5 Tips for SOC Analysts to Monitor and Mitigate Threats

Apr 10, 2024

by Nikola Savov

Monitoring has a pivotal role in safeguarding your organization’s digital assets. While building a fully equipped SOC may present challenges for many companies, there are fundamental practices that can significantly enhance your capabilities.

In this article, I’ll share five essential tips tailored for SOC analysts to bolster their monitoring efforts and effectively mitigate threats, ensuring your organization remains resilient in the face of evolving cybersecurity challenges.

1. Establish a behavior baseline

This involves conducting a trial period where you solely focus on monitoring alerts and manually mitigating threats. During this phase, create a comprehensive map of your organization’s digital assets, servers, and tech stack. This baseline understanding of your infrastructure will serve as a foundation for identifying anomalies and potential threats.

2. Create custom detection rules

Consider factors such as critical assets, high-risk users, and industry-specific attack vectors when designing these rules. By adapting your detection rules to your unique context, you can improve the accuracy and relevance of threat alerts.

3. Implement layered security monitoring

Utilize a combination of monitoring techniques and tools to gain a holistic view of your environment. This may include endpoint monitoring to detect suspicious activities on individual devices, network monitoring to identify unusual traffic patterns, log analysis to uncover anomalies, and cloud security monitoring to protect your cloud-based assets. By employing multiple layers of monitoring, you increase the chances of detecting threats that may evade a single layer of defense.

4. Conduct external reconnaissance

With proper authorization, perform open reconnaissance and port scanning on your own organization’s infrastructure. This proactive approach can help you identify internally exposed or outdated services that may be inadvertently accessible from the internet. By discovering and addressing these vulnerabilities, you can strengthen your organization’s security posture.

5. Set up an alert system

Set up an alert system to maintain situational awareness even when you’re off-duty. Implement automated notifications via Slack, email, or other internal communication channels. This ensures that you receive timely alerts for critical security events and can respond promptly. Maintaining a constant state of vigilance is essential in the fast-paced world of cybersecurity.

To illustrate these tips in action, let’s consider two examples of mitigating threats

Example 1: Mitigating pirated Microsoft software (average complexity)

  • Scenario: Detecting and mitigating the use of pirated Microsoft software within the organization.
  • Mitigation Steps:
    – Identify instances of pirated software through asset inventory and software license audits.
    – Remove pirated software and replace it with properly licensed versions.
    – Educate employees about software licensing policies and the risks of using pirated software.
    – Implement software asset management processes to prevent future occurrences. The simplest way is to blacklist certain pirated software via the XDR/EDR.

Example 2: Network outage caused by a rogue modem (advanced)

  • Scenario: A network outage caused by a rogue modem connected to the internal network, resulting in IP address conflicts and internet connectivity issues for some users.
  • Mitigation Steps:
    – Identify the affected network segment and users experiencing connectivity issues.
    – Analyze network traffic to trace the source of the rogue modem.
    – Locate the specific network hub and floor where the rogue modem is connected.
    – Disconnect the rogue modem and restore proper network configuration.
    – Investigate how the rogue modem was introduced and implement controls to prevent unauthorized device connections.
    – Document the incident, including root cause analysis and lessons learned.

In the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity, the vigilance and expertise of your SOC analysts are paramount. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article – from establishing behavior baselines to conducting external reconnaissance – you can empower your team to proactively identify and neutralize threats.

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