For State, Local, and Education (both Higher Ed and K-12) (SLED) entities the Security Operations Center (SOC) is a required tool in the toolbox and a necessity for Cyber Insurance.  Threats to data and information are ever evolving, and better safeguarding the security of SLED entities is a must.

The cornerstone of a robust defense is the SOC. In this blog, we’ll explore how Cisco XDR simplifies and enhances the operations of SLED-focused SOCs, helping them achieve security and resilience goals in an open and collaborative manner.

Watch the following video to learn more about Cisco XDR:

Cisco XDR: A Game-Changer for SLED Entities – A “SOC in a Box”

State and local governments, along with educational institutions, have increasingly become targets for cyber threats. These threats have the power to cause significant damage, and now use tactics and techniques that were once reserved for high-value targets.  Cyberattacks like malware, ransomware, and phishing are increasing, and with 100,000 different local, state, law enforcement, tribal, townships, cities, municipalities, and county governments cyber criminals have a very big landscape to choose from in SLED. Current security tools struggle to detect and investigate sophisticated threat actors like BlackTech, Volt Typhoon or Wizard Spyder. Funding constraints also pose problems in SLED environments. This creates a situation where some of these entities are viewed as ripe for the picking by threat actors.

Built for SecOps pros by SecOps pros

Cisco XDR is a unified threat detection, investigation, mitigation, and hunting solution that integrates the entire Cisco security portfolio and select third-party tools – endpoint, email, network, and cloud, along with superior threat intelligence. Your teams can now go from endless investigation to remediating the highest priority incidents with greater speed, efficiency, and confidence.

According to Security Intelligence, the number of cyber-attacks targeting government agencies increased by 95% in 2022 compared to the previous year.  The article also notes that in 2022, 89 education sector organizations fell victim to ransomware attacks impacting 45 school districts and 44 colleges and universities.

Tight budgets within SLED limit their ability to build adequate defense in depth.  Cisco XDR can quickly help provide a comprehensive solution that protects SLED environments against evolving cybersecurity challenges. By integrating detection and response capabilities, Cisco XDR simplifies SOC operations, enabling proactive threat mitigation.

Cisco XDR is an affordable unified security solution that integrates and correlates data from multiple security products across an organization’s networks, cloud, endpoints, email, and applications.  It is a “SOC in a Box” that helps security operation teams to detect, prioritize, and respond to threats efficiently.

The Growing Need for Extended Detection and Response

Agencies and departments now use more devices, applications, and tools than ever before, and this complexity has created a persistent and growing security challenge.   The typical SLED detection and response model is built upon self-contained point security solutions, which are pieced together and require lots of staffing resources to maintain.  To this point, these traditional security measures are no longer sufficient to combat advanced threats. SLED entities need an XDR approach that goes beyond mere detection. Security leadership and their teams are demanding better efficacy, experience and higher ROI.

Cisco XDR steps in as the all-inclusive solution for identifying, investigating, and remediating threats. Cisco XDR is comprehensive, providing prioritized and contextualized telemetry, and actionable insight on what steps can be immediately taken. Cisco XDR improves visibility and creates true context across an environment, while enabling unified detection from a single investigative viewpoint that supports fast accurate threat response. Cisco XDR also elevates productivity even further through automation and orchestration, and includes other advanced user-friendly SOC necessities such as:

  • Playbook driven automation
  • Guided incident response
  • Threat hunting
  • Alert prioritization, and
  • Breach pattern analysis.

This “SOC in a Box” immediately gives SLED SOC environments improved advanced threat detection, response efficiency, and investigation powers.

Automation and orchestration are essential concepts in the field of computer and network security, particularly from a Security Operations Center (SOC) point of view. These concepts help SOC teams streamline their processes, improve response times, and enhance overall security posture. Here’s a breakdown of what automation and orchestration mean in the context of a SOC in a SLED environment:


Automation in a SOC refers to the use of technology and scripts to perform repetitive and predefined tasks without manual intervention. These tasks can include activities such as log analysis, threat detection, incident response, and vulnerability scanning. The goal of automation is to reduce the workload on security analysts and speed up the detection and response to security incidents. Automation can handle routine, well-defined tasks, allowing human analysts to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of security.

Examples of automated tasks in a SOC include automatically blocking IP addresses associated with malicious activity, generating alerts, and enriching security alerts with additional context (from additional security tools).


Orchestration goes a step further than automation by integrating various security tools, processes, and workflows into a coordinated and streamlined system. It involves creating workflows and playbooks that define how different security tools and processes should work together to respond to specific security incidents.  Orchestration aims to ensure that different security solutions communicate and collaborate effectively. It includes connecting various security technologies.  SOC orchestration helps improve response coordination, reduces the likelihood of errors, and enhances overall security incident management by providing a standardized, repeatable process for incident response.

Cisco’s Open Approach to XDR

What sets Cisco XDR apart is its open and collaborative approach. Rather than relying on closed, proprietary systems, Cisco embraces interoperability. This means that SLED SOC environments can integrate Cisco XDR into their existing ecosystems, ensuring a seamless and efficient security framework that works in harmony with other tools and technologies.  SLED entities cannot afford clunky vender integrations that make It harder and more time consuming for SOC analysts to investigate.

Cisco XDR is an open extensible solution, with turnkey integrations with a variety of third-party vendors allowing security operation teams to quickly adopt a unified and simple approach to their security across their security stack.

Building an Effective XDR Solution

An effective XDR solution requires multiple sources of telemetry and up-to-the-minute threat intelligence. Cisco Talos, the world-renowned threat intelligence research team provides this crucial data. By leveraging these sources, Cisco XDR helps SLED SOC teams detect and prioritize threats more effectively. Now, streamlined investigations and rapid threat remediation have become standard operating procedures.

XDR and Cyber Insurance for SLED Entities

Cyber insurance offers financial protection against losses incurred due to cyber-related incidents. The implementation of XDR solutions like Cisco XDR can significantly impact cyber insurance premiums and coverage for SLED entities. It demonstrates a proactive approach to security, which insurers often reward.


Operating a SOC in a SLED environment requires adherence to best practices. These practices include robust incident response strategies, and comprehensive threat detection.

For SLED entities, the “SOC in a BOX” concept is not just an idea; it’s real with Cisco XDR.  Cisco XDR is a practical approach to safeguarding the data and operations of State, Local, and Education entities, including law enforcement. It was designed to help SOC analysts detect and respond to threats more quickly and effectively by providing a unified view of security data across multiple security tools and data sources.

SLED SOC teams can have their analyst at any skill level perform advanced tasks elevating productivity and improving decision making times.

Cisco XDR is at the forefront of this “SOC in a BOX” transformation, providing SLED SOC teams with the tools they need to stay ahead of the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats. With an open approach, effective threat detection, and important considerations for cyber insurance, Cisco XDR is that tool in the toolbox SLED entities need in their quest for a secure and resilient future.

Related Links / Resources


We’d love to hear what you think. Ask a Question, Comment Below, and Stay Connected with Cisco Security on social!

Cisco Security Social Channels



Norman St. Laurent

Federal Product Marketing Manager