What Is SIEM? How It Works?

Security information and event management (SIEM) has evolved gradually over the past decade. It helps the IT teams to be a lot more proactive in fighting cyber-security threats. It offers a more centralized approach to solving enterprise security issues. The unique aspect of security information and event management is that it combines both Security Event Management (SEM) with Security Information Management (SIM). Security Event Management carries out a detailed analysis of event data in real-time. This helps to provide even correlation, incidence response, and identifying threats. Security Information Management (SIM) analyses log data and generates the required reports.

About SIEM:

The whole concept of SIEM is to provide a robust security framework for organizations. It helps security professionals within the organization to monitor and track activities within their IT landscape and environment.

The core principles of SIEM are to aggregate the data from all relevant sources. This data that is extracted from multiple sources, is then analyzed, to identify any deviations and then take appropriate corrective action.

For instance, when the system detects a potential issue, it will log the information, generate an alert, and enforce the required security measures to stop the activity from happening.

SIEM, today, is rapidly evolving with next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) adding to the solution offerings. Apart from the traditional functionalities like log management, SIEM has evolved to include diverse technologies in its bundle of offerings. Software vendors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have added features like machine learning, statistical analysis, and other advanced analytics methodologies in the solution offerings.

How SIEM Works:

The role of SIEM is to collect log data that is generated throughout the IT infrastructure systems, software applications, and network systems. These network systems can be firewalls, antivirus or intrusion detection systems. The various SIEM tools then categorize the data based on the type of activity, like failed login, security breach, malware, or any such malicious activity. Using SIEM tools, security professionals can set up security alerts on identifying any potential threats. They do this using a set of predefined rules based on which security alerts can be categorized as either high priority or low priority threats.

For instance, we can consider an example of an intrusion attack on the company’s network. If the attacker generates over 20 failed login attempts in half an hour, the system categorizes this attack as a low priority attack. However, if the system generates over 150 failed login attempts in half an hour, it could mean that a brute force attack is taking place. This attack would be categorized as a high priority attack.

We can broadly classify the activities that SIEM provides into two major tasks:

  • Comprehensive reports on security-related attacks and events: These could include intrusion attacks like failed login attempts, virus and malware attacks or any other malicious activity
  • Send alerts to the system based on a set of predefined rules: In case the malicious activity is found to be against the set of rules, this would indicate a serious security issue and would be categorized as such.

Analytics and Intelligence:

Analytics and intelligence are increasingly playing an important part in threat detection and providing cybersecurity services.

A lot of SIEM services make the best use of analytics to provide various threat intelligence feeds. In addition to log data, this intelligence from threat analytics can help security professionals better in the field of security information and event management.

A lot of market research firms in the area of cybersecurity services predict the large scale adoption of analytics in the field of SIEM. These innovations help in creating good and robust threat detection tools. A lot of security service providers are also adopting advanced statistical analysis, machine learning, and other deep learning capabilities.

With the advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, security professionals can now implement solutions on pattern-based monitoring and predictive restoration of systems. This helps strengthen the security monitoring tools that organizations can deploy and implement for their IT organizations.

SIEM is also used for a wide range of other services such as:

Security Monitoring:

  • SIEMs can help security organizations in monitoring their security systems on a real-time basis. Security incidents can be tracked and monitored on a real-time basis which provides holistic and all-round security to the organization.
  • Since it has a holistic approach to security incident management, it has a considerable advantage over standalone security tools. For instance, it can combine alerts from multiple systems like a firewall or an antivirus product.

Advanced Detection:

  • With an advanced SIEM system, advanced security threats can be detected and prevented.

Some of these threats can be categorized into:

  • Data Extraction Threats: The system can detect data transfers that are of an abnormal data range, based on their size or frequency.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APT): This is an advanced mechanism of threat forecasts based on long term security planned attacks. It helps identify a pattern on a long-term and focused security attack on an organization.

Other Malicious Attacks:

  • A SIEM can use various other tools to prevent malicious attacks. It can do this by the use of advanced browser analytics, and any relevant network data related to the attack. This can help identify who is planning the attack and prevent the attack from happening.

Data Classification:

All the top SIEM platforms will allot every log message as either a classification or a common event.

The data can be classified into primarily three types based on their classification:

  • Operations
  • Security
  • Audit

Common events are usually not very specific and provide more of a descriptive meaning to the activities identified as threats.

Threat Contextualisation:

The system can combine many logs from multiple systems into a common framework. This will help to analyze and further correlate data which was earlier not identifiable.

Security Events:

A security event can be defined as a log that has a detailed description of different types of attacks. These can be classified further into operational or compliance-related threats. These can be classified into either errors or failures or other forms of attack. The main difference between events and other logs is that events are usually actionable items. This means that certain actions triggered the use of event logs unlike routine system failures like a system reboot.

Security Reports and Alarms:

Managed SIEM services can generate a lot of alarms and reports. These are related to threat detection and other SIEM security trigger events. If such events meet the pre-defined criteria, they can trigger the real-time alarm systems. These alarm systems can include smart responses that can correspond to certain scenarios that are predefined in the SIEM system.

ActivICT is one of the leading providers of cyber-security services in the world. The threat around cyber-security is growing with new forms of sophisticated attacks being developed each day. ActivICT provides a comprehensive and holistic solution that can protect businesses from a wide range of security attacks. These attacks can range from managed threat detection systems, next-generation firewalls, cyber-security audit, to even live vulnerability management.

Why SIEM:

We will discuss why SIEM is so important considering the security scenario that is prevalent today.

  • One of the primary reasons for adopting SIEM practices in an organization is the cost advantage over hiring multiple security analysts. SIEM security analysts have a specialized skill set and are often difficult to hire. The cost of hiring and maintaining a large team of security specialists far outweigh any potential benefits.
  • Building an in-house SIEM capability is often time-consuming and would take additional resources to maintain it. Outsourcing it to a holistic managed SIEM services provider like ActivICT can lead to potential benefits and comprehensive cybersecurity services to address long term security requirements.
  • Another important benefit is that it is highly scalable and flexible to deploy.
  • Combining various artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, it provides a comprehensive threat intelligence mechanism.
  • It provides real-time and advanced analytics for security logs and also events. It can be easily implemented across organizations of all sizes.
  • Having a robust security framework in place also helps safeguard the organization from potential security threats by preventing such attacks from happening.
  • It also helps reduce the overall impact of a security breach, in case of a malicious security attack on the organization’s IT environment.
  • One of the additional advantages of implementing managed SIEM services is that of compliance management and auditing.
  • SIEM can help convey to your auditors and compliance regulators that adequate security systems, policies, and procedures are in place. This is precisely the reason why early adopters use it for segregating log data across the organization. This data can be then easily prepared into an audit-ready compatible format. This can help meet the global compliance security standards such as HIPAA and SOX.

Conclusion:

Here is how organizations can successfully use SIEM in safeguarding their long term security goals.

  • Cost Saving: Building an in-house SIEM system is an expensive initiative. The costs involved range from purchasing servers, to network equipment, server space, and hiring the right security specialists to manage and maintain the system. There is a new concept of SIEM-as-a-service where a third party vendor assumes the entire responsibility of the managed SIEM services. This is a cloud model where a regular fee is provided to the service provider.
  • Advanced Network Monitoring: For organizations today, one of the primary requirements is to monitor their IT systems round the clock to recognize and prevent security attacks. A premium managed SIEM service provider like ActivICT would have all the necessary tools to monitor the network for any potential attack anytime in the day.
  • SIEM-as-a-Service: This is a trend that is increasingly being adopted in the industry today. It provides a very seamless experience with implementation and also ongoing maintenance. Organizations can use all the best practices and tools of the third-party vendor to protect their systems rather than spending time and effort building a system from scratch.

Some of the trends and innovations in the field of SIEM are:

  • Integration with Security Ecosystems: This is especially to meet the ever-increasing demand and dynamic business and technical requirements of customers. Some of these requirements can range from integration with third-party systems, much-improved workflow capability along with scalability.
  • Flexible Delivery Models: The security solutions that we see being deployed today have advanced analytics capabilities. There are also flexible deployment models that are available. These models are on-premise, cloud or hybrid deployment options. A hybrid approach can give an organization much flexibility and scalability while leveraging the best practices of cloud solutions.
  • Smart Dashboards: Security professionals today have a lot of out-of-the-box dashboards, incident response workflows, security indicators, and advanced analytics. Earlier, the security analysts and professionals had to spend time configuring their reports and dashboards. They had to write their own set of rules for the same. Today, the whole process is innovation-driven, where there are tools available for discovering use-case based data and smart reports. These types of out-of-the-box features add a lot of value to the security team within the organization.

In today’s dynamic security environment, organizations need to be prepared to deal with targeted attacks in their system infrastructure or networks. These are now being included in advanced SIEM services. Using such capabilities, organizations can be better equipped to manage and handle targeted attacks. Companies like ActivICT come in with their expertise to help platforms with the best-in-class solutions for SIEM services.

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