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How to Choose Incident Alert Management Tools for Your SOC

security operations centerA security operations center (SOC) is the centralization of your security processes and tooling. It can enable you to monitor for, evaluate, and respond to incidents across your organization with increased efficiency and effectiveness. By centralizing your security efforts, you create greater visibility into your systems and can better analyze and detect threats.

At the core of an SOC is your SOC team. Teams typically include a combination of managers, analysts, and engineers working together to neutralize threats. This team may also oversee or provide guidance for the security operations of distributed sites. 

A SOC team typically uses alert notifications to handle security events. However, when teams are understaffed and there is no alert prioritization, teams experience alert fatigue. This article reviews the responsibilities of a SOC team, and explains how to choose incident alert management tools that eliminate or reduce alert fatigue.

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Responsibilities of a SOC Team

When setting up your security operations center, one of your first steps is to understand your team requirements and responsibilities. Once you are familiar with these responsibilities, you can begin choosing the right people for your team. 

Implement and Manage Security Tools and Policies

Your SOC team is responsible for selecting, configuring, maintaining, and operating your security tooling. They are also often responsible for creating and enforcing security policies and procedures. 

This means team members need to be familiar with more than the basics of security. They should have an understanding of what is needed to protect your system as a whole and how to apply protections effectively. 

Detect, Investigate, and Respond to Suspicious Events

The core purpose of a SOC team is to detect all threats to your system and prevent those threats from causing damage. This requires continuously monitoring systems, applying threat intelligence data, and analyzing results.

While much of this work can be performed by security tooling, higher-level analysis and response still rely on security professionals. Team members need to be able to work with tools to successfully interpret the alerts and correlations that are returned. 

Reduce Downtime and Ensure Business Continuity

When SOC teams operate effectively, they can reduce or eliminate downtime created by threats. This helps reduce damages to revenues and customer relationships. It also helps you limit the exposure of systems and data as fast responses limit the time that a potential attacker has in your system.

Teams should include members that understand the overall operations of the organization, including business priorities. When teams understand which assets and operations are key, they can better distribute their resources, focusing on those assets with the greatest value.

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Incident Alert Management: A Major Challenge 

Even the most carefully selected SOC teams are likely to face challenges to operations. One of the most significant challenges is often alert fatigue. Alert fatigue occurs when teams are overwhelmed by information from tooling. It results in alerts being overlooked and can lead to serious security incidents.

Alert fatigue can occur when teams are understaffed, when systems are bombarded with threats, or when tooling is insufficient or incorrectly configured. Addressing the last cause can help you reduce the impacts of the prior ones making it an effective place to start. 

When tooling is the cause of alert fatigue it is often because:

  • Systems are not properly evaluating threats resulting in inconclusive or false-positive results.
  • Threats and associated alerts are not being effectively prioritized.
  • Alerts are not going to the right place.
  • Duplicate alerts are coming from multiple sources.

To address this, your team needs to carefully evaluate the tooling they are implementing and how it is configured. Solutions should work together, centralizing collection, processing, and alerting. When events are evaluated, the priority level of the asset or event should be accounted for and reflected in the results. 

Another practice that can help is adopting an alert management tool. While these tools cannot make your alerts more accurate, they can help you ensure that your alerts are trackable and effectively addressed. Alert management tools enable you to control the delivery of system alerts, keep tabs on alert responses, and can provide valuable feedback when evaluating response effectiveness.

How to Choose Incident Alert Management Tools

When choosing an incident alert management tool, there are several considerations you should keep in mind. Taking time to carefully choose the right tool can save you significant frustration later and help ensure that your response times are as fast as possible. 

Factors to consider include:

  • Visibility—tools should provide easy visibility and reporting of alerts and alert responses. This ensures that team members can effectively collaborate on issues and is useful for providing high-level response information to stakeholders. 
  • Mobility—tools should provide access to alerts and associated data from anywhere. This includes mobile devices, workstations, and remote offices. Additionally, you should be able to specify to which devices alerts are sent, when alerts are sent, and what data is contained. 
  • Scalability—like any tool, your alert solutions should be scalable. As your system grows and changes, your alert management tool needs to be able to integrate new sources of data and provide alert information to more devices and team members.
  • Security—alert management tools need to prioritize internal security. Alerts typically contain sensitive system information that you don’t want to be intercepted. This means encrypting alert data that is sent to external or remote devices and applying appropriate authentication measures to ensure that only legitimate sources can receive alerts. 

Incident Alert Management With OnPage

The incident alert management process is streamlined with OnPage’s award-winning platform. OnPage’s alerting solution provides persistent, intrusive audible notifications until addressed on mobile by the assigned on-call recipient

OnPage eliminates alert fatigue through high-priority alerting, easily distinguishable from every other mobile notification. This way, the tasked recipient will always know the severity of an alert and the need for an incident’s immediate resolution. 

IT managers need to set expectations regarding what their engineers can expect from life on call at their organization. By using OnPage, managers can ensure that the experience, while not a cake walk, is a manageable aspect of the job and that alert fatigue will be under control.

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