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Why building an in-house SOC is not the right path for a small to medium sized business?

Why Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Shouldn’t Build Their Own SOC

July 9, 2024

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have to face the formidable challenge of dealing with advanced cyber attacks in our current digital generation. This article delves into why outsourcing a Security Operations Center (SOC) offers a more viable solution for SMBs than establishing one in-house and explores the myriad challenges, advantages, and essential factors for choosing the right SOC provider to strengthen security, ensure compliance, and sustain business continuity.

A SOC is an essential hub where a team of cybersecurity experts continuously monitors, analyzes, and responds to cybersecurity threats to maintain an organization's security stance.

What is SOC Outsourcing for SMBs?

SOC outsourcing is a cost-effective solution for SMBs that does not require them to build an in-house SOC, which is often beyond their reach due to high costs and complexities. It enables SMBs to utilize managed security services from specialized providers. This approach offers access to advanced threat detection and incident response capabilities and allows SMBs to focus on their core business operations without needing an internal security team. By leveraging SOC as a service, SMBs can enhance their security framework and protect their digital assets against cyber threats with support from a dedicated team of security professionals.

What are the Challenges of Managing an In-House SOC for SMBs?

Obstacles in managing an in-house SOC for SMBs

For SMBs, establishing and managing an in-house SOC presents several daunting challenges including the following:

  1. High Costs: Building an in-house SOC requires significant security technology and infrastructure investment. According to findings from the Ponemon Institute, the average annual cost of maintaining an in-house SOC can exceed $1 million. The costs associated with hiring a team of cybersecurity experts and acquiring advanced security controls and threat intelligence systems can thus be excessive for smaller businesses.
  1. Recruitment and Retention Issues: Cybersecurity is highly competitive, and SMBs frequently struggle to attract and retain skilled security professionals. Without a dedicated team, maintaining an effective incident response and managing security incidents becomes a significant burden. The cybersecurity talent shortage continues to be a major challenge, with 41% of organizations identifying it as a top concern in a recent survey conducted by Arctic Wolf.
  1. The complexity of Security Management: The threat landscape requires a SOC that can dynamically adapt to new cyber threats. For SMBs, the complexity of managing a SOC that stays ahead of sophisticated cybercriminals and cyber attacks like data breaches demands the resources and expertise they often lack.
  1. Diversion from Core Business: Running an internal SOC requires ongoing attention and management, potentially diverting focus from the core business operations of SMBs and impacting the overall productivity and growth of the business.
  1. Scalability Issues: As the business grows, so does its security needs. Scaling an in-house SOC to match increasing requirements can be slow and expensive, often lagging behind actual security requirements.

SMBs Should Outsource Their Security Operations

For SMBs, outsourcing security operations to a SOC provider offers several compelling benefits, including expertise and advanced technologies, cost-effectiveness, the ability to focus on business growth, scalability and flexibility, and enhanced compliance and risk management. Many SMBs operate under strict regulatory requirements related to data security and privacy. SOC providers can help businesses meet these requirements consistently and decrease the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.

According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses are disproportionately affected by data breaches, representing 43% of breach victims.

Why Cyberattackers Target SMBs?

Cyberattackers target SMBs because of the outlined reasons below:

Perceived Lower Security Measures in SMBs

Cybercriminals often perceive small and medium-sized businesses as having weaker security measures collated with larger organizations, making them attractive targets for cyber attacks, as their security infrastructure may lack the sophisticated defenses that larger companies implement. The absence of a dedicated security team or SOC can delay the detection and response to security incidents, increasing vulnerability.

Valuable Data and Intellectual Property at Risk

Despite their size, many SMBs possess valuable data and intellectual property that are lucrative to cybercriminals, including customer information, proprietary business data, and intellectual assets that, if compromised, can fetch high rewards on the dark web. The assumption that smaller enterprises have lower security controls and cybersecurity measures can lead to targeted attacks with the intent to exploit.

The Impact of Data Breaches on Small Businesses

The consequences of a data breach on small businesses can be devastating and far-reaching. Beyond the immediate financial losses, SMBs often suffer severe damage to their reputation and customer trust, which are significantly harder to restore. The operational disruptions and legal ramifications can jeopardize their core business operations and long-term survival.

What are the challenges to SOC Outsourcing for SMBs?

SOC outsourcing offers numerous benefits for SMBs but also presents unique challenges:

Managing Third-Party Risks

When SMBs outsource their SOC, they entrust their cybersecurity to external service providers, and while this collaboration is cost-effective, it introduces third-party risks, such as potential data breaches, if the SOC provider's security controls are inadequate. SMBs must diligently assess the security stance of their chosen provider and demand transparency in security practices to mitigate these risks. Regular audits and compliance checks can help maintain a resilient security framework.

Ensuring Effective Communication

Effective communication between the SMB and the outsourced SOC provider is necessary for timely threat detection and incident response. Any lapse in this area can lead to misinterpretations and delayed responses to security incidents. Establishing clear communication protocols and regular updates can ensure that both parties are aligned and proactive in managing potential cyber threats.

Aligning Outsourced Services with Business Objectives

To truly benefit from SOC outsourcing, SMBs must ensure that the outsourced services align closely with their business objectives, such as customizing the SOC services to address specific security needs and business risks. A dedicated SOC that understands the specific threat terrain and business model of the SMB can provide tailored security solutions that protect the business and support its growth.

How to Choose the Right SOC Service Provider for SMBs?

Points to consider while choosing a SOC provider as an SMB

Here are the key aspects to consider while choosing a SOC provider for small and medium-sized businesses:

Criteria for Selecting a SOC Provider

Selecting the right SOC provider for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) involves several essential criteria.

First, the provider’s experience with handling security incidents specific to your industry is paramount. Additionally, assess their ability to offer cost-effective, scalable SOC services that match your business's size and security needs. It's also important to evaluate the details of the provider's service level agreements (SLA). It's essential to ensure they have a robust security posture, employing advanced security technologies and threat detection capabilities.

Importance of Industry Experience and References

The provider’s industry experience provides insights into their proficiency in managing and mitigating industry-specific threats. A reputable SOC provider will have a track record of effectively protecting similar businesses from cyber attacks and data breaches. References from current clients can offer real-world proof of their security solutions' effectiveness and their team’s expertise in cybersecurity.

Evaluating the Security Technologies and Capabilities of the Provider

A thorough evaluation of the provider's security technologies is crucial. Look for the latest in security information and event management (SIEM), cloud security, and incident response tools. The ability of the SOC team to integrate cutting-edge security controls and provide continuous monitoring will significantly enhance your company’s security posture.

Assessing the Provider's Compliance with Standards and Regulations

Compliance is another critical factor, especially for SMBs operating in regulated industries. Ensure the SOC provider adheres to relevant standards and regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA, safeguarding your business against regulatory penalties and reassuring your customers and partners about the security of their data.

Outsource your SOC with Eventus

Choosing to outsource your SOC with Eventus shields your organization from the intricate landscape of cyber threats but also integrates seamlessly into your existing operational framework, enhancing your security stance with minimal disruption. At Eventus, we're dedicated to providing top-tier cybersecurity expertise and cutting-edge technology. Ready to reinforce your defenses and simplify your security operations? Contact Eventus today and take the first step towards a more secure future for your business.

Siddhartha Shree Kaushik
Siddhartha Shree Kaushik is a Senior Cyber Security Expert at Eventus with extensive technical expertise across a spectrum of domains including penetration testing, red teaming, digital forensics, defensible security architecture, and Red-Blue team exercises within modern enterprise infrastructure.
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