Aside from setting up the necessary defenses to protect the network against cybersecurity breaches, it is also important to keep a log of all events occurring within the network in order to identify possible breaches.
One technology that is designed to create such logs is Security Information and Event Management, also known as SIEM. SIEM are powerful systems that give enterprise security professionals both insight into what is happening in their IT environment in real-time and a track record of relevant events that have happened in the past.
One key difference
While this may seem similar to another technology which is SIM or Security Information Management, there is one key difference.
For one, SIM only provides analysis and reporting for historic security events. As such, SIM works to automate the collection of log data from various security tools and systems and surface that information to security managers.
On the other hand, SIEM has the functionality of SIM alongside the ability to work in real-time, or as close to it as possible, to identify specific events relevant to security professionals.
How SIEM works
Firstly, SIEM does not gather all the data from the enterprise’s security systems. That particular task is done by SIEM agents, which are programs running on various systems that analyze and export the data into the SIEM. Alternately, most security systems have built-in capabilities to export log data to a central server and the SIEM platform can import it from there.
It must be noted that the topography of the network and the capabilities of the bandwidth, as well as the types of systems from which the logs are based, can affect the type of system to be implemented in this data-gathering stage.
It must also be noted that the amount of data transmitted and the processing power necessary at the endpoints can negatively affect the performance of the systems or network if SIEM is not deployed correctly. Thus, it is important to ensure that the entire infrastructure is instrumented for SIEM, both on-prem and in the cloud.
With the amount of data generated by SIEM, there are “SIEM suites” that apply data analysis to make sure that only useful information gets delivered to the security operations center. These platforms use correlation engines that attempt to connect disparate log entries or other signals that don't seem to cause alarm on their own but taken together can mean there is a problem in the network. These findings are then combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques used to detect attacks, capabilities which SIEM vendors vary from one to another.
SIEM tools also draw information from threat intelligence feeds which report any new forms of malware and other threats. Some of these feeds are maintained by the SIEM vendors, but others are open source or internally maintained by security teams at large organizations. Some SIEM platforms allow users to use their own threat intelligence feeds.
In addition, some SIEM platforms also incorporate SOAR capabilities, which can partially or fully automate responses to the threats they detect, thus preventing these threats from causing further damage to the system.
Because of SIEM’s capabilities, it has become the standard in today’s security management infrastructure. It has proven itself to be a reliable tool in recording and addressing potential threats in real-time, with businesses, both big and small, have SIEM in place in their security system.
With cybersecurity threats continuing to evolve, SIEM adds a layer of protection for the enterprise’s network, ensuring that the network is constantly secured and that its operations are not hampered by such threats.