What Is SIEM?

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Let’s start with the basics. SIEM stands for security information and event management. First, it delivers detection, analytics, and response while collecting data from network devices, servers, domain controllers, and others. Next, it stores, normalizes, aggregates, correlates events, and applies analytics. Its purpose is to discover trends, detect security threats, and allow organizations to investigate alerts.

SIEM software combines security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) to provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware.  As a result, security teams gain insight into their IT environment and a track record of activities.

Log management comprises three areas:

  1. Data aggregation from applications and databases into one place.
  2. Data normalization allowing for comparison and analysis of data.
  3. Data analysis and security event correlation to uncover signs of a breach, threat, attack, or vulnerability.

A SIEM system can be rules-based or use a statistical correlation engine to establish relationships among event log entries. More advanced systems included user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) plus security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR).

How Long Has the Solution Been Around?

Gartner created the term in 2005 while proposing a new security information system based on SEM and SIM. Initially, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance drove SIEM adoption in enterprises.

SIM introduced long-term storage analysis and reporting of log data while integrating logs with threat intelligence. SEM identified, collected, monitored, and reported security-related events. The two combined to create SIEM.

The system has transformed over the years through newer, more innovative technologies. As a result, providers launched new features leading to enhancements now referred to as next-generation SIEM solutions.

SIEM Capabilities

SIEM offers three critical capabilities for organizations – threat detection, investigation, and response time. It also delivers a host of additional features:

  • Basic security monitoring
  • Compliance reporting
  • Database and server access monitoring
  • Advanced threat detection
  • Real-time threat monitoring
  • Intrusion detection system (IDS)
  • User activity monitoring (UAM)
  • Forensics and incident response
  • Log collection
  • Normalization
  • Notifications and alerts
  • Security incident detection
  • Threat response workflow

It detects threats in emails, cloud resources, applications, endpoints, and more. In addition, it can detect behavior anomalies, lateral movement within a network, and compromised accounts. Best of all, organizations can react in real-time, allowing analysts to provide updates.

SIEM complements a Security Operations Center or SOC. The former analyzes log data to uncover events requiring the latter’s attention. SOC analysts review the alerts delivered by SIEM to determine if escalation is needed.

How Does SIEM Work?

SIEM solutions can reside in on-premises or cloud environments. The system collects log and event data from applications, security devices, antivirus events, firewall logs, hosting systems, and other locations. It then catalogs that information in a centralized platform. In addition, it categorizes the data into topics such as malware activity, failed logins, and successful logins, for instance.

When SIEM identifies a threat, it creates an alert with an associated threat level. Predetermined rules determine threat levels. For example, SIEM might trigger a warning if someone attempts to log in too often during a specific timeframe. Its purpose, therefore, is to detect threats and present security alerts while improving the efficiency of security monitoring. As a result, security personnel can research security breaches with greater detail with all the available data.

Benefits to Using the Technology

SIEM’s most significant advantage is reporting threats that can head off advanced persistent threats (APT). So, for SMBs, that’s a considerable benefit, as it delivers enterprise security by providing greater visibility. Many managed IT services providers, for example, provide the capability. SIEM cloud solutions, for example, are available as software-as-a-service through Microsoft’s Azure Cloud via Sentinel and Amazon’s AWS via Guard Duty.

SIEM’s other benefits include:

  • Early Detection: SIEM significantly reduces the mean time to detection (MTTD) and mean time to response (MTTR). Together, they substantially minimize potential damage to the IT environment.
  • Visibility: Because SIEM creates a centralized repository, security professionals can readily access a concise view of the organization’s information security environment.
  • Flexibility: SIEM introduces numerous use cases, including security programs, audits, compliance reporting, help desk and network troubleshooting. Consequently, it’s convenient for compliance reporting considering most regulations require some element of log compilation and normalization. All regulations require reporting.
  • Analysis: In the event of a breach, you can perform detailed forensic analysis to uncover vulnerabilities and remediate potential issues in your environment. SIEM, for example, can recreate the attack timeline to determine the nature of the attack and its impact. It can also identify the sources compromised and automate the prevention of attacks in progress.
  • IoT: SIEM software can mitigate IoT threats like DoS attacks and flag-at-risk or locate compromised devices. In addition, it integrates easily into most IoT devices through APIs or external data repositories.
  • Granularity: SIEM allows you to monitor privileged accounts and delivers alerts if a user lacks permission to perform a function like installing software. As a result, organizations can monitor employees to reduce the threat of insider attacks.

Taking Advantage of SIEM

A SIEM solution can drastically improve your security if you’re a small or medium-sized business, primarily if used in conjunction with multi-factor authentication.

Our IT company offers cloud services to incorporate SIEM into your environment through Microsoft Azure. In addition, we back our cloud offering with cybersecurity services designed to eliminate virtually your chances of a cyber-attack.

Plus, you can depend on us for responsive IT support. So give us a call to learn how we can help.

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