What’s the Difference Between SOC as a Service and SIEM as a Service?

Cybercrime is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion in 2021. Cybersecurity spending is set to reach $1 trillion by next year, but clearly investments are not keeping pace. This is perhaps why fewer than half of CISOs believe their organization is prepared to handle a breach.

One of the greatest challenges of cybersecurity is that the landscape is always changing. New software and technology bring new vulnerabilities, and hackers are experts at exploiting those vulnerabilities. Another issue is that the commercial solutions available are becoming increasingly fragmented and complex. Even cybersecurity experts are struggling to navigate this ever-changing environment.

As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for protecting your business and your customers from a breach. This means that you must invest in the best infrastructure to monitor, analyze, and respond to threats. To do that, you have to understand the best options available for your organization’s needs and budget.

SOC as a Service vs. SIEM as a Service

To fortify your organization against an attack, you need to know the difference between SOC as a service and SIEM as a service. Cybersecurity professionals love their acronyms, but you’re excused if you don’t know them all yet.

A security operations center is the central hub housing the people, processes, and technology responsible for cybersecurity in an organization. The SOC is responsible for monitoring a company’s network, servers, website, and databases to detect, analyze, and respond to threats. In the event of a breach, the SOC works with a company’s incident-response team to address the threat. Afterward, it’s the security operation center’s job to investigate and report on the incident. 

If this sounds like an enormous investment in human capital, that’s because it is. Maintaining a SOC in-house is prohibitively expensive for all but the largest organizations. Ongoing education is required to keep up with the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, and turnover is extremely high.

SOC as a service is one solution that’s cropped up to reduce this costly burden. When an organization outsources its SOC, it has a team of analysts monitoring security on its behalf 24/7. In the event of a breach, an analyst will notify the organization by phone or email. Some SOC-as-a-service providers will also generate daily security reports.

In the simplest terms, SIEM software is the tool of choice for any security team. It provides a centralized (virtual) hub for security notifications. But SIEM software is more than just a log aggregation tool. It gathers data from all available sources, analyzes that data to detect any issues, and generates reports for compliance purposes. 

The trouble with traditional SIEM solutions is that they are complicated and expensive to maintain. First, an organization must invest in the software licenses and the hardware to host the platform. Then it must hire skilled personnel to configure the system and monitor it on a daily basis. (As sophisticated as they are, SIEM platforms generate an excruciating number of false positives. They require constant adjustments to be most effective.) 

Most organizations simply don’t have the resources to maintain a SIEM platform in-house. This has given rise to SIEM as a service. SIEM as a service gives organizations access to a powerful turnkey SIEM solution without all the overhead. Rather than doing everything in-house, the organization hires a team of off-site experts to host and manage the system. For most organizations, this is much more cost-effective than investing in the hardware and additional personnel.

Which Does Your Organization Need?

In a perfect world, you’d have an entire team dedicated to thinking about cybersecurity and developing processes to keep your organization protected. Your SOC would use wargaming exercises to prepare for possible attack scenarios. And, in the event of a breach, your team would be prepared to respond immediately to the threat.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the resources to maintain that level of preparedness in-house. For small businesses especially, a dedicated SOC maintaining its own SIEM just isn’t in the cards. Organizations that try to implement SIEM software without the investment in human capital risk overwhelming their existing IT staff. 

A more realistic and budget-friendly solution is to invest in SIEM-as-a-service and perhaps even outsource a SOC to maintain it. This gives you access to a comprehensive SIEM solution without having to invest in infrastructure and maintenance. It also gives you dedicated cybersecurity experts monitoring your organization’s security. (And you don’t have to worry about investing in training personnel who could leave your company tomorrow.)

If you prefer to build your own SOC, you can hire a third party just to maintain your SIEM solution. Your provider can create customized rules for your organization and constantly fine-tune the system to reduce false positives. This frees up your security team to focus on other things. 

Just don’t fall victim to the assumption that you must handle everything in-house. It’s far more likely that you’ll get better results outsourcing some or all of your cybersecurity needs.

Staying abreast of new security threats continues to be a major challenge for organizations big and small. Organizations need the security infrastructure to protect their business — ideally a comprehensive SIEM solution and a security operations center. But for small- to medium-sized businesses, outsourcing some of their security needs can be the most effective solution. It gives them access to best-in-class software and dedicated experts without the crushing overhead.