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Understanding Managed SOC Pricing: Everything You Need to Know About Security Operations Center Pricing

BY eSentire

January 18, 2024 | 14 MINS READ

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In today's evolving threat landscape, protecting your organization's sensitive data and infrastructure is paramount. However, given limited security budgets and in-house personnel, staffing a team that can provide 24/7 coverage for threat detection and monitoring can be challenging.

A well-staffed Security Operations Center (SOC) is a crucial component of reducing cyber risk and preventing potential breaches, allowing you to defend against known and unknown cyber threats that can bypass traditional security technologies. While every organization should have access to a SOC facility, few have the resources to build their in-house SOC.

In this post, we will discuss how to assess whether to build or buy SOC, the factors influencing Managed SOC pricing, questions to ask potential service providers, and key considerations when evaluating SOC pricing.

What is the Importance of Managed SOC Services?

Widely considered to be the frontline defense against any cyber threat, a Security Operations Center (SOC) is an essential component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. A SOC is a team of security experts and elite threat hunters who monitor and analyze your security environment on a 24/7 basis to detect, investigate, and respond to threats.

Here's why you should consider a Managed SOC for your organization:

1. Expertise and Resources

As cyber threats become more sophisticated, you need the technical expertise of Cyber Analysts, who hold CISSP and OSCP accreditations, who can deliver 24/7 security monitoring, hypothesis-driven threat hunting, threat disruption, containment, and complete response. In combination with these cybersecurity experts, a Managed SOC brings together advanced technology, proactive threat hunting to your organization, and live Analyst support to ensure you have the necessary resources to protect your business.

2. 24/7 Monitoring

Cybercriminals don’t work 9 to 5, so your cybersecurity capabilities shouldn’t be limited to office hours either. A Managed SOC operates around the clock, providing continuous monitoring and rapid response to security incidents on your behalf, even during weekends and holidays. By quickly detecting threats and alerting you immediately, a Managed SOC allows you to kickstart the response and remediation process as soon as the threat happens, which is key to preventing business disruption.

If a hands-on-keyboard attacker or ransomware attack is unfolding, a Managed SOC will have an Incident Handling Team that will take command of the incident and become your main point of contact until the incident is remediated and you can determine if any data has been exfiltrated.

3. Cost Efficiency

Building an in-house SOC and a 24/7 team can be costly, requiring a significant investment in hiring and retaining staff, access to the right technology, and ongoing investments in training. By a conservative estimate, the costs associated with building a SOC in the first year alone for 1,000 employees can be upwards of $2.2M.

Therefore, a Managed SOC service offers a cost-effective alternative, allowing you to leverage the expertise and infrastructure of a specialized provider without the upfront expenses.

4. Scalability

As your organization grows, so do your cybersecurity needs. Managed SOC services can scale as your business grows to accommodate your evolving requirements, ensuring your attack surface is protected from the expanding threat landscape.

Should I Build or Buy a SOC?

As cyber threats continue to grow, you face a critical decision of whether to build an in-house Security Operations Center (SOC) or outsource to a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) provider. While larger enterprises might have the capability to manage their Security Operations programs internally, running your own 24/7 team may be unattainable for small to mid-size enterprises due to the significant financial and operational commitments it demands.

Your decision to build or buy SOC should consider multiple factors, including cost, expertise, resource allocation, and your exposure to cyber risk. An in-house SOC offers you direct control over security strategies and customized defense mechanisms. However, given the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, the investment required to have adequate technology, expertise and facilities can be prohibitive.

Outsourcing security operations to a Managed SOC provider can be a more cost-effective alternative for many organizations. By partnering with the right Managed SOC, you can gain 24/7 threat detection and response capabilities and reduce your overall cyber risk exposure.

A preview of the eSentire SOC Cost Calculator which provides a comparison of the costs associated with building an in-house SOC.

How do Vendors Price SOC Services?

Managed SOC service providers typically offer different pricing models to accommodate your needs and level of risk tolerance. Some common pricing models include:

  1. Per User or Device: Pricing is based on the number of users or devices being monitored, making it a scalable option.

  2. Tiered Pricing: Providers offer different service tiers with varying levels of protection and support, allowing clients to choose the most suitable package.

  3. Flat-Rate Pricing: A fixed monthly fee covers all SOC services, making budgeting more predictable.

  4. Custom Pricing: Some providers offer customized pricing based on your organization's unique requirements and risk profile.

It's essential to carefully review the pricing models Managed SOC vendors offer to find the one that best aligns with your budget and cybersecurity needs.

How Can I Get Executive Buy-In for Managed SOC?

While many boards and executive teams understand the importance of investing in cybersecurity, they might not be fully aware of what the threat landscape looks like. To find alignment with your executive team, you need to demonstrate the value an investment in a Managed SOC brings and the risk of not making the appropriate cybersecurity investment.

1. Illustrate the Business Impact of Cyber Threats

Emphasize the real consequences of cyber threats, focusing on financial losses, operational disruptions, and potential damage to your company’s reputation by illustrating how downtime from cyber incidents, like ransomware attacks, can lead to significant revenue loss. Downtime from a cyberattack can cost organizations upwards of $225K per day. Make your case for a Managed SOC service as a cost-effective solution to mitigate these risks.

Mean daily downtime costs per Industry. An investment into a Managed SOC can help you avoid these downtime costs and minimize business disruption.

2. Link Managed SOC to Risk Management Objectives

Align Managed SOC services with your organization’s broader governance and risk management strategy. Explain how proactive threat detection and response capabilities of a Managed SOC can help your organization reduce your cyber risks and stay one step ahead of threat actors.

3. Translate Cybersecurity Benefits into Business Language

Communicate the advantages of a Managed SOC in terms that resonate with executive priorities. Focus on how Managed SOC services can minimize the risk of business disruption, ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce cyber risk, contributing to a long-term cyber resilience strategy.

4. Provide Scalable Options

Offer a spectrum of Managed SOC solutions to give your leadership team a clear understanding of the available options. If possible, provide a side-by-side comparison that demonstrates how more robust investments can reduce the costs of security tools, operations and hiring staff. This allows your board to assess the trade-offs between different levels of investment and the corresponding level of security and risk management they can expect.

5. Demonstrate ROI of the Investment

Build continuous alignment with your executive team even after the investment decision has been made. Your ROI analysis of Managed SOC investment could include metrics like improved compliance, reduced Mean Time to Detect and Mean Time to Contain, and minimized risk of business disruption. Highlighting the ROI will help your executive team see Managed SOC as a necessary investment.

Even though your budgets may be too tight to increase investments, it’s often possible to improve your cybersecurity posture and save money in the long run by investing into an effective solution. In presenting Managed SOC as a strategic investment, the key is to connect its benefits directly to business objectives and financial health. This approach can effectively demonstrate to your leadership team why a Managed SOC is a crucial component in preventing business disruption.

How to Evaluate a Managed SOC Provider?

If you decide to outsource your SOC operations, choosing the right Managed SOC provider is essential. To ensure you make the best decision for your organization, here are some key questions to include in your Request for Proposal (RFP):

1. What is Your SOC-as-a-Service Expertise?

Look for a SOC-as-a-Service provider with substantial experience, particularly in industries similar to yours. Additionally, inquire about the certification and qualifications of their SOC team and how they’ll help your team stay up to date with the latest industry trends and news.

A schematic showing eSentire’s SOC onboarding and training process, which includes the ongoing investment in cyber education and certification of SOC Cyber Analysts.The expertise of an outsourced SOC team is a key consideration when evaluating managed SOC pricing.

2. How is Your SOC Staffed?

Given the global cybersecurity talent shortage, outsourcing your SOC can give you access to top expertise and 24/7 monitoring capabilities. However, it’s important to ensure your SOC-as-a-Service provider has sufficient staffing to have around-the-clock monitoring and meaningful strategies for dealing with workplace burnout.

Over 70% of SOC Analysts report working in understaffed teams, which can lead to burnout and decreased effectiveness. Look for providers who prioritize the efficacy of their SOC analysts by encouraging breaks, scheduling a sufficient number of analysts per shift, and promoting continued education.

3. What Technologies and Tools Do You Use?

SOC operations should be driven by human-led investigations and supplemented with machine learning technology that enables effective threat detection and response. Ask about the types of security information and event management (SIEM) tools, intrusion detection systems, and other cybersecurity technologies they use. It’s also essential to understand how a Managed SOC provider offers seamless integration and threat investigation across your existing tech stack to provide comprehensive security coverage.

4. How Quickly Are Threats Investigated?

The speed at which a SOC can identify and investigate threats is crucial to minimizing downtime and potential business disruption. When evaluating Managed SOC providers, inquire about their average response time to security alerts and their process for prioritizing and handling different types of incidents. A competent SOC should have a well-defined procedure for rapid threat investigation and response.

5. Does Your SOC Proactively Hunt for Threats Using the Latest Threat Intelligence?

Proactive threat hunting is a key differentiator for top-tier Managed SOC services. Determine if the provider actively hunts for threats rather than waiting for alerts. This involves understanding a Managed SOC provider’s approach to doing original threat research, integrating the latest threat intelligence into their operations and how they use this information to anticipate and contain cyber threats.

6. Explain The Details Behind Your Managed SOC Pricing.

Ask your prospective vendors to provide a detailed breakdown of their SOC pricing structure and clarify what is included in the base price and what constitutes additional costs. This transparency is essential for assessing the value and affordability of their services in relation to your cybersecurity needs.

An Overview of What is Covered By Managed SOC Pricing

Managed SOC pricing can vary widely depending on factors such as the scope of services, the size of your organization, and the complexity of your IT infrastructure. Generally, Managed SOC pricing includes:

1. SOC Subscription Fees

Managed SOC pricing often offers different tiers of monitoring and support. The cost of subscription fees varies based on the level of protection and services you choose. Basic tiers may include essential monitoring, while advanced tiers offer more comprehensive coverage, threat hunting, incident handling and access to incident response capabilities.

2. Security Operations Center Implementation Costs

The implementation phase involves configuring and deploying the Managed SOC services within your IT infrastructure. This includes setting up security monitoring tools, integrating with your network, and establishing communication channels. Implementation costs can vary depending on the complexity of your infrastructure and the extent of customization required.

3. SOC Licensing Costs

Many Managed SOC providers use proprietary software, tools, and platforms for monitoring and threat detection. Licensing fees may apply for the use of these tools. It's essential to clarify the licensing terms to understand the cost implications.

4. Incident Response Fees

While standard monitoring is typically included in subscription fees, incident response fees may apply when a security incident occurs. These fees cover the additional resources and expertise required to investigate and mitigate the incident. Incident response costs can vary depending on the severity and complexity of the incident.

5. Scalability Costs

As your business needs grow or your attack surface changes, your Managed SOC services must adapt accordingly. Scalability costs reflect the adjustments required to maintain the same level of protection. This might involve adding more devices, expanding monitoring coverage, or enhancing response capabilities. It's crucial to discuss scalability options and associated costs with your provider upfront.

6. Compliance Support

If your organization operates within a regulated industry, such as healthcare or finance, you may require additional services to ensure compliance with industry-specific cybersecurity regulations. Managed SOC providers can offer compliance support, and these services might come with their pricing considerations.

7. Proactive Threat Hunting

Proactive cyber threat hunting is a key capability that can harden your security posture against the evolving threat landscape. A Managed SOC provider that regularly performs global threat sweeps and proactively hunts for threats across your environment can help you stay ahead of modern threats and prevent attackers from ever having a chance to disrupt your business.

However, these services often come as an add-on in SOC-as-a-Service contracts, so it’s important to ensure that you clearly understand the pricing structure of proactive threat hunting.

8. Contract Terms

Managed SOC pricing often depends on the duration of your contract. Longer-term contracts may offer cost savings compared to month-to-month agreements. However, it's essential to consider how important flexibility is in your organizational priorities and whether a longer commitment aligns with your goals.

Additionally, Managed SOC contracts often include termination clauses specifying penalties for early termination. Understanding these terms is crucial if you need to change your Managed SOC services.

9. Response Time

Managed SOC providers typically offer SLAs that outline their commitments regarding response times to security incidents. Understanding these SLAs is essential, as they can effectively impact your ability to detect and mitigate threats, minimizing business disruption.

In summary, Managed SOC pricing is influenced by various factors, and it's important to carefully review and negotiate your pricing agreement with your chosen provider. By understanding these components and how they relate to your needs, you can make an informed decision when selecting a Managed SOC service that aligns with your budget and level of risk tolerance.

Are There Additional Considerations When Evaluating Managed SOC Pricing from Vendors?

While evaluating Managed SOC pricing, keep these additional considerations in mind:

  1. Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Review SLAs to understand the provider's commitments regarding response times, level of support offered, and performance metrics.

  2. Contract Terms: Pay attention to contract terms, including renewal options, termination clauses, and any hidden fees.

  3. Integration: Ensure seamless integration with your existing security infrastructure and systems.

  4. References and Case Studies: Request references and case studies from the SOC-as-a-Service provider to gauge their past performance and client satisfaction.

Why Engage eSentire’s SOC-as-a-Service?

At eSentire, we deliver much more than traditional SOC-as-a-Service. Our 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC) Cyber Analysts act as an extension of your team to provide immediate expertise, peace of mind, and hands-on assistance to remediate threats on your behalf when and where you need it.

Our Managed SOC services combine expert security analysts with advanced technology to provide 24/7 monitoring, rapid threat detection, proactive threat hunting, and, most of all, complete response to ensure your organization stays ahead of the evolving threats. .

24/7 Live SOC Support:. With two SOCs in Waterloo and Cork, as well as additional analysts operating across the US, EMEA, and APAC, our expert SOC analysts are available to support you 24/7. Acting as an extension of your team, our SOC is engaged and ready to initiate expert-level response within minutes – not hours.

Expertise and Experience: With an average tenure of 6 years and a 95%+ retention rate, our team proudly holds advanced certs including SSCP, CSAP, CISSP, Security+, Network+, Linux+, Server+, and more. For 20+ years, we have been protecting businesses with scalable SOC services, delivering unmatched threat detection and response.

Cutting-Edge XDR Platform: Our open XDR cloud platform automatically disrupts high-fidelity threats, cutting the noise, so our SOC team can focus on multi-signal investigation, threat containment and response. With 12,000+ indicators of compromise (IOCs) recognized across our XDR platform, and 200 new IOCs added every day, you’re protected against most advanced cyberattacks, including zero-day attacks.

Complete Response: If an incident occurs, our 24/7 SOC Analysts act on your behalf to isolate and contain the threat, and initiate threat response measures. Should a hands-in intrusion occur, our Incident Handling Team is ready to scope the intrusion, identify threat actor activity in the environment, and ensure full remediation.

Proactive Threat Detection: Our SOC team is supported by our industry-renowned Threat Response Unit (TRU), who perform global threat sweeps and proactive hypothesis-driven threat hunts augmented by original threat research. The result – proactive threat detection capabilities that enable us to detect and contain potential threats in your environment before they can disrupt your business.

Scalability: As your organization evolves and expands, our flexible Managed SOC services can seamlessly scale to enhance your security operations.

Compliance Support: Our SOC services are designed to assist you in building a resilient cybersecurity program that exceeds the most stringent cybersecurity compliance mandates and supports in scaling your business, securely.

Our SOC-as-a-Service offering is an all-in-one managed solution that provides advanced detection, 24/7 threat hunting, end-to-end coverage, and, most of all, complete response. With our expertise, open XDR platform, and commitment to helping you build a resilient security posture, we provide the peace of mind you need to focus on your core business operations.

To learn more about how eSentire provides value with our 24/7 SOC, book a meeting with an eSentire security specialist today.


eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.

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