Looking at a mad and challenging end of 2023 for the cyber-world, Security Operations Centers (SOCs) stand as the front line of defense against an ever-evolving array of threats. As we head into 2024, SOCs are grappling with a complex landscape, marked by an array of internal and external challenges that shape their operations and strategies.
Internal Challenges: People, Processes, and Technology
One of the most pressing internal challenges SOCs face is a staff shortage. Finding trained and experienced personnel has been a longstanding issue in cybersecurity, exacerbated by the rapid shift to new operating modes, cloud infrastructures, and cloud-native application architecture. This shortage is not just about numbers; there’s also a skills shortage, where existing staff struggle to effectively use monitoring and management tools, leading to slower and sometimes failed responses to threats. Additionally, knowledge shortage further complicates this, as even well-versed staff may falter if they’re not adequately informed about the systems they’re protecting.
On the process side, SOCs confront process latency and budgeting issues. Process latency involves the slow evolution of SOC processes in response to rapid changes in the systems environment, leading to improvised and inefficient response strategies. Budgeting based on improper criteria, like a fixed percentage of overall IT spend rather than risk assessment, also poses a challenge.
Technologically, SOCs face a lack of adequate tooling, inadequate analytics and filtering, and a lack of automation and integration. These challenges stem from rapid shifts in the systems environment and the inundation of false positive alerts, which strain already scarce staff resources.
External Threats: A Landscape of Increasing Complexity
Externally, SOCs are witnessing an escalation in sophisticated cyber threats. One alarming trend is ransomware attacks that now increasingly involve data destruction instead of just encryption, particularly in politically motivated attacks. SOCs also face threats from public-facing applications, where older vulnerabilities are exploited for initial access.
The rise in supply chain attacks via telecommunication providers is another concern. These attacks target telecom companies to further strike their customers, presenting a growing threat. Moreover, there is an uptick in reoccurring targeted attacks by state-sponsored actors, especially against large businesses, government organizations, and the mass media sector, which are often at the center of geopolitical conflicts.
Looking Ahead: Strategies for SOCs in 2024
To navigate these challenges, SOCs need to focus on a few key areas. Developing the skills of the SOC team is crucial to counter the increasing threats. Incident response training, SOC exercises like TTX, purple teaming, and adversary attack simulations are essential. The growing threat landscape necessitates bigger budgets, but with an emphasis on efficiency and value. Additionally, the increasing importance of cyberthreat intelligence (CTI) and threat hunting can’t be overlooked, as they are vital for predicting attacks and understanding attacker techniques.
In this ever-changing landscape, SOCs must continually evolve, enhancing their capabilities to stay ahead of threats. Balancing internal competencies with an acute awareness of external threats is key to maintaining robust cybersecurity defenses.
For more in-depth insights into these challenges and strategies, you can explore the full reports from TechTarget challenges every security operations center faces | TechTarget, Securelist Kaspersky predictions for SOCs for 2023 | Securelist, and Kaspersky SOCs to face greater challenges from cybercriminals targeting governments and media, despite staff shortages in 2023 | Kaspersky. These resources provide a comprehensive overview of the current state and future predictions for SOCs, offering valuable guidance for cybersecurity professionals navigating this complex field.