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HPE study finds SOCs lack maturity, skilled professionals


January 19, 2016  


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Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today published its third annual State of Security Operations Report 2016, highlighting the critical role security operations centres (SOCs) play in protecting today’s digital enterprise. As organizations face an increasingly volatile threat landscape, the report assesses SOC maturity levels to help organizations improve their security posture and understand the components of a successful security operations organization.

Published by HPE Security Intelligence and Operations Consulting (SIOC), the report examines 114 SOCs in more than 150 assessments around the globe and measures four areas of performance: people, processes, technology and business function.

This year’s report indicates that security operations maturity remains well below optimal levels, with 85% of assessed organizations falling below recommended maturity levels. While this number is alarmingly high, it accounts for the influx of new SOCs that enterprises are building to address evolving security challenges, HPE said in a release. These findings also demonstrate the need for organizations to strike the right performance balance across all areas of the SOC, from the foundation up, it added.

“Organizations are investing heavily in cyber security, but the lack of skilled resources and the deployment of advanced solutions without a solid SOC foundation in place remain top concerns,” said Chris Triolo, vice president of Security Product Global Services at HPE.

“To build a successful SOC, we recommend a holistic approach to security operations that includes mastering the basics of security monitoring, incident detection, breach escalation and response leveraging skilled resources from managed security services for complete or blended support, as well as implementing advanced data science, analytics and shared intelligence to more effectively protect the digital enterprise.”

 The study found that:

  • Access to skilled security resources remains the top concern of organizations. To combat personnel shortages, enterprises are implementing hybrid staffing and hybrid security infrastructure models that require less in-house expertise, while still delivering on detection capabilities.
  •  The average SOC lacks basic security monitoring capabilities. In 2015, 24% of assessed organizations only met minimum requirements to provide security monitoring, which translates to a lack of documentation with actions being executed on an ad hoc basis.
  •  Business functions of SOCs are improving. This year’s report shows that SOC professionals have improved their ability to prioritize critical business needs and allocate necessary personnel and technology resources. In the past, the majority of organizations invested heavily in technology solutions for the SOC without the support required to maximize the ROI of such tools. A continuous investment into all facets of a cyber-defense organization is necessary to achieve and maintain optimal maturity.
  • Modern SOCs are implementing the latest security trends including hunt teams, deception grids, and data analytics-driven security. Organizations moving to fifth-generation (5G/SOC) security operations are best equipped to recognize the changing threat landscape and approach security holistically.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) security monitoring is raising capabilities for businesses. Organizations in the energy and healthcare sectors that implemented smart meter monitoring and medical device monitoring, respectively, had higher maturity levels.

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