Catching someone in the act of thievery is better than finding one who has already stolen your valuables. The same is true for cyber theft. A security information and events management (SIEM) solution is your information systems personal alarm system. Much like a burglar alarm, a SIEM will help you detect potential cyber intruders while also giving your organization extra data management tools.
What is a Security Information and Events Management (SIEM) solution?
SIEM software is an amalgam of two different types of data management solutions, SIM and SEM. Security information management (SIM) is the log management part of the SIEM. Essentially, it is a means of data storage. It allows users and individuals the ability to see all information movements in one centralized place.
The Security Events Management (SEM) was designed to aggregate data and return in-depth analysis about the information, primarily concerning data breaches. It became evident to engineers that a combination of both systems would be the best course of action, so the engineers developed the SIEM system.
The SIEMs’ combination of both systems meant that security and IT teams could run all security information into one storage point while simultaneously aggregating the data into predictable patterns.
In the next section, we will explore how security teams use these patterns to assess security events.
How Does The SIEM Software Work?
Information security (Infosec) teams use SIEM solutions to detect potential data breaches. Breaches occur when an attacker exploits a vulnerability in a system. Exposure can be anything from a bad line of code to open ports (these are internet access points that have no security, so anyone connected to the network can gain access).
Once an attacker exploits a vulnerability, it is simple for them to steal sensitive data or reconfigure parts of the network to meet their needs. Often victims remain unaware of the attacker until it is too late, and in rarer cases, they don’t even realize they have been hacked. The SIEM solution comes in here. Most information systems have a predictable pattern of operation. Take an office network, for example; most days, the activity will be between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This activity is considered a typical working day. You can expect that most users will log on to the business network during these hours. The same is valid for all information system activities like data transfers, email payloads, and application execution (i.e., opening a Microsoft Word program).
The SIEM collects all that information and understands how the information system operates (take the working hours example). More on this example later on.
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What Kind of Data Does a SIEM Aggregate?
Typically, a SIEM solution will aggregate all information that flows through your organization’s IT infrastructure.
Keep in mind that the SIEM focuses on reporting security-related events to calibrate its analysis in a security context.
Here are some examples of data collection:
- Host systems: cloud services providers and other Software as a Service (SaaS) providers will feed information to the hosted network (your network). The SIEM will then take that information and store it as part of its analysis function.
- Firewalls: arguably, the most vital relationship between your SIEM and other systems is the firewall and the SIEM. The SIEM will aggregate the day-to-day activity of the firewall and assess legitimate connections and potentially dangerous ones.
- Anti-malware and Anti-virus: another vital relationship is between the anti-virus (or anti-malware) and the SIEM. Many anti-virus platforms will come with SIEM integration and will help you detect technical intrusions.
- Applications: apps are standard for any business information system; anything from accounting to HR can use apps to help streamline processes. The SIEM will aggregate all data from the information system’s application layer and use it in its analysis.
- User Account Logs: Like the example given above, user access is an essential log of a SIEM. Knowing who is accessing the network and when is critical to stop an intrusion.
The data collection points are much more extensive the larger the organizational network is.
SIEM Data Analysis
Modern SIEM software has moved beyond traditional data logging, and many have added features that make the security team’s job a lot easier. These added features primarily come in the form of data analysis. Before the inclusion of these features, the infosec teams would have to check the data manually and assess whether the organization should escalate the event.
Today SIEM has evolved to add threat intelligence and behavioral analysis to its arsenal. The SIEM can automatically detect if a user is not genuine.
Let’s say, for example, there is an employee named John; in the behavioral analysis, the SIEM notices that John logs in to the corporate network every day (excluding weekends) at around 9 in the morning.
If one day John’s account is seen to be logging in at 10 in the evening on a Sunday, the SIEM will flag this event as unusual. This notification would arise because, through its data aggregation, the SIEM has created a profile of predictable behavior for the user “John.” And anything that is not predictable could be a security breach.
This flagging will give the security team time to react. The security team can then check if John logged in successfully or not. If they found an unsuccessful login attempt during this time frame, they have evidence that John’s user credentials have been leaked. The above example shows how a SIEM’s data analysis is working in action. The SIEM should be calibrated to fit your organizational information system. If you have a vast network of remote-workers, there may not be a predictable login time for these users.
Benefits to SIEM Solutions
SIEM software is evolving rapidly; with new development, SIEMs are detecting breaches faster. Initially, many organizations saw the data logging potential of SIEM software, and now security teams suffer significantly without them.
Employing SIEM solutions in your business can help:
- Reduce security risks
- Identify and patch vulnerabilities quickly
- Streamline data management processes by showing inefficiencies in information flows
- Aid in compliance with various regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
- Improve the overall cybersecurity posture of the organization
How An MSSP Can Help You
A Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) is your partner in all cyber defense strategies. With the help of an MSSP, you can outsource SIEM-related projects and tasks.
The main benefit of using the skills of an MSSP is in leveraging their experience. Most organizations view cybersecurity as an essential aspect of business operations but don’t have the resources to host it in-house, and we understand that pressure can be crippling.
With RSI Security, we can be that helping hand. Whether you are looking for assistance in security management, breach reporting, or compliance advisory, we are confident that we are the right MSSP for you.
Take your security stresses away and schedule a consultation today.