What is SIEM?
SIEM is a combination of two other acronyms describing common cyber security methodologies:
Security information management (SIM) is the process of collecting, monitoring and analyzing security-related data from automatically generated computer logs.
Security event management (SEM) is the process of centralizing computer log data from multiple sources (systems, endpoints, applications, and services) to improve the detection of events and manage events through a formalized incident response process.
- SIEM software tools and products combine SIM and SEM tools' capabilities into a comprehensive cybersecurity solution.
- SIEM software tools collect and integrate all of the computer-generated log data captured by each application, service, or security tool in the system.
- SIEM delivers superior incident response and enterprise security outcomes through many key capabilities, including data collection, correlation, alerting, data retention, and forensic analysis.
- Organizations that previously depended on SIEM providers have now adopted cloud-based security analytics tools and threat intelligence platforms like Sumo Logic.
SIEM for beginners
As IT organizations grow, they deploy more hardware and applications that produce an ever-increasing volume of computer logs. Enterprise IT security consists of several different applications working in tandem to protect against various attacks. These include malware detection applications, a network intrusion detection system (NIDS), a network intrusion prevention system (NIPS), data loss protection, endpoint security applications and more.
Each of these security applications monitors a few specific types of security threats, but none of them provides 100% coverage. Your intrusion detection system can only read packets, protocols and IP addresses because its function is to detect unauthorized users or suspicious packet activity on the network. Your endpoint security can only monitor files, usernames and hosts. Meanwhile, your service logs reveal user logins, service activities and configuration changes.
SIEM software tools act as a management and integration layer that sits on top of your existing systems infrastructure and security software tools. SIEM software tools collect and integrate the computer-generated log data captured by each application, service, or security tool in the system, displaying the resulting data in a human-readable format and facilitating real-time threat detection and event management functions.
SIEM software tools connect the most important security data from the applications that protect your business, enabling your organization to respond more quickly to security events.
How do SIEM tools work?
SIEM software tools and products combine the capabilities of SIM and SEM tools into a comprehensive solution for security operations teams and cybersecurity. Typical functions of a SIEM software tool include:
Collecting, analyzing and presenting security-related data
Real-time analysis of security alerts
Logging security data and generating reports
Identity and access management
Log auditing and review
SIEM delivers superior incident response and enterprise security outcomes through several key capabilities, including:
Data collection - SIEM tools aggregate event and system logs and security data from various sources and applications in one place.
Correlation - SIEM tools use various correlation techniques to link bits of data with common attributes and help turn that data into actionable information for SecOps teams.
Alerting - SIEM tools can be configured to automatically alert SecOps or IT teams when predefined signals or patterns are detected that might indicate a security event.
Data retention - SIEM tools are designed to store large volumes of log data, ensuring that security teams can correlate data over time and enabling forensic investigations into threats or cyber-attacks that may have initially gone undetected.
Forensic analysis - SIEM tools make it easier for organizations to parse through logs that might have been created weeks or even months ago. Parsing, log normalization and categorization are additional features of SIEM tools that make logs more searchable and help to enable forensic analysis, even when millions of log entries can sift through.
What are use cases for SIEM?
SIEM and compliance - SIEM software tools can streamline the compliance process for organizations whose industry is affected by data security and privacy compliance regulations. One example is compliance with the PCI DSS, a set of data security standards for merchants that collect credit card information from their customers. With SIEM tools, organizations can monitor network access and transaction logs within the database to verify that there has been no unauthorized access to customer data.
SIEM and incident response - SIEM software tools can play an important role in increasing the efficiency and timeliness of incident response activities. When a breach is detected, SecOps teams can use SIEM software to quickly identify how the attack breached enterprise security systems and what hosts or applications were affected by the breach. SIEM tools can even respond to these attacks through automated mechanisms.
SIEM and vulnerability management - Vulnerability management is an ongoing process of proactively testing your network and IT infrastructure to detect and address possible entry points for cyber attacks. SIEM software tools are an important data source for discovering new vulnerabilities, along with network vulnerability testing, staff reports, and vendor announcements.
SIEM and threat intelligence - Threat intelligence can be described as analyzing internal and external cyber threats that could affect your business. As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, organizations need to collaborate closely in their cyber security efforts to reduce their vulnerability to advanced persistent threats (APTs) and zero-day threats. SIEM software tools provide a framework for collecting and analyzing log data that is generated within your application stack, but SIEM tools can’t proactively discover external threats. Organizations can gather some of their threat intelligence from a SIEM software tool but should also collaborate with others to proactively understand and address external threats.
The difference between SOAR and SIEM
SOAR stands for security orchestration automation response. While SIEM detects potential security threats, SOAR tools/SOAR solutions/SOAR platforms provide security automation and response workflows and playbooks for the triage and remediation of security incidents. Both improve security posture, help accelerate decision-making and work best in tandem to help security analysts reduce mean security incident response time and mean time to resolve (MTTR) as part of a security operations center (SOC). SOAR uses machine learning to minimize human intervention, false positives and alert fatigue.
SIEM and more with Sumo Logic
In the modern cloud-based computing environment, SIEM tools are no longer the best option for organizations that wish to secure their applications and IT infrastructure against cyber attackers. SIEM tools were more appropriate for monitoring the security status of large, monolithic applications. Today, these have been replaced by cloud-based apps that function as a collection of frequently-updated microservices. With microservices being started up and retired regularly, the rules-based alert system of SIEM tools simply cannot keep up. And it’s simply too time-consuming for manual monitoring.
Organizations that previously depended on SIEM providers have now adopted cloud-based security analytics tools and threat intelligence platforms like Sumo Logic, which offers lower implementation costs, shorter time to deployment and a more sophisticated and modern approach to enterprise security and data analysis.
Complete visibility for DevSecOps
Reduce downtime and move from reactive to proactive monitoring.