A Leader-Class SOC: The Sky’s the Limit

By on Dec 06, 2017

This blog was written by Jason Rolleston.

This has been quite a year for McAfee, as we not only roll out our vision, but also start to fulfill that vision.

We’ve established our world view: endpoint and cloud as the critical control points for cybersecurity and the Security Operations Center (SOC) as the central analytics hub and situation room. While we’ve talked a lot about endpoint and cloud over the past year, we’ve only recently started exposing our thinking and our innovation in the SOC, and I would like to delve a bit deeper.

SOCs provide dedicated resources for incident detection, investigation, and response. For much of the past decade, the SOC has revolved around a single tool, the Security Incident and Event Manager (or SIEM). The SIEM was used to collect and retain log data, to correlate events and generate alerts, to monitor, to report, to investigate, and to respond. In many ways, the SIEM has been the SOC.

However, in the past couple of years, we’ve seen extensive innovation in the security operations center. This innovation is being fueled by an industry-wide acceptance of the increased importance of security operations, powerful technical innovations (analytics, machine learning), and the ever-evolving security landscape. The old ways of doing things are no longer sufficient to handle increasingly sophisticated attacks. We need do something different.

McAfee believes this next generation SOC will be modular, open, and content-driven.

And automated. Integration of data, analytics, and machine learning are the foundations of the advanced SOC.

The reason for this is simple: increased volume.  In the last two years, companies polled in a McAfee survey said the amount of data they collect to support cybersecurity activities has increased substantially (28%) or somewhat (49%). There are important clues in all that data, but the new and different attacks get lost in the noise. Individual alerts are not especially meaningful – patterns, context, and correlations are required to determine potential importance, and these constructs require analytics – at high speed and sophistication, with a model for perpetually remaining up-to-date as threat actors and patterns change. We need the machines to do more of the work, freeing the humans to understand business-specific patterns, design efficient processes, and manage the policies that protect each organization’s risk posture.

SIEM remains a crucial part of the SOC. The use cases for SIEM are extensive and fundamental to SOC success: data ingestion, parsing, threat monitoring, threat analysis, and incident response. The McAfee SIEM is especially effective at high performance correlations and real-time monitoring that are now mainstream for security operations. We are pleased to announce that McAfee has been recognized for the seventh consecutive time as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Information and Event Management.* And we’re not stopping there — we’re continuing to evolve our SIEM with a high volume, open data pipeline that enables companies to collect more data without breaking the bank.

An advanced SOC builds on a SIEM to further optimize analytics, integrating data, and process elements of infrastructure to facilitate identification, interpretation, and automation. A modular and open architecture helps SOC teams add in the advanced analytics and inspection elements that take SOCs efficiently from initial alert triage through to scoping and active response.

Over the past year, we’ve worked extensively partnering with over eight UEBA vendors to drive integration with our SIEM. At our recent customer conference in Las Vegas, MPOWER, we announced our partnership with Interset to deliver McAfee Behavioral Analytics. Look for more information about that in the new year. I also want to reinforce our commitment to being open and working with the broader ecosystem in this space, even as we bring an offer to market. No one has a monopoly on good ideas and good math – we’ve got to work together. Together is Power.

We also launched McAfee Investigator at MPOWER, a net new offering that takes alerts from a SIEM and uses data from endpoints and other sources to discover key insights for SOC analysts at machine speed. Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, McAfee Investigator helps analysts get to high quality and accurate answers, fast.

The initial response is great: we’ve seen early adopter customers experience a 5-16x increase in
analyst investigation efficiency. Investigations that took hours are taking minutes. Investigations that took days are taking hours. Customers are excited and so are we!

In short – we have a lot cooking in the SOC and we are just getting started.

Look for continued fulfillment of McAfee’s vision in 2018. The sky’s the limit.




*Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Information and Event Management, Kelly M. Kavanagh, Toby Bussa, 4 December 2017. From 2015-16, McAfee was listed as Intel Security, and in 2011, McAfee was listed as Nitro Security since it acquired the company in 2011.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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McAfee Enterprise

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