Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

Publication date: September 25, 2019

Over the last decade, countless organizations have experienced first-hand how sophisticated and dangerous have cyber threats become.

With cybercrimes accounting for trillions of dollars in losses, IT decision-makers in organizations across all industries are more than ever aware of the importance of notifying the right people as soon as possible to immediately contain unauthorized access and breach of data, creating a strong demand for security information and event management (SIEM) software, which provides a holistic view of an organization’s information security. Let’s take a closer look at what SIEM is and what makes it an important part of every cybersecurity strategy.

What is SIEM?

SIEM, pronounced with a silent e, has been around for more than a decade, combining security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) in a single security management system. SIM collects, monitors, and analyzes log data, while SEM performs real-time system monitoring and reporting of security-related events.

By combining SIM and SEM, SIEM is able to aggregate relevant data from multiple sources (including but not limited to firewalls, IDS and IPS systems, antivirus consoles, wireless access points, and active directory servers), identify deviations from the norm, and take appropriate action, such as sending an alert if analysis evaluates a certain action as a potential security issue.

For example, 10 failed login attempts from a single user in an hour could be considered suspicious based on a certain rule set, but such activity would most likely receive a low priority because of the high probability that the user has simply forgotten his or her login credentials. On the other hand, 100 failed login attempts in 5 minutes would be flagged as a high-priority incident and trigger a security notification to stop the likely brute-force attack as soon as possible.

Benefits of SIEM

SIEM provides many important benefits:

  • Eliminates blind spots: Because SIEM gathers all security and event information into a single location, it effectively eliminates blind spots and allows IT staff to identify, review, and respond to potential security breaches much faster than they would be able to otherwise.
  • Increased efficiency: When organizations attempt to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses by implementing additional security equipment like firewalls, antivirus, or intrusion prevention systems to detect suspicious behavior, they often get bogged down in the mire false positives. SIEM increases IT staff efficiency by sifting through security alerts and highlighting those that actually matter.
  • More time to respond: With accurate analysis and correlation SIEM is able to detect problems before they become breaches and spot patterns that are out of the ordinary and visible only from a greater distance. More advanced SIEM products bring to the table security analytics capabilities that look at user behavior in the context of network behavior to give more intelligence around whether an activity indicates malicious activity.
  • Better reporting: The ability of SIEM to collect event logs from multiple sources and intelligently analyze them makes it possible to transform the collected data into insightful dashboards that make it easier to recognize activities that don’t fit doesn’t fit into a normal pattern.
  • Regulatory compliance: PCI, HIPAA, and FFIEC regulations effectively require organizations to have a SIEM and use it to automatically collect data necessary to achieve compliance.

SIEM Tools and Vendors

There are many different vendors offering a broad range of SIEM products with capabilities ranging from basic (log collection and normalization, notifications and alerts, security incident detection, threat response workflow) to advanced (artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, threat intelligence feeds, robust compliance reporting, and forensics capabilities).

Some of the most dominant vendors in the SIEM market include IBM, Splunk, and Micro Focus.

IBM QRadar

Designed to help security teams accurately detect and prioritize threats across the enterprise and provide intelligent insights that enable teams to respond quickly to reduce the impact of incidents, IBM QRadar is a leading SIEM tool that delivers comprehensive visibility, eliminates manual tasks, guarantees real-time threat detection, and makes it easy to manage compliance.

Splunk Enterprise Security (ES)

Splunk ES is an analytics-driven security operation suite that goes beyond simple information and event management, tackling real-time security monitoring, advanced threat detection, forensics, and incident management. It uses machine learning to detect anomalies and enhance incident response and investigations, giving organizations the edge they need to stay protected against the latest threats.

Micro Focus ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager (ESM)

ArcSight from Micro Focus is a SIEM product built on an open architecture that makes it possible to uncover vital missing links and discover unknown or insider threats through the integration of real-time event correlation with user and behavior analytics. The product provides big data security analytics, a transformation hub built on Apache Kafka, and the ability to simultaneously correlate thousands of events.

Conclusion

Security information and event management (SIEM) provides real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware to give enterprise security professionals a comprehensive overview of the entire perimeter, helping them identify and address even the most sophisticated cyberattacks. SIEM is an essential part of a modern cybersecurity strategy because it consolidates data from numerous sources and provides real-time visibility across an organization’s information security systems.

Written by: Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond

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