What is SIEM?

SIEM – Security Incident and Event Monitoring – is a security solution that helps organisations recognise and address potential security threats and vulnerabilities before they have a chance to disrupt business operations.

The technology centralises security information from multiple endpoints, servers and applications to help monitor IT infrastructure, check for anomalies in real-time, alert security teams whenever there is an abnormal event and maintain detailed data logs of all events. As a centralised platform, it enables you to identify and respond to potential security incidents quickly and effectively.

SIEM is a crucial component of any organisation’s cybersecurity strategy.

Regardless of the size of an organisation, taking proactive steps to monitor and mitigate IT security risks is essential. SIEM solutions benefit enterprises in various ways and have become a significant component in streamlining security workflows.

A centralised system for operational efficiency

If you have a lot of different devices and systems on your network, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the security events that are happening. SIEM can help you centralise your security monitoring and make it easier to identify potential threats.

A central dashboard provides a unified view of system data, alerts and notifications, enabling teams to communicate and collaborate efficiently when responding to threats.

By aggregating and correlating security event data from multiple sources, SIEM solutions reduce the false positives associated with individual security tools. This enables security teams to focus their efforts on investigating and responding to genuine security incidents, improving overall operational efficiency.

Security Incident and Event Monitoring

Compliance management and reporting

SIEM solutions are a popular choice for organisations subject to different forms of regulatory compliance. Due to the automated data collection and analysis that it provides, SIEM is a valuable tool for gathering and verifying compliance data across the entire business infrastructure. It provides centralised logging, audit trails and reporting capabilities that demonstrate adherence to security policies and standards.

SIEM solutions can generate real-time compliance reports for PCI-DSS, GDPR, PECR, NIS and Freedom of Information Act, the primary UK compliance standards, reducing the burden of security management and detecting potential violations so they can be addressed early.

Many of the SIEM solutions come with pre-built, out-of-the-box add-ons that can generate automated reports designed to meet compliance requirements.

Incident monitoring and security alerts

When a security incident occurs, time is of the essence. SIEM solutions provide real-time alerts and notifications, enabling a quick response to threats and potential damage mitigation.

SIEM tools continuously monitor network traffic, system logs and other sources for suspicious activities or anomalies that may indicate a security breach or intrusion attempt. By correlating events across different sources, SIEM can detect complex attack patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed. SIEM can also automate certain response actions to contain or resolve security incidents quickly.

Most SIEM dashboards also include real-time data visualisations that help IT teams spot spikes or trends in suspicious activity. Using customisable, predefined correlation rules, administrators can be alerted immediately and take appropriate actions to mitigate threats before they materialise into more significant security issues.

Log management

SIEM ingests event data from a wide range of sources across an organisation’s entire IT infrastructure, including on-premises and cloud environments.

Event log data from users, endpoints, applications, data sources, cloud workloads and networks, as well as data from security hardware and software, such as firewalls or antivirus software, is collected, correlated and analysed in real-time.

Some SIEM solutions also integrate with third-party threat intelligence feeds to correlate their internal security data against previously recognised threat signatures and profiles. Integration with real-time threat feeds enables teams to block or detect new types of attack signatures.

SIEM solutions significantly improve mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR) for IT security teams by offloading the manual workflows associated with the in-depth analysis of security events. This centralised log management capability not only facilitates real-time threat detection but also supports forensic analysis, compliance auditing and troubleshooting of IT issues.

Monitoring users and applications

With the rise in popularity of remote working, SaaS applications and BYOD (bring your own device) policies, organisations need the level of visibility necessary to mitigate network risks from outside the traditional network perimeter.

SIEM solutions track all network activity across all users, devices and applications, significantly improving transparency across the entire infrastructure and detecting threats regardless of where digital assets and services are being accessed.

Insider threat detection

Insider threats, whether intentional or unintentional, pose a significant risk to organisations. SIEM can help detect anomalous behaviour from insiders, such as unauthorised access to sensitive data or unusual patterns of activity, helping to prevent data breaches and insider attacks.

Security Incident and Event Monitoring

Forensic investigations

SIEM solutions are ideal for conducting computer forensic investigations once a security incident occurs. SIEM solutions allow organisations to efficiently collect and analyse log data from all of their digital assets in one place. SIEM retains long-term historical data to facilitate compliance analysis, tracking and reporting. This gives them the ability to re-create past incidents or analyse new ones to investigate suspicious activity and implement more effective security processes. This is especially crucial in forensic examination, which might occur years after the incident.

AI-driven automation

Combining SIEM with AI is becoming increasingly important and brings significant advancements to security monitoring. Using deep machine learning that automatically learns from network behaviour, these solutions can handle complex threat identification and incident response protocols in less time than physical teams.

AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data from diverse sources, identifying subtle anomalies and suspicious patterns that traditional SIEM rules might miss. This leads to faster and more accurate threat detection.

AI can also learn from past alerts and context to distinguish genuine threats, significantly reducing the burden on security teams of investigating false positives.

Security Incident and Event Monitoring

What the future holds for SIEM

Considering how quickly the cybersecurity landscape changes, organisations need to be able to rely on solutions that can detect and respond to both known and unknown security threats.

AI will become increasingly important in the future of SIEM, as cognitive capabilities improve the system’s decision-making abilities. It will also allow systems to adapt and grow as the number of endpoints increases.

As IoT, cloud computing, mobile and other technologies increase the amount of data that a SIEM tool must consume, AI offers the potential for a solution that supports more data types and a complex understanding of the threat landscape as it evolves.

Conclusion

Security Incident and Event Monitoring is essential for organisations to proactively identify and respond to security threats, comply with regulatory requirements, and effectively manage cybersecurity risks in today’s increasingly complex and dynamic threat landscape.

Securus will be writing a follow-up article soon about what to do when your SIEM solution tells you there is a breach.

If you are concerned about the security of your IT infrastructure, contact Securus on 03451 283457. We’d be happy to help.

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