What is Security Operations?
Security Operations (SecOps) is the collaborative efforts of security and IT professionals to protect and organization’s networks and data.
- SecOps is an approach to promote integration between IT and security operations staff that is proving successful against cyberattacks.
- SecOps aims to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and improve an organization's overall security posture.
- The primary goal of SecOps is to align conflicting motivations of different IT and security teams.
- The combination of IT and security operations brings organizations the best of both worlds, allowing teams to share knowledge and experience to predict and address cybersecurity threats.
Within any organization, the connection, collaboration, and communication between various departments and teams is a key component of success and growth. The IT and cybersecurity professionals that make up a company’s cybersecurity operations are no exception. In an area that has often suffered from siloization and conflicting motivations, fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and coordination is critical to network and data integrity.
Today, in an effort to address the misalignment of objectives between IT teams, IT managers are introducing new methodologies that promote greater integration between IT and security operations staff. SecOps is one such approach to this issue and one that is proving successful in the fight against ever-evolving cybersecurity attacks.
Here, we explore exactly what SecOps is, how it benefits organizations, and how the tools and technologies used in SecOps security can be implemented to build best practice cybersecurity.
What is SecOps?
SecOps is a term used to describe the collaborative efforts of security and IT professionals to protect an organization's networks and the data they contain. SecOps aims to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and improve an organization's overall security posture.
To be effective, SecOps must be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Security and IT professionals need to work regularly to identify risks, implement controls, and monitor activity. By sharing information and insight, security operations teams can more effectively protect organizations from cyberattacks while simultaneously building more resilient defenses that work to anticipate potential vulnerabilities.
While the term SecOps is relatively new, the concept is not. Organizations have long recognized the need for close collaboration between security and IT to protect networks and data. However, as cyberthreats have continued to proliferate and become more sophisticated, SecOps is now more critical than ever before.
The Goals of SecOps
The primary goal of SecOps is to align the conflicting motivations of different IT and security teams. Generally, SecOps means focusing on bringing together those who develop and update applications and software, those who are concerned with network and application performance, and those who strive to maintain security across a broad range of network activity and data sharing.
Identifying how well these teams currently interact and collaborate underpins the approach and is the first step to achieving these goals. From here, IT management can establish a realistic plan to improve organizational security. Subsequently, this should allow a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that aligns all teams and their individual goals.
This stands in stark contrast to most existing models that only introduce security considerations towards the end of the development process, meaning both development and performance teams are required to make unwanted changes, and operations security is forced to deal with problematic design features that have the potential to undermine SOC protocols.
Streamlining the collaboration and communication between these disparate elements within IT and security teams is the fundamental meaning of SecOps. However, this methodology also presents many other benefits to organizations looking to improve cybersecurity.
The Benefits of SecOps
The combination of IT and security operations brings organizations the best of both worlds, allowing teams to share knowledge and experience to predict and address cybersecurity threats. SecOps also offers the following benefits to further boost cybersecurity operations:
- 24x7 Protection — SecOps security provides continuous coverage, usually splitting team members from both IT and security into shifts.
- Fast Response Times — Continuous coverage means faster response times when a threat is detected. Additionally, utilizing the knowledge base of both teams means more robust detection and response.
- Cost-efficient Cybersecurity Operations — When compared with siloed security measures, SecOps significantly improves ROI.
- Improved Productivity — Since security is involved with the entire development process, fewer vulnerabilities and other issues must be addressed further down the line.
- Reduced Security Issues and Disruptions — Less downtime is the holy grail of SecOps, and better security implementations during app development will translate into fewer disruptions.
- Improved Compliance — Security operations monitor and report compliance metrics throughout the entire process, rather than only at the end.
How to Get Started with SecOps
Beginning a fresh approach to security operations requires certain knowledge, tools, and processes to be implemented within IT and security teams. These should support or replace existing processes where necessary and include:
- Implementing Earlier Analysis — Most large organizations will already be checking large swathes of coding or entire programs for security issues. Starting with SecOps, however, smaller code segments are routinely checked for issues, allowing earlier analysis of potential vulnerabilities.
- Increasing Transparency — With more streamlined collaboration, SecOps allows development, security, and operations to boost transparency between the respective teams. This cross-communication is crucial to its success and should be fostered at the beginning of SecOps rollout.
- Improving Security — SecOps aims to improve security over time as data is collated and analyzed. This means that SecOps teams should begin by examining existing data to support programming and operations and then build into the future from this baseline.
- Raising Threat Awareness — Integrating the security team's threat awareness knowledge with that of IT and development teams will ensure that everyone can view the SecOps approach with the same level of understanding from the beginning.
SecOps Team Best Practices
Well-meaning SecOps approaches often fail to prepare for everything the methodology involves. To remedy this, security operations teams should adhere to a range of best practices that keep both IT and security teams on the same page and working towards the same goals. These can include:
- Organizing SecOps Training — Whether in-house, performed by a qualified team member, or via external programs and courses, standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be taught to the entire SecOps team. SOPs will enable the monitoring and analysis of existing practices to identify new or developing vulnerabilities.
- Introducing SecOps Tools — Security ops tools often form the backbone of the SecOps approach. This includes automation platforms and integration tools.
- Sharing Operations Processes — It is important to extend operations processes to the security team, and not the other way around. Fundamentally, operations processes should lead the way for the security team since they are more extensive, practical, and easily scalable.
Tools and Technologies Used in SecOps
A comprehensive approach to SecOps includes a broad range of tools designed to identify and combat threats in tandem with security and IT teams. Alongside conventional firewalls and VPNs, SecOps security should also factor in:
- DNS security tools
- Network detection and response tools
- Anti-phishing tools
- Data discovery tools
- Packet-level visibility tools
- SIEM tools
Taken together, these tools can provide a solid base from which to monitor and respond to threats, as well as improve security processes as data is aggregated and analyzed.
The Future of SecOps
SecOps is defined by its collaborative and cooperative nature, bringing together teams that have historically worked separately and dealt with issues independently. However, as this collection of silos becomes increasingly connected with one another, the future of security operations looks bright, with robust cybersecurity protocols integrated at each stage of development and eventually release.
However, with more people than ever before working from home, ensuring collaboration remains streamlined is a challenge. With this in mind, increased knowledge sharing is key to the continued development of security operations. This area, alongside developments in AI software, is where organizations should plan for the future.
The Bottom Line
As a logical development of DevOps, SecOps aims to increase cybersecurity from the ground up, enabling code to factor in robust security measures at each stage of development, programming, and release management. IT also has the ability to go beyond this and protect the entire operations cycle of an organization, providing a coordinated effort to keep cyberattacks at bay.
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