SMBs can benefit Immensely from SOC services

MSPs should follow these best practices when selling outsourced SOC services

Chris Crellin, senior director of product management, Barracuda MSP

New security threats are constantly emerging and evolving. As more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) embrace cloud-based applications and compute resources, as well as remote work scenarios, it has become more challenging to efficiently secure their networks from attacks.

Cyber security requires constant vigilance, which means continuous monitoring of the network, applications, and email servers for suspicious activity. Even a few hours delay in identifying and responding to a potential attack could leave your clients vulnerable to a data breach or a ransomware attack. 

That level of monitoring can be accomplished by using a security operations center (SOC). The SOC serves as a central hub or command post where security experts and technology come together to monitor threat activity across the entire network. The SOC allows companies to monitor, detect, investigate and respond to attacks and cyber threats 24/7. 

However, not many SMBs can effectively operate and manage their own SOC. There simply aren’t enough qualified cybersecurity professionals available for a small company to manage the establishment of an internal SOC. This is where MSPs with a robust security offering can play a key role. By offering outsourced SOC services, MSPs can provide network monitoring and management in a way that’s affordable and sustainable for their SMB clients. 

Offering SOC as a service is not only valuable for clients, but it’s also lucrative for the MSP, which can monitor and manage multiple clients from the same SOC platform. 

There are several best practices to follow for MSPs that plan to offer SOC as a service.

Find a reliable technology partner. For an MSP (even a larger one) to build its own SOC offering would require a significant investment in both technology and staff. And with the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, you may not be able to hire enough personnel no matter how big the budget is. Plus, an SOC is a 24-hour operation. Tapping into an existing resource saves MSPs money and provides a way to meet clients’ 24/7 monitoring needs that may otherwise be out of reach.

Select an integrated, automated technology platform. The SOC encompasses many different roles and technologies. MSPs need a platform that provides automatic monitoring across multiple clients, along with the ability to identify a wide variety of threats. The Barracuda SKOUT Managed XDR solution, for example, offers wraparound SOC services without the headache and expense of cobbling together a DIY solution.

The SOC must be comprehensive. For a SOC to be effective, it has to have visibility into all assets, applications, and network connection points. That should include third-party services and network traffic. 

The SOC should leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve its monitoring capabilities constantly. For example, the tools used by the SOC should scan the network at all times to flag suspicious activity. In addition, monitoring tools should offer behavioral analysis so that the system can learn the difference between regular traffic and operations and actual threats. The system should also be able to effectively evaluate and rank alerts to minimize disruptions and maximize response times.

Essentially, the SOC has to act as a first-responder to cyber threats, performing actions like shutting down servers, isolating endpoints, terminating harmful processes, deleting files, and restricting user credentials.

For MSPs, selling SOC services requires emphasizing cybersecurity as a business problem rather than an IT problem. Leveraging a SOC platform helps clients minimize risk, increase uptime, and avoid the adverse publicity associated with these attacks. 

While a robust SOC can protect endpoints, email servers, and databases, the security conversation should focus on what the client needs to protect to ensure its business operates successfully. That may be vital intellectual property, specific data sets, business research, prospect lists—it will vary by industry. From there, the MSP can explain how a holistic approach to security can ensure those assets remain safe by leveraging the specific modules of the technology platform.

With the frequency of ransomware attacks only increasing, particularly against smaller companies, the ability to constantly monitor the network and take rapid action through SOC services is critical for minimizing the damage caused by one of these attacks. 

Chris Crellin is Senior Director of Product Management for Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for leading product strategy and management.