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DevOps and Security Glossary Terms

Glossary Terms

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) - Definition & Overview

In this article
What are standard operating procedures (SOPs)?
Why are SOPs important in modern SecOps?
What problems do SOPs help resolve?
How do SOPs improve incident response processes?
How to create SOPs?
What are standard operating procedures (SOPs)?
Why are SOPs important in modern SecOps?
What problems do SOPs help resolve?
How do SOPs improve incident response processes?
How to create SOPs?

What are standard operating procedures (SOPs)?

Standard operating procedures are processes that include a set of written instructions that help security practitioners follow a straightforward and well-laid-out framework to achieve optimum efficiency in task completion. The goal of SOPs is simple:

  • Allow analysts to find the most efficient path to completing complex and repetitive tasks by following step-by-step guidelines.

A SOP is a necessary procedure to complete security operations in accordance with internal processes, regulated markets that require structured processes, audit compliance, industrial standards or other policies that align with the targets of an organization.

Why are SOPs important in modern SecOps?

In modern security operations centers (SOCs), analysts and other security professionals need to follow specific guidelines to achieve maximum efficiency. Speed and efficiency are major factors in the battle against sophisticated cyber threats. By allowing SOC teams to optimize recurring security processes, the importance of SOPs becomes more apparent.

By outlining a step-by-step guideline, SOPs ensure that organizations don’t waste time figuring out what steps to take when carrying out a specific assignment. Instead, they can focus on improving task execution.

What problems do SOPs help resolve?

SOPs help SOCs in the following ways:

  • Minimize the variation of quality of security operations

  • Minimize miscommunication between security teams

  • Reduce the work effort by finding the most effective path toward project completion

  • Help the SOC team be aligned with internal processes

To be effective, every security professional must strictly adhere to SOPs in the order and manner in which they are instructed. Even the best SOPs will fail if not followed closely by every team member.

How do SOPs improve incident response processes?

SOPs allow cybersecurity teams to find the most effective workflow for different types of cybersecurity events. A SOP contains a list of specific actions that allow the security practitioner to determine which course of action is needed for different cyber incidents.

SOPs improve incident management and response by allowing the SOC to react faster and more effectively to incidents by:

  • Clearly defining the level of incident severity and distribution process

  • Recommending a list of specific actions needed to be taken when addressing a particular threat

  • Ensuring that all the workflows and actions taken during incident remediation are in compliance with the necessary regulations

SOPs make sure that employees are aware of their responsibilities and activities when dealing with an incident. If followed properly, standard operating procedures can significantly boost the incident management and response process by allowing SOC teams to minimize time wasted and create uniformity in performance.

How to create SOPs?

Every business belongs to a different industry, so no two organizations will have identical sets of SOPs. Creating SOPs comes down to following the best industry practices and aligning them with your organization’s workflows.

You can develop SOPs by systemizing all your workflows and routine processes and in a documented version. By taking into consideration your organization’s key processes, you can create a well-defined framework for SOP development.

The main steps in creating SOPs include:

  • Identify a list of processes that require an SOP

  • Establish an SOP reviewing process

  • Collect necessary data for your SOPs

  • Write the workflow and publish SOPs

  • Maintain and update SOPs regularly

It is important to note that there is no need to create a SOP for every process in your organization. A SOP should be created only for those processes that require a set of instructions to guide the team toward more efficient execution. It is important to meticulously audit your processes to ensure that you’ve extracted the biggest benefits of SOPs for those processes that truly need them.

See how Security Orchestration Automation and Response can improve standard operating procedures.

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