How to Develop Next-Generation SOC Analysts, Part 1

While it’s easy to assume that a next-generation security operations center (SOC) analyst would have all the top security certifications, actively follow threat intelligence feeds and come with years of hard-earned experience, that is not always the case. In fact, the skills gap in the SOC is a well-documented and hotly debated issue in the cybersecurity industry.

So how can organizations ensure their SOC analysts have the skills and resources they need to adequately respond to threats and protect enterprise networks? Let’s start by looking at the issue from the perspective of an SOC management board.

Your Action Plan for Recruiting Next-Generation SOC Analysts

A goal without a plan is just a wish list. To build an SOC, you need to come up with an action plan that addresses the tools, automation, processes, procedures and workforce required to run the SOC. It doesn’t matter if it’s a startup, an existing IT firm or even a top managed security service provider (MSSP) — if you don’t take the time to assess your human and technological resources, your SOC will have critical gaps.

The type of analysts hiring managers should recruit varies depending on the company’s size and industry. However, any next-generation SOC analyst should be agile, passionate, patient and well-versed in conventional analysis.

Recruiting for the Upstart SOC

For startups, agility and patience are especially important. An employee might be a tier 1 analyst one day, but tasked with handling a major escalation the next day. A patient analyst can defuse dicey situations while promoting a sense of calm and confidence throughout the SOC.

Upskilling Existing Employees

If your existing organization aspires to become an SOC, your employees must first be willing and equipped to become SOC analysts. It doesn’t matter if John is a recent hire or that Sue is nearing retirement; SOC analysts work as a team, and passion is the glue that holds these employees together and keeps the organization running securely.

Retaining Highly Skilled Analysts

Well-established MSSP SOCs must already be doing something right, but there’s always the issue of retention. How can these organizations encourage their highly skilled analysts to stick around? Two words: acknowledgment and reward. Security leaders should make a point to praise their analysts when they go above and beyond and incentivize them with rewards such as paid time off, career development opportunities and, of course, raises and promotions when appropriate.

Next Step: Empower Your SOC Analysts

There is no secret to finding the most qualified next-generation SOC analyst to protect your enterprise, but you can position yourself to compete for scarce cybersecurity talent by implementing the right recruiting strategies and tools for your business’ needs and goals.

The next step, which we will discuss in more detail in my next post, is to empower analysts to supercharge their skills with security information and event management (SIEM) technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

Angelika Nowicka Venkata

Security Intelligence QRadar Client Technical Professional, IBM Security

I have 6 years of solid experience in the security field. I was working during these years in Security Operation...