Cyber onboarding is ‘broken'

Onwubiko, Cyril and Ouazzane, Karim (2019) Cyber onboarding is ‘broken'. In: Cyber Security 2019: International Conference on Cyber Security and Protection of Digital Services, 3-4 June 2019, University of Oxford, UK.


Cyber security operations centre (CSOC) is a horizontal business function responsible primarily for managing cyber incidents, in addition to cyber-attack detection, security monitoring, security incident triage, analysis and coordination. To monitor systems, networks, applications and services the CSOC must first on-board the systems and services onto their security monitoring and incident management platforms. Cyber Onboarding (a.k.a. Onboarding) is a specialist technical process of setting up and configuring systems and services to produce appropriate events, logs and metrics which are monitored through the CSOC security monitoring and incident management platform. First, logging must be enabled on the systems and applications, second, they must produce the right set of computing and security logs, events, traps and messages which are analysed by the detection controls, security analytics systems and security event monitoring systems such as SIEM, and sensors etc.; and further, network-wide information e.g. flow data, heartbeats and network traffic information are collected and analysed, and finally, threat intelligence data are ingested in real-time to detect, or be informed of threats which are out in the wild. While setting up a CSOC could be straightforward, unfortunately, the ‘people’ and ‘process’ aspects that underpin the CSOC are often challenging, complicated and occasionally unworkable. In this paper, CSOC and Cyber Onboarding are thoroughly discussed, and the differences between SOC vs SIEM are explained. Key challenges to Cyber Onboarding are identified through the reframing matrix methodology, obtained from four notable perspectives – Cyber Onboarding Perspective, CSOC Perspective, Client Perspective and Senior Management Team Perspective. Each of the views and interests are discussed, and finally, recommendations are provided based on lessons learned implementing CSOCs for many organisations – e.g. government departments, financial institutions and private sectors.

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