How do you prioritize security incidents in a SOC?

Prioritizing security incidents in a Security Operations Center (SOC) is crucial for effective incident response, ensuring that the most critical issues are addressed first to minimize potential damage. Here's how SOC teams typically prioritize security incidents:

  1. Severity of the Threat: Incidents are evaluated based on the severity of the threat they pose. This includes assessing the potential impact on the organization's assets, data, and operations. For example, a ransomware attack on critical infrastructure would have a higher priority than adware on a single endpoint.
  2. Impact on the Business: The potential or actual impact of an incident on business operations is a critical factor. Incidents that threaten to disrupt key business processes or lead to significant financial loss are prioritized.
  3. Vulnerability Exploited: Incidents exploiting critical vulnerabilities, especially those without available patches or those affecting core systems, are given higher priority. The ease of exploitability and the availability of the exploit in the wild are also considered.
  4. Threat Intelligence: Information from threat intelligence sources can help in prioritizing incidents. If an incident is linked to a known campaign or adversary with a history of high-impact attacks, it might be prioritized accordingly.
  5. Compliance and Legal Factors: Incidents that may lead to regulatory penalties or legal issues, such as data breaches involving personally identifiable information (PII), are often given high priority due to the potential for significant fines and reputational damage.
  6. Propagation Risk: Incidents with a high risk of spreading within the network or to other systems are prioritized to prevent widespread impact.
  7. Asset Criticality: The criticality of affected assets plays a significant role in prioritization. Incidents impacting mission-critical systems or sensitive data are prioritized over those affecting less critical resources.
  8. Current Incident Load: The number and complexity of ongoing incidents can influence prioritization. If resources are stretched thin, SOCs may prioritize incidents that can be quickly contained and resolved.
  9. Response Time Requirements: Some incidents may have specific response time requirements, either due to regulatory standards or internal policies, influencing their prioritization.

By using a combination of these criteria, SOC teams can create a prioritization framework that enables them to respond effectively to incidents, allocating resources efficiently to mitigate threats and minimize their impact on the organization.