The days of purchasing anti-virus software for your organization and knowing that’s all you need to do to be secure are long gone. Businesses large and small need a full security tech stack that includes a variety of tools and solutions to address a multitude of threats. The cybersecurity market, however, is crowded. With more than 3,500 vendors to choose from, it can be difficult to assess which vendors will best address your security concerns. The issue is further complicated with technology and threats that are constantly shifting and growing.
One of the security tools nearly every business needs is SIEM. Though SIEM solutions have been available for almost 20 years, the market has changed significantly, especially in the last few years. While there are many great SIEM vendors on the market, there are more than a few that make false claims about their capabilities or performance. The increase in SIEM’s functionality combined with too-good-to-be-true marketing leads to a lot of confusion when deciding with which SIEM vendor to work.
We’ve put together a guide that covers the basics of SIEMs, how they’ve changed in recent years, and how to find the best SIEM vendor for your business.
What is a SIEM?
A SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management platform, is one of the primary tools used by security teams to get a holistic view of the activity in their environment. A SIEM collects, stores, and correlates event and log data in real time to determine if there is a threat. If one is detected, the SIEM will immediately alert the organization so the internal security team can respond quickly. A SIEM essentially helps organizations detect and respond to security threats that get past preventative controls.
SIEMs include the log collection, storage, searching, and reporting functionalities of security information management systems (SIM), as well as the incident detection and response of security event management (SEM).
What are the benefits of a SIEM?
SIEMs are commonly used cybersecurity tools for good reason. They check a lot of boxes and are incredibly helpful when it comes to finding potential threats to your organization. Here are just a few benefits of a quality SIEM.
- Improves threat detection: SIEMs gather data from all your systems and correlate it to find potential security incidents fast. Because a SIEM immediately alerts your organization, you can address any issues quickly so bad actors can’t get too far into your system.
- Ensures compliance: Log collection and reporting are often required to adhere to compliance regulations like GDPR and HIPAA. As part of their daily operations, SIEMs collect log data and generate reports for your company, these can then be used to prove compliance.
- Provides a single source of security data: SIEMs monitor data from all your company’s endpoints, applications, users, and systems, so you’ll have a centralized location where you can see a comprehensive analysis of all security data. It provides a single pane of glass for your team to monitor security instead of opening consoles to each of your security solutions.
- Integrates well with other tools: Not only do SIEMs tap into other systems to gather data, but they also integrate well with response technology like Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) systems. This allows for a more complete incident response system.
Recent changes in the SIEM landscape
SIEMs monitor the activity on all your business’s tools and technology. As that technology changes, SIEMs must evolve alongside. Fortunately, the best SIEM providers have been able to expand their capabilities and keep up with increasingly complicated environments.
Data is more dispersed
As attackers get smarter, more and more data is required to detect threats. Now that an organization’s data is stored on a cloud or SaaS platform rather than a file server, SIEMs need to be able to collect data from anywhere. Most SIEMs now support data collection directly from cloud applications via an API which is not only more secure, but often contains more information for enhanced visibility compared to traditional logs. It is recommended to collect data across your entire environment including the cloud for complete visibility and protection.
Response tools are coming to market
Historically, SIEMs have been more of a monitoring tool that did little in the way of threat response. The company would be alerted of a potential incident, and it was up to them to investigate and respond. Now, however, many SIEMs are being paired with SOAR solutions. (SOAR is commonly known to stand for either security operations, analytics and reporting or security orchestration and automated response.)
SOAR tools help companies respond to incidents flagged by SIEMs through automation. Known threats can trigger automatic actions including blocking accounts while more complex emerging threats can be partially automated. SIEM+SOAR is very similar to XDR where the focus is on helping customers protect their environments more comprehensively and respond to threats quickly.
The challenges of operationalizing SIEMs in SMEs
While SIEMs are a vital part of any business’s security strategy, they are rather difficult for small- to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) to implement and manage. To perform well, they need to be fully integrated with your tools and systems which can take time, effort, and expertise. The system needs to be reviewed regularly to identify new threats and ensure logging effectiveness.
Alerting based on aggregating huge amounts of data can be unwieldy, especially for small teams and a SIEM only alerts businesses when a breach could have happened. The internal security and IT teams still need to investigate the claim to see if a breach did, in fact, occur and then take steps to remediate it.
Alert fatigue from SIEMs is becoming a big issue for security and IT professionals. According to a global survey of more than 800 IT professionals, nearly 60% of respondents receive more than 500 cloud security alerts per day. Roughly 75% of respondents in the Sumo Logic’s State of SecOps and Automation Report claim that they need at least three additional security analysts to deal with all alerts on the same day. This is extremely problematic for SMEs with a small cybersecurity department. They don’t have the staff to operationalize a SIEM or respond to threat alerts on a minute-by-minute basis.
Finally, SIEMs can be incredibly expensive — even ones that claim to have a freemium offering. The larger the company, the more tools they’re using and the more data a SIEM will need to analyze. The more data a SIEM is combing through, the higher the fees it charges.
Overcoming SIEM challenges with a managed security partner
One way to take advantage of SIEMs while minimizing the challenges they present is to use a managed security partner. When working with a managed security partner, you can completely outsource your security efforts to the experts.
A good managed security partner will come to the table with a pre-vetted SIEM (or similar solution), so you know you’re working with a reliable tool. They can also implement and manage the tool for you, so you won’t need a team of in-house security experts to maximize the tool’s effectiveness. When security alerts come in, your managed security partner will investigate and remediate as needed, eliminating that burden from your teams.
SolCyber offers comprehensive outsourced security programs including our flagship Foundational Coverage, MDR++ and Security Monitoring for small and mid-sized businesses that are easily accessible.
If you’re ready to improve your security posture without a heavy lift, reach out to the SolCyber experts today.