Maintaining the security and integrity of computer networks is crucial, and the Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC) play critical roles in achieving this.
The purpose of this article is to explore the disparities between NOC and SOC and their respective roles in ensuring network security.
What is the purpose of the network operations control center?
The Network Operations Center (NOC) is responsible for sustaining a network’s smooth operation, including hardware, software, and infrastructure. The NOC’s primary function is to monitor network performance, diagnose and resolve network issues, and provide technical assistance to end-users.
Skilled technicians staff the NOC, whose job is to guarantee network stability and uptime.
The NOC typically monitors network traffic and executes routine maintenance tasks like software updates, system backups, and server reboots. They also collaborate with third-party vendors to address network equipment or software issues.
In brief, the NOC is accountable for ensuring that the network is always operational and performing at its peak.
What is the purpose of the Security Operations Center?
On the other hand, the Security Operations Center (SOC) is responsible for safeguarding the network against cyber threats.
The SOC’s primary function is to detect, analyze, and respond to security incidents. This includes monitoring network traffic and identifying potential security threats like malware, phishing attacks, and network intrusions.
Security analysts staff the SOC, who employ various tools and techniques to identify and respond to security incidents. They also help align with security policies, conduct vulnerability assessments and collaborate with law enforcement agencies in the event of a cyber attack.
What is the difference between a NOC and SOC?
The primary function
The main difference between the NOC and SOC is their primary function. While the NOC is focused on preserving network performance and uptime, the SOC concentrates on identifying and responding to security threats. The NOC is concerned with the network’s overall health, while the SOC is focused on shielding the network from cyber threats.
Staff Skill Set
Another distinction is the skill set of the personnel who work in each center. The NOC typically hires technicians with a background in networking and infrastructure maintenance.
In contrast, the SOC employs security analysts with experience in cybersecurity and threat analysis.
Tools Used by Each Team
Regarding operations, the NOC usually employs network monitoring tools like SNMP, NetFlow, and packet sniffers to track network performance.
In comparison, the SOC employs security tools such as intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and security information and event management (SIEM) platforms to monitor security incidents.
The NOC’s response time is typically shorter than the SOC’s. The NOC is expected to respond to any network-related issues immediately and ensure network uptime.
In contrast, the SOC is focused on identifying and responding to security threats, which necessitates time to analyze the problem and determine the appropriate response.
The NOC usually collaborates with other teams in the IT department, such as database administrators, developers, and end-users, to maintain the network infrastructure.
On the other hand, the SOC also works closely with other departments like legal, compliance, and risk management, as well as law enforcement agencies, to respond to security incidents and mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks.
Do not treat your NOC as a SOC
It is essential to recognize that the NOC and SOC serve different functions and require different skill sets, tools, and response times. While the NOC is responsible for maintaining network infrastructure and ensuring its availability, the SOC’s focus is on identifying and mitigating security threats.
A company must not use its NOC as a SOC because the two functions require unique expertise and distinct resources. Although the NOC staff has a solid technical background in networking and infrastructure maintenance, they may not possess the expertise needed to identify and respond to security incidents.
Additionally, the tools used in a NOC are geared toward network performance monitoring, while those used in a SOC are designed for security threat detection and mitigation. Using the wrong set of tools could lead to ineffective or delayed responses to security incidents.
Moreover, NOC staff may not have the appropriate response time required for mitigating a security threat. Typically, the NOC is expected to respond to any network-related issues immediately and ensure network uptime, while the SOC focuses on identifying and responding to security threats, which necessitates time to analyze the problem and determine the appropriate response.
In summary, the NOC and SOC have different roles, responsibilities, and staff requirements.
The NOC focuses on sustaining the availability and performance of the network infrastructure, while the SOC focuses on detecting, analyzing, and responding to security threats. Both centers are essential for ensuring network stability and security.
Dimitris is an Information Technology and Cybersecurity professional with more than 20 years of experience in designing, building and maintaining efficient and secure IT infrastructures.
Among others, he is a certified: CISSP, CISA, CISM, ITIL, COBIT and PRINCE2, but his wide set of knowledge and technical management capabilities go beyond these certifications. He likes acquiring new skills on penetration testing, cloud technologies, virtualization, network security, IoT and many more.