What is SIEM?
Working in a risky environment has made it important to monitor the system logs for regulating the security controls. This security logging started off as debugging of codes and troubleshooting the system errors. With the advancement of security applications of networks and systems, it was important to establish criteria for the management of monitoring and auditing of system logs for use in times of insider threats, troubleshooting, and incident responses.
SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. It is a term which was proposed by Mark Nicolett and Amrit Williams in the year 2005. Security information and event management are some of the fields of computer security that deal with the recent analysis of those security alerts which are produced by applications or hardwares.
SIEM is generally sold by the vendors as softwares, appliances, or managed services which makes these products useful for logging the security data and generating reports for compliance purposes.
SIEM is therefore one of the key elements which can indicate whether the security of the organization abides by the defined cybersecurity policies or not. Security Information and Event Management is an application which not only identifies us that an attack was made but also provides us the details of the attack like how, when, or why that attack happened.
Figure 1. What is SIEM?
What does SIEM Mean?
SIEM, which is an abbreviation for Security Information and Event Management, is not a single concept, but it is a combination of SIM (Security Information Management) and SEM (Security Event Management).
It is a field in computer security formulated for dealing with the security threats that are received by applications and devices. It helps in providing a centralized and comprehensively detailed review concerning the security of the IT infrastructure.
SIEM is a solution for the software to compile and analyze all of the resources received from the entire IT and network infrastructure. It collects security data from all network devices, domain controllers and servers, and much more. Security information and event management is a set of tools that provide a complete view regarding the security system of the organization.
Security Information and Event Management is important especially for large organizations and enterprises because it makes it easier to look out for the security alerts and security threats that are received by the applications but may go unnoticed otherwise leading to greater security problems for the organization.
It helps in security management by compiling the data and filtering those messages and data which may seem inappropriate or threatening to the security of the network. It also prioritizes those security alerts which are produced by the software and applications.
What is the History of SIEM?
Risk management across different industries made it important to monitor the security logs in the network system. This security logging began as simple as troubleshooting errors and debugging the codes. The complexities of operating systems (OS) and networks have also led to the up-gradation of event and log generation.
At first, it was offered to trace the user movements and relevant information in a network. Then after the 1970s, there was an establishment of criteria to monitor the auditing and management of security programs. This also gave a clue of how the system logs could be used to detect internal threats received by the network’s security.
Due to the worldwide implementation of the Risk Management Force, information assurance and information security were made necessary. All the authorized analysts, information assurance personnel, and cyber engineers were deployed to use the logging information for the performance of critical functions of security. Auditing and monitoring were made the basis of all this analytical work.
Then came the late 1990s and 2000s which necessitated the need for the centralization of the system logs. This centralization of security made it possible for all the devices or applications on one network to be managed altogether. Hence, SIEM can be defined as an application that enables the collection of data from information system components and provides this data to be used through a single interface.
The Evolution of SIEM Software
Over time the Security Information and Event Management software has evolved and upgraded. Following are some of those terminologies which may be used interchangeably but still have some differences.
1. Log Management Systems (LMS)
Log Management Systems (LMS) is a software solution that collects the information, categorizes and stores the collected information or data from various sources in one centralized location. It mainly focuses on collecting and storing the log messages and audit trails. LMS serves as a watch-out by having an overview of the network activity, inspection of system events, and storage of user actions. It looks out for any threats and notifies when a security alert is received by the system.
2. Security Information Management (SIM)
Security Information Management (SIM) is a software solution that, similar to the Log Management System, collects the information but has the additional advantage of storing information for longer durations. It also enables the monitoring and analysis of data related to the computer logs. So basically Security Information Management (SIM) provides the long-term storage of data information with the ability to monitor and analyze the collected data and also the ability to report the log data. It also ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data, information, and IT services of the organization.
3. Security Event Management (SEM)
Security Event Management (SEM) is a process of identifying, collecting, evaluating, and reporting events of software that are related to security. It helps in the automation and simplification of the tasks of security management, operational troubleshooting, and continuous compliance which otherwise seem like complex tasks to achieve. SEM not only automates and simplifies these tasks but also provides the immediate identification of security threats before the data of the network can be exploited. Hence, Security Event Management (SEM) consists of the regular monitoring of data, finding common features of various events for their correlation, notification, and console views.
How Does SIEM Work?
The Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software is capable of collecting information and data from various antivirus events, firewall logs, and other applications, devices, networks, or infrastructures for the categorization of this data. After the gathered data is sorted out, SIEM then performs an analysis of this categorized data to provide a holistic view of the security system of the organization.
SIEM helps the system analysts in:
- Provision of data from various devices and networks to gain visibility of the system.
- Detection of threats received by the organization or network system
- Investigation of irregular and abnormal activity
- Generation of security alerts for rapid responses to clear out the system from those threats.
What are SIEM Tools?
SIEM tools are those programs that are developed to keep a check on the performance of Security Information and Event Management. It is important to correctly evaluate your goals to choose the correct SIEM tool. Following are a few of the most useful SIEM tools:
1. Datadog Security Monitoring
It is a cloud-based SIEM tool that offers to monitor system security. Being a cloud-based software it delivers its services through the internet instead of delivering services through personal computers or other local servers.
It is helpful in monitoring live events and stores them as log entries which enables it to act on both the log information and data monitoring. Datadog security monitoring appears advantageous as it provides a 14-day free trial. It helps in the immediate detection of real-time threats. One quality that appears as a con is its initial overwhelming wealth of functionality, but concerning all its pros, if you are looking for a SIEM tool specifically for security monitoring then Datadog Security Monitoring is the answer.
2. SolarWinds Security Event Manager
This SIEM tool is based on the Windows operating system. SolarWinds security event manager appears to be one of the most competitive SIEM tools as it provides all the expected functions along with extensive log management features and reporting. It comes with a 30-day free trial. It provides automated log searches and immediate detection to protect from data breaches and/or threats.
It provides system alerts and also allows historical analysis which helps detect any anomalous activity on the network. One feature which may appear as a hurdle is that SolarWinds security event manager is a professional platform so it may take a while to learn this platform.
3. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
This is based on Windows as well as the Linux operating system. It is included in the SIEM tools because of its ability to gather log messages, detect threats, and provide security alerts. The advantage of having two operating systems lies in the fact that it can gather both Windows event logs and Syslog messages.
But it is not only a log server, it also has an analytic activity that helps notify us whenever unauthorized access is made to the network. This feature helps reduce false positives and prioritize threats. It is a multiplatform tool, serving both as a log server and an analyzer but the hardship lies for those who have never used a SIEM tool because it will require more time to be invested.
4. Splunk Enterprise Security
One distinguishing feature of Splunk is that its analytics are incorporated deeply into SIEM. It allows real-time monitoring of the network’s data information and has the ability to identify the potential vulnerabilities of the system as well as anomalous or unusual activities and behaviors.
It allows in utilizing behavior analysis for the detection of those threats that may go unnoticed or overlooked by the logs. Splunk is specifically enterprise-focused, helps in easy prioritization of events, and similar to ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer, Splunk is also a multiplatform software available for both Windows and Linux operating systems.
Some disadvantages of this software are that its pricing is not transparent which means they require quotes from the vendors and it uses Search Processing Languages (SPL) which steepens the learning curve.
OSSEC stands for Open Source HIDS (host-based intrusion prevention system) Security. It is free-to-use software that focuses on the management of log files. It is a multiplatform software that can act on a vast variety of operating systems such as Linux, Windows, Unix, and Mac. It can function as a constituent of both SIEM as well as HIDS. Its interface is easily customizable and visual.
There are two problems with this system; one problem is that further analysis requires secondary tools such as Graylog and Kibana. The second problem lies in its being an open-source version that lacks paid support.
6. LogRhythm NextGen SIEM Platform
The LogRhythm NextGen SIEM Platform is considered to be a pioneer in the SIEM software solution system. From the analysis of behavior to log correlation to being AI-based for machine learning, this system is capable of everything.
LogRhythm NextGen SIEM Platform has a visually appealing and highly customizable interface and to top it off it is one of those systems which provide artificial intelligence and machine learning for behavioral analysis.
Why is SIEM Important?
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is a software solution that is important for every organization as it identifies any unauthorized accesses made to the network and not just identifies it, it also helps in finding out how or why or even when that attack was made. This is because whenever a user makes access to the network, a virtual trail is stored in the network’s security log. This is when the SIEM software comes into action as it uses this trail to have a look at all the past attempts.
With the advancement in the complexities of network infrastructures, up-gradation of security management is also necessary. SIEM helps in detecting any activity made on the network and has the ability to distinguish whether it was a legitimate use or a malicious attempt. This in turn helps in protecting the system from any incident which may damage it.
The industry’s standard method of auditing activity on the IT network is by log management. SIEM provides transparency of the log orders so that clear insights and improvements can be made.
What are the Limitations of SIEM?
Even though SIEM is important in maintaining the security of a network it is still not enough due to quite a few loopholes in this Security Information and Event Management system. Some of these shortcomings or limitations of SIEM are listed below:
- Failed initial scoping.
It is important to scope the security environment immediately after choosing SIEM so that it can be properly sized. First, the business applications are identified and then evaluated. A satisfactory result can not be expected if it is attempted to send three times the EPS a system can handle. There will then be a delay and drop in the events and the alarm may not be timely generated.
- Feedback loop.
This lack of feedback loop can occur between different groups of the system’s administration. It is required by the analyst to identify true positives along with giving feedback regarding false positives. It is necessary to provide feedback so that the alarm generating false positives can be identified and tuned.
- Continued SIEM Maintenance.
It is important for the technologists to never consider the SIEM system complete. These systems require continued maintenance especially if a new server is introduced.
- Not having buy-in stakeholders.
For a project to be successful, it is important to have the buy-ins implemented. Addressing the configuration and security concerns to get their buy-ins not only allows configuration changes but also helps in the provision of insights regarding the operating systems during the tuning phase of SIEM implementation.
- Not proving business needs to C-Suite.
It is important to notify the C-suite regarding the business needs. If not, it appears as a limitation to the Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).
What are the Benefits of SIEM?
SIEM being a security managing software that helps in maintaining the security of the network also appears as an alarm to the digital businesses. We have already mentioned that SIEM readily detects when an attack is made on a network and finds trails of the current incidence as well as the past attempts. Following are a list of benefits SIEM provides:
- Increases efficiency.
SIEM provides faster and easier security operations making it more efficient.
- Threat detection and prevention.
SIEM acts as an alarm for identifying security threats and helps reach the starting point of the trail due to its ability to recognize the virtual trail of current and past attacks.
- Simplified compliance reporting.
Due to the ability of SIEM to collect, normalize and analyze the log data, it is also possible for SIEM to make compliance reporting simple.
What is SIEM in Cyber Security?
SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management which helps in identifying threats to the security system, notifies regarding the threat being an alarm, and also helps in eradication of those threats and prevents further attempts.
Following are a few features that should be present in the security information and event management systems for their excellent performance:
- Quick and effective protection of data
- Automated responses
- Better analysis of behavior or activity
- Early detection and prevention from threats
- Visualized data for easier analysis
- Flexibility in costs
What are the Capabilities of SIEM?
SIEM has several capabilities that would appeal to businesses of all sizes. Here are some of them in detail:
1. Collection and Processing of Log
Log data and its correct configuration is an important requirement of SIEM. The log data is first collected then normalized so that different log data formats from different vendors can be changed into the same log format. Then SIEM performs analysis of the collected log data information.
2. Correlation of Events
Security information and event management (SIEM) helps in correlating various events by finding a common attribute so that they can be centrally acted upon.
3. Threat Intelligence
Threat intelligence can be derived from either an external source or an internal source.
4. Search and Reporting
It is important for the SIEM analyzers to always keep up with the advancing levels of security to maintain the security of the network or organization. This process of searching and reporting results in the formation of the reactive defense of the organization.
5. Real-time Monitoring and Identification of Security Threats
The most important step in alleviating security incidents is to identify real-time threats. SIEM software solution comes with a set of rules which help in the indication of security threats received by the system.
6. Incident Management
The process of incident management consists of many steps like detection of the security incident, analysis of the incident, verification of the incident as true positive or false positive, taking proper measures to alleviate the incident, and finally taking proper measures to protect such security incidents from occurring again in the future.
In Which Situations Is SIEM Used?
SIEM can be used in a variety of situations. Here are some of those particular situations below:
1. Authentication of Activities
This is especially important in keeping a track of the failed log-in attempts when they exceed the particular threshold of the system.
2. Management of Accounts
This is important when it comes to the creation, deletion, or other activities on the account to monitor the resources and system access privileges.
3. Monitoring Connection Activities
This helps in identifying the country, country source, destination, and whether that certain connection was allowed or denied.
4. Activities are related to policies
This is important in monitoring and detection of policy changes such as audit, authentication, authorization, filtering, and other activities.
5. Detection of Threat
It helps in the detection of vulnerabilities, malware, or threats to the network system or organization.
6. Operational Activities
It is important to keep a check on the operational activities regarding the user data and it is made possible through SIEM.
7. Detection of Anomalous Activities
SIEM also helps in the identification of anomalous behavior such as unauthorized access or login attempts, data staging, or account misuse.
8. Security Alerts and Incident Responses
Security information and event management (SIEM) helps in the detection of any harmful or threatful alerts and manages the incident response.
9. Regulatory Compliance and Audit Requirements
SIEM helps with the compliance, regulation, and audit of the network system or organization.
SIEM is helpful in those situations where there is an aggregation of correlation or those situations which are extended by mathematical operations.
11. IoT Security
A relatively new area where SIEM can be used is IoT security. By combining IoT with SIEM, it makes for a more robust system overall. IoT devices that support SIEM can do several things including facilitating the flow of data, sharing devices that may have been discovered, and any weaknesses that an IoT device might have.
12. Threat Prevention
SIEM is used for the monitoring of unusual data flow to and from internet devices. It also helps in identifying those devices which may be at risk of security vulnerabilities. SIEM operates by detecting real-time threats by providing visibility regarding the system’s environment.