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SIEM vs SOC: Key Differences to Know About


Security Incident Event Management (SIEM) and Security Operations Center (SOC) are two different but equally vital concepts in cybersecurity that almost every organization needs. However, before you decide between SIEM vs. SOC, you must understand the functions, risks, and costs of each concept and choose one that aligns with your organization's needs, budget, and goals.

Here is what you need to know about these two concepts.

What are SIEM, Managed SIEM, and SOC?

SIEM is an approach to security management that combines Security Event Management (SEM) and Security Information Management (SIM) into one system. A SIEM solution consists of various components involved in SIM and SEM such as:

  • SOC automation
  • Forensics
  • Data aggregation
  • Threat hunting
  • Threat intelligence
  • Dashboards
  • Security event correlation
  • Advanced analytics

The SIEM software can give security experts insights into a record of any activities within a network's IT environment. On the other hand, managed SIEM provides an alternative to remote setup, deployment, and monitoring of the SIEM solution.

In managed SIEM, a third-party service provider hosts a SIEM application on their servers. The service providers also monitor the organization's network for any security risks or threats. Some organizations opt for managed SIEM for their cybersecurity needs because it can reduce setup and training costs, deploy faster, and can also leverage the expertise of cybersecurity specialists.

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is mainly a system that collects and analyzes data. SOC is made up of technology, processes, and people that deal with any security actions picked up from SIEM analysis. SOC protects an organization against cybersecurity threats. To do this, SOC teams perform round-the-clock monitoring of a network and explore potential security threats.

It is also the responsibility of SOC teams or analysts to take necessary actions to remediate the threats. SOC can also be used as a worthy alternative for SIEM because of the various opportunities it provides.

What is the Difference between SOC and SIEM?

Security monitoring and threat detection are vital to having secure IT infrastructure in your organization. Without the components of cybersecurity, your organization will be blind to infiltrations, cyber threats, malicious activity by employees, and any other form of cyber-attack.

In reality, discovering such threats, risks or breaches is never easy. This is why it is crucial to invest in the right SIEM technology. To maximize the value that SIEM platforms or software provides, you will need to have comprehensive analytics, mature processes, automation, and an experienced team. This is where SOC comes in.

Both SIEM and SOC will give you a clear picture of what is happening within your organization's network. However, unless you have a good and professional in-house IT team, you will need the help of SOC-managed security services. Note that SIEM is the glue that holds a good SOC together and the SOC is built around your SIEM platform.

Benefits of SIEM Systems

SIEM systems mainly combine data from several sources, identify threats, vulnerabilities, or deviations from the norm, and take the right actions against the threats or risks. For example, when the system detects a threat, it can log additional information, alert, and instruct security controls to halt the progress of the vulnerable activity.

SIEM is a priceless tool for any SOC team, and it offers several benefits such as:

Increased Context

Several notifications of a cyberattack can be quickly dismissed as benign abnormalities when a system is in isolation. However, when you link multiple data points, you can detect and identify all threats in your network. SIEMs data analytics and collection will provide you with the context you need to identify all attacks.

Automated Threat Detection

A good number of SIEM solutions include built-in rules that help detect any suspicious activity within the network. For example, if there are several failed login attempts from a user's account, the system will detect that as a threat and expedite the alert. This will trigger the use of automated responses to some attacks.

Log Aggregation

SIEM platforms integrate with different kinds of security solutions and endpoints. The platform can automatically collect log files and alter any data that they generate. It will translate the data into a single format and make the final datasets available to SOC teams for incident detection, response, and risk hunting measures.

Reduced Alert Volume

Several organizations use various security solutions, and this creates an overflow of log and alert data. With a SIEM solution, you can organize and connect the data from the various security solutions and know the alerts that are most likely to lead to real threats. This way, the SOC analysts can focus their efforts on more curated alerts, ensuring that they do not waste time on false-positive alerts.

Disadvantages of SIEM

Though SIEMs are important, they are not perfect. At times, they may not offer SOC the solutions they need. Some of the limitations of SIEMs include:

Rules-Based Detection

Though SIEM platforms can automatically detect attacks and threats based on the data they collect, their threat detection abilities are mostly rule-based. This means, while the SIEM can accurately identify vulnerabilities, risks, or threats, it can overlook attacks that do not match a recognized pattern.

Configuration and Integration

SIEM is intended to connect to the different security solutions and endpoints within an organization's network. However, the available endpoints and security solutions must be set up before SIEM can be of value to the organization. Therefore, the SOC team will have to configure and integrate SIEM within the existing security architecture. Unfortunately, doing this takes the analysts away from monitoring, detecting, and dealing with active threats.

No Alert Validation

SIEM platforms gather data from various solutions in the network and use it to detect threats. Though the SIEM platform can generate alerts concerning potential threats based on the collected data and data analysis, it does not validate the alerts. Therefore, SOC analysts will have to respond to all alerts, including false-positive alerts.

Benefits of SOC

The main benefits of having a SOC are improved security threats, vulnerability, and risk detection. SOC analysts dedicate their time to continuously monitor and analyze data activity across an organization's endpoints, networks, databases, and servers, around the clock.

SOC teams give you immediate access to experts, and you will not have to assign time and resources to train an in-house cybersecurity team.

The 24/7 monitoring services provided by SOC ensure timely detection and response to security threats. As a result, your organization will be able to defend itself against intrusions and incidents regardless of the type of attack, source, or time of day. In addition, SOC closes the gap between the time an attack or attacker takes to compromise your data or network and the time it takes to respond to the threat.

Cons of SOC

Though SOC is beneficial, it may not fit every organization's cybersecurity budget. You will also not have a dedicated IT security team, and since the analysts are not part of your organization, they may not understand your operations and specific business.

SOC cannot be customized, and you will also have to deal with the limitations of storing your organization's data outside your premises. Consider a SOC as a Service

Final Thoughts

When considering SOC vs. SIEM, you may need to have both for a robust cybersecurity solution. SIEM may not make much sense if you do not have the best experts to monitor it. If you have any challenges in cybersecurity, investing in a SIEM alone will not solve all your problems. Therefore, unless you have an expert dedicated in-house cybersecurity team, you should consider having both. Though your SIEM can detect threats to your network, you will need the right experts with the talent, skills, and functionality needed to protect your organization.



Ron Samson Jr, Growth Marketing Manager - Strategist at Clearnetwork, Inc.  Clearnetwork is the next-generation cybersecurity company of choice for hundreds of small, midsize, and enterprise businesses that span the globe.

Published Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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