Updating your Security Operations Center (SOC) may seem like a daunting task due to its potential complexity and cost however it is essential that it occurs on a regular basis. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the SOC and that every company is different depending on their Risk acceptance level, priorities, budget and overall opinion of their Security and Risk Management Program. From our point of view, an updated and effective SOC is a worthwhile investment that will aide in keeping your employees and company assets safe by not only identifying but also additionally mitigating potential risks.
So here are our Top 5 Reasons to Update your SOC:
1. Integration and Interoperability
The ability of different systems, technology and software to seamlessly integrate and function with each other is often the most overlooked aspect of establishing and updating SOC’s. There are a number of software based SOC platforms available however, many only exist as silos, and this not only decreases the effectiveness of the SOC but also restricts its capabilities.
SOC tools can vary greatly but generally consist of CCTV systems, access control systems, intrusion detection systems, emergency notification, Badging, intelligence gathering platforms, active monitoring, real-time alerting and metrics reporting, situational awareness programs, traveler safety and security, et cetera. It is imperative to keep all those features in mind when considering how they will interact with each other, especially in moments of high stress when fine motor skills begin to degrade. Selecting the right tools will help address your company-specific risk spectrum and should provide a single “pane of glass” user interface for operators. The right software should integrate all the above systems and should be simple, easy to maintain, cost-effective and scalable.
When updating your SOC integration and interoperability should be at the forefront of any strategic plan, if it becomes an afterthought, you will end up spending a lot of money on something that does not suit your company’s needs and will not work effectively. The ability to integrate multiple disparate systems into a single, centralized interface is the most cost-effective solution and will allow you to bridge the gap between a wide range of integrated systems over multiple physical locations.
2. Access to new Systems, Technology and Software
SOC’s have existed for quite a while and some of them still only manage security guards and monitor grainy CCTV footage but today’s SOC’s have evolved into large command centers that have the ability to monitor global threats, provide real-time data in case of an incident (Active Shooter, Terrorism, natural disaster, et cetera), global emergency management and disaster recovery amongst others. They have become the nucleus of numerous Corporate Crisis Management Programs and in this capacity show their true capabilities in keeping assets safe from harm.
Updating your SOC means you will have access to new systems, technology and software features such as Geo-caching, alarm grouping, real-time data from multiple systems, third-party sharing capabilities, metrics and actionable data amongst many others. These features will only enhance your Risk Management process.
3. Automation and Simplification
One of the most time-consuming operator’s tasks is dealing with a high volume of (false) alarms, which can prove to be overwhelming. New systems, technology and software can fix this with automation by identifying and automatically responding to non-critical events. This will free up the operator’s time for events that require human intervention and decision-making and will allow them to do more proactive surveillance. Ensure that the system allows for all events to be logged and audited, making them available for management reporting and information analysis.
A single platform for receipt, management and control of all alarms and incidents and automating workflows will ensure that the operator only needs to be trained on one platform (instead of multiple) and it will ensure that one operator can respond to an incident instead of needing multiple operators to handle each separate system. Currently many companies use multiple platforms, which only complicates handling any type of incident. A system that can automatically associate alarm events with nearby cameras based on the geo-location of the event will eliminate the need to manually associate devices with cameras and will provide a broader overview of the incident at hand.
The interface chosen should also guide your operator through the process of handling an alarm or incident guaranteeing a quicker reaction time. The system needs to allow the operator to make decisions based upon real-time information from multiple disparate security systems which in most SOC’s not the case as they lack a unified control and management platform.
4. Ready to deal with Active Shooter/Threat, Terrorism
The rise of Active Shooter/Threats and Terrorism incidents can impact any business tremendously but the role of the SOC is often undervalued when dealing with this. Due to their nature these incidents require expedited responses since they are often over within minutes and it additionally creates a mass casualty situation. More often than not there is no training for operators in how to effectively respond to these incidents and they themselves do not grasp their true abilities and value prior, during and after an Active Shooter/Threat or Terrorism incident.
Imagine this: you are an operator and you work in a SOC that has not been updated for years. Your system does not allow active monitoring (this would allow the operator to dynamically utilize the camera system to ‘patrol’ the area). There is no alarm grouping capability you are unaware that an individual armed with a rifle has entered the building and started shooting. You start receiving a multitude of phone calls from employees and finally you realize something is terribly wrong… by that time you are not only overwhelmed with phone calls, your manager wants to know what is happening, you are trying to deal with multiple platforms at the same time, you have no idea where the Attacker is in the building, you still have to call 911 and launch the emergency notification system, … You get the picture! Your operator might never tell you this but with outdated systems, technology and software they are almost incapable of doing their job in a high stress situation.
Now imagine this: your SOC was recently updated with an integrated system which allows for geospatial mapping, alarm grouping, third party sharing with Law Enforcement amongst other features and everything can be done from a user-friendly interface that provides an actionable list for you as an operator. You literally have everything at your fingertips, which means you can respond (or potentially mitigate) this incident. You may have been actively monitoring and may have seen the threat prior to the attack, you can precisely determine where the Attacker is in the building by having access to the various security systems in that particular area, by pushing one button the emergency notification has been sent while 911 is notified. In the meantime, Law Enforcement receives access to your system so they can also react to the situation more effectively and because all of your systems are integrated you are able to lock the doors to certain areas and as such increase employee survivability.
An updated SOC that is capable of standardized proactive and responsive risk mitigation offers the right tools for immediate and decisive action and will save lives…
5. More Cost – Effective and Better Return on Investment (ROI)
Operating and regularly updating a SOC is undeniably expensive and can absorb a large percentage of the security budget, however it is important to remember that especially updated SOC’s can be more cost – effective and even provide a better Return on Investment (ROI). Corporate does not always understand the ROI of a SOC and therefore at times companies do not fully benefit from its possibilities in the Risk Management Cycle. Security Departments and especially SOC’s often have their budgets reduced and are under intense scrutiny to “prove” their ROI, which at times can be challenging.
With any type of SOC (local, national and global) it is important to remember that ROI can come from both intangible (it provides safety and security for your employees and assets, traveler safety, et cetera) and tangible financial benefits (reduction in operator training and operators needed, loss prevention, et cetera). When updating your SOC you should also consider how you could drive more value to it.
There are a number of reasons why an updated SOC can be more cost-effective and provides better ROI:
- New systems, technology and software are easier to operate which means that less time is spent on training the operator
- When updating your SOC it might become apparent that various features that were added on over the years have started to overlap and potentially create too much of unnecessary information. This is the ideal stage to perform an in-depth analysis and consolidate (or at times even reduce) the number of features that were implemented and as such reduce money spent.
- Manpower reduction – updated systems, technology and software can potentially reduce the number of operators needed in the SOC or free up their time for better Risk Management Strategies
- Prepare for the future – right now you may only have a need for a ‘local’ SOC for which corporate deems updates are unnecessary, but it is important to keep in mind that your company can grow extensively over a short period of time. This will leave your SOC woefully unprepared to deal with a national or global footprint. Take this expansion into account when you develop your strategic plan and it will be more cost-effective to regularly update your SOC than to bring a ‘basement 80’s SOC’ to a level that is on par with the company’s mission.
It is imperative to design a strategic plan specifically for the SOC in order to keep up to date of the newest developments and risks, to keep it aligned with your company’s mission and to ensure effective processes. Before you commence the updating-process (and yes it can take a considerable amount of time depending on when your SOC was last updated) we recommend you conduct a gap analysis to determine what your current security profile is and what risks you are vulnerable to. The results of the analysis will help determine your roadmap to updating your SOC in a cost-effective manner.