No matter how secure your IT estate is, there remains a constant threat of security breach, and as businesses are under more pressure to be compliant, there is a growing need for complete threat management.
However, it can be difficult to know where to begin - especially when it comes to SIEM.
SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) software has become an integral part of data security. It is essential for organisations wanting to better manage security incidents and events, enhance the way they respond to security breaches, and ultimately achieve better compliance.
But is SIEM the right solution for you?
Find out in this blog - where we’ve discussed SIEM in its entirety - from how it works, to why outsourcing SIEM management remains the smartest option for organisations looking to implement the software into their business.
What is SIEM?
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is used by businesses across a range of industries to gain insight into activities in their IT estate, and to detect and respond to potential threats. Originally, SIEM software was used to collect, analyse and report on log data, however, the solution has evolved since into wider threat management. Modern SIEM solutions have additional capabilities and are able to give businesses actionable insights into any threats or vulnerabilities within their infrastructure.
Once an extremely fashionable security approach, you may now hear rumours that SIEM is ‘dead’, or that it no longer has the necessary requirements a modern security system needs. However, this isn’t true. SIEM has evolved into a comprehensive, sophisticated solution, with advanced machine learning capabilities and threat management - making it the perfect solution for organisations wanting better, actionable insight into their security.
Want to know more? Download our SIEM for beginners guide.
How does SIEM work?
SIEM software collects log and event data across an IT infrastructure and collates it together in one central platform. It works by installing a probe to a cloud service, which is then able to identify all assets on your network, and see if there are any vulnerabilities, or threats. Then, it can sort these into categories such as malware activity, failed logins, and other potential suspicious activity.
Essentially, a SIEM platform is able to sort huge amounts of data into a funnel, which is then correlated using machine intelligence, in order to differentiate between suspicious and normal activity. If any activity is found to be suspicious, the SIEM platform identifies these incidents, and alerts users to address them. On the whole, it helps businesses better protect themselves from security breaches, and stay compliant.
At its core, a SIEM platform’s main capabilities are to identify threats and vulnerabilities, provide reports on security-related incidents (such as unsuccessful logins) or malware activity, and send alerts based on whether or not these incidents are a potential security issue.
However, SIEM software has evolved in recent years, and can offer organisations much more in terms of capabilities and business benefits. With a modern SIEM solution, you are able to:
- Log management across your entire estate
Log management is perhaps the most well-known aspect of SIEM, and it involves collecting and storing log data from multiple disparate systems in one central location. Most modern SIEM solutions cover almost an entire IT estate, including public and private cloud, data centres, actual network devices, servers and endpoints.
- Security incident and event correlation
- Machine learning
One of the most useful capabilities of a SIEM solution is its ability to learn how to find threats automatically, without any user input. This not only saves you time, but improves the efficiency of your overall threat management.
- Dark web monitoring
Keeping your credentials safe is a priority of many businesses, which is why many modern SIEM solutions are able to monitor the dark web, and ensure that none of your information is circulating, or at risk.
- Single dashboard view of all security issues
Arguably, how good your SIEM solution’s capabilities are means very little if your security team is unable to understand potential threat reports when they come through.
Therefore, many SIEM solutions present all of your data in an easy-to-digest, single format, so that security professionals can get the information they need relatively easily. Were it not for a centralised dashboard, your security team would have to find these threats manually - which will likely be both extremely difficult and time consuming.
- Categorisation of all potential security threats
A SIEM solution will take all potential threats and categorise their severity, as well as what kind of issue it is; for example, if it is someone trying to exploit your credentials, an environmental problem (such as passwords stored in plain text) or if it is an actual cyber-attack. Predetermined priority means the software can give each potential threat a risk score, so you can be alerted instantly to any security issues.
Ultimately, SIEM is extremely useful for modern businesses. Collecting and categorising information across an entire infrastructure, and then reporting on suspicious activity manually would be virtually impossible. SIEM’s threat intelligence makes it much easier for organisations to gain better insight into their IT security and helps protect them from serious security threats.
What are the best SIEM tools?
There are a number of SIEM tools on the market available for a variety of business sizes and in a number of different formats, such as cloud-based software, hardware or virtual appliances, and even more traditional server software. Depending on your individual requirements, it’s worth researching which will be the best fit for your business - however, as a starting point it’s essential that your SIEM solution is able to:
- Improve the way you collect and manage your logs
- Help you better achieve your compliance targets
- Better manage security incidents and events
- Enhance the way you respond to security breaches
Generally, SIEM tools are differentiated by cost, the features they have, and how easy they are to use - and buyers must weight up these against each other in order to decide which solution is best for them. Many tools, such as Splunk and QRadar, are mainly enterprise-level solutions, and may not be suitable for smaller businesses with less budget. Additionally, some SIEM tools, like AlertLogic, aren't sold as standalone product, and have to be purchased as a service - which, while understandable (as SIEM can be difficult to configure in house) isn't necessarily the best option for some businesses.
These are just some of the considerations you need to take when deciding which SIEM tool is the best fit for your organisation. As the preferred solution here at Ideal, AlienVault is an excellent all-in-one solution that for us, is a standout among its competitors. With all the capabilities you need, you’re able to monitor end points, user behaviour and network intrusion - with excellent overall asset management.
As the solution is entirely cloud-based, it can be scaled easily, and it possesses a huge number of plugins and integrations with many other vendors traditionally seen throughout an IT network. It can also protect you right ‘out of the box’ - with a very easy setup process that can be done quickly, so you start to see value right away.
Whichever SIEM solution you decide is best for your business, you’ll need to consider whether you have the necessary capability to manage a SIEM solution in house, or if leveraging a managed SIEM service would be a better option.
Check out our top tips for outsourcing SIEM management here.
Why outsource SIEM management?
While SIEM management can be done in-house, businesses will require a suitable level of resources and personnel to be able to do so effectively. Usually, unless they are an enterprise level business with a dedicated team, businesses often don’t have the resources, manpower or capability to do what is required to get the most out of the SIEM solution. This means being able to look at security incidents and events, make sense of the alerts and know how to action them, and subsequently shut them down - all of which can be a laborious process.
Managing a SIEM solution cannot be done solely in work hours either; monitoring, assessing and responding to threats is a 24/7 job, which most organisations simply do not have the power to do successfully. Additionally, with the increasing pressure to be compliant, many organisations simply cannot take the risk of making a mistake.
Therefore, outsourcing SIEM management is likely to be an attractive option.
Managed SIEM is the preferred option for many organisations, as it means the solution can be managed 24/7. However, that’s not the only benefit that comes with outsourcing SIEM; you’ll also gain:
- Access to highly experienced and skilled security professionals, round the clock
- Relief from not having to maintain the software, or keep up to date with accreditations
- The ability to focus your efforts elsewhere, making your overall business more efficient
- Reduced overall cost, due to no in-house requirements - which you can see here in our blog.
These are just a few of the benefits your business can receive by outsourcing your SIEM management - we’ve listed even more right here.
Ultimately, outsourcing SIEM management is the best choice for businesses looking to improve their overall security and threat management, without the hassle of trying to manage SIEM in house. However, once you’ve decided that managed SIEM is the right choice for your business, you’ll need to choose a provider, and ensure the necessary stakeholders are on board.
For assistance, check out our Managed SIEM Buyer's Guide, and learn more about the key steps in developing a business case for Managed SIEM in your organisation.
What are the benefits of Managed SIEM from Ideal?
SIEM isn't a one-size fits all solution, and you need a vendor that understands how the solution can be configured to meet your needs. The right vendor will have a flexible offering, as well as an approach that puts your business needs at the centre of the solution, meeting each individual requirement you have.
But what makes the right SIEM vendor? Find out in our blog.
At Ideal, we offer a comprehensive SIEM and threat management service that can help you solve the technical, commercial and operational challenges that come with implementing robust cybersecurity. We seek to completely understand all of your business needs, placing you at the very centre of initial discussions, and working with you to create a solution that will meet your goals and exceed your expectations.
As a result of Ideal’s managed SIEM services, your business will receive:
- Rapid incident response: SLA driven, 24-hour insight into alerts, with actionable insights and ongoing support.
- Evidence Compliance: Receive a range of accurate and comprehensive audit reports created specifically for you by our experts, removing a significant reporting overhead.
- 360 visibility across your entire IT estate: Continual monitoring, analysis and management of security events 24/7/365 from our UK-based security team.
- Transparent security costs: with no hardware costs, and a fixed flat fee paid monthly, we give you back control over your budget - with no hidden costs.
Want to know how Managed SIEM could benefit your business? Book a free consultation with one of our experts and see how we can create the best solution for you.
Editor's Note: This blog has been updated July 2020.