SIEM software: what it is and how it works
Evolving beyond its roots in log file management, today’s security information and event management (SIEM) software vendors are introducing AI, advanced statistical analysis and other analytical methods into their products. . But what is SIEM software and what are its uses?
Acronym for Security Information and Event Management, it is a product that provides cyber security professionals in companies with an overview and a track record of the activities within their IT environment.
The technology used has been around for more than a decade, and has evolved from the practice of managing log files. It combined security event management (SEM), which analyzes log and event data in real time to provide threat monitoring, event correlation and incident response, with security information management (SIM) that collects, analyzes and reports log data.
How does it work?
SIEM collects and aggregates log data generated across the organization’s technological infrastructure, from host systems and applications to network and security devices such as firewalls and virus filters. Then, it identifies and categorizes incidents and events, as well as analyzing them.
The software has two main objectives, which are: to provide reports on incidents and events related to cyber security, such as successful and unsuccessful logins, malware activities and other possible malicious activities, and to send alerts if the analysis shows that an activity ‘goes against established rules, indicating a potential security problem.
According to experts, corporate demand for more security measures has pushed the market to expand in recent years. Today, large organizations look to SIEM as a basis for the creation of a security operations center (SOC).
Analysis and intelligence
One of the main factors underlying the use of SIEM software for security operations is represented by the features offered.
Many products offer threat intelligence feeds in addition to traditional log file data. Some SIEM software also has security analysis capabilities and examines network and user behavior to provide more information on whether or not an action indicates malicious activity.
Generally speaking, SIEM tools provide:
1. Real-time visibility through an organization’s IT security systems
2. Event log management that consolidates data from numerous sources
3. A correlation of collected events from different logs or security sources, using rules that add important information to the raw data
4. Automatic notifications of security events. Most SIEM systems provide dashboards for security issues and other direct notification methods
The SIEM operation process
In practice, the operating process of a SIEM system can be divided into the following steps:
1. Data collection: All sources of network security information (eg servers, operating systems, firewalls, anti-virus software and intrusion prevention systems) are configured to send event log files. Most modern SIEM tools use agents to collect event logs from business systems, which are then processed, filtered, and sent to the system.
2. Policy: A policy profile is created by the administrator. This defines the behavior of business systems, both under normal conditions and during predefined security incidents. We provide predefined rules, alerts, reports and dashboards that can be adjusted and customized to your specific security needs.
3. Data Consolidation and Correlation: These software consolidate, analyze and control log files. The events are then categorized based on the raw data and correlation rules are applied that combine the individual events.
4. Notifications: If an event or set of events triggers a SIEM alarm, the system notifies the security personnel.
It is clear that a SIEM stops at the analysis of threats and subsequent notification. Following these, someone needs to intervene, both by checking the reports and taking measures to mitigate any threat. This can only happen if there is a team of trained technicians behind the software 24/7 to carry out maintenance and intervene when necessary.
While these solutions offer various benefits to businesses of all sizes and shapes, they also have limitations and vulnerabilities that should not be ignored.
A SIEM requires constant 24/7 monitoring of logs and alarms, regular maintenance and configuration, as well as a dedicated security team responsible for managing the software. Most of the work begins after the SIEM implementation. Therefore, organizations cannot rely on these solutions alone to protect critical IT infrastructures.
Even with such a system in place, security professionals must ensure that they have adequate resources, tools, budget and time to be able to exploit the features and ensure complete protection against potential security threats.
From this point of view, the most interesting solution for companies is that of a SOCaaS, which includes SIEM and other suitable tools for a complete management of a company’s cyber security.
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