NOC vs. SOC: What's the Difference?

A Network Operations Center (NOC) maintains optimal network performance, while a Security Operations Center (SOC) identifies, investigates, and resolves threats and cyber attacks. Both safeguard an organization’s assets and provide complementary coverage.

Oct 08, 2020 | 4 min read

IT guy working at a network operations center and employee working at security operations center viewing alert on screen

A Network Operations Center (NOC) is the backbone of an organization’s technological infrastructure. It provides 24/7 data protection for network performance, helping prevent downtime, and maintain uninterrupted service of on-premises and cloud-based equipment and critical applications.  

By engaging a dedicated NOC team, you benefit from a series of proactive workflows, including system monitoring, patching and adherence  to predetermined maintenance routines to ensure optimal performance and uptime of your company’s technology platform. 

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is comprised of a highly trained team of cybersecurity specialists and industry-certified technicians who conduct continuous threat monitoring, remediation, and analyses. 

 

Utilizing both a NOC and SOC is ideal, especially when you have clear delineation of the responsibilities of each party, and effectively manage the delicate balance between their cohesive collaboration and potential cross-over between the respective coverage areas. 

 

Without proper development and integration of a solid security plan, an organization risks security gaps, miscommunication, lack of transparency, inconsistent processes, and outdated tools and policies, which can lead to an increased exposure to vulnerabilities. 

 

This helpful breakdown outlines the benefits, functions, and features of these critical IT and security operations. 

 

What Is a NOC?

A NOC is a streamlined, centralized technology operations center. It handles day-to-day activities to help organizations and IT departments focus on critical business applications and ensure continuous service. 

 

An efficiently designed NOC monitors and manages and is based on the following:

  • 24/7 Network, Hardware & Software Health and Optimization 
  • Proactive & Consistent Monitoring 
  • Updates & Patch Management 
  • Reduced Downtime & Alert Management
  • Consistent Data Flow & Data Backup Management 
  • Network Communications
  • Reporting, including Trend Identification & Analysis
  • Remediation & Roadmap Recommendations

These components are typically managed by a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Utilizing both a NOC and SOC is ideal, especially when you have clear delineation of the responsibilities of each party, and effectively manage the delicate balance between their cohesive collaboration and potential cross-over between the respective coverage areas. 

 

What Is a SOC?

An organization may risk irreparable damage without a properly managed SOC. This is especially important nowadays, with cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities and breaches on the rise due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forcing an unprecedented number of employees to work remotely. 

 

A SOC performs a real-time, comprehensive, and cost-effective analysis of your endpoints, network, and cloud-based infrastructure to identify, deter, and resolve any issues before they become problematic.

Security is top of mind for most organizations and consumers. According to worldwide professional services organization PwC: “Nearly 70 percent of consumers believe organizations are vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks, and say they are less likely to continue or start doing business with organizations that have been compromised.”


An agile SOC merges experienced engineers with integrated threat detection and prevention tools, such as:

 

  • 24/7 Network Real-Time Vulnerability Endpoint Monitoring 
  • Comprehensive Investigations: Understanding how and why a breach occurred can prevent future attacks. 
  • Security Policies & Processes: Ensure all requirements are updated and compliant with the latest regulations. 
  • Research & Analysis: Security log data reviews, investigates, and records regular and irregular trends. 
  • Threat  Detection & Risk Mitigation: This includes ransomware, and other intrusion prevention systems. 

 

NOC & SOC Comparisons

Built on monitoring, management, and protection, NOC and SOC teams have their own specializations. The former ensures maximum network uptime and management, while the latter examines and reacts to real-time threats. 

Here’s a helpful breakdown of each team’s main functions:

 

NOC

  • Manage, Monitor & Oversee IT Infrastructure
  • Incident Response With Minimal Downtime
  • SLAs for Response 
  • System Monitoring, Troubleshooting & Remediation
  • Proactive Maintenance 
  • Data Analysis & Reporting
  • Focused on System Health & Performance 
  • Operations-Based, Ticket & Alert-Driven

 

SOC

  • Built on Data, Communication, Service & Security (Endpoint & Network)
  • Threat & Network Vulnerability Tracking
  • Protects & Safeguards Sensitive Information
  • Real-Time Detection & Response & Historical Data Access
  • Strategic & Proactive Approach

Reliable & Secure Outsourcing

A solid SOC solution enlists experienced cybersecurity specialists, implements effective strategies, enhances transparency, and protects sensitive data. 

Many MSPs, such as LincolnIT, outsource their SOCs to an expert third-party vendor employing certified security specialists with expertise in continuous security monitoring. This is typically a best practice when it comes to effective, real-time monitoring, detection, response, and containment. It is also a suggested best practice to keep these functions segregated, so that there is a higher level of checks and balances between your NOC and SOC teams. 

An MSP monitoring your NOC and SOC ensures invaluable business continuity including:

  • Regular Accountability Processes & Procedures
  • NOC/SOC Team Collaboration 
  • Transparency & Data Visibility
  • Incident Classification & Documentation

 

Achieving a Perfect Balance

When crafting your organization’s security plan, consider working with an MSP deploying a comprehensive NOC and SOC. This ensures the highest security standards, little to no downtime, added protection, and peace of mind. 

 

LincolnIT provides advanced security technologies to organizations of all sizes and industries. Contact us to learn more about our SecureCare offering, or to request a proposal.


To learn more about why it's important for your organization to utilize both a NOC and SOC solution, please join us for an informational webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 11am, featuring Cybersafe Solutions.

Click here for more information and to register. 

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