Hewlett-Packard's third annual State of Security Operations Report 2016 found that security operations center maturity remains well below optimal levels, with 85 percent of assessed organizations falling below recommended maturity levels.

While this number is alarmingly high, the report said it accounts for the influx of new SOCs that enterprises are building to address evolving security challenges. The findings also demonstrate the need for organizations to strike the right performance balance across all areas of the SOC, from the foundation up, according to the report.

"Organizations are investing heavily in cyber security, but the lack of skilled resources and the deployment of advanced solutions without a solid SOC foundation in place remain top concerns," said Chris Triolo, Vice President of Security Product Global Services at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. "To build a successful SOC, we recommend a holistic approach to security operations that includes mastering the basics of security monitoring, incident detection, breach escalation and response leveraging skilled resources from managed security services for complete or blended support, as well as implementing advanced data science, analytics and shared intelligence to more effectively protect the digital enterprise."

Key Observations from the report include:

  • Access to skilled security resources remains the top concern of organizations. To combat personnel shortages, enterprises are implementing hybrid staffing and hybrid security infrastructure models that require less in-house expertise, while still delivering on detection capabilities.
  • The average SOC lacks basic security monitoring capabilities. In 2015, 24 percent of assessed organizations only met minimum requirements to provide security monitoring, which translates to a lack of documentation with actions being executed on an ad hoc basis.
  • Business functions of SOCs are improving. This year's report shows that SOC professionals have improved their ability to prioritize critical business needs and allocate necessary personnel and technology resources. In the past, the majority of organizations invested heavily in technology solutions for the SOC without the support required to maximize the ROI of such tools. A continuous investment into all facets of a cyber-defense organization is necessary to achieve and maintain optimal maturity.
  • Modern SOCs are implementing the latest security trends including hunt teams, deception grids, and data analytics-driven security. Organizations moving to fifth-generation (5G/SOC) security operations are best equipped to recognize the changing threat landscape and approach security holistically.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) security monitoring is raising capabilities for businesses. Organizations in the energy and healthcare sectors that implemented smart meter monitoring and medical device monitoring, respectively, had higher maturity levels.

According to the report, a continual focus on mastering the basics and creating a solid foundation of risk identification, incident detection, breach escalation and response is key to effectiveness. Benefits from advanced analytics capabilities and threat intelligence will only be realized if a strong security operations framework exists. A single product or service will not provide the protection and operational awareness that organizations need. Instead, organizations must focus on a continuous investment in their cyber security posture that encompasses people, process, technology and business function to effectively mitigate risks.