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Measuring SOC Effectiveness: Beyond Metrics and KPIs



A Security Operations Centre (SOC) is the heartbeat of an organisation’s cybersecurity posture. It relies on a combination of advanced technology and human expertise to monitor, detect, and respond to any cybersecurity threats or incidents, while also providing 24/7 visibility of the company’s overarching security framework to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities before problems arise.

Measuring the effectiveness of your SOC is crucial for maintaining robust security postures. Any information gathered can be used to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement, while also optimising your systems to be at their most efficient. However, figuring out exactly what to measure and why it’s valuable can be a difficult task, so we want to help you understand it.

Understanding SOC Effectiveness: More Than Just Numbers

SOC effectiveness can be summed up as how proficiently and effectively your SOC can detect and respond to a specific cyber threat. It aims to quantify how well your SOC is performing relative to the threats that it encounters, and ultimately how much it adds to the overall resilience of your organisation to a security threat.

One of the problems with measuring SOC effectiveness, however, is that traditional metrics often fail to fully capture its true performance. These metrics will often focus on purely quantitative aspects — such as incident resolution times of the volume of incidents dealt with. This offers no real insight into how well your SOC identifies and detects threats, the efficiency of its response protocols, or how it reacts to simple versus more sophisticated threats.

Considering how rapidly cyber threats are evolving, a much more nuanced evaluation of a SOC is needed to understand its true effectiveness — one that goes beyond simple traditional metrics. This is where a comprehensive framework, such as the approach we take at DigitalXRAID, is extremely valuable.

We’ll help you:

  • Understand your threat landscape
  • Explore machine learning and AI
  • Define custom metrics and KPIs
  • Implement and monitor metrics
  • And continuously assess and adapt your strategy.

Get In touch today to see how we can support you with an Outsourced SOC Service.

How Effective Is Your SOC? Key Considerations 

To figure out how effective your SOC is, there are a number of key areas you should focus on.

Alignment with Business Objectives

Ultimately, the goals of your SOC need to align with your strategic business objectives. For example, certain industries like banking and finance will have strict regulatory requirements. In this case, your SOC will implement controls and monitoring mechanisms that align with these requirements. Or perhaps data privacy is the most important objective for you, in this case, your cybersecurity measures should be built around compliance and how to mitigate potential breaches.

Incident Response Efficiency

Regardless of your objectives, your SOC should ultimately be able to respond to incidents quickly and efficiently. When assessing the effectiveness of your SOC, you need to assess its response plan for speed. This is a great opportunity to try and leverage automation and orchestration tools to try and improve your response times. 

Adaptability to Emerging Threats

Your SOC should also be constantly evolving to deal with the rapidly changing nature of cyber threats. Prioritise continuous learning for your SOC staff to address these new threats, and ensure that you have threat intelligence integrated within your SOC to stay informed on any pertinent emerging threats.

Comprehensive Coverage and Visibility

During your assessment, you’ll need to ensure you examine all endpoints and cloud services. This will allow you to determine whether or not your SOC is monitoring effectively. Your SOC must utilise advanced tools for deep visibility and real-time monitoring to be effective.

The Measuring SOC Effectiveness Framework: A Strategic Approach

How you measure the effectiveness of your SOC needs to be calculated — this is where having a comprehensive strategic framework comes into effect. You need to assess various dimensions of SOC operations and identify how to optimise or improve them to bring about your desired results. Here, we’ll map out what we believe are the essential components of such a framework.

Structured Assessment Process: 

The first thing to consider is that you’ll need to adopt a standardised approach to measuring SOC effectiveness. Your methods need to be consistently replicable and should take into account key SOC functions such as detection, analysis, response, and recovery capabilities. Identify industry benchmarks in these areas and schedule regular performance reviews against these benchmarks to track improvement and highlight areas for development.

Integration of Quantitative and Qualitative Metrics: 

Ensure that your assessment combines both qualitative and quantitative metrics to get a broader and more holistic view of your SOC performance. Remember, SOCs rely on both advanced technologies and highly skilled practitioners — both must get evaluated. Measuring and improving your Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) is equally as important as measuring and improving overall team effectiveness. Utilise tools such as surveys and feedback from your SOC service provider or stakeholders to quantify operational effectiveness and overall satisfaction.

Technology and Tools Evaluation: 

You’ll also need to measure just how effective and suitable for the task each of your technologies and tools is when it comes to SOC operations. Tooling can be one of the highest costs associated with running a SOC. An expert service provider, such as DigitalXRAID, can help mitigate these costs while also providing access to invaluable expertise around each tool. As part of this evaluation process, you should also be looking to assess just how well your SOC could integrate and leverage new tools to ensure it can scale alongside your organisation. 

Continuous Improvement Plan: 

As you assess your SOC’s effectiveness, you should also be planning to improve it based on what you find. This plan needs to be structured and based on the findings from your standardised testing process. The goal should be to optimise your SOC to make it the most effective version it can be with the tools available. That being said, training, developing new processes, and upgrading technologies and tools all come with quite high costs. This is another reason to consider a SOC provider such as DigitalXRAID. A partnership with our SOC could save you over £500,000 when compared to the cost of setting up an in-house team.

Concluding Thoughts: Your Path to an Effective SOC

It’s vitally important that your SOC is running as efficiently and effectively as it can be. In a world with growing cyber threats, it’s imperative that your SOC can keep up. This requires constant monitoring, evaluation, and improvement. Ensure that you take a structured and systematic approach to determining the effectiveness of your SOC, allowing you to track progress over time using a set of known industry standards.

For more tailored guidance, why not contact our experts here at DigitalXRAID? We have a wealth of information available for you to help with any evaluation, or even easier, you can arrange a consultation with one of our experts who’d be more than happy to discuss a plan that will enhance your SOC effectiveness and safeguard against any evolving threats.

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