Streamlining Detection & Response: The Role of Cyber Threat Intelligence and AI in Modern SOC Operations.

As the frequency and complexity of cyber-attacks continue to rise, organizations realize the crucial role played by a well-designed and well-staffed Security Operations Center (SOC). SOCs provide essential services such as monitoring, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cybersecurity incidents, and are critical to an organization’s overall security posture.

However, as the threat landscape evolves, SOCs face new challenges, including a deepening skills crisis and the need to manage risks arising from digital transformation initiatives. To address these challenges, SOCs will increasingly turn to automation and AI-enabled tools in the coming years. In fact, Gartner’s SOC Model Guide predicts that by 2025, 90% of SOCs in the Forbes Global 2000 will use a hybrid model by outsourcing at least 50% of the operational workload.

This article will explore the evolving requirements of modern SOCs, the importance of cyber threat intelligence and AI, and how these technologies can streamline detection and response.

What is Modern SOC?

In today’s threat landscape, Security Operations Centers (SOCs) face the daunting task of analyzing vast amounts of data in real-time. However, manual analysis of security logs and alerts through a SIEM or log aggregation solution is not feasible.

Modern SOCs rely heavily on automation to contextualize and correlate data from various sources, including those outside the organization’s network, to meet this challenge. They also prioritize team coordination to streamline event reviews and focus on critical threats. Modern SOCs require a more comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture and the ability to ingest and analyze a broader range of log data sources.

Difference Between Modern SOC and Legacy SOC

Let’s explore a few differences between modern SOC and Legacy SOC.

Difference Between Modern SOC and Legacy SOC

Here is a brief breakdown of how modern SOC works.


The rise of detection technologies and threat intelligence has led to a surge in logs that need to be analyzed, driving the adoption of automation in security operations. Automation ranges from simple task creation to complex phishing analysis and remediation. While it can be complex, automation offers significant value and efficiency.

Cyber Threat Intelligence

Achieving a comprehensive security perspective requires security analysts to look both internally and externally. To facilitate this, Threat Intelligence is increasingly incorporated within different areas of the security architecture, often in the form of blacklists that generate log events.

24x7x365 Activity

Attackers do not follow a schedule and may strike at any time. This is why monitoring must be 24/7 and staffed with skilled analysts at all times to ensure timely detection and response to any security incidents.

Correlation of Events from Multiple Logging Areas

Security operations rely on collecting and analyzing logs from various sources, historically focused on the perimeter and endpoint spaces such as firewalls and antivirus. However, with the advent of new “areas” such as the public cloud, SaaS, and remote devices, modern SOCs must also onboard and correlate logs from these sources to fully understand an organization’s security posture and respond to incidents.

The Importance of Cyber Threat Intelligence in Modern SOC Operations

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) has become an invaluable resource for organizations of all sizes to bolster their security measures. As security operations center (SOC) analysts are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of security events and alerts that require investigation, CTI can assist in automating the prioritization and filtering of alerts. It can also provide crucial external insights and contextual data to the vulnerability management process, highlighting the most critical vulnerabilities.

Here is a list of a few Threat Intelligence use cases in SOC:

  • Threat Intelligence Lifecycle Automation: It helps SOC teams prioritize and filter alerts, extract data from various sources, and provide context on indicators of compromise and threat actor TTPs. This enables teams to quickly analyze, respond to threats, and defend against future attacks.
  • Vulnerability Management: Vulnerability management is vital for cybersecurity but can strain SOC teams. The challenge is prioritizing which vulnerabilities to patch first with limited resources. Threat intelligence platforms can help identify critical vulnerabilities and establish mitigation strategies.
  • Threat Data Dissemination & Actioning: Threat intelligence enables sharing of human-readable threat information from internal and external security tools. A sophisticated platform allows for machine-to-machine actioning and empowers SOC teams with quick actioning through enriched intelligence, threat hunting, incident response, and red teams.
  • Threat Hunting: A modern SOC relies on Threat Hunting, which requires a sophisticated threat intelligence platform for effective automation and collaboration. The best platforms automate intelligence gathering and IoC searches for malicious IP addresses, domains, and file hashes.
  • Strategic Security Planning: Threat intelligence platforms act as knowledge repositories for strategic security planning. They help identify adversary activities’ centers of gravity to locate the most effective defenses, enabling security teams to accordingly direct their resources, budget, and talent requirements.

The Role of AI in Modern SOC Operations

The integration of AI into SOC operations is rapidly expanding, transforming how SOCs operate. For decades, SOC teams relied on data-gathering tools requiring significant manual analysis to determine the data’s meaning. However, AI-enabled security technologies are changing this, providing SOC teams with quicker and more accurate analysis results and actionable insights. With AI, SOC teams can shift from a reactive approach to a proactive approach to security, helping them identify and mitigate threats before they cause damage.

For instance, new research by Sophos, a cybersecurity vendor, suggests that security teams can utilize GPT-3 to fortify their defenses against cyber-attacks. To enhance their defense strategy, Sophos researchers have created a natural language query interface utilizing GPT-3’s large language models to comb through XDR security tool telemetry for signs of malicious activity. Additionally, this technology can be used to detect spam emails and scrutinize covert binary command lines for potential threats.
Sophos’ research indicates that generative AI plays a crucial role in processing security events within the SOC, enabling defenders to effectively manage their workload and enhance their ability to detect threats rapidly.

Streamlining Modern SOC Operations

Streamlining modern SOC (Security Operations Center) operations requires a combination of process optimization, technology adoption, and team collaboration. Here are some steps you can take to streamline modern SOC operations:

  1. Document and Automate Processes
    Having documented incident response plans can standardize the approach and promote accountability between SOC and Identity Security teams in responding to security incidents. These plans can also help fulfill compliance and audit requirements and satisfy cyber insurance. Furthermore, establishing clear response plans for various security incidents can streamline the process, reducing the impact of such incidents on business operations.
  2. Use Comprehensive Threat Intelligence and Machine Learning
    Rapid detection and response are crucial to minimizing the probability and impact of a security incident. Prolonged access by attackers to an organization’s environment increases the chances of stealing sensitive data, planting malware, or inflicting other damages. Effective utilization of threat intelligence and machine learning (ML) is imperative for a SOC to quickly identify and respond to threats. Machine learning algorithms, powered by comprehensive threat intelligence, can efficiently process vast amounts of security data to identify potential threats. Human analysts can then use this information to take further actions, or automatic remediation can be triggered.
  3. Centralize Threat Detection Across All User Access
    By performing a multi-contextual analysis of user access, SOC and Identity Security teams can obtain a comprehensive overview of a potential security incident. This approach to data correlation can expedite the detection and response process.
  4. Integrate Identity Security and SOC Team Tools
    To enhance the SOC team’s ability to detect identity-centric attacks such as stolen credentials and insider threats, Identity Security teams should provide them with data and alerts from threat analytics services like Identity Security Intelligence. Integrating their tools with Identity Security solutions is also necessary for SOC teams to remediate threats effectively.
  5. Ensure Visibility Across the Network
    Corporate IT environments have become more extensive, diverse, and inclusive of on-prem and cloud-based systems, remote workers, mobile devices, and IoT devices. To effectively manage risks in such an environment, SOC personnel require complete network visibility. To achieve this, security integration is necessary to eliminate the need to switch between multiple displays and dashboards. Doing so would ensure that security analysts take notice of all potential threats.
  6. Continuously Monitor the Network
    Cyberattacks are unpredictable and can happen at any time. Attackers may deliberately time their activities for nights or weekends, even if they are operating within the organization’s time zone. Any delay in response allows the attacker to achieve their objectives undetected. Hence, a corporate SOC should be capable of 24x7 network monitoring. Continuous monitoring enables SOC personnel to detect and respond to threats rapidly, thereby minimizing the potential impact and cost of the attack on the organization.


As cyber-attacks become more frequent and complex, organizations rely on Security Operations Centers (SOCs) to monitor, detect, analyze, and respond to cybersecurity incidents. Modern SOCs require automation, team coordination, and the ability to analyze a broader range of log data sources to provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture.



Sigmund Brandstaetter, CISSP, CCSP, CISM, C|CISO

With a total of over 25 years in the IT Industry, I have focused on Cybersecurity (Services) and related skills over the past 12 years,