A security information and event management (SIEM) system can help your organization monitor unusual system events and potential threats, increasing your overall cybersecurity awareness. SIEM implementations monitor architecture and operational processes to help prevent and mitigate attacks, especially when threat actors devise sophisticated means to breach your networks or systems. Read on to learn more.
Application of Security Information and Event Management
Security information and event management tools are critical to any organization’s threat and vulnerability management strategy and infrastructure. When optimized with the appropriate architecture and operational processes, SIEM tools help strengthen security preparedness.
Critical aspects of security information and event management include:
- Operational processes
Your organization will benefit from working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) to optimize security information and event management architecture and operational processes.
What is Security Information and Event Management?
Security information and event management (SIEM) architecture combines two separate processes:
- Security information management (SIM) centralizes data storage for all event logs, providing access to authorized users
- Security event management (SEM) aggregates and analyzes data to provide meaningful information about security risks
A combination of information and event management facilitates:
- Consolidated storage of security monitoring data
- Generation of actionable insights into user log patterns and potential threat risks.
SIEM architecture and operational processes can help automate suspicious activity and threat monitoring, increasing the effectiveness of vulnerability management.
Benefits of SIEM Systems
Security information and event management tools can help strengthen your organization’s cybersecurity in several ways, the most critical of which include:
- Robust threat detection – SIEM tools increase the effectiveness of threat detection because of:
Automated threat monitoring, which enables faster detection of threat risks
Analysis of data collected and collated from multiple sources
- Faster response time – Unlike traditional threat monitoring systems, SIEM tools can identify threats and initiate timely mitigation protocols.
- Real-time threat monitoring – Some threats materialize quickly, requiring immediate mitigation measures (e.g., quarantining, notifying personnel) following threat detection. Real-time threat monitoring provides the opportunity for timely vulnerability remediation.
- Minimizes staffing burnout – Automated SIEM tools reduce the need for hands-on cybersecurity staffing, preventing staff burnout. Particularly for Level 1 Analysts, the extensive, repetitive scanning and analysis activities can become exhausting and lead to higher turnover. When SIEM is automated, the reclaimed bandwidth and focus allows your cybersecurity team to focus on:
- Refining detection algorithms to lower false-positives
- Following up on flagged threat risks
- Streamlines compliance – SIEM tools can help simplify compliance processes by:
- Tracking security gaps and vulnerabilities resulting from non-compliance practices
- Providing reports for audit purposes
Implementing security information and event management architecture and operational processes helps improve organization-wide cybersecurity efforts.
Types of Security Information and Event Management Architecture
Organizations can implement a variety of security information and event management tools. However, the choice of SIEM (whether open-source or managed) depends on your organization-specific needs, mission, and assets.
Intrusion Detection SIEM
Open-source security information and event management capabilities are accessible to all organizations that need SIEM solutions to enhance security visibility.
Some of the most commonly used open-source intrusion detection SIEMs can:
- Log and analyze real-time data from various assets (e.g., networks, programs)
- Audit compliance with widely applicable frameworks (e.g., HIPAA, PCI DSS)
- Collect information from your asset inventory
- Identify signatures associated with malicious applications
Open-source intrusion detection SIEMs help identify threat attack risks and mitigate data breaches. However, while they establish an initial foundation, open-source tools present their own challenges (e.g., functionality, ongoing patch development, support). As a result, additional expertise and solutions may be necessary for your organization on top of open-source options.
Comprehensive SIEM Architecture
Comprehensive SIEM solutions—open-source or otherwise—are widely used and continuously developed to provide optimal detection capabilities, some of which include:
- Scanning IT environments to discover and monitor:
- Hardware (e.g., networked devices)
- Software (e.g., applications)
- Users (whether authorized or unauthorized)
- Ongoing threat and vulnerability assessment to identify:
- Assets in need of security patches
- Existing gaps in security protocols
- Network security risks
- Intrusion detection systems, powered by risk analysis tools that help:
- Identify potentially malicious incoming network traffic
- Monitor files and systems for malware intrusion
- Refine signature-based detection
- Pattern-based behavioral monitoring to identify:
- Unusual events (e.g., random user logins outside of work hours, foreign IP addresses)
- Sudden increases in external network traffic
- Event correlation, powered by machine learning, to enable:
- Collation of data from disparate data sources
- Recognition of threat patterns within and across complex datasets
Comprehensive open-source SIEM architecture can help improve your organization’s threat and vulnerability management infrastructure.
Threat and Vulnerability SIEM Architecture
Although open-source security information and event management architecture provides robust threat monitoring and detection solutions, managed SIEM architecture can be tailored to your organization-specific goals and assets.
Managed SIEM tools provide threat and vulnerability management solutions to help manage security information and mitigate threat occurrences. MSSPs can offer a range of threat and vulnerability management SIEM solutions, including:
- Scanning IT environments to detect threats and vulnerabilities to:
- Critical assets (e.g., networks, applications)
- Sensitive data (e.g., customer data, staff records)
- Threat intelligence monitoring tools to:
- Develop actionable insights into potential threats
- Drive threat mitigation decision-making
- Enable fast recognition and remediation of vulnerabilities
- Penetration testing tools to identify:
- Commonly used attack vectors
- Gaps in security mechanisms
- Vulnerabilities requiring immediate remediation
MSSPs have extensive experience working with various threat attack vectors and provide threat intelligence-driven security information and event management solutions. Working with an experienced MSSP will provide robust threat and vulnerability management SIEM solutions to meet your security monitoring needs.
Incident Management SIEM
Unlike threat and vulnerability management SIEM architecture, incident management solutions can help develop best-case incident response approaches.
As a managed security information and event management solution, incident management SIEM architecture adds up-to-date threat intelligence and expert capabilities to identify breaches and initiate appropriate recovery responses. Specifically, leveraging incident management SIEM tools will help:
- Identify incidents – Should a data breach occur, SIEM powers faster detection of the breach in real-time and continually refinement helps reduce false positives
- Log incidents – Any events identified as actually or possibly materializing threat incidents are immediately logged and analyzed.
- Diagnose incidents – The SIEM is used to conduct an in-depth analysis of incidents flagged above to determine:
- Source of the incident
- Threat details
- Attack vector
- Initiate incident response – Following incident analysis, IT security teams can::
- Assign responsibilities for threat mitigation
- Further escalate incident response protocols, if necessary
- Implement a recovery plan – When the incident is resolved, a recovery plan is initiated to resume system operations.
- Address damage – When parties (e.g., customers, business associates) are affected by the breach, appropriate processes must be initiated to:
- Notify of breaches
- Mitigate further damage
Incident management SIEM solutions can help strengthen your organization’s incident response protocols.
Managed Detection and Response SIEM
Your organization might be looking to implement security information and event management architecture that addresses threats and vulnerabilities while simultaneously managing incidents.
A managed detection and response SIEM combines passive and active security information and event management solutions to help:
- Detecting threats – Constant vulnerability scanning and threat detection enables timely identification of threat risks before they occur.
- Respond to incidents – Any potential threats are identified immediately, initiating appropriate incident response or escalation protocols.
- Conduct root cause analysis – Analyzing data breaches to identify the exploited vulnerabilities helps drive remediation efforts and refine security architecture and processes moving forward.
- Streamline compliance – Monitoring your IT environment helps identify gaps in compliance that must be addressed to avoid penalties, mitigate the risk of data breaches, and strengthen overall cybersecurity.
Managed detection and response SIEM architecture can improve the effectiveness of threat detection, mitigation, and incident response tools to provide a secure IT environment for your organization.
Optimal SIEM Operational Processes
Security information and event management architecture would not be complete without the appropriate operational processes to drive effective cyber threat mitigation. SIEM tools collect vast amounts of data from disparate sources and are tasked with analyzing and collating the data to generate actionable cybersecurity insights.
Seamless integration of SIEM architecture and operational processes requires log management to guide:
- Collection of event data from different sources
- Management of data as it is collected
- Retention of data for current and future analysis
- Integration of data to develop meaningful resolutions
Optimal operational processes help improve the overall effectiveness of security information and event management tools. All procedures should be thoroughly documented and readily available to personnel.
SIEM tools collect several types of data from sources within your organization’s IT infrastructure. Common sources of SIEM data include:
- Applications, specifically:
- Web applications
- Software as a service (SaaS) applications
- Intranet applications
- Security events, some of which include:
- Firewall traffic
- Intrusion detection system logs
- Antivirus and antimalware tools
- Web application filters
- Network logs, including:
- Wireless access points
- Data transfers
- Virtual networks
- Devices (whether for personal use or otherwise), such as:
- Mobile devices
- Shared workstations
- Individual-use laptops or desktops
- Organization-wide IT infrastructure, including:
- Network maps
- System configurations
Best practices for collecting data using SIEM tools include:
- Automated data collection – Collecting data using automated tools minimizes the risk of undetected threats. Specific processes for automating data collection include:
- Installing agents to log device or system data and relay it to a central repository and dashboard
- Implementing streaming protocols to deliver real-time data
- Introducing automated network protocols for data transfer
- Asset categorization – Classifying assets on your organization’s IT infrastructure by category (e.g., devices, networks, applications) during data collection will help:
- Streamline data collection
- Simplify downstream analysis
- Monitor network activity
- Identify high-risk assets
Optimizing data collection will help improve the effectiveness of downstream operational processes, ultimately strengthening security information and event management architecture.
Once data from different sources is collected, it must be managed effectively for optimal security information and event management operation. SIEM data management processes include:
- Storage – SIEM tools collect large amounts of data that require effective means of storage. Storage must be secured to minimize data loss. Options for SIEM data storage include:
- On-site data storage
- Cloud storage
- Categorization – A robust pipeline for data categorization increases the effectiveness of SIEM tools. Best practices for categorizing data include:
- Leveraging threat intelligence to classify threat risks
- Optimizing detection algorithms to minimize false positives
- Establish policies for standardized data workflows
Effective data management helps improve security information and event management functionality.
Specific data collected by security information and event management tools may need to be retained for future analysis. However, SIEMs collect vast amounts of data, and there must be criteria for determining which data is retained (and how) or deleted.
Common reasons for retaining data collected by SIEMs include:
- Compliance requirements (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA)
- Further behavioral analysis to identify:
- Trends in user behavior
- Unusual security patterns
Strategies to refine SIEM data retention processes include:
- Compressing large amounts of data
- Standardizing critical data for future use
- Automated deletion of unnecessary files
- Retaining data based on filters, including:
- Source of data
- Type of data
- Summarization of data to keep only that deemed necessary
Well-defined practices for retaining security information and event management data can help your organization minimize unnecessary data storage while ensuring the retention of critical data.
Your organization can also benefit from integrating security information and event management processes with other cybersecurity tools (whether managed internally or externally).
Examples of options for SIEM integration include:
- Identity and access management, which helps identify gaps in user access privileges
- Patch management, which helps detect systems requiring security updates
- Cloud security tools, which provide visibility into cloud storage security risks
- Third party risk management, which provides monitoring for external network connections to service providers and other partners
Working with an experienced MSSP can help you identify relevant tools to integrate into your organization’s security information and event management architecture.
Optimize Your Security Information and Event Management Tools
Security information and event management architecture and operational processes can help strengthen organization-wide cybersecurity, protecting you from threat attacks.
As a leading MSSP, RSI Security is well-versed in threat and vulnerability management and managed detection and response to help your organization develop robust SIEM architecture and operational processes. Contact RSI Security today to learn more and get started!