Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst is the first line of defense in an organization, and if a SOC analyst fails to identify an adversary, no one else in the organization can find it out. To strengthen the security infrastructure, an organization would deploy all the latest tools, techniques, and processes, but ultimately, it needs a SOC analyst to operate and analyze the data from the bunch of logs that generate. In the absence of SOC analysts, the most significant tools like SIEM (Security Incident Event Management ) would serve no value. A qualified and skilled professional will be able to play the role. So let’s take a look to understand what makes a SOC analyst a top-notch analyst to work as a front-line defense.
Definition of SOC Analyst
Similar to cybersecurity analysts, SOC analysts are the first responders to cyber threats. They report threats to the second line of defense and then implement security strategies to protect the organization. There can be a single cybersecurity analyst in an organization, whereas, SOC analysts forms part of a large security team. The security analysts play a significant role in defending against cyber threats and keeping sensitive information secure. They work in coordination with other departments in identifying and correcting flaws in existing processes, systems, programs, and solutions while recommending measures to improve the overall security.
Responsibilities of a SOC Analyst
Security operations analysts are the first people responsible for ensuring the protection of digital assets from unauthorized access, both online and on-premise. The primary responsibility is to identify, secure, and weed out the threats as front-line defense personnel. They are alert and aggressive to filter out suspicious activity and mitigate risks before any incident occur. When an incident occurs, SOC analysts are the first to counter the attacks and make required attempts to defend.
The specific responsibilities of SOC analyst are –
- Monitor security access and report suspicious activity to a higher level or team members.
- Generate reports for IT administrators, business managers, and security leaders. These reports serve as an input to evaluate the efficacy of the security policies.
- Conduct security assessments regularly to identify vulnerabilities and performing risk analysis.
- Analyze the breach to reach the root cause.
- Advise and implement necessary changes required to counter the attack or improvise security standards.
- Keep the security systems up to date and contributing to security strategies.
- Document incidents to contribute to incident response and disaster recovery plans.
- Perform internal and external security audits.
- In the case of third-party vendors, verify their security strength and collaborate with them.
Skills of a SOC Analyst:
The main skills required for today’s SOC analysts are as follows –
- Network Defenders
The defense is the foremost task of SOC analysts and therefore, they should be skilled in network defending. It helps them in monitoring, detecting, and analyzing the network threats that often intrude the networks via the internet. Networks are the easy targets for cyber attackers as it is actively connected to the internet and can pick up vulnerabilities randomly. They monitor network traffic and respond to suspicious activities immediately.
- Ethical Hacking
A SOC analyst when proficient in ethical hacking can identify potential threats and expose vulnerabilities so that the organization remains protected from malicious attackers. It also includes knowledge of penetration testing where the analyst tests network, systems, web applications, etc. to detect vulnerabilities and report them.
- Incident Response
The security analyst has to manage adverse effects of a breach to minimize the impact and also suggest modifications in the existing security controls for future prevention.
- Computer Forensics
To prevent the cybercrime successfully, the SOC analysts should be aware of computer forensics. Knowledge of digital forensics will help them in collecting, analyzing, and reporting the data. The analyst can also create or gather evidence of the breach to avoid further breaches.
- Reverse Engineering
It allows a SOC analyst to comprehend the performance of a software program so that an analyst can patch a bug.
Additionally, SOC analysts are expected to be proficient with various skills of the operating system, SIEM, application security and more. Successful SOC analysts bring an analytical mind, has interpersonal skills, and are team-players.
The role of SOC analyst demands specific education as listed above and the recruiters prefer to hire professionals having work-ready skills.