The Security Operations Center (SOC) is critical to any organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Every SOC’s success hinges on the competence of its team members. This article provides a five-step training blueprint to develop competent junior SOC specialists.

Step 1: Refresh Cybersecurity Knowledge

The training of a Junior SOC Specialist begins with helping them brush up on their cybersecurity knowledge. Start briefly reviewing fundamental concepts like network, system, and application security. 

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Although the specialist may already be familiar with these, a refresher can solidify their understanding and reveal any areas that require more work. 

This stage also includes providing aspiring professionals with a detailed overview of their core functions: threat intelligence, threat hunting, and incident response. To facilitate learning, recommend resources or training programs:

Step 2: Introduce SOC Tools and Technologies

The second step should concentrate on mastering the organization’s security tools and technologies. 

Let the trainees familiarize themselves with the tools they will be working with: 

  • The intrusion detection system (IDS);
  • The intrusion prevention system (IPS);
  • Firewalls;
  • Security information and event management (SIEM).

They must understand the entire security infrastructure and where their role fits in.

Begin hands-on training on configuring, managing, and interpreting data from these security tools. For example: 

  • Teach the specialist how to set up an IDS to monitor network traffic to boost their confidence as they start their work;
  • Guide them on using a SIEM solution to correlate data from various sources for effective threat identification.

At this stage, it is essential to ensure the trainee can effectively analyze suspicious files and links. For this purpose, they should be introduced to a sandbox, a controlled environment where potentially harmful software can be observed. A sandbox is an essential tool for SOCs, allowing them to study malware behavior without risking the organization’s infrastructure.

A RisePro malware infection analyzed in the ANY.RUN sandbox

A solid option for a sandboxing solution is a cloud-based sandbox such as ANY.RUN. This service offers fully interactive Windows and Linux virtual machines, a private team environment, and a wide range of tools for comprehensive and fast analysis of the latest threats.

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Step 3: Strengthen Analytical Skills

SOC specialists need robust analytical skills to excel in their roles. To help them in this regard, provide: 

  • Tips and strategies for data analysis;
  • Critical thinking exercises;
  • Problem-solving techniques.

Real-world case studies, especially those based on past incidents affecting your organization, can serve as highly valuable educational material. These scenarios can demonstrate the application of analytical skills in a SOC environment.

Integrating the use of a sandbox can also be an effective strategy. Sandboxes offer a detailed timeline of an attack, allowing specialists to observe:

  • Impact on the infected system; 
  • Registry activity;
  • Active processes;
  • Network connections. 

Understanding the malware execution process can significantly enhance the junior analyst’s ability to analyze incidents and make appropriate security decisions.

Step 4: Offer Practical Experience

Next, create opportunities for the analyst to gain experience by allowing them to work in a real SOC environment under the supervision of senior colleagues. This can be achieved through internships or on-the-job training.

The analyst should start using SOC tools and technologies, applying analytical skills, and leveraging a sandbox for analysis. For instance, they could: 

  • Employ a SIEM system to monitor network traffic;
  • Use analytical abilities to detect potential threats;
  • Utilize a sandbox to examine any identified malware. 

This application of skills can help them begin developing proficiency in their role.

Step 5: Promote Continuous Learning

Just as threats are constantly evolving, SOC specialists should be in a continuous learning cycle. Encourage the analyst to stay updated on the current threat landscape. This can help the specialist become better at spotting new attacks, working with security technologies, and keeping up with industry best practices. To simplify this process, consider offering them a list of cybersecurity blogs, online forums, and other useful resources.

Use ANY.RUN to Streamline SOC Workflow 

ANY.RUN is a cloud-based sandbox designed to streamline the collaboration of security teams. By working in a private space, users can:

  • Effectively conduct malware analysis; 
  • Easily extract IOCs;
  • Quickly share their findings;
  • Oversee the work of junior specialists.

Thanks to the interactive interface, users can use the analysis environment like on a standard computer, running programs, opening files, and even rebooting the system. This adds value to junior specialists during hands-on training and seasoned professionals who must conduct in-depth investigations.

Get a personalized demo of ANY.RUN for your team to see how it can benefit and contribute to your organization’s security – Schedule a call today

Kaaviya is a Security Editor and fellow reporter with Cyber Security News. She is covering various cyber security incidents happening in the Cyber Space.