Outsourcing Your SOC: Is It Worth It?

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Should You Be Outsourcing Your SOC?

For an organization to run its own SOC, a 2020 Ponemon study found that they’re spending an average of $9.9 million a year.

Even with this staggering figure in mind, many businesses are asking themselves if SOC outsourcing is a better option than keeping or building an internal Security Operations Center (SOC).

In this article, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the pros and cons of both outsourced SOCs (as performed by managed security services) and an internal SOC (or in-house SOC).

By the end, you will have a firm understanding of what each option offers, how they might benefit or hinder your business, and why it’s important to have a SOC altogether.


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What is a SOC and What Should it Do?

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a centralized function staffed by expert cybersecurity analysts whose sole function is the monitoring, reporting, and (sometimes) remediation of cybersecurity incidents, most often data breaches.

The security experts that comprise the SOC are typically well-trained analysts that are well-versed in threat detection, threat hunting and generally possess excellent cybersecurity skills.

While there are various roles within a SOC (and a hierarchy of responsibilities) it essentially functions as one cohesive unit, monitoring network traffic for potential security incidents and cyber threats.

So, that’s what a SOC is supposed to do. But what sets exceptional SOCs apart from mediocre ones?

Characteristics of High-Quality SOCs

While all SOCs are set up with a security team that monitors network traffic, not all SOCs are created equal. In fact, there are several measurable factors a great SOC will have, that an inferior version simply won’t.

To the uninitiated, it may appear that a SOC must simply monitor traffic and report incidents as they occur. While this is true to a degree, it’s a poor method of operation and lacks the necessary proactivity that sets great SOCs apart.

A cutting-edge SOC that has a strong grip on the security posture of its networks will make sure there’s a strictly-defined structure, playbook and set of policies that map out the whole scope of the SOCs operations.

A highly competent SOC will also:

  • Possess strong leadership
  • Staff talented analysts with relevant security expertise
  • Place strong emphasis on frequent communication between the client and its own team members
  • Eliminate false positives
  • Remain inquisitive and proactive to optimize day-to-day operations
  • Employ a variety of tools (e.g. SIEM)
  • Improves operations and updates policies after every alert
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Advantages of an Internal SOC

Despite its often astronomical cost, developing and maintaining an in-house SOC does provide a more direct level of control over its operations and staff while providing an enhanced level of accountability.

As a business owner/operator running your own SOC, you’re of course free to make changes to its structure as you see fit. You can better control staff management, and it provides better opportunities to learn the internal environment and internal processes.

However, unless you’re already an expert in cyber security, it will take considerable time and effort to get acquainted with the ins and outs of running a SOC, potentially taking you away from running your business.

Disadvantages of an Internal SOC

The first and most important con to a DIY SOC (and the reason most businesses choose to outsource their security operations) is the extraordinary cost.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the average costs associated with deploying an in-house SOC:

Cost Factor 3-Year Average Cost
Staffing $2,310,000 to $4,620,000
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) $70,000 to $440,000
External Threat Intelligence $25,000 to $55,000
Vulnerability Scanning $5,000 to $30,000
Total Average Cost $2,410,000 to $5,145,000

Source: Frost & Sullivan 

With the in-house SOC option, your organization is responsible for hiring, training, organizational structure, strategic decisions, tools and their implementation.

It requires a substantial investment in both time and money in order to implement properly.

Advantages of an Outsourced SOC

Compared to the in-house SOC option, the cost-value benefit of an outsourced SOC is immense, with most SOC-as-a-Service prices starting anywhere from $75 to $250 per user.

It’s also worth noting that, in order to catch all potential cyber threats in a network, external SOCs need to perform 24/7 monitoring. This means that an in-house SOC would need to compensate staff for working throughout the night as well as holiday and overtime pay.

Essentially, every advantage posed by an outsourced SOC addresses a direct disadvantage of doing it in-house.

This means:

  • Higher ROI
  • Much lower costs
  • Increased dependability
  • Access to industry experts
  • Wider level of tech experience
  • Deep roster of vendor relationships
  • Less required involvement from business owner/operators

Outsourced SOC

Disadvantages of an Outsourced SOC

There’s really only one potential disadvantage of choosing to outsource your SOC, and that’s having to let go of some measure of direct control over your organization’s network security.

With that said, having the right kind of relationship (and choosing the right provider) with your outsourced SOC team absolutely alleviates a lot of that “lack of control” sensation.

Choosing the Right Outsourced SOC Provider

Selecting the right managed security operations center is as easy as the click of a button.

At Buchanan, we have 30+ years of experience, 750+ IT experts on staff and a 100% satisfaction guarantee built into all of our service level agreements.

Start benefiting from an expertly-managed SOC today. Contact us for more information.

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