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SOC Analyst - How to Become one, Job description, Salary, and skills.

SOC Analyst - How to Become one, Job description, Salary, and skills.

The Security Operations Center (SOC) plays a vital role in an organization’s security operations. It serves as a central hub equipped with a range of tools and technologies designed to detect, analyze, and respond to cyber threats. The SOC provides crucial situational awareness by continuously monitoring the organization’s network and systems, ensuring that any potential threats are promptly identified and addressed. Once a threat is detected, the SOC team analyzes its nature and severity, determining the appropriate course of action. Additionally, the SOC is responsible for communicating the threat to relevant stakeholders within the organization, ensuring that all necessary measures are taken to mitigate the risk effectively.

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What is SOC?

As mentioned, SOC stands for Security Operations Center. The main goal of the members of this team is to monitor, select, and prevent the company from all sorts of cyberattacks. The SOC team of an organization protects significant and confidential company data, along with the brand integrity and business systems of the company. The team integrates and implements the complete Cyber Security strategy of the organization and is the main point of contact for monitoring and avoiding digital attacks.

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Now, let’s read in detail about who SOC Analysts are and what is it that they do in an organization.

What is a SOC Analyst?

SOC Analysts are like Cyber Security Analysts who are among the first in an organization to respond to cyberattacks. They inform about the cyber threats and make improvements in the organization to protect it from any malicious attack. They begin by reviewing incident notifications, after which they run vulnerability assessments and report their findings to their seniors.

The SOC Analyst job description and responsibilities in an organization are listed below:

  • Monitor the security access and report probable cyberattacks to a superior employee in the company
  • Perform risk analysis and security operations to find any vulnerability that can have an impact on the company
  • Find security breaches, along with their root cause
  • Create reports that will allow experts to make changes in the security policies as per the needs of the organization
  • Come up with improvement strategies for better company security
  • Update the company’s security systems regularly to avoid any cyberattack
  • Perform security audits

Now that you have briefly learned about what SOC is, who SOC professionals are, and what they do, it is time to read about the qualifications and experience you need to have to become a professional in this field.

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SOC Analyst Requirements

To become a successful SOC Analyst, it is important that you meet the necessary criteria that are generally demanded by most organizations around the world. Here, you will read about the education qualification you need, along with the skillset you must master, to get into this job profile.

SOC Analyst Requirements

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Education Qualification to Be a SOC Analyst

To start your career in this domain, you should have a bachelor’s degree in the field of computer science or other similar sectors. Further, you must also go through proper training from a well-reputed institute, gain certification, and become a Certified SOC Analyst (CSA). This is the first step that you need to take to become a member of the SOC team in any company.

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Skills to Be a SOC Analyst

You need to have some specific skills to land your job in this field and move ahead in your career. Following are the skills that you need to acquire to become a CSA:

Network defenders

You need to be able to defend the network as it is one of the primary responsibilities of CSA in any company. It will allow you to monitor, discover, and analyze any possible threats through the Internet that can disturb the network. It is easy for hackers to attack the network as they are connected to the Internet actively and can easily explore vulnerabilities. You should have the skills to keep the network traffic in check and respond to any skeptical activities.

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Ethical Hacking

SOC professionals with expert skills in Ethical Hacking have the knowledge required to identify potential threats and report vulnerabilities, ensuring the company’s protection against attacks. Moreover, they possess an understanding of penetration testing, allowing them to assess systems, networks, web applications, and more in order to discover vulnerabilities.

Response to incidents

You must have the skills to manage various effects of breaches to reduce their impact and suggest changes in the security controls to prevent the company from any future security breaches.

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Computer forensics

As a SOC professional, you should be familiar with computer forensics to successfully prevent any form of cybercrime in your organization. With an understanding of this module, you will be skilled enough to collect, analyze, and report security data. Besides, you must also find and analyze evidence to prevent any future possible security breaches.

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Reverse engineering

With skills in reverse engineering, you will be able to understand and read the performance of a given software program such that you will be capable of patching a bug.

As mentioned, these professionals are often the first ones to respond to any security issues and analyze cyberattacks, which is why they are considered to be Tier 1 professionals. They begin by reviewing incident alerts, running vulnerability tests, and reporting them to their seniors, the Tier 2 professionals. The Tier 1 professionals are responsible for ensuring that the team receives all the required security monitoring tools in a functional way.

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Further, let’s discuss the skills and responsibilities of Tier 1 and Tier 2 Analysts, respectively:

  • Tier 1 SOC Analysts: Tier 1 Analysts must have administrative skills in various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. Further, they should be proficient in programming languages, such as C, C#, Python, Perl, Java, PHP, and Ruby on Rails. They need to assume the urgency of a security incident and escalate priority concerns to the Tier 2 Analysts.
  • Tier 2 SOC Analysts: They are also referred to as ‘incident responders.’ They review the tickets received from the Tier 1 professionals and gather all the details to figure out the scope of the cyberattack in question.

Now that you have read in detail about the various skills required to become a certified expert in SOC, let’s dive in and learn about various tools used by these professionals.

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Top SOC Analyst Tools

There are numerous tools and technologies that CSA can use to create a strong set of security protocols in an organization. Listed further are some of the most popular and commonly-used open-source SOC tools.

1. Delta

Delta is a project by the Open Networking Foundation that allows SOC professionals to detect possible issues in a software-defined network (SDN) and prevent hackers from exploiting them. Delta can examine both known and unknown network problems.

2. HoneyNet

HoneyNet is a SOC tool that allows experts to understand some of the common attacking patterns and design strategies accordingly to trick perpetrators so that the assets connected to the network can be safeguarded.

3. Lynis

Lynis is a popular tool for UNIX systems. This tool helps professionals monitor all the applications and utilities in systems using the UNIX platform and identify their vulnerabilities and configurations.

4. Ettercap

Ettercap is the best tool to test man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. It is often used to understand the response of an environment to these cyberattacks.

5. Maltego

It offers a vast library filled with transformations that allow analysts to investigate and deal with potential security threats. This tool is often used for link analyses and data mining.

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6. Infection Monkey

This tool detects events that could happen if any hacker gains entry and gains control of a network.

7. Snort

This tool serves as both an intrusion detection system (IDS/IPS) and an intrusion prevention system (IPS/IDS). It provides SOC professionals with real-time analysis capabilities, enabling them to swiftly detect vulnerabilities or cyber-attacks. The tool’s dual functionality allows for proactive monitoring and immediate response, ensuring the security of the organization’s systems and networks.

8. Nagios

Nagios allows analysts to monitor the complete network, consisting of traffic, infrastructure, and connected servers.

9. Vega

Vega is a testing platform and a web security scanner that enables professionals to test web applications and deliberate SQL injection (SQLi), XSS, and other similar issues in scripting.

10. OpenVAS

OpenVAS is a scanner that aims to find and assess company assets with anomalies that may expose the network to various security breaches.

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Further in this blog, you will read about the salary ranges earned by professionals in SOC.

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SOC Analyst Salary

SOC Analysts are among the highest-paid Cyber Security professionals in the world.

As per Glassdoor, the average salary of a CSA in the United States is US$62,060 per annum and based on their experience and skills, it may rise to US$100,000.

In India, these Analysts earn an average income of ₹479,000 per year and depending on numerous factors such as geographical location, job position, company, skills, experience, etc., they can earn up to ₹1,036,000 per year.

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Become a SOC Analyst

This blog has given you an understanding of what SOC is and who SOC Analysts are. Further, it also discussed their various responsibilities in an organization. You have read in great detail about the numerous skills that you need to master to begin as a CSA and then move ahead in your career in this field.

To attain all the skills and take the first step toward becoming a CSA, you must enroll in one of the best training programs from a well-known institute. Further, you must also gain practical experience through industry-grade projects, which will enhance your learning and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Get started today!

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About the Author

Technical Lead - AWS Solutions Architect

Shivanshu is a Technical Lead and AWS Solutions Architect passionate about utilizing Cloud technology to empower businesses. Proficient in AWS, Terraform, and GCP, he crafts innovative solutions to propel companies forward. As an enthusiastic writer, he shares his expertise to inspire others in this field.