Differences Between NOC And SOC

Network Operations Centers (NOCs) are responsible for maintaining a company’s computer system’s technical infrastructure, while Security Operations Centers (SOCs) are responsible for protecting the organization against cyber threats.

The Network Operations Center (NOC)

A typical NOC team includes engineers and technicians who cautiously track an IT infrastructure. The team has many responsibilities, such as network and server monitoring and management, software installation and management, patch management, IT performance reporting, etc.

A NOC team will provide technical support and will ensure the organization can quickly identify and solve incidents related to uptime and performance. For instance, if NOC engineers notice any IT issues that can cause a network to slow down, they can remediate these problems before they lead to downtime that eventually impacts the organization’s staff or customers.

Network operations centers focus on preventing and solving network issues caused by natural disasters, power outages, and internet outages. In addition, a NOC can perform software patching for servers during off-hours to ensure minimal operational downtime. Also, NOC engineers work to constantly improve the organization’s IT performance. They may prevent incidents from happening, something that may help an organization simultaneously lower its IT costs and boost its productivity and efficiency.

The Security Operations Center (SOC)

Similar to a NOC, a SOC is another important part of an organization. As we have just seen, a NOC focuses on the IT infrastructure and its performance, but a SOC will maintain and improve the state of security of an organization.

Today’s companies are increasingly exposed to malware, DDoS, and other types of cyberattacks, but a SOC can protect your organization against such threats. A SOC team will include analysts who monitor and evaluate activity across enterprise applications, networks, websites, and other systems. If SOC analysts identify a suspicious activity, they will investigate it, and if they find that the organization’s system has been breached, they will take the necessary steps to address the incident in a timely manner.

As organizations implement more and more security tools there is a false sense of protection. Many tools will provide alerts when something suspicious occurs, but they still require human intervention to remedy the issue. Unfortunately, many attacks occur late at night, or before a long weekend due to a recognized holiday. Security is a 24×7 operation, and implementing a SOC will ensure you are protected 24x7x365.

NOC And SOC Challenges

The modern IT trends continue to put pressure on the existing IT teams that implement NOC or SOC functionalities. Organizations need to consider these challenges when developing NOC or SOC capabilities.

More Endpoints

The modern network continues to add devices and resources at a massive pace. In addition to the traditional endpoints, the modern network also includes a large array of connected devices such as, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, printers, etc.

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) also adds complexity to the mix because the IT team needs to verify if the BYOD device abides by company policy for updates, endpoint protection, etc.

NOC teams struggle to adapt traditional infrastructure to more connected devices and bandwidth requirements. SOC teams share the same focus as each connected device and additional traffic stream adds to their monitoring and analysis requirements.

Remote Work & Cloud Solutions

As the number of devices, installed and utilized applications increase, this situation complicates network monitoring. Wireless 4G and 5G connections now connect operational technology that used to sit isolated in the office and the shift to the cloud now moves many assets outside of the corporate perimeter.

Additionally, as the staff continues to shift to remote work, corporate networks are exposed to consumer grade or unsecured public wi-fi connections. These unprotected resources will continue to put pressure on both NOC and SOC teams that must configure and maintain strong IT security plans to create proper defenses against modern security challenges.

Cost Of Downtime

As we get more and more dependent on technology (applications, websites), the cost of downtime continues to increase, therefore NOC teams have a limited time frame to fix network disruptions even as they cover more devices and more physical and virtual distance. Meanwhile, the perpetrators move faster and attack more viciously challenging the SOC personnel to act faster to prevent or mitigate cyberattacks.

Nowadays, several tools utilize artificial intelligence or machine learning to handle repetitive analyses that improve the team’s response time. Still, the AI/ML assistance requires both NOC and SOC teams to learn more tools and adapt their methods to incorporate such solutions.

Organizations seeking to secure their networks should incorporate both a NOC and a SOC to build a modern and secure IT infrastructure. Therefore, a good collaboration between NOC and SOC will improve the efficiency of your response during a crisis situation.