Every user, device or system in a network leaves behind a virtual trail of security information. This is also known as log data. SIEM products are designed to use log data to help analysts pinpoint threats in real-time, investigate breaches, and generate insight into attacks and events. A SIEM solution collects, classifies, detects, correlates and analyzes security information in one place. Which makes it easier for cybersecurity teams to monitor and troubleshoot IT infrastructure in real-time. Without a SIEM solution, cybersecurity analysts have the impossible task of going through millions of non-comparable and siloed data. SIEM products improve efficiency and accuracy when detecting and responding to threats.

What to look for in great SIEM products

A great SIEM solution is characterized by four key properties:

1. It collects and analyzes data from all sources in real time

Organizations today are generating and consuming more data than ever before. To keep up with this rapid increase of information, SIEM tools must be able to ingest data from all sources – including cloud and on-premise log data – to effectively monitor, detect and respond to potential threats. Modern SIEM products don’t just have the ability to ingest and analyze more data, they thrive on it. The more data an organization can provide its SIEM, the more visibility analysts will have into the activities. This helps them be more effective in detecting and responding to threats.

2. It uses machine learning to add context and situational awareness to increase efficiency

Today’s attacks are becoming more sophisticated and organizations need tools that are equally sophisticated. Attackers often rely on compromised credentials or coercing users into performing actions that damage their own organization’s activity. To identify these types of attacks more quickly and accurately, SIEM tools should be equipped with machine learning to monitor suspicious behavior. With user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), organizations get a dramatic increase in their SIEM’s ability to track and identify threats. In addition, UEBA eliminates false positives. Therefore analysts have greater situational awareness before, during, and after a threat occurs. Less false positives means analysts are more effective and can spend their limited time on threats that will actually have an impact on operations.

3. It’s flexible and scalable architecture improves time-to-value

Legacy SIEM solutions don’t compare to those offered today. The amount of data both produced and collected by organizations has skyrocketed over the past few years. This means that organizations need big data architectures that are flexible and scalable to adapt and grow with the business. With the ability to handle large and complex implementations, businesses can deploy today’s modern SIEM solutions in physical or virtual environments, on premise or in the cloud. Some SIEMs provide a very short implementation time and low maintenance resource requirements. This results in the SIEM providing value within a matter of days.

4. It comes with truly predictable licensing and pricing

SIEM pricing models that are based on data use are outdated. Data volumes are constantly increasing and organizations shouldn’t be punished when they want to monitor more data. Modern SIEM pricing models should instead be based on the number of devices sending logs or the total number of entities. With a predictable pricing model, organizations don’t have to worry that their data use is increasing costs. Instead they can focus on scaling for future business needs. Businesses should also consider the total cost of ownership. When the SIEM needs to scale, some vendors have additional costs to increase hardware capabilities or the number of employees who access the SIEM.

Implementing SIEM

When it’s time to implement a SIEM solution, there are several aspects to consider:

Define the scope of deployment

When choosing a SIEM product, businesses should consider organizing a workshop, either internally or alongside a SIEM partner. This will help to define and agree on the project scope and timeline. To define the deployment’s scope, businesses need to identify, and more importantly prioritize, an initial list of use cases to determine the necessary log sources. In addition, it’s important to agree on a deployment timeline to ensure the SIEM aligns with the business’ overarching goals.

Determine the priority data sources

Once the team has agreed on the ideal project scope, the team can identify the log sources needed to fulfill the chosen use cases. For example, firewalls, intrusion protection systems and antivirus software all serve as prime data sources for SIEM. But there are many more. It is important that businesses prioritize the data sources and choose a SIEM vendor that has support for all the applications the business uses. This will ensure the most accurate security protection possible.

Tip: Read more on our blog post on sizing your SIEM

Identify the high-priority events and alarms

When it comes to protecting an organization against both insider and external threats, IT and security teams often have an ever-growing list of security events they need to analyze and act on. SIEM solutions can break through the noise and help analysts focus on the most critical event and alarm data. Businesses must first identify their high-priority events and which applications and devices are associated with the events. Teams can then use the SIEM to identify the events that are most damaging to the business. Thereafter they know where to investigate.

Pinpoint key success metrics

A successful SIEM implementation and deployment is directly correlated with the business’ goals. It is important that key success metrics are determined prior to deployment to ensure maximum ROI. Many businesses have metrics related to reducing information theft or improving detection of potential intrusions or infections. But there are many others. It’s important that businesses determine what success means for them and how the SIEM can be used to achieve it.

The future of SIEM products

The SIEM market is constantly evolving and adding new capabilities, such as the relatively recent advancements in UEBA and incident response. While new features are always welcome to increase efficiency and help address the cybersecurity skills gap, companies should choose the SIEM that meets their needs. Companies need to ensure they are sending all the necessary logs to their SIEM. This way they don’t end up with blindspots in their analytics capabilities.

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