Data presentation in security operations centres: exploring the potential for sonification to enhance existing practice

Louise Axon, Bushra A AlAhmadi, Jason R C Nurse, Michael Goldsmith, Sadie Creese
2020 Journal of Cybersecurity  
Security practitioners working in Security Operations Centres (SOCs) are responsible for detecting and mitigating malicious computer network activity. This work requires both automated tools that detect and prevent attacks, and data presentation tools that can present pertinent network security monitoring information to practitioners in an efficient and comprehensible manner. In recent years, advances have been made in the development of visual approaches to data presentation, with some uptake
more » ... f advanced security visualization tools in SOCs. Sonification in which data are represented as sound, is said to have potential as an approach that could work alongside existing visual data presentation approaches to address some of the unique challenges faced by SOCs. For example, sonification has been shown to enable peripheral monitoring of processes, which could aid practitioners multitasking in busy SOCs. The perspectives of security practitioners on incorporating sonification into their actual working environments have not yet been examined, however. The aim of this article, therefore, is to address this gap by exploring attitudes to using sonification in SOCs and by identifying the data presentation approaches currently used. We report on the results of a study consisting of an online survey (N = 20) and interviews (N = 21) with security practitioners working in a range of different SOCs. Our contributions are (i) a refined appreciation of the contexts in which sonification could aid in SOC working practice, (ii) an understanding of the areas in which sonification may not be beneficial or may even be problematic, (iii) an analysis of the critical requirements for the design of sonification systems and their integration into the SOC setting and (iv) evidence of the visual data presentation techniques currently used and identification of how sonification might work alongside and address challenges to using them. Our findings clarify insights into the potential benefits and challenges of introducing sonification to support work in this vital security monitoring environment. Participants saw potential value in using sonification systems to aid in anomaly detection tasks in SOCs (such as retrospective hunting), as well as in situations in which peripheral monitoring is desirable: while multitasking with multiple work tasks, or while outside of the SOC.
doi:10.1093/cybsec/tyaa004 dblp:journals/cybersecurity/AxonANGC20 fatcat:4hkaq6o6pzefzliu3pizbfi7b4