions must be well documented as they may be used as evidence during legal procedures.
What Does An SOC Analyst Do?
A security operations center analyst performs several different tasks. However, the most important of these functions include preventing, detecting, investigating, and responding to the cyber-attacks faced by the organizations.
1. Prevention and Detection
Prevention is always more crucial than reaction, especially when it comes to the cybersecurity of organizational data and other digital assets. Therefore, rather than reacting to the cyber threats as and when they happen, a security operation center analyst continuously works towards monitoring the organizational network. Thus, allowing the SOC team to detect any malicious activity on the network and prevent them before it can cause any damage to the organization.
An investigation is another common function performed by security operation center analysts. During the investigation, the SOC team determines the nature of the cyber threat and understands the extent to which it has penetrated the organizational infrastructure. The SOC analyst looks at the network from the attackers’ point of view to look for areas or indicators of exposure before they get exploited. The SOC analyst also collects data on the organizational network using the latest threat intelligence tools.
Once the investigation has been completed, the SOC team immediately coordinates a response mechanism to remediate the issue at hand. As soon as the SOC team confirms the cyber incident, the analyst acts as the first responder, acting to terminate harmful processes, isolating endpoints, and preventing attackers from deleting or stealing confidential information. In the aftermath of the incident, the SOC team works to restore the system and recover any compromised data.
The Workforce Gap in the Security Operations Center
It is not an unknown fact that there is a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals due to rapid technological growth. However, there is a shortage of talent to fill these positions, leading to a supply and demand gap in the cybersecurity domain. An article published by the World Economic Forum states that “nowhere is the workforce-skills gap more pronounced than in cybersecurity.”  The numbers are staggering, and it is estimated that the number of unoccupied cybersecurity positions will shoot up by 350%, rendering 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021. 
The point to ponder is why there is a gap in demand and the subsequent workforce in the security operations center. We have listed some of the most common reasons below:-
- Lack of planning: Many organizations lack strategic planning with respect to cybersecurity. The right steps are not taken to nurture the talent needed for these roles.
- Lack of understanding of the career graph: Despite the predominance gained by this domain, enterprises still lack the understanding of proper role mapping in a SOC team. This often leads to dissatisfaction in jobs which ultimately results in a stressful situation.
- The skill and experience debate:There are mixed opinions on the career graph of a SOC team. Many cyber professionals feel that they do not have a well-defined career path as some bank on the prowess of their skills while another bunch vouches for hands-on experience coupled with the right certification.
- Improper training: The most common and most alarming reason for this skill gap is the lack of training and relevant certifications. Cybersecurity professionals feel constrained in their growth in an organization.
Certification gives a lot of direction in any chosen career path, especially in a domain like cybersecurity, where a relevant certification upgrades a person’s skills and adds value to a professional’s hands-on experience. We at EC-Council strive to provide the right platform enhanced with a platter of cybersecurity certifications to up your talent quotient. Our Certified SOC Analyst (CSA) program will be the perfect value add to your skills and resume. This program hones your talent and makes you the best fit for a strong SOC team. You can gain extensive knowledge of cybersecurity and its various protocols.
We know that you are already thinking of gaining this expansive knowledge and advancing rapidly in your career graph. You can find more details about the Certified SOC Analyst (CSA) program here!
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