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In light of perpetually more sophisticated cyber-attacks, organisations require the most advanced security measures to safeguard their data.
Security information and event management (SIEM) has emerged as a hybrid solution that combines both security event management (SEM) and security information management (SIM) as part of an optimised framework that supports advanced threat detection, regulatory compliance, and security incident management for organisations.
Now, SIEM is an integral component of modern cybersecurity strategies. As a security solution, SIEM effectively aggregates, stores, analyses, and reports log data from multiple sources across an organisation's entire IT infrastructure. These sources include network devices, applications, databases, operating systems, and more.
Today’s SIEM solutions equip organisations with real-time visibility into their IT infrastructure and overarching cybersecurity environment, enabling teams to detect suspicious activities quickly and respond to threats accordingly before they escalate into full-blown cyber attacks. SIEM also supports organisations in maintaining compliance with industry regulations and standards.
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Why Is SIEM Important?
SIEM provides a critical layer of protection to an organisation's digital ecosystem. It’s become a vital asset in levelling up today’s cybersecurity standards by offering real-time visibility, advanced threat detection and response, compliance management, and more.
Visibility into the IT environment is essential for organisations to maintain a secure network. SIEM technologies handle this by collecting log data from various sources such as applications, databases, operating systems, and network devices. This data helps security teams to more quickly detect vulnerabilities or suspicious activities which could escalate to potential cyberattacks.
Threat Detection & Response
The primary goal of any cybersecurity strategy is to detect and respond to threats as quickly as possible. With its advanced analytics capabilities based on correlation rules, SIEM systems enable security professionals to quickly identify unusual patterns or behaviours that may indicate an attack in progress. By doing so, they can take immediate action before significant damage occurs.
Compliance management involves – at the minimum – knowledge and implementation of privacy and security regulations and audit requirements, along with the ability to be fluid. This requires significant time and resource allocation for larger organisations. But SIEM can help streamline these cumbersome requirements.
- Data Protection Regulations: In today's highly-regulated business landscape, complying with data protection regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA, is crucial.
- Audit Requirements: An effective SIEM solution simplifies audit requirements by providing detailed reports on security events, incidents, and overall system health. This enables organisations to demonstrate compliance with industry-specific regulations or standards.
Overall, SIEM plays an important role in an organisation's cybersecurity strategy by providing real-time visibility into the IT environment, enabling swift threat detection and response, and simplifying compliance management.
How Does SIEM Work?
By collecting, analysing, and correlating log data from various sources within an organisation's digital environment, a SIEM’s core advantage is identifying potential security threats or suspicious activities in real-time. But the way it works is far more in-depth. SIEM solutions function by addressing the following components:
- Data Collection: SIEM solutions gather log data from multiple sources such as network devices, applications, databases, operating systems, etc. This comprehensive collection enables organisations to have complete visibility into their IT infrastructure.
- Data Normalisation & Parsing: Since different devices generate logs in varying formats, the collected data must be normalised and parsed for uniformity. This step ensures that all information is presented consistently across the entire system.
- Event Correlation & Analytics: Once the data has been normalised and parsed, it undergoes event correlation using predefined rulesets or machine learning algorithms. These correlations help detect patterns indicative of security incidents or anomalies that might otherwise go unnoticed.
- Incident Monitoring & Alerts: When a potential threat is detected through event correlation analysis, SIEM generates alerts for immediate action by cybersecurity teams. Real-time monitoring allows organisations to respond quickly to incidents before they escalate into severe breaches.
- User & Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA): Some advanced SIEM solutions incorporate user and entity behaviour analytics capabilities, which help identify insider threats and compromised accounts by analysing user activities for deviations from established baselines.
- Compliance Management & Reporting: SIEM systems also provide compliance management features, allowing organisations to generate reports demonstrating adherence to industry regulations and standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.
SIEM provides a comprehensive approach to pinpointing, responding to, and managing cyber threats. By understanding how SIEM works, organisations can better protect themselves from emerging attacks.
What Are the Benefits of SIEM?
A holistic SIEM integration provides numerous benefits to an organisation's cybersecurity framework. From improved threat detection to better compliance with regulations, SIEM offers valuable tools for bolstering an organisation's security posture.
Improved Threat Detection and Response Times
By collecting and analysing log data from various sources in real-time, a SIEM can rapidly detect threats and enable organisations to respond quickly. Organisations can respond more swiftly to incidents, minimising damage and reducing downtime.
Better Compliance With Regulations and Standards
Many industries must adhere to strict regulatory requirements regarding data protection and privacy standards, requiring organisations to undergo regular audits or assessments. A robust SIEM solution helps automate compliance reporting processes while providing the necessary evidence for consistent requirement compliance.
Increase Visibility Into Your IT Environment
A well-implemented SIEM system provides comprehensive visibility into your entire IT ecosystem – from network devices such as firewalls and routers to applications and databases running on servers – giving you unparalleled insight into what's happening within your organisation at any given moment.
Improved Incident Investigation Capabilities
SIEM solutions offer powerful tools for investigating incidents like user behaviour analytics and anomaly detection. These features enable you to dig deeper into an incident's root cause by analysing activity patterns and identifying unusual behaviours that indicate a potential threat.
Reduced False Positives/Negatives
A SIEM system's advanced analytics capability filters out false positives (alerts generated with no actual threat) and false negatives (when real threats go undetected). By reducing these inaccuracies, organisations can focus on addressing genuine security issues.
Integration With Other Security Tools
A comprehensive SIEM solution typically integrates seamlessly with other cybersecurity tools within your organisation's infrastructure — from endpoint security to intrusion prevention systems. This integration allows you to streamline your security operations and ensure the availability of all relevant data in one centralised location for analysis and response.
SIEM vs. SOAR
Security information and event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automation response (SOAR) are different cybersecurity solutions that carry out different functions. SIEM monitors and alerts potential security events, while SOAR automates and streamlines the underlying incident response process.
Primary Differences Between SIEM and SOAR
SIEM technology supports threat detection, compliance, and security incident management through the collection and analysis of security events, as well as a wide variety of other event and contextual data sources.
SOAR platforms take the alerts generated by SIEM and other security tools and automate the response process, including incident triage, investigation, and remediation. More specifically:
- Data Collection & Analysis: SIEM collects log data from various sources and analyses it using correlation rules, thereby helping organisations identify potential threats or suspicious activities. Conversely, SOAR does not collect data but rather automates response processes based on predefined playbooks.
- Incident Response: The primary goal of SIEM is to detect incidents by monitoring logs and events across different systems within an IT environment. In contrast, SOAR aims to automate responses to these detected incidents by orchestrating tasks across multiple security tools.
- User Interaction: With a SIEM system, analysts must manually review the generated alerts before taking action. However, with a SOAR platform, many actions can be automated without human intervention depending on playbook configuration.
To determine whether your organisation needs SIEM, SOAR, or both, it's crucial first to assess your current cybersecurity infrastructure and your team's capabilities. Here are some factors to consider when making this decision:
- Determine if you require real-time visibility into your tech environment for threat detection and analysis. If so, a SIEM solution may be the right choice.
- Assess your organisation's incident response capabilities. If you find manual processes slow down your team or cause inefficiencies, consider implementing a SOAR platform to automate these tasks.
- Evaluate whether your security team has the skills and resources to manage both solutions effectively. Sometimes, starting with one tool before adding another as needed makes sense.
In many cases, organisations can benefit from integrating both SIEM and SOAR technologies into their cybersecurity strategy. This approach provides comprehensive threat detection through log data analysis while streamlining incident response processes via automation, ultimately enhancing overall security posture.
Proofpoint offers integration with various SIEM systems to help organisations strengthen their cybersecurity defenses further.
Tools & Features of the Top SIEM Solutions
Today’s leading SIEM solutions help organisations identify, address, and comply with security threats through various tools and features. These capabilities improve the overall security posture and aid in meeting compliance requirements. Here are the essential tools and features that comprise these programmes:
Log Collection & Storage Capabilities
SIEM solutions collect log data from multiple sources, such as network devices, applications, databases, operating systems, and so on, providing comprehensive visibility into an organisation's tech environment. This data is then stored for further analysis or reporting purposes.
Event Correlation & Analytics
Event correlation and analytics are crucial components of a SIEM system. They enable real-time analysis by applying predefined rules or machine learning algorithms to identify potential threats or suspicious activities within the collected log data.
Incident Monitoring & Alerts
When anomalies are detected during event correlation and analytics processes, the SIEM system generates alerts to notify relevant teams about potential incidents. This reduces response times while dealing with cyber threats.
User & Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA)
When integrated with a SIEM solution, user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA) can enhance threat detection capabilities by monitoring user activities across different platforms and identifying unusual patterns that may indicate malicious intent.
Anomaly detection techniques identify activities that deviate from an established baseline, indicating a potential security breach or an insider threat.
Threat Intelligence Integration
SIEM systems can integrate with external threat intelligence feeds, providing additional context and information about known threats, vulnerabilities, and malicious actors. This improves detection accuracy and reduces false positives/negatives.
Dashboards & Reporting Tools
A SIEM solution typically includes customisable dashboards and reporting tools that provide real-time visibility into security events. The immediacy of this information helps organisations make informed decisions while responding to incidents or assessing their overall security posture.
Automated Incident Response Capabilities
To streamline incident response processes, some SIEM solutions offer automation capabilities like automated containment for infected devices or integration with security orchestration automation response (SOAR) platforms. This enables faster resolution of detected incidents while minimising manual intervention by security teams.
SIEM Implementation Best Practices
Implementing a SIEM solution can be a complex process, but following best practices helps ensure the successful integration of this powerful tool into your organisation's cybersecurity framework. Here are key steps to consider when integrating a SIEM system:
- Define clear objectives and requirements: Before selecting and deploying a SIEM solution, it is critical to know what you want to achieve with it. First, identify your organisation's specific security needs, compliance requirements, and desired outcomes.
- Select the right SIEM solution for your organisation: With numerous options available in the market, choosing the most suitable integration for your business requires careful evaluation. Before making an informed decision, compare features such as scalability, pricing models, ease of use, and compatibility with existing infrastructure and systems, like Proofpoint's Insider Threat Management platform.
- Create an implementation plan: Develop a detailed roadmap outlining each phase of the implementation process, including timeline estimates and resource allocation. This should include log source integration/configuration, rule creation/customisation, user training, incident response workflow development, etc.
- Prioritise log sources: Not all logs are equally important or relevant from a security perspective. Prioritise which data sources need immediate attention based on their potential impact on overall security posture — e.g., critical applications/servers/network devices first, followed by less sensitive ones later.
- Tune correlation rules and alerts: Out-of-the-box correlation rules provided by most SIEM solutions may not always fit every organisation's unique needs. Customise these rules to reduce false positives/negatives and ensure alerts are triggered only for genuine security incidents.
- Establish a baseline: To effectively detect anomalies, you must establish a baseline of normal activity within your technology infrastructure. This helps the SIEM system identify deviations from this norm, indicating potential threats or malicious activities.
- Integrate with other security tools: For maximum effectiveness, integrate your SIEM solution with other cybersecurity tools, such as intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDPS), endpoint protection platforms (EPP), threat intelligence feeds, etc., to create a comprehensive defence-in-depth strategy.
- Maintain & update regularly: Regular maintenance and updates are crucial for keeping your SIEM solution effective against evolving cyber threats. Schedule periodic reviews of correlation rules/alerts; keep software versions up-to-date; train staff on new features/functionalities; and more to ensure optimal performance over time.
Incorporating these best practices will help successfully implement and optimise your organisation's SIEM solution, enhancing overall cybersecurity resilience while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and standards.
Use Cases of SIEM
Use cases of SIEM systems are wide-ranging. These use cases demonstrate the value that a robust SIEM solution can bring to businesses across various industries.
Detecting Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Advanced persistent threats, or APTs, carried out by experienced cybercriminals to infiltrate networks without detection for long periods, can be detected through a properly set up SIEM system. A well-configured SIEM system can detect these threats by correlating events from multiple sources and identifying unusual patterns or anomalies in network traffic, user behaviour, or application activity.
Insider Threat Detection
Insider threats pose significant risks to organisations, often involving trusted employees with access to sensitive data and critical systems. By leveraging UEBA, a feature commonly found in modern SIEM solutions, organisations can monitor user activities for signs of malicious intent or policy violations. UEBA helps identify anomalous behaviour, such as unauthorised data access or excessive file downloads that may indicate an insider threat.
Fraud Prevention in Financial Institutions
Financial institutions face constant threats from fraudsters attempting account takeovers, credit card fraud, wire transfer scams, and more. Implementing a comprehensive SIEM solution enables financial institutions to monitor transactions in real-time while also analysing historical data for patterns indicative of fraudulent activity. This proactive approach helps detect and prevent fraud before it causes significant financial loss or reputational damage.
Healthcare Data Breach Detection
Given the sensitive nature of patient data and the high value placed on electronic health records (EHRs), healthcare organisations are a prime target for cybercriminals. A SIEM system can help protect healthcare organisations by monitoring access to EHR systems, detecting unauthorised access attempts, and alerting security teams when potential breaches occur. Additionally, SIEM solutions can assist in meeting HIPAA compliance requirements through automated reporting and auditing capabilities.
Retail Industry Compliance Management
Retailers must comply with various standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to guarantee secure management of consumer payment info. SIEM simplifies compliance management by collecting logs from point-of-sale devices, network infrastructure, databases, and other relevant sources while providing real-time alerts on potential violations. Additionally, advanced reporting features allow retail organisations to effectively demonstrate their adherence to these regulations during audits.
What Does the Future Hold for SIEM?
The future of SIEM looks promising as organisations continue to face evolving cybersecurity threats. With technological advancements, SIEM solutions are expected to become more intelligent, automated, and integrated with other security tools.
Integration With Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and ML have already made considerable headway in enhancing multiple facets of cyber safety. As these technologies advance, they likely will be increasingly integrated into SIEM systems. This integration could enhance threat detection capabilities by identifying complex patterns or anomalies that would otherwise go undetected by traditional rule-based systems.
Automation and Orchestration
In addition to AI and ML integration, there's a growing trend toward cybersecurity automation. Combining SIEM and SOAR can help streamline incident response processes by automating repetitive tasks such as data enrichment or containment actions based on predefined playbooks. This allows security teams to focus on high-priority incidents while reducing human error.
Beyond Traditional Perimeters: Cloud Adoption & IoT Devices
- Cloud adoption: As more businesses migrate their infrastructure to the cloud, SIEM solutions must adapt accordingly. This may involve integrating with various cloud security tools and providing comprehensive visibility across hybrid environments.
- IoT devices: The proliferation of Internet of things (IoT) devices presents new challenges for cybersecurity professionals. Future SIEM systems should be capable of monitoring the vast array of IoT devices in an organisation's network, detecting potential threats and vulnerabilities associated with these connected devices.
User Behaviour Analytics & Insider Threat Detection
Incorporating user behaviour analytics into SIEM solutions can help organisations better understand their users' activities and identify suspicious patterns that indicate potential insider threats or compromised accounts. By analysing technical data from logs and contextual information about users, future SIEMs could provide a more holistic view of an organisation's security standing.
How Proofpoint Can Help
Integrating a SIEM solution into your organisation's cybersecurity framework is essential for effective threat detection and response. Proofpoint, a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions, helps organisations enhance their security posture by integrating with SIEM systems.
Proofpoint's improved information protection capabilities enable organisations to detect and respond to threats more effectively. By leveraging advanced analytics, machine learning, and automation technologies, Proofpoint helps identify potential risks within an organisation's IT environment. Integration with SIEMs allows for better visibility into user behaviour patterns and enables faster incident response times.
In addition to external threats, organisations must also be vigilant about insider threats that can compromise sensitive data or disrupt business operations. Proofpoint focuses on insider threat management, providing tools explicitly designed to address this growing concern in the cybersecurity landscape. Integrating these tools with your existing SIEM system provides comprehensive coverage against both internal and external cyber-attacks.
For more information about how Proofpoint can integrate with your organisation's SIEM platform, contact us to learn more.