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What is SIEM software? How Does it Work and How to Choose the Right Tool

There has been a shift in the focus of SIEM vendors from log management to more advanced statistical analysis and machine learning.

What is SIEM Software

Security, information, and event management (SIEM) is a term used to describe the management of these three areas. To provide real-time analysis for security monitoring, SIEM technology aggregates log data, security alerts, and events into a centralized platform

There are several reasons why security operations centers (SOCs) invest in SIEM software, including the need to streamline visibility across their environments for incident response to cyberattacks as well as to comply with local and federal regulatory mandates.

For more than a decade, SIEM technology has been in existence, first evolving from the log management field. With the integration of security event management (SEM) and security information management (SIM), which collects, analyses, and reports on log data, threat monitoring, event correlation, and incident response can now be accomplished in real-time.

Rules-based or statistical correlation engines can be used to establish relationships between event log entries in the most basic SIEM systems. In today’s advanced SIEM systems, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and orchestration, automation, and response (SAR) have been added to the mix (SOAR).

SIEM adoption was initially driven by large companies’ need to meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). However, growing concern about advanced persistent threats (APTs) has prompted some smaller businesses to investigate what the advantages of SIEM managed security service providers (MSSPs) can be. When all security-related data can be viewed from the same perspective, spotting anomalies becomes easier for organizations of all sizes.

How the SIEM system works

SIEM software collects log and event data generated by applications, devices, networks, infrastructure, and systems in order to draw analysis and provide a holistic perspective of an organization’s information technology (IT).

On-premises or cloud-based SIEM systems are available. SIEM solutions leverage rules and statistical correlations to generate actionable insights during forensic investigations by analyzing all the data in real-time. It is via the use of SIEM technology that security professionals can immediately identify hostile actors and implement effective countermeasures.

This program collects and organizes log data created by many systems and applications, as well as network and security devices like firewalls, in order to provide a comprehensive view of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

As a result, the program can identify, categorize, and investigate incidents and events. As a result, it accomplishes two primary goals:

Report on incidents and events linked to security, such as successful and unsuccessful logins, malware activity, and other possible malicious actions and alerts if analysis finds that an activity runs against established rulesets and so signals a potential security concern.

According to Paula Musich, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), a market research and consulting business based in Boulder, Colo., the need for greater compliance management motivated much of the early adoption of this technology.

According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), auditors needed to know whether compliance was being met or not, so SIEM provided monitoring and reporting to meet these mandates.

Experts, however, note that the SIEM industry has grown significantly in recent years due to increased demand from large corporations for increased security measures.

What’s the point of SIEM?

For businesses, SIEM is critical because it simplifies the process of managing security by filtering and prioritizing huge amounts of data.

Incidents that might otherwise go unnoticed can be spotted thanks to SIEM software. Malicious behavior can be detected by analyzing log data. Even more importantly, because of the system’s ability to aggregate events from many sources across its network, it can help businesses assess the nature of an assault and its impact on their operations.

SIEM systems can assist a company to satisfy compliance standards by automatically generating reports that incorporate all logged security events from various sources. A lack of SIEM software means that the organization would have to manually gather and combine log data and produce reports.

It also improves incident management by allowing the security team to discover how an attack is spread, identify compromised sources, and provide automated solutions to stop the attacks in the process via SIEM.

Using a SIEM to Its Full Potential

Even though SIEMs have been around for over a decade, the current generation differs significantly from its predecessors. In their 2005 Gartner report, Improve IT Security with Vulnerability Management, Mark Nicolett, and Amrit Williams coined the term “SIEM” to describe their work. Traditional SIEMs included a variety of security measures into a single management tool, such as the following:

  • Security Information Management

Streamlining the process of collecting log files and storing them for future analysis and reporting.

  • Security Event Management

The ability to monitor and correlate systems and events in real-time with notifications and console views is provided by this technology.

  • Log Management Systems

Logs can be collected and stored in a centralized location using simple methods.

The essential components of SIEM software haven’t changed much over the years, but new technology in the competitive landscape has opened the door to more comprehensive and advanced methods to risk reduction. Because of these developments, SIEM suppliers have renamed their products “next-generation SIEM” solutions.

SIEM technology has many advantages, which we’ll discuss below

The following are some of the advantages of SIEM:

  • reduces the harm caused by threats by dramatically reducing the time it takes to identify them
  • It is possible to reduce both the MTTD and the MTTR (MTTR)
  • makes it easier to acquire and evaluate security information to keep systems safe by providing an all-encompassing perspective of a company’s information security environment; all data from an organisation is stored in a central repository and is easily accessible.
  • Solution to handle several systems and log data from a single location.
  • detects threats and sends security notifications when they occur.
  • use cases that revolve around data or logs, such as security programmes, audits and compliance reporting, help desk and network troubleshooting can all benefit from this technology.
  • Visibly across the environment in real time
  • With real-time monitoring and pre-built compliance modules, ensure compliance adherence.
  • Data collection and normalisation in order to facilitate trustworthy and accurate analysis.

SIEM has some limitations

Despite the many advantages that come with SIEM, there are still some drawbacks.

  • If an organization’s security policies and the various hosts in its infrastructure are to be successfully integrated with a solution, it usually takes a long time to implement the solution. There are usually delays of at least 90 days before SIEM is operational.
  • It’s a hefty price. For a start, the cost of SIEM can go into the tens of thousands. In addition, the expenses of employees to administer and monitor a SIEM setup, annual support, and software or agents to collect data can pile up, as can the price of annual maintenance.
  • Expertise is required for the analysis, configuration, and integration of reports. Some SIEM systems are controlled directly within a security operations centre (SOC), a centralised body that handles an organization’s security concerns.
  • Most SIEM software relies on pre-defined rules to analyse all of the data it collects. To put it another way, a company’s network creates 10,000 notifications a day, which can be either beneficial or negative. Since so many logs are irrelevant, it’s difficult to spot possible threats.
  • Information risk management can suffer if a SIEM product is incorrectly configured.

SIEM vs. Next-Generation SIEM

Is there a big difference between classic and next-generation SIEMs in terms of features? Legacy SIEMs can’t keep up with the ever-increasing amount and complexity of threats in today’s threat landscape. Next-generation SIEMs are significantly more adapted to satisfy the increased demand for threat detection and response across diverse systems as cloud usage, mobile technologies, hybrid datacentres, and remote workforces expand.

In addition to enhancing security visibility and threat detection, the next generation of SIEM technologies streamlines security teams’ task management. A next-generation SIEM solution includes the following:

  • open and scalable architecture: Data from on-premises, cloud, and mobile systems can be unified in a single entity
  • real-time visualisation technologies: In order to effectively display potential security threats, security teams rely on
  • Architecture for big data: The ability to collect and manage huge, complex data volumes for indexing and searching in both structured and unstructured ways.
  • Analysis of user and entity behaviour (UAB): A method of analysing user data to find abnormal situations where “typical” patterns deviate.

SIEM software and tools

There are a few SIEM tools out there, such as the following:

  • Exabeam: There are many features in Exabeam’s SIEM offering that include UEBA, powerful analytics, and a threat hunter.
  • IBM QRadar: As determined by a company’s specific requirements and capacity requirements, QRadar can be implemented as either a hardware or a software appliance. QRadar on Cloud is an IBM Cloud service built on the QRadar SIEM platform.
  • Splunk: Splunk is an on-premises SIEM solution in its entirety. In addition to security monitoring and superior threat identification, Splunk provides a wide range of features.
  • RSA: Data gathering, transmission, storage, and analysis are all part of the RSA Net Witness Platform. SOAR is another option provided by RSA.

Final Words

Organizations of all sizes, from tiny security operations centers (SOCs) to major worldwide information technology (IT) departments, have turned to SIEM solutions to help them better detect and respond to security threats. Although many SIEM technologies are resource-intensive, they often necessitate the use of professional people or additional services for support and training, which can be costly.

Gather your business requirements and assess your security objectives and priorities before investing in SIEM. In the event of a breach, SIEM software can save the company a great deal of money and legal headaches by helping security personnel quickly achieve compliance and reduce risks.

Be aware of the licensing models that determine the true total cost of ownership (TCO) when selecting a SIEM solution and consider your organization’s future expansion. For maximum return on investment, it’s vital to partner with a reputable provider who understands your company’s unique needs and can help you swiftly and successfully implement a solution. Here’s a handy budget and risk management strategy for purchasing a SIEM.

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