MDR vs. SOC: Which Is Better?

April 18, 2024

Wondering how to protect your business from cyber threats? Let's dive into "MDR vs. SOC", the two powerhouses in cybersecurity services.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Security Operation Centre (SOC) are crucial for safeguarding your digital assets, but they work differently. This blog will unpack what each service entails, how they benefit your business, and help you decide which one might better fit your needs.

Whether you're looking to beef up your current security measures or start from scratch, understanding these services is vital. Stick around to find out how each could transform your business's cybersecurity strategy.

MDR vs SOC: What is MDR

What is MDR (managed detection and response)?

Before we answer which is better between MDR vs. SOC as a service, let’s define each cybersecurity service. 

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) in cybersecurity is a tailored service that proactively identifies and responds to cyber threats.

Unlike traditional security measures that might only alert you to potential breaches, MDR takes it a step further by actively monitoring, analysing, and responding to threats as they occur. This ensures that any potential harm can be mitigated quickly and effectively.

Services under MDR

Top MDR services

Curious about what MDR covers? Here's a breakdown of the key services:

  • Threat detection: Real-time monitoring and sophisticated analytics to identify threats that typically bypass standard security measures.
  • Risk assessment: Regular reviews of your cybersecurity posture to identify vulnerabilities and recommend improvements.
  • 24/7 monitoring: Continuous oversight of your IT systems, ensuring that any suspicious activity is spotted and dealt with immediately.
  • Compliance management: Ensuring your business meets all the necessary regulatory and compliance requirements to avoid fines and penalties.

MDR services provide a robust defence against cyber attacks, ensuring your business's digital assets are under constant surveillance and a strong security posture. 

By integrating cutting-edge technology with expert analysis, MDR offers a dynamic security solution tailored to your specific business needs. Whether it's defending against malware, ransomware, or insider threats, MDR works tirelessly to safeguard your operations.

What is SOC

What is SOC (security operations centre)?

In cybersecurity, a Security Operations Centre (SOC) is your first line of defence against cyber threats. A SOC is essentially a team, often a dedicated one, equipped with specialised software to monitor, assess, and defend your organisation from ongoing digital attacks. 

They handle everything from real-time threat detection to incident response, ensuring your network stays secure around the clock.

Services under SOC

Services under SOC in cybersecurity

If you're choosing between MDR vs. SOC as a service, it's smart to know what services SOC offers. Here’s what you can typically expect:

  • Real-time security monitoring: Keeps an eye on your network 24/7 to detect any unusual activity swiftly.
  • Threat detection: Uses advanced algorithms to spot potential threats before they escalate.
  • Incident response: Steps in immediately to contain and mitigate any breaches that occur.
  • Compliance oversight: Helps ensure your business meets all the relevant legal and regulatory standards.
  • Forensic analysis: After an incident, it investigates to determine the cause and prevent future breaches.

A SOC provides your business with continuous protection, utilising a mix of technology and human expertise to respond to threats dynamically.

By integrating real-time surveillance with detailed analytics, SOCs play a crucial role in modern cybersecurity frameworks, especially for organisations that handle sensitive information or operate in heavily regulated industries. This proactive approach not only protects your systems but also helps maintain trust with your customers by safeguarding their data.

MDR vs SOC as a service: Differences

MDR vs. SOC as a service: Main differences as managed security services

Choosing between MDR vs. SOC can be tricky, especially when you're looking to enhance your cybersecurity. Both options offer robust protection for your business, but they operate and are structured quite differently. Let's break down the main differences to help you decide which one suits your needs best.

How MDR and SOC operate

MDR services focus primarily on proactive and advanced threat detection, using cutting-edge technology and a team of cybersecurity experts.

They identify threats early, respond quickly, and often include comprehensive cybersecurity and remediation services to deal with any incidents. MDR is like having a dedicated guard scanning for potential intruders and dealing with them before they can cause harm.

In contrast, SOC involves a more extensive setup that includes continuous monitoring of your network's security status. 

It acts as a central point from which all information is assessed and potential threats are managed. Think of SOC as a high-tech command centre that not only watches for breaches but also coordinates the defence across your entire IT infrastructure.

Cost implications

When it comes to costs, MDR is typically more affordable than setting up a SOC because it requires fewer in-house resources. You're essentially outsourcing your cybersecurity to experts who use their own advanced tools and facilities to protect your data.

SOC, however, can be more expensive initially due to the infrastructure and staffing requirements. It's a significant investment but one that brings all your security operations under one roof, potentially giving you tighter control over your digital environments.

Resources needed

When it comes to the MDR vs. SOC debate, MDR services are less resource-intensive for your business. They handle most of the cybersecurity operations off-site, which means you don't need to invest heavily in internal cybersecurity personnel or advanced technological setups.

SOC requires a dedicated team of security professionals who can monitor, analyse, and respond to incidents 24/7. This setup demands ongoing investment in security personnel training and technology upgrades to deal with sophisticated cyber threats effectively.

Challenges in both services

Challenges of SOC vs MDR as a service

Following our explanation of the main differences between MDR vs. SOC as a service, it’s crucial to consider the challenges each model presents. Understanding these can help you navigate potential hurdles effectively.

Challenges of MDR

MDR services, while offering robust endpoint detection and response capabilities, face several challenges. Firstly, reliance on external teams means your business must trust the responsiveness and efficacy of another company's personnel. 

There’s always a risk that their priorities might not align perfectly with your immediate needs, especially during widespread cyber incidents affecting multiple clients.

Additionally, while MDR service providers offer high-level expertise, they also often do so within a somewhat rigid framework. 

Customising their services to fit unique aspects of your business can sometimes be limited, which might be better for companies with highly specific IT environments or those needing a bespoke security approach.

MDR challenges:

  • Dependence on external teams' priorities and responsiveness.
  • Limited customisation options for unique business needs.

Challenges of SOC

Probably the biggest difference between MDR vs. SOC is the investment required, which also makes it a challenge for the latter. 

SOCs involve significant upfront and ongoing investment. Establishing an in-house SOC requires substantial resources, including state-of-the-art technology and a team of skilled cybersecurity professionals capable of operating it 24/7. For many small to medium enterprises, the cost alone can be prohibitive.

Operational complexity is another challenge. Running an effective SOC demands continuous training and development to keep up with the rapidly evolving nature of cyber threats. 

This means ongoing investment in both technology and team skills, which can strain resources and focus away from your core business functions.

Moreover, data overload can be a significant issue for SOCs. The vast amounts of information processed can lead to alert fatigue, where critical warnings are overlooked due to the sheer volume of alerts being monitored. 

Managing this effectively requires sophisticated tuning of your SOC tools and processes to ensure that only genuine security threats are escalated.

SOC challenges:

  • High initial and ongoing financial investment.
  • Complex operational demands require continuous training and technology updates.
  • Risk of alert fatigue due to high volumes of data, leading to potential oversight of critical threats.
Benefits of both services

Benefits of MDR and SOC services

After discussing the challenges of MDR vs. SOC, let's delve into the benefits each brings to your cybersecurity strategy. Both SOC and MDR services offer significant advantages, and knowing these can help you align your security needs with the right service.

Benefits of MDR

The MDR solution is renowned for its proactive approach to cybersecurity. Here's how it can benefit your business:

  • Proactive threat detection: Utilises advanced analytics and threat intelligence to detect potential security breaches before they cause harm.
  • Rapid response: Offers quick action to mitigate threats, minimising potential damage and downtime.
  • Expert guidance: Provides access to cybersecurity experts who can offer tailored advice and solutions for your specific security concerns.
  • Cost-effective: Typically requires less investment than building an in-house SOC, making it a financially viable option for many businesses.

MDR's focused approach ensures that even smaller teams without extensive cybersecurity resources can defend themselves effectively against complex threats.

Benefits of SOC

A SOC team provides a comprehensive security solution designed to monitor and protect an organisation’s entire IT infrastructure. Here are the core advantages:

  • 24/7 monitoring: Ensures round-the-clock surveillance of your networks, detecting and responding to threats at any time of day.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Integrates various security measures, from firewalls to intrusion detection systems, for thorough protection.
  • Scalability: Can be scaled up or down based on the size and needs of your business, providing flexibility as your company grows.
  • Compliance support: Helps ensure that your security practices comply with relevant laws and regulations, reducing legal risks.

SOCs are ideal for larger organisations or those in highly regulated industries, where the scale and complexity of operations demand extensive security measures.

In summary, MDR and SOC each offer unique benefits that can be pivotal depending on your business size, budget, and specific security requirements.

MDR excels with its cost-effective, expert-driven services for proactive threat management. At the same time, SOC provides a holistic security team with the capacity for large-scale, continuous monitoring and compliance management.

Which is better for you

SOC and MDR: Choosing the right cybersecurity service for you

Not knowing the difference between MDR vs. SOC as a service can be tricky, mainly if your business deals with vast amounts of data. To make an informed choice that aligns with your business needs, let’s explore key factors you should consider when deciding between MDR and SOC.

Your business size and complexity

Firstly, consider the size of your business and the complexity of your IT environment. MDR might be more suitable for small to medium-sized businesses that require a robust cybersecurity response but lack the resources to manage a comprehensive in-house security team. 

MDR providers deliver expert services and technology to detect and respond to threats without extensive internal infrastructure.

For larger organisations or those with complex IT environments, a SOC might be more appropriate. A SOC provides a dedicated team and continuous monitoring of your systems, which can be crucial for businesses that need to manage a vast array of IT assets and data flows.

Budget considerations

Your available budget is another critical factor when responding to security incidents. Generally, MDR services are more cost-effective because they require less upfront investment and ongoing operational costs compared to establishing and maintaining a SOC. 

If budget constraints are a significant concern, MDR provides a practical solution that keeps the effectiveness of your cybersecurity measures intact.

Regulatory compliance needs

Your industry’s regulatory requirements can also dictate your choice. If your business operates in a sector with stringent data protection standards, such as healthcare or finance, a SOC might be necessary. 

SOCs can offer more detailed compliance support, ensuring that all monitoring and response processes align with legal requirements.

Specific security needs

Think about your specific security needs when choosing between MDR vs. SOC. MDR services are typically more focused on advanced threat detection and response. 

They use cutting-edge technology to identify and mitigate threats quickly and efficiently. This can be advantageous if your primary concern is dealing with sophisticated cyber attacks.

On the other hand, SOCs often provide a broader range of security services. Beyond just monitoring and response, SOCs can handle everything from firewall management to intrusion prevention. 

This holistic approach might be necessary if your business requires a wide-ranging security strategy that covers multiple aspects of cybersecurity.

Scalability and flexibility

Lastly, consider the scalability and flexibility of the cybersecurity solution. As your business grows, your cybersecurity needs will evolve. MDR is often more flexible, allowing for rapid scaling as required without significant delays or restructuring. 

This can be particularly beneficial for fast-growing businesses or those experiencing rapid changes in their operational landscape.

Conversely, while SOCs can also scale, the process may involve more complex adjustments to infrastructure and staffing, which can be time-consuming and costly. 

However, for businesses planning significant expansion, particularly those expecting to increase their array of IT systems and networks, the robust nature of SOC services could be a strategic investment.

Why choose epochLABS?

MDR or SOC? Our managed service provider is here for you! 

If you're unsure whether to adopt MDR or SOC, epochLABS can help. We simplify complex IT choices so you can focus on your business. Established in 2008, our team offers a spectrum of IT services, including managed IT support and backup and disaster recovery. 

Our approach makes technology seamless, allowing you to concentrate on core tasks. epochLABS prides itself on a dedicated support team ready to tailor solutions precisely to your needs.

Contact us now!

Why contact epochLABS?

Considering how to secure your IT? epochLABS stands as your expert. With our seasoned team, we guarantee more than just solutions—we deliver peace of mind. 

Discover what makes us the trusted choice for Melbourne's small businesses. Reach out today via and start your journey toward effective, reliable business operations.

Frequently asked questions

How do SOC and MDR services differ?

The differences between SOC and MDR (Managed Detection and Response) primarily lie in their focus areas and methodologies. 

SOC primarily focuses on monitoring and managing security events on an ongoing basis through a dedicated SOC team's effort, utilising complex security controls to safeguard an organisation's security.

In contrast, MDR often focuses more directly on proactively identifying and mitigating cyber threats, with an MDR team dedicated to rapid response and resolution.

What roles do SOC analysts play in maintaining network security?

SOC analysts are crucial in maintaining network security as they monitor and analyse security alerts, ensuring that any potential threats are identified and mitigated. 

They work within multiple security layers to protect against a broad range of security incidents, contributing significantly to an organisation's overall security strategy.

Can you explain the typical setup and benefits of integrating MDR into an organisation's security strategy?

Integrating MDR involves deploying a specialised MDR team that focuses on detecting and responding to advanced threats quickly and efficiently. MDR services often include comprehensive assessments that help refine an organisation's security posture, making MDR a valuable addition to enhancing cybersecurity defences.

What additional benefits might a company gain by outsourcing to an MDR provider?

Outsourcing to an MDR provider can significantly enhance a company's cybersecurity capabilities. MDR providers are specialised cybersecurity service providers that offer advanced solutions like rapid incident response and specialised monitoring explicitly tailored to the needs of the client. 

This makes MDR an ideal solution for organisations looking to strengthen their security without the extensive costs of setting up their own SOC.

How do the roles and responsibilities of MDR and SOC teams overlap, and where do they diverge?

While both MDR and SOC teams work towards enhancing an organisation's security, their roles and responsibilities diverge in execution. SOC teams are involved in a broader range of activities, from routine monitoring to managing security operations centres (SOC setup), which often includes handling ongoing security controls and compliance measures.

Conversely, MDR focuses more on specific threats, employing targeted strategies to address and neutralise threats quickly, often taking action before these threats can escalate into significant issues.

What is SIEM in the context of cybersecurity?

SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management, is a set of tools and services that allow for the real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware. SIEM tools are crucial for businesses because they provide the insights needed to identify and respond to security threats swiftly.

How does SIEM enhance a security team's ability to detect and respond to security issues?

SIEM enhances a security team's capabilities by providing comprehensive tools that compile and analyse the data from multiple security sources. This allows security analysts to detect and respond to security incidents more effectively, ensuring timely and decisive action against potential threats.