Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). What It Is and How It Works.
Wondering what is SIEM, what are its benefits and limitations, and what are the best practices you can apply for your business? Read on to find out the answers to your questions!
What is SIEM?
SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) is a software system that collects and analyzes data from a variety of sources within your IT infrastructure, giving you a comprehensive picture of your company’s information security.
SIEM tools evolved from the log management discipline and combine the SIM (Security Information Management) and SEM (Security Event Management) technologies.
How does SIEM work?
SIEM tools’ mission is to collect and aggregate the log data that is generated throughout an organization’s technology infrastructure. This includes host systems and applications, network and security devices – firewalls, antivirus filters.
After this part, the SIEM software identifies and categorizes incidents and events, and then it analyzes them. Its objectives are to:
provide reports on security-related incidents and events, such as successful and failed logins, malware activity, and other possibly malicious activities, and send alerts if analysis shows that an activity runs against predetermined rulesets and thus indicates a potential security issue.
What can SIEM software do?
a. Data Aggregation and Retention
As already mentioned, security information and event management tools will aggregate data from your company’s technology infrastructure and, moreover, it will store it in the long-term to enable analysis and tracking.
b. Threat Intelligence Feeds
A Security Information and Event Management software can combine internal data with threat intelligence feeds that include information about attack patterns, threat actors, and vulnerabilities.
c. Correlation, Analytics, and Alerting
SIEM applications can help you link events and data into meaningful explanations of real security incidents, use statistical models and machine learning to find more complex relationships between data and anomalies, and send out alerts about immediate issues.
d. Incident Response
SIEM will allow security teams to quickly synchronize and respond to threats by providing case management, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.
As you might imagine, SIEM applications are particularly useful for compliance purposes too – they automate the gathering of compliance data and produce reports that measure up to various standards (HIPA, HITECH, GDPR, etc.).
The general benefits of using SIEM software
- Increased Efficiency in Preventing and Handling incidents
- Reducing the impact of security events
- Cost reduction
- Increased Compliance and better Reporting
Does SIEM have any limitations? There seem to be a few, since, of course, no software is perfect:
- It usually offers limited information about the context of events, so it might be difficult to distinguish, for example, completely benign behavior from theft of sensitive data.
- Difficulties distinguishing between sensitive and non-sensitive events.
- Ultimately, SIEM applications depend on the data they receive, having no additional context.
What to look for when choosing a SIEM Tool
If you’re thinking about the criteria that you need to take into account when choosing a SIEM software for your business, let me just tell you that:
- the ability to integrate third-party threat intelligence feeds to obtain more accurate threat detection would be nice to have;
- the log data should be analyzed in real-time, allowing your teams to quickly identify and block attacks;
- a good SIEM software should provide rapid investigations and visual correlations;
- it should also monitor the access to your critical resources and check for unusual user behavior or remote login attempts.
- SIEM solutions can be either locally installed or cloud-based.
In addition, before making any decision,
- think about your organization’s needs and objectives when you evaluate the products on the market. As CSO notes,
Organizations that want this technology primarily for compliance will value certain capabilities, such as reporting, more highly than organizations that want to leverage SIEM to set up a security operations center. […] organizations that have petabytes of data will find some vendors better able to meet their needs, while those who have fewer data might opt for other options. Similarly, companies that want outstanding threat hunting will likely look for top data visualization tools and search capabilities that others may not need to have.
- consider all the factors: if you can support a particular tool, how much data your systems enclose, how much you want to spend.
When it comes to SIEM tools, you can, of course, find both paid and free options on the market (you’ll just have to keep in mind that the free ones might not be the most secure and probably won’t have a customer service to assist you in case you need any help). Here are a few examples:
OSSIM is one of the most popular open-source SIEM tools, which offers event collection, normalization, correlation utilities. Its short-term logging and monitoring capabilities, long-term threat assessment, and built-in automated responses are particularly useful for any IT security team.
OSSEC is another free SIEM solution that is highly appreciated especially by macOS, Linux, BSD, and Solaris users. This solution can help you monitor multiple networks from a single point, and offers the possibility to join a Slack channel where you can collaborate with other users.
Sagan is also a free SIEM solution that offers real-time log analysis, correlation, log normalization, real-time alerting, with a multi-threaded architecture that allows it to use all CPUs for log processes in real-time.
This IBM product is described as smart and reliable, capable of detecting a variety of threats. Its capabilities are matched by a complex architecture, so the solution could be a strong option for enterprises with extensive log management needs.
Best Practices when implementing SIEM
What should be your next steps after deciding on a SIEM software?
- Customize the software’s rules according to your company’s needs
SIEM software usually has its own pre-configured correlation rules, but your security teams can also fine-tune them as they consider necessary.
- Keep an eye on compliance requirements
A SIEM software is excellent for better compliance, so make sure your software can support your organization’s specific compliance requirements.
- Test your SIEM
Testing is a stage that should not be skipped in the implementation of a SIEM software because it’s crucial to assess how it reacts.
- Implement a response plan
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a response plan if a cybersecurity incident happens. It’s very probably that time won’t be on your side in those moments, so your staff must know exactly what to do following a SIEM alert.
How Heimdal Complements SIEM tools
Our enhanced EDR tool (we call it EPDR, endpoint prevention, detection and response) is a powerful cybersecurity tool that provides endpoint protection, advanced investigation, threat hunting capabilities and quickly responds to sophisticated malware – both known and yet unknown.
It brings greater visibility into your endpoints and enables faster response times when threats arise. It also provides an API so you can feed the data into a SIEM tool.
- Next-gen Antivirus & Firewall which stops known threats;
- DNS traffic filter which stops unknown threats;
- Automatic patches for your software and apps with no interruptions;
- Privileged Access Management and Application Control, all in one unified dashboard
When it comes to your business’s cybersecurity, it’s essential to have an overview of what happens in your network and systems at any time, and this is exactly what implementing a security information and event management software will help you achieve.
However you choose to proceed, please remember that Heimdal Security always has your back and that our team is here to help you protect your home and your company and to create a cybersecurity culture to the benefit of anyone who wants to learn more about it.