5 Stages to Advance Your Security Operations Program - Morphick

Advance Your Security Operations Program in 5 Stages

Mark Robertson
Baseline to Innovative: Advance Your Security Operations Program in 5 Stages

Is your security operations team spending more time managing tools than actually using them to detect and remediate threats? The consequences could be catastrophic.

With all the noise and conflicting messages flying around the security space, it’s important to take a thoughtful and strategic approach to improving security operations. In this blog, I propose a five-stage path to a mature program. The logic of the progression can help you engage with peers and senior leadership about the plan, raise sensitive issues, and clearly explain how you intend to address them in order to achieve a world-class security operation.

Staying ahead of attackers

As a business leader with security responsibilities, your overarching goal is an effective, consistent response to vulnerabilities and threats based on your company’s security posture, regulatory requirements, financial constraints, and other parameters.

The following steps can serve as a framework for your journey to innovative security operations. However, you don’t need to do it alone. Partnering with a provider of managed detection and response services can help you achieve your goals faster. It’s analogous to bringing in outside legal counsel to solve a particular challenge that your staff isn’t trained to handle.

The five stages of security operations maturity:

  1. Baseline. Organizations at this level are meeting compliance requirements but may have numerous security vulnerabilities and shortfalls. They need to close gaps in the perimeter, implement basic tools and processes, and learn to identify security breaches, not just policy violations.  Once these issues are addressed, the company can move to the next stage.
  2. Evolving. At this point, the organization has put a security team in place, whether internally or through a third-party provider. Thanks to new tools and processes, the team is receiving alerts, and has begun detecting threats. However, identifying advanced threats will require integrated controls and processes and better analysis. Those activities are part of the third stage.
  3. Intermediate. At this level, the organization has implemented consistent security controls, and has integrated risk management into business processes. To move beyond intermediate, you’ll need to provide enterprise-wide visibility into threats, improve the productivity of your security operations staff, use forensic analysis on threats of lower severity, and track and improve upon mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR).
  4. Advanced. When you reach the advanced stage, processes and controls have been fully integrated into the organization. Your team has deep visibility and detection capabilities spanning the entire enterprise. They are proactively hunting for threats, and the security operations center (SOC) is efficient, as demonstrated by reduced MTTD and MTTR. Threat intelligence – including both specific issues affecting your business and general trends in the broader landscape – is being collected. To improve threat detection, you are emphasizing analyst development. From here, the focus shifts to retaining these analysts. Equally important, you need to create adaptive security measures that inflict damage on the attacker while minimizing business disruption.
  5. Innovative. This final stage has innovation as their hallmark.  Organizations that reach this pinnacle are developing and syndicating best practices. Internally, they are staying ahead of ongoing changes to the threat landscape by analyzing intelligence and fine-tuning defenses on a daily basis. The security operations team is developing top-flight security practitioners and offering them new challenges to encourage retention.

Once your organization has built an outstanding security operation, the main challenge is how to foster a culture of continuous innovation.

A helping hand

Not every organization can – or wants to – rise to the top of security capability alone. Fortunately, industry experts like Booz Allen provide turn-key, managed solutions that deliver excellence in threat detection, analysis, incident response, and tailored intelligence. If your organization needs a helping hand in achieving innovative security, look for a true practitioner – not an academic or visionary hawking the next big technology – whose experience in the real world will guide you through the five stages. Contact us today to discuss how Managed Detection and Response can take your security operations to the next level.