In recent years the business world has seen a shift in secure data storage and management toward the cloud.

In fact, according to some studies, 57% of businesses already utilize a central cloud; and a further 24% plan to do the same.

This general movement to cloud-based data is one of the reasons that Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are undertaking an important security role in enterprises. More and more businesses of all sizes are protecting their cloud environment with SIEM, which can operate over many IT systems and helps detect potential threat events.

Cloud-based SIEM solutions are here to stay, but what are they? With about 10 years of history, SIEM is a relatively mature technology and has become a popular tool in IT security programs. Take a look at our handy guide to what SIEM is and why your organization should consider adding it to your security profile if you are not already using it, or reevaluating your existing solution if you find it difficult to manage.

​​In this article, we at CyberMaxx will discuss what a SIEM solution is, how SIEM works, and why it should serve as an important element in your cybersecurity operation setup.

What is SIEM?

SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management and it refers to a combination of information security management and event management systems.

By aggregating data from multiple streams, SIEM security tools are able to track changes, keep note of past issues and manage data security in real-time, all under one roof.

SIEM is one of the best intrusion detection and prevention systems. Managed SIEM is a growing technology that has been successful in part due to the lack of qualified professionals in the industry at present. With predictions of 3.5 million unfilled positions in the industry by 2021, the talent shortage in cybersecurity is going to continue to pose a significant challenge.

SIEM protects businesses who are being left unarmed against data attacks by providing a 360 IT Security Solution which allows companies to stay on top of their data security. With 57% of enterprises already having a central cloud system and another 24% planning one, SIEM is the way forward.

How does SIEM work?

SIEM works by collecting data and identifying blind spots on on-prem and cloud-based systems. SIEM technology flags anomalies and issues so that cybersecurity attacks can be detected quickly. SIEM software collects data from host systems, devices, and apps and structures it on one platform.

By maintaining a full history of data, SIEM systems are able to track anything that deviates from the norm and alert you to that. This helps to lower the risk of a fully-fledged cybersecurity attack and increases the chance of you being able to catch it quickly.

All the while, the SIEM system is also managing events in realtime and reporting back. Whilst SIEM is heavily concerned with past data and managing that in order to establish risks, it also tracks real-time cyber threats to offer a holistic IT solution.

Use Cases of SIEM

So how is this technology being used?  In the early days, many SIEM implementations were mainly focused on aggregating logs from various devices on a local area network.  This created a data-rich environment, to say the least.   For many, it was a little too data-rich as it became readily apparent that having so many devices feeding log data to a single collector generated way too much “noise” to be very useful.   It also became obvious that two things were critical to making SIEM an effective solution.   Those two things were analysis engines to make some sense out of all of this data and people to backstop those analysis engines so that appropriate action and follow-up could be initiated to investigate or act on alerts of suspicious activity.  Today’s managed SIEMs bring all of these elements together in the following ways:

  1. Aggregation of Security Data – by ingesting data from local and cloud-based systems along with IoT devices, an aggregated dataset can be searched to look for signs of compromise across an entire enterprise.
  2. Monitoring of Cyber Attack Patterns – with the ability to correlate data across wider geography of systems, SIEM allows a team to develop a profile of characteristics for attackers.   These profiles or patterns can be leveraged to build in additional controls to prevent and respond to cyber threats and attacks.
  3. User Behavior Baselining – with a well-tuned SIEM, the analysis algorithms and monitoring teams have a solid profile of normal user behavior.   This makes it much easier to spot when users have been compromised as well as identify how attackers may be moving laterally within the network.  This is even more relevant now that so many organizations rely on a remote workforce.
  4. Rapid Support for Incident Response – with such a rich data set, a SIEM allows for a much more robust and timely investigation capability to support incident response teams.
  5. Compliance – most information security regulations and frameworks mandate the capture and review of log information.   For businesses in healthcare, financial services, government, and other highly regulated environments, SIEM is an enabling technology for compliance.

Benefits of Using A SIEM Solution

The benefits of SIEM for businesses and IT departments are numerous.

  1. Increased efficiency

Apart from rapidly detecting and identifying security events, SIEM systems are able to collate event logs from multiple devices across networks. This feature allows staff members to more easily identify potential issues, check activity, and can accelerate file analysis time.

  1. Economic investment

Because staff can undertake cloud-security measures more efficiently, they are able to dedicate more time to other aspects of their job. This is good for business – and will be a great money saver in the long term.

  1. Preventing potential security breaches

Any security breaches to your business are detected quickly by the SIEM software. This data breach response can drastically minimize their negative impact – not only the financial damage a breach can cause but also the damage to the existing IT systems.

A SIEM system provides more conclusive and effective handling of security breaches that enhance and protect a business.

  1. Reporting, log collection, analysis, and retention

SIEM software is a combination of SEM and SIM. The combination of these two systems provides greater overall performance. The SEM system is able to centralize the interpretation and storage of logs, whilst the SIM system is able to collect data to be analyzed for reporting.

  1. Compliance

Furthermore, the SIEM system not only monitors threats and provides real-time security alerts, it also increases IT compliance. A SIEM system is fully compliant with regulatory standards that require log monitoring and retention, such as PCI and HIPAA.

Using A 24/7/365 Managed SIEM 

At CyberMaxx, the MAXX SIEM service has been carefully designed for the protection of your cloud environment.

It monitors, reviews, and translates data into actionable insights in four key steps:

  1. SIEM aggregates your information.
  2. SIEM processes and normalizes logs into a standard format.
  3. SIEM correlates and enriches all logs to bring data to life.
  4. Our team of cybersecurity experts in our 24/7/365 Security Operations Center analyzes and identifies potential threats specific to your organization.

SIEM Best Practices

Due to the complexity of ingesting data from a wide variety of platforms across an enterprise, and the sheer volume of data generated, many organizations have struggled with implementing SIEM solutions.  Keep these best practices in mind as you consider rolling out SIEM in your enterprise.

  1. Understand where your risk lies.   Using your organization’s risk analysis is a great way to understand the assets that will provide the biggest bang for your monitoring results.  When scoping out your SIEM implementation:
    • Identify all of your compliance mandates
    • Catalog all your sensitive assets (this includes systems and data)
    • Gain an understanding of the logging capabilities of all in-scope systems
  2. Develop a methodology for contextualizing or correlating data coming into the SIEM from all of the sources. 
  3. Consider and develop a plan for how end-user devices will be managed.   What risks do unmonitored systems bring to your SIEM architecture and how can monitoring be established to minimize the impact of BYOD devices.
  4. Understand the additional bandwidth requirements for the SIEM implementation.   This will include internet and possible intra-cloud bandwidth for data communications as well as human “bandwidth” in terms of the additional responsibilities placed on the IT security team.
  5. Ensure that sufficient time is built into the implementation for baselining and tuning of the SIEM.   Tuning is critical to reducing noise in the system which complicates analysis and which in turn reduces false positives.
  6.  Evaluate your staffing plan and consider the value of outsourcing the management of your SIEM to a managed security service provider (MSSP).   Organizations like CyberMaxx have the experts and the infrastructure to deploy and monitor a SIEM solution on a 24x7x365 basis.   Often, an outsourced solution brings the benefits of additional expertise as well as reduced cost.

The Future of SIEM

As with many security-related technologies, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) is having automation. With such vast quantities of data being ingested, the best-of-breed SIEM solutions will incorporate AI in the analysis of patterns of behavior that indicate a compromise.

Additionally, we will see technologies including SIEM, Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) being integrated into next-gen wholistic solutions in the managed detection and response (MDR) and extended detection and response (XDR) solutions being offered by today’s leading security companies. This is not to say that SIEM is being replaced. It is to say that a high-quality SIEM is foundational to delivering on the promises being offered by these new technologies. a significant impact on the speed with which security incidents can detect and mitigate through.