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What is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?

Security information and event management (SIEM) is defined as a security solution that helps improve security awareness and identify security threats and risks. It collects information from various security devices, monitors and analyzes this information, and presents the results in a manner that is relevant to the enterprise using it.

What is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is a software solution that aggregates and analyzes activity from many different resources across your entire IT infrastructure. SIEM collects security data from network devices, servers, domain controllers, and more. SIEM stores normalizes, aggregates, and applies analytics to that data to discover trends, detect threats, and enable organizations to investigate any alerts.

security information and event management

How does SIEM work?

SIEM tools gather event and log data created by host systems throughout a company’s infrastructure and bring that data together on a centralized platform. Host systems include applications, security devices, antivirus filters, and firewalls. SIEM tools identify and sort the data into categories such as successful and failed logins, malware activity, and other likely malicious activity.

The SIEM software generates security alerts when it identifies potential security issues. Using a set of predefined rules, organizations can set these alerts as a low or high priority. For instance, a user account that generates 25 failed login attempts in 25 minutes could be flagged as suspicious but still be set at a lower priority because the login attempts were probably made by a user who had forgotten their login information.

However, a user account that generates 130 failed login attempts in five minutes would be flagged as a high-priority event because it’s most likely a brute-force attack in progress.

Why is SIEM important?

SIEM systems are critical for organizations mitigating an onslaught of threats. With the average organization’s security operations center (SOC) receiving more than 10,000 alerts per day, and the biggest enterprises seeing over 150,000, most enterprises do not have security teams large enough to keep up with the overwhelming number of alerts. However, the growing risk posed by ever more sophisticated cyber threats makes ignoring alerts quite dangerous. A single alert may mean the difference between detecting and thwarting a major incident and missing it entirely. SIEM security delivers a more efficient means of triaging and investigating alerts. With SIEM technology, teams can keep up with the deluge of security data.

Security information and event management (SIEM) solutions collect logs and analyze security events along with other data to speed threat detection and support security incident and event management, as well as compliance. Essentially, a SIEM technology system collects data from multiple sources, enabling faster response to threats. If an anomaly is detected, it might collect more information, trigger an alert, or quarantine an asset.

While SIEM technology was traditionally used by enterprises and public companies that needed to demonstrate compliance, they have come to understand that security information and event management is much more powerful. The SIEM technologies have since evolved as key threat detection tools for organizations of all sizes. Given the sophistication of today’s threats and that the cybersecurity skills shortage is not improving, it is critical to have security information event management that can quickly and automatically detect breaches and other security concerns. SIEM capabilities are driving more small and medium-sized organizations to deploy a security and event management solution as well.

What are the benefits of Security Information and Event Management?

SIEM technology helps security analysts see across their enterprise IT environment and spot threats that evade other means of detection. A good SIEM solution will help security analysts do their jobs better and can help an organization solve three major security challenges:

  • Visibility: A modern SIEM provides real-time status updates into your security posture — retrieving and maintaining contextual data around users, devices, and applications from across on-premises, cloud, multicloud and hybrid environments. This makes it easier for security analysts to spot bad actors and zero in on threats.
  • False alerts: A SIEM solution can help reduce the number of false positive alerts, helping security analysts more quickly detect and investigate actual threats. Potential threats are identified, categorized, and triggered via dashboards, then sent to an analyst for review.
  • Flexibility: Many SIEM solutions offer support for and integrate with a wide array of environments and technologies, as well as across internal and external teams.

In all, the benefits of SIEM help enterprises prevent costly breaches and avoid compliance violations that entail hefty financial penalties.

security information and event management

SIEM Limitations

Security Information and Event Management tools are very powerful and can be an invaluable component of an organization’s security architecture, but they aren’t perfect. Along with their benefits, SIEM solutions have their limitations as well, including:

  • Complex Integration: To be effective, SIEM solutions must be connected to all of an organization’s cyber security solutions and systems, which can include a diverse collection of systems. As a result, integrating a SIEM with all of these tools can be complex and time-consuming and requires a high level of security expertise and familiarity with the systems in question.
  • Rules-Based Detection: SIEM solutions can detect a wide range of cyber security threats; however, these detections are primarily based upon predefined rules and patterns. This means that these systems may miss novel or variant attacks that do not match these known patterns.
  • Lack of Contextualized Alert Validation: SIEM solutions can dramatically decrease a SOC’s alert volume through data aggregation and by applying additional context to alerts. However, SIEMs generally do not perform contextualized alert validation, resulting in false-positive alerts being sent to security teams.

Security Information and Event Management Use Cases

Data Aggregation

A SIEM primarily collects data from servers and network device logs, but is more effective when used to aggregate data from endpoint security, network security devices, applications, cloud services, authentication and authorization systems, and online databases of existing vulnerabilities and threats. SIEM tools help businesses as they scale by ensuring visibility is not lost across applications, databases, users, devices, and even third parties.

Compliance

SIEM tools can be used to monitor user activity with context by analyzing access and authentication data and receiving alerts when suspicious behavior or violations of policies have been identified. This privileged user monitoring is a common requirement for compliance reporting across most regulated industries.

Threat Prevention

Security teams use SIEM tools to solve common and advanced security use cases. SIEM software correlates the aggregated data repository to look for unusual behavior, system anomalies, and other indicators of a security incident. This information can then be used for real-time event notification, historical trend analysis, and post hoc incident forensics.

Data Storage

In addition to normalizing and organizing data, SIEM solutions have the ability to store historical log data for the long term. This not only helps with compliance but also enables the correlation of data over time to assist security analysts with forensics and investigations in the event of a data breach.

security information and event management

Conclusion

Security information and event management tools have provided a definitive security infrastructure to defend organizations and their networks. They have enabled organizations to become smarter in threat detection and prevention by helping security teams tackle the most pressing problems quickly while also remaining compliant with regulatory norms. SIEM is undoubtedly one of the most useful ways of enhancing data security and ensuring that your organization doesn’t fall prey to cyberattacks.

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