To combat increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats, healthcare entities must transition their Security Operations Center (SOC) from a reactive resource to a proactive and predictive force.

But a SOC, especially in healthcare, doesn’t reach optimum levels overnight.

In this post, we explore the evolutionary stages of SOC maturity, offering key insights on how healthcare organizations can progressively enhance their security operations to effectively counter emerging and evolving cyber threats.

Characteristics of an undefined SOC

Before we go over the three most crucial stages of healthcare SOC maturity, it’s important to describe what an undefined, “preliminary” SOC might look like.

In the early stages, many healthcare organizations operate with an undefined SOC, often because they lack a dedicated security team. Organizations at this stage in their security maturity path are vulnerable to both internal and external threats, as detection and response capabilities are limited.

Here are some traits of an undefined SOC:

  • Lack of formal structure: No dedicated team or formalized processes for security monitoring and incident response
  • Limited visibility: Monitoring capabilities are basic, with minimal insight into network traffic, user activities, and system logs
  • Manual processes: Security alerts are often handled manually, leading to delays in response times and increased risk of human error
  • Limited integration: Security tools and systems are disjointed, lacking integration and automation capabilities

Stage one: reactive SOC

As healthcare organizations mature, they typically transition to a reactive cybersecurity SOC model. While an improvement over an undefined SOC, it still falls short in effectively mitigating risks and preventing future attacks.

Characteristics of a reactive SOC

  • Reactive focus: Security efforts are primarily focused on reacting to incidents after they occur, with little emphasis on proactive threat detection
  • Manual investigation and remediation: Security analysts spend significant time manually investigating alerts and responding to incidents, leading to delays in resolution
  • Basic threat intelligence: Threat intelligence is limited and mainly used to reactively respond to known threats rather than proactively anticipate emerging ones
  • Limited collaboration: Communication and collaboration between security teams and other departments are often siloed, hindering the sharing of critical information


Stage two: proactive SOC

At the second stage of a healthcare SOC’s maturity path, the emphasis is placed on threat detection and mitigation before incidents occur. A proactive SOC leverages advanced technologies, threat intelligence, and preemptive monitoring to stay ahead of evolving threats.

Characteristics of a proactive SOC

  • Continuous monitoring: The SOC conducts real-time monitoring of network traffic, user behaviors, and system logs to detect anomalies and potential security threats.
  • Automated response: Security automation and orchestration tools are leveraged to automate routine tasks, allowing analysts to focus on more complex threats.
  • Advanced threat detection: The SOC utilizes advanced analytics, machine learning, and behavioral analysis techniques to identify and mitigate sophisticated threats.
  • Threat hunting: Security analysts actively engage in threat hunting activities to proactively identify and neutralize potential threats before they escalate.


Stage three: predictive SOC

The pinnacle of SOC maturity is the predictive healthcare SOC, where organizations leverage predictive analytics, specialized teams, and AI-driven technologies to anticipate and prevent future threats that may have not even fully materialized yet.

A predictive SOC goes beyond just detecting and responding to incidents; it actively predicts and mitigates emerging threats before they can manifest.

Characteristics of a predictive SOC

  • Predictive analytics: The SOC employs advanced predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to anticipate potential security threats based on historical data and trends
  • Threat intelligence cohesion: Threat intelligence is integrated and correlated with internal security data to provide actionable insights into emerging threats. Participation in threat intelligence communities allows for the exchange of information and collaboration with industry peers to stay ahead of evolving threats.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis techniques are utilized to identify abnormal patterns and deviations from normal behavior, allowing for early detection of insider threats and advanced persistent threats
  • Security Orchestration and Automation Response (SOAR): The SOC leverages SOAR platforms to automate threat response processes, enabling faster and more efficient incident resolution


Optimizing and maturing healthcare SOCs

To optimize and mature your healthcare SOC, there are several proactive steps you can take. While this is not a comprehensive list of optimization tactics, it gives an overall framework for the path ahead:

Invest in training and development

Provide ongoing training and professional development opportunities for SOC staff to ensure they stay abreast of the latest security trends and technologies.

Embrace automation and orchestration

Invest in security automation and orchestration platforms to streamline incident response processes and enhance operational efficiency.

Leverage threat intelligence

Develop robust threat intelligence capabilities by leveraging both internal and external sources of threat intelligence to proactively identify and mitigate emerging threats.

Foster collaboration and communication

Encourage collaboration and communication between the SOC and other departments within the organization to facilitate the sharing of threat information and improve overall security posture.

Expand your intelligence community

Engage actively in threat intelligence communities to exchange information and collaborate with industry peers, enhancing the organization’s ability to anticipate and mitigate emerging threats effectively.


By maturing your SOC through the proper investments in technology, training, and collaboration, you’ll better position your healthcare organization to stay ahead of emerging threats and mitigate risks effectively.

To learn more about how organizations progress from a developing SOC to a fully optimized SOC, watch our free on-demand webinar and start your organization’s journey to cybersecurity resilience, today.