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What is SIEM? The Complete Guide

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a solution for threat detection, risk prevention, and cyber security best practices. According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach is now $3.4 million, and experts say the cost of cybercrime is reaching $6 trillion annually, and that number continues to grow. New methods to breach systems are always evolving, and so are the efforts to proactively prevent them. In this guide, we’ll delve into what SIEM is, how it works, major benefits, and what to look for in a modern SIEM solution.

What is SIEM?

SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management, and is essentially security software that aggregates logs and event data generated by all users, servers, networking devices, and firewalls in order to monitor and analyze all security-related events in an organization’s infrastructure.

Similarly referred to as SIM or SEM, these have often been used interchangeably.

  • Security information management (SIM) focuses on the collecting, aggregating, and reporting on log data with a priority on log collection and management for storage, compliance, and analysis.
  • Security event management (SEM) focuses on the real-time monitoring, alerting, threat detection, and tracking security events.

In recent years, SIEM has become a combination of SIM and SEM, and the general term describing everything from event log management and analysis, to actioning and reporting on security events.

How SIEM Works

SIEM works by collecting event logs and log data generated by all data sources: users, servers, networking devices, IP’s, applications, and firewalls into one centralized system in order to consolidate, identify, and categorize these event logs for the purpose of real-time monitoring and analysis. Event logs are essentially a record of all activities, errors, information messages, and warnings. They can include everything from failed logins, malware activity, By gaining full observability across an organization’s infrastructure, they can detect incidents, user activity, and potential threats. Here we’ll walk through the most important processes to focus on, and features to look for in the best SIEM tools.

SIEM Process in Detail

1) Real-Time Log Collection and Event Sourcing

The first process is collecting event data that is generated by host systems, security devices, and applications throughout an organization's infrastructure and aggregating them into a centralized platform. Learn more about event sourcing

2) Early Threat Detection

The SIEM software then detects and categorizes the data so that it can easily recognize security incidents and events (malware, security attacks, password resets, unauthorized access).

The ability for SIEM to be efficient and correct at matching logs and events generated by multiple sources, resolve duplicates, false positives is important. When security incidents happen, the stakeholders who manage the IT infrastructure will want the simplest and most accurate set of information that they can act on.

3) Real-Time Alerts

SIEM solutions offer dashboard interfaces, notifications, alerts and reports that are made available depending on the conditions, rules and events.

Security operations in the organization would action upon these notifications and also rely on the analysis and reporting capabilities of SIEM to learn and make their systems more secure.

4) Advanced Analytics

In order to stay ahead of threats, risks, and attackers, modern SIEM software moves beyond simple log data to include advanced analytics.

Through artificial intelligence and machine learning, the best SIEM solution should include advanced analytics so your organization can stay ahead of attackers.

Legacy SIEM offerings used to assume that all the enterprise infrastructure was hosted within the company. Today, companies are quickly shifting to cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud infrastructures. The right SIEM solutions must be able to function across any infrastructure with full flexibility.

Benefits of SIEM Tools

Preparedness and prevention of security breaches:

With the right data collected across the organization, possible security threats would be flagged and actioned upon before breaches happen. Threat detection, intelligence of false positives all help the company be prepared.

When incidents do happen, the data, event and activity correlation will help provide lessons and learnings which can be fed back into the SIEM solutions for better prevention of future breaches.

Quick recovery from breaches and threats

The first step to resolve a security incident is to be alerted as soon as possible and then quickly respond. IT departments benefit from an SIEM solution that can detect fraudulent, anomalous behavior quickly from across the organization.

Better log management, event management and activity tracking

The ability to aggregate and analyze logs and events from all devices, users, applications and servers help surface issues quicker and help the organization focus on their work and not the fear of intruders and breaches. They also serve to keep the company compliant and support forensics investigations.

Security and Compliance:

Most organizations have agreed to varying degrees of regulation and compliance to keep certain information private and protected. Other regulations require tracking of who has access and when. SIEM solutions help organizations have both a real-time and historic view of access to data and stay compliant.

Actionable real-time alerts across the company:

The nature of security incidents is that a lot of damage can be done in a short period of time. The ability for the right people across departments to be alerted and play an active role in isolating, containing, stopping the incident benefits everyone.

Improved reporting and cooperation across the business

When different parts of the business have the same access and visibility to data, there is more cooperation to corporate wide goals of security and compliance.

Saving money and increasing effeciency

Security breaches cost companies millions of dollars. Prepared IT organizations put SIEM high in priority because preventing security incidents and reducing downtime allows your organization to focus on revenue generating goals.

Try Confluent

Try Confluent for powerful, real-time data aggregation and event stream analytics

No matter how many cybersecurity tools you implement, or how much money you spend, no business is invulnerable to cyber attacks.Real-time data, detection, and response is the only way to mitigate risks. Confluent allows organizations to not only collect all types of data at scale, but analyze and act on data as it arrives.