10 Tips to Unify SOC and NOC
September 14, 2012

Amy Feldman

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The following blog is by my colleague Sridhar Karnam, a product marketing manager for HP enterprise security, who has worked with both IT operations and enterprise security groups at HP:

The emergence of Enterprise 2.0 with social, mobile, local, and cloud applications within the enterprise have increased IT operational challenges. Other trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) are adding new dimensions that are challenging for IT Operations due to diversified form, OS, vendors, etc. Your customers and employees are demanding an open platform to facilitate better collaboration. However, your IT operations may not be in position to support Enterprise 2.0 or BYOD due to security challenges or resource constraints. So, how do you align your business requirements and IT resources, while keeping it secure?

In many organizations, security operations work in siloes to IT Operations. As a result, security vulnerabilities have to be handled twice: once by the SOC groups or security teams, and secondly by the IT Operations team who could not initially identify the issue.

Consequently, you cannot establish any automation for information sharing or event correlation between security vulnerabilities and performance issues. Let us see how some of these automation challenges can be addressed between security and IT Operations.

Here are 10 tips for efficient SOC/NOC collaboration:

1. Centralized approach

You can act only if you understand the problem. You can understand only if you can see the problem. So, you cannot secure it if you cannot see it.

How do you get visibility into all the problems in your IT?

Having a centralized approach to manage Big Data. Avoid patch solutions to fill gaps in your IT security. Don't rely on point vendors to help you with your IT issues. The complexity of the problem increases with multiple point solutions. Look for a single vendor with seamlessly integrated tools.

2. Consolidated view

Get a consolidated view of IT security, IT Governance, Risk, Compliance (GRC), and IT operations data. There are executive dashboards for each of them in the market; however, it is important to get a consolidated view of your entire IT aligning with your overall business.

3. Comprehensive log management

Avoid using tools that reduce the number of events to avoid false positives or limit the breadth and depth of data collection. With the emerging trends and explosion of data, you need to collect everything and analyze each log or event. So, use comprehensive log management solutions to manage your entire IT. Log management tools not only collect every log from all log generating sources but also help store the events for a long time after filtering and parsing.

4. Security-based event correlation

There are many event correlation tools with IT operations, however you need a security focused event correlation engine. It is important to connect users with roles, responsibilities, access controls, and trends to answer questions such as: Who did what? When? And how?

5. Network security

An IT operation has network monitoring tools. Security Ops also has security tools such as intrusion prevention system (IPS), however you need tools that integrate and augment these tools with log management and event correlation capabilities. Change management poses a risk within the network that can be mitigated and checked with these comprehensive log management tools integrated with network security tools.

6. Application security

Develop threat immunity through the development of applications. There are tools that can help you test your code for security vulnerabilities. If you are outsourcing or using 3rd party apps then there are tools to test the apps' vulnerabilities as well. If you cannot perform these tests through automation, you should at least do a manual QA of apps from a security viewpoint to ensure app security.

7. Network and applications security intelligence

Adding digital vaccination to IPS tools as described earlier, through a threat reputation database, keeps your network and apps updated with the latest known threats in the market. It is like updating your laptop security software except it has a database of every known threat and configuration change of every network component.

8. Unified data

The amount of data you handle will increase exponentially. The more security and network devices you add, the more data you create. So, you need to make sure that you unify the entire log data that you collect in various formats into a single format. This helps you to use the same unified data for searching, indexing, reporting, analyzing, and archiving the log and event data.

9. Simplify unstructured data

You are going from suppressed structured data into collecting and analyzing every single data for security breach using IT ops tools. This demands simplifying the handling of unstructured data. Data unification helps you keep all data in a simple flat file, enriched with metadata. Having a simple search tool enhances the user experience.

10. Resource optimization

Share tools, knowledge, and talent pool. These three will help you train a larger pool of IT people on both SOC and NOC tasks. You not only build domain expertise, but also keep the talent pool well-trained in case of attrition. If you follow the first nine tips, you could easily rotate jobs of IT managers in your organization and make them excited to work in your IT organization.

Amy Feldman is Director of AIOps Product Marketing at Broadcom
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