To remain competitive in the modern world of commerce, businesses need to offer users a robust online experience. In practical terms, this means that its website, applications or other online presence must be both easy to use and free from glitches. On top of that, they should offer complete confidence with regards to security and protection from cyber–attacks.
To meet these twin goals, all companies should be proactive in maintaining their online performance and policing against malicious activity. The best way to do so? Through the creation of bespoke teams, tasked with specifically targeting these individual issues – namely, an NOC and SOC.
Both of these terms have become fairly common in the modern business world, but there still remains some confusion about what their specific roles are and how each differs.
This handy guide aims to eliminate that confusion by explaining the difference between NOC vs SOC – what each acronym stands for, the duties and responsibilities both are expected to undertake and how best to go about introducing them into your own business setup.
What is a NOC?
NOC stands for Network Operations Centre. It’s charged with ensuring that the performance and availability of your online network is free from problems or errors at all times. Quite simply, the NOC must monitor, manage and rectify any problems relating to your IT infrastructure, including your databases, servers and virtual machines. If your website, applications, servers or network suffer downtime, it’s the NOC’s responsibility to identify the issue, resolve it and get you back up and running.
Other responsibilities of the NOC include:
- Continual monitoring and evaluation of network performance
- Reporting of potential issues and recommendations for improvement
- Responding to outage incidents in a timely manner
- Planning for capacity surges and overloads
- Defining escalation procedures and alerting other parts of the company when these are flagged
- Coordinating the efforts of different networks to ensure a cohesive whole
Most NOCs operate through a central control room, where all aspects of a company’s online performance can be simultaneously monitored and manipulated. Given that a significant portion of business has been taking place online for many years now, NOCs are a fairly common entity among all companies of a certain size. It’s become more than likely that you already have either a team or an individual on your workforce dedicated to this task.
What is a SOC?
While an NOC concentrates on maintaining the performance and availability of your online infrastructure, an SOC (Security Operations Centre) is focused on preserving the integrity and safety of your online assets. This includes safeguarding things like the sensitive data belonging to the company itself, as well as any data it may store on its customers, from hackers and cyber criminals.
These threats can surface from within or outside a company, often arriving in the form of phishing emails, malware, unauthorised login attempts and other suspicious behaviour. In order to prevent such attacks compromising your defences and accessing your sensitive information, the SOC must remain vigilant at all times and track potential threats as and when they occur, investigating and resolving them where necessary.
Some of the chief responsibilities of an SOC include:
- Tracking data leakages
- Evaluating the robustness of the security of new software
- Updating firewalls, patches and other security tools on a regular basis
- Staying abreast of the latest trends and innovations in the world of cyber security
- Implementing measures designed to combat Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
- Continually improving online defences, through performance evaluation and intrusion testing
With online attacks such a common occurrence these days – the FBI reports that more than 4,000 attempted cyber–attacks occur every single day – the chances are that your business will be targeted sooner rather than later. Having an SOC on-hand to address the issue as and when it arises and to advise you on how best to safeguard against it is an integral part of increasing your cyber security and boosting customer confidence in the same breath.
The differences of NOCs vs SOCs
As you can see, NOCs and SOCs do strive for many common goals, such as the maintenance and ongoing performance of your online programmes. However, they do so in very different ways. NOCs are concerned entirely with bolstering the availability and running speeds of your network infrastructure, including by addressing and neutralising any threats to it. On the other hand, SOCs focus on protecting your data and other sensitive assets from malicious attacks.
One helpful way to think of the two units is that the NOC is much like the central nervous system in your body, controlling and maintaining the various activities that you need to function. Meanwhile, the SOC is comparable to your immune system, protecting against viruses and bacteria which could compromise the continuing performance of your body. Both are directed towards similar goals – but they’re responsible for separate facets of achieving them.
Equally, the staff belonging to each unit will also require similar skills in some aspects, but vastly different ones in others. An impeccable eye for detail and superb work ethic is vital to both NOCs and SOCs, for example, but the actual expertise of the workforce is hugely different. The former needs a thorough knowledge of the engineering of applications, systems and networks, while the latter must be well-versed in all aspects of cyber security.
Outsourcing for excellence
It might be tempting to try to combine the two entities in your business, especially if budget or manpower is a concern. However, asking an NOC to perform the role of the SOC in addition to their own duties is ill-advised, since they will likely be overwhelmed with the workload and succeed at neither of their remits.
At the same time, it’s completely understandable that hiring or training staff to fill an SOC role might not be an option for some businesses, which is why it makes sense to outsource such an important task to a team of professionals who know what they’re doing. At Magenta Network Security, we have a decade of experience in building and bolstering online defences, giving you the peace of mind that your sensitive information is in safe hands and your workforce the freedom they need to tackle more profitable and enjoyable endeavours.
To find out more about our range of service packages and how they can help you, get in touch with us via phone (01908 229 572) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll be happy to help. What are you waiting for? Get in touch today!