6 Best Ways to Improve Your SOC Analysts’ Skills

Improving the performance of your security operations center (SOC) analysts is important. Your analysts are the last line of defense between attackers and your organization’s most sensitive data. However, the training status quo makes it difficult to tell how prepared analysts actually are to confront real world attacks.

Typical analyst training takes place in a classroom or cyber range. Though cyber ranges have their place, the downside is that analysts are never tested on the cybersecurity systems they use every day. There is a disconnect between the daily responsibilities of the analyst and what they are learning, meaning it’s difficult to measure if analysts are gaining applicable skills and improving their performance.

To improve how your SOC performs in a real attack, your analysts need to train where they fight and SOC leaders need insight into analyst performance to identify skills gaps and focus future training on the areas that need it most. If this sounds aspirational and unattainable, that’s because to date there hasn’t been a way to translate real-world attack scenarios into training. However, with SightGain’s Live-Fire Training Module, you can safely execute malicious attacks on your production system, find gaps in your analysts’ skills, and assign customized training for rapid improvement.

Here are six ways you can sharpen your analysts’ performance and strengthen your organization’s game time security by leveraging SightGain’s first-of-its-kind Threat Exposure Management tool.

1. Train Analysts Against Real Threats on the Actual Infrastructure They Use

Even with traditional training methods and experience, organizations in the real world are still missing 53% of all attacks. When attacks are going on, seconds count and performance matters. Analysts will be able to act more quickly and confidently if they have gotten live-fire training with the actual tools they use day in and day out to identify and respond to incidents. Traditional exercises teach analysts concepts, training on your own production system prepares them to defend your specific organization.

2. Perform Unannounced Attack Scenarios for Training Purposes

Effective training gives analysts experience with real-world incident response while giving you feedback about how your analysts handle actual threats. Identified training exercises do have a purpose, especially when they are intended to teach analysts specific new skills. However, they do not show how analysts perform under pressure, or when faced with a situation they were not expecting, like a real attack.

To find that out, and to help analysts get more accustomed to that aspect of their jobs, you should perform unannounced training exercises as well. After all, attackers don’t announce when they’re going to strike. Organizations need to have confidence in their analyst’s performance in real attack situations. There is no better way to do so than an unannounced live-fire training event.

3. Get Analysts Engaged in Their Training

All analysts need training, but training helps tremendously if analysts are actually interested in pursuing and progressing through it. The following insights can help you make sure your training captures and keeps your analysts’ attention and accelerates practical learning for on the job performance improvement.

Gamification enables healthy competition. Giving analysts a healthy amount of peer pressure has been shown to increase not only engagement, but ultimately on the job performance. It also helps keep them motivated to work toward improving the skills they need to become a better SOC analyst.

Training needs to be relevant. An analyst is going to be most engaged when the training is worth their time and builds skills they know they’ll need and be able to use in the real world.

Training needs to feel new. Training should keep analysts current on the latest threat tactics and techniques. Presenting new techniques in a variety of ways will provide analysts with different challenges to square off against.

4. Tailor Training Exercises to What Actually Threatens Your Business

Many training plans are one-size-fits-all. Some of these more general exercises can be useful for analysts or aspiring analysts to get a broad-based idea of what goes on in a SOC, but that is not your goal.

You need to know your analysts are ready to detect and respond to the attacks that are most likely to target your business, based on reliable threat intelligence about what is most likely to affect you, and their role in your processes.

5. Tailor Training Exercises to What Individual SOC Analysts Need to Learn

Not every analyst in your SOC has exactly the same experience and skill level. Training should reflect these differences to be more useful for your SOC and more engaging for your analysts.

To minimize the time it takes for all members of your SOC to become better at addressing threats, analysts should have access to individualized training based on their demonstrated strengths and weaknesses. This ensures that gaps in SOC abilities will be closed as quickly and efficiently as possible, putting the whole team in a better place to address what actually threatens your business.

6. Focus Hiring Efforts to Complement the Staff You Already Have

Though an engaging training program is an important part of developing and retaining SOC analysts, you will still find times when you have to hire new analysts, expand the SOC, or add layers of expertise. Hiring SOC analysts is an ongoing challenge for two main reasons. First, skilled security professionals are in high demand, which makes recruiting difficult. Second, identifying the right candidates can be a challenge since doing so requires a clear picture of what your SOC actually needs and what the candidate can actually provide.

Fortunately, an effective training program can also highlight the biggest areas of need to guide your hiring efforts. Designing a training program that focuses on known weaknesses and gives feedback on how employees are responding to training scenarios builds a picture of what skills you have on staff and what skills would be more effectively filled by recruiting new hires or outsourcing.

Improve SOC Analyst Performance with SightGain

SightGain has built the world’s first Threat Exposure Management platform to prepare SOC analysts for how real world attacks look and feel on your network. SightGain makes it possible to get actionable analytics about the effectiveness of your SOC analysts from live-fire training exercises, and also provides tailored training that helps SOC analysts improve where they need it most. SightGain helps you determine your SOC’s effectiveness, prioritize your tooling and training resources, and proactively secure your business.

Learn more about SightGain and how you can find gaps in your analysts’ skills and assign customized training. Register for a live or recorded demo today.