What is a SIEM and what does it do?

Category: News
Published: 14th April 2022

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The Red Helix Cyber Lab

14th April 2022

What is a SIEM and what does it do?

As the cyber-threat landscape continues to grow, Security Teams have competing demands with security protection, detection, and remediation…

… The protection part includes ensuring staff are aware of things like Phishing that seek to dupe people to make decisions that lead to breaches or financial loss, but the other major aspect includes adding and managing security tools to defend against network and email-based attacks.

These security layers can include things like Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems, Email Security, and Endpoint Protection that scan for, alert to, and try to block cyber-threats from penetrating their way into the network.

And just like Switches and Routers, security tools generate log files that contain valuable info about what they see. However, due to the growing volume and sophistication of cyber-attacks, prioritising threats can be a big challenge – especially when logs from many tools alert to the same threats in different formats.

This can waste time for Security Analysts because they must trawl through multiple security alerts from multiple tools on many screens, recognise duplications and then prioritise threats for triage. Often a demotivating task, it can lead to harmful threats being missed and a breach taking place, which in turn has created the need for a SIEM tool.

Addressing these challenges with a SIEM tool

Briefly, a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool addresses these issues by ingesting logs from network and security devices, de-duping and then prioritising them for attention. This improves security whilst saving valuable time.

SIEM

Beyond threat visibility and alert consolidation, a SIEM tool also enables you to audit and report adherence to industry compliances like GDPR & PCI-DSS, and it helps you to build an accurate and standardised picture of your cyber-security posture.

Three key attributes you need from a SIEM tool

Not all SIEM tools are made equal. Some run on an on-prem log ingestion platform that does not scale well or provide other info that it should by virtue of using IT and Security logs to present and report information.

With this in mind, here are three essential requirements for a modern and scalable SIEM tool:

1. Cloud-native SIEM tool

Some SIEMs are only available on-prem. Others simply moved their code to a hosted platform to cater for the cloud era. But ‘cloud-based’ is not always the same as ‘cloud-native’, so neither on-prem nor cloud-based SIEM tools can easily move with Enterprises’ growing security needs across their on-prem, hybrid, and cloud environments because they often lack the simplicity and performance needed to quickly scale in line with demand.

2. An easy upgrade path between SIEM and automated threat response (SOAR)

With the growth of attack volume and sophistication, automation is now playing its part to reduce the time taken to resolution with Security Orchestration Automation & Response (SOAR) technology.

However, not all SIEM tools have a clear SOAR integration path, which means a legacy SIEM could seriously inhibit your longer-term security threat response strategy – so easy integration between your SIEM tool and a SOAR system is a must.

3. Delivering wider IT and business needs 

As mentioned, the platform running a SIEM system ingests logs from IT devices and security tools in order to de-dupe and present actionable security information. And yet, not all log ingestion platforms can use the data to deliver rich intel for infrastructure monitoring and cloud migration.

Never before have cloud and IT infrastructure played such critical roles in business resilience and innovation, so a legacy SIEM tool will inhibit the delivery of these needs AND mandate the extra cost and distraction of enabling infrastructure monitoring and smooth cloud migration by other means.

Luckily, using a cloud-native SIEM tool for collecting and assimilating IT and Security log signals can also deliver wider business and operational value, including:

  • Insights to help plan and monitor your migrations to AWS, Azure and Google Cloud
  • Critical intel unique to your business – without needing your developers to write code
  • Monitoring infrastructure to detect customer-impacting issues and eliminate blind spots

And in this often-publicised era of IT Skills shortage, it seems only right that one platform should be able to deliver your SIEM, cloud visibility, infrastructure monitoring, and operational intelligence needs.

Your trusted Managed SIEM partner

Whilst a SIEM tool is critical for Enterprise security, some companies do not have the resource to manage one, which is why we provide a Managed SIEM Service (AKA Managed Security Monitoring, or 24/7 SOC, or SIEM as a Service / SIEMaaS ) so they can still receive real-time visibility of the threats that require urgent action but without needing to select, configure, and manage a SIEM tool themselves.

This also saves precious time and resource whilst improving internal and external threat visibility, accelerating time to resolution, and making it easier to audit and report adherence to industry compliances like GDPR and PCI-DSS – not to mention providing you with the means to accurately report on your cyber-security posture.

Read more about our flexible Managed SIEM Service here.

 

Richard Clothier, Marketing Manager at Phoenix Datacom.