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Certified Security Operations Center GmbH – two strong partners and bundled competence for more cyber security

If you ask yourself what makes Certified Security Operations Center GmbH special, then, as often happens, it is above all the people behind it. The two managing directors Stefan Möller and Joerg Lammerich founded the company with the common goal of becoming a strong service provider for a secure IT infrastructure. Stefan Möller tells us in an interview what they offer their customers and where the company is heading in the coming year.

Mr Möller, the Certified Security Operations Center GmbH was officially founded at the beginning of 2021. How did it happen and what was the motivation behind it?

Often something like this depends on the people involved, and that was also the case here. I myself spend a lot of time on platforms and forums on the topic of IT security and got to know our second managing director Joerg Lammerich from dhpg, our current joint venture partner, at the Horst Görzt Institute for IT Security in Bochum. We exchanged ideas, worked together on special tasks in some ISMS projects and thus came to talk about the topic of SOC. Joerg Lammerich had already set up a SOC for financial auditors and their clients with dhpg and successfully put it into operation. What was still missing to scale was a valid network and a powerful sales idea to expand the customer base, even beyond the sector. And this is where TÜV TRUST IT, with its project experience and long-standing customer relationships in the field of information security, came into play as a super addition. We were convinced that the two companies could form a strong team. And so the idea of founding this joint venture was born. We made the final preparations in autumn 2020 and launched at the beginning of this year at the new location in Bornheim as Certified Security Operations Center GmbH.

You say that one goal of the new GmbH was to expand the customer base of the original SOC. Which companies are you now particularly targeting?

Basically, we are active in all sectors and for companies of all sizes. Our clients come from the manufacturing industry, the healthcare sector and the financial sector. And of course we monitor existing clients of the financial auditors as well as existing clients of TÜV TRUST IT. Both groups come predominantly from the upper middle class. And this is exactly where our strengths lie. We can offer medium-sized companies exactly what they need and be an authentic and flexible partner. At the same time, our pricing and the service our clients receive in return is very transparent. We calculate openly based on the number of event sources and offer our customers the opportunity to grow with us. This means that we initially include only the most important event sources in the monitoring and expand them later if necessary. In this way, we can adapt individually to our clients and also offer a good availability of resources, as we use them sensibly. Many companies, especially medium-sized ones, also appreciate the personal contact. They know that people work here at eye level. And they are in constant exchange with the customers, working together with them on the further development of the service portfolio. Often, these are the same values that these companies also offer their customers, and that makes the cooperation very pleasant and efficient.

Your strong customer orientation can be seen at events such as CSOC Inside, which has now taken place for the first time.

That’s right, finally back to a live event. We welcomed 25 guests from among our existing customers, introduced them to the new premises and infrastructure and held an intensive discussion on the further development of our portfolio. This will primarily go in the direction of 24/7 monitoring and also include OT security monitoring, so that in the event of an attack not only the IT but also the production systems do not come to a standstill. Here we got important information from our customers about which systems are relevant and what the customers expect. All in all, the first CSOC Inside was a very successful start and will certainly remain an important element for customer dialogue in the future and be organised regularly.

Talking about the expansion of the portfolio: What does it currently look like? What can you already offer your customers today?

First of all, it is important to mention that we do not offer a pure software solution. The SOCaaS is a highly qualified service with the help of software. This is therefore included, but not sold in isolation. Our core service after onboarding the customer is readiness, which means observing the customer’s systems and checking for anomalies. The second major area is the interaction with the customer in the event of an acute threat and all the associated measures that are necessary to contain the incidents. And the third is all the downstream services. These include forensic investigations, services in the area of awareness and additional offers such as pentests, data protection consulting and the establishment of a secure ISMS. To some extent, we can also outsource services here. If a customer is aiming for ISMS certification, TÜV TRUST IT will take care of it. Or if an audit-proof filing system is to be checked, then dhpg is responsible.

For such a comprehensive offer, a competent team is essential. Are you also striving for further development here?

Definitely. We currently have 14 employees, mainly analysts, working in our Blue Team. And since we have really been able to generate a lot of uptake this year, and soon 24/7 monitoring will increase the load even more, we are already actively recruiting in this area. It would be nice if we could increase to about 20 staff next year. Recruiting is indeed a challenge, however, because we only employ highly specialised experts for our analysis system and a certain amount of experience must be available for this. The demand for such employees is enormously high. We are by far not the only ones looking for them. And in addition to our analysts, we are also looking for classical developers. I already said that we want to develop constantly and for that we need the appropriate resources, also in the area of human resources. However, the fresh corporate culture at our company, the very innovative technical approach and the growth prospects at CSOC speak in our favour so that we can expand the team in this way.

Finally: What do you wish for your company for the next year?

First of all, I would like us to start into a successful following year with our new topics and a good momentum from the first year and to be able to develop steadily. This includes interactive events with our clients, who can and already do contribute many good ideas. And in general, I wish that we continue to achieve what we stand for: Providing sustainable protection against cyber attacks. There is no standstill there. The attackers are developing just as much as we are. We have to constantly stay on the ball in order to guide our customers safely through the new year.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Möller.

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