How is a UEBA Solution Different to a SIEM Solution?

Philip Robinson by   01.31.2019   Data Security

As we are consistently told by numerous Data Breach reports, insider threats are one of the biggest security concerns for enterprises all over the world. The damage that a rogue admin, for example, can cause in your environment is immeasurable. Often, insider threats are difficult to detect and can go undetected for years.

User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) is often referred to as an effective method of detecting and preventing insider threats. However, many organizations who are using SIEM to keep track of user activity and maintain regulatory compliance may not completely understand why they would need to use UEBA software.

SIEM is absolutely fantastic for getting started with security analytics and general security monitoring, but it does have its drawbacks, particularly when it comes to monitoring user behavior. SIEM solutions focus mainly on the collection of system events and can generate a lot of noise that you have to wade through to investigate a specific security incident.

What is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) combines security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) into one central place. This allows organizations to aggregate relevant data for security analytics from multiple sources and generate alerts or instruct other security controls to perform a certain remediation task.

How Does SIEM Help Improve Security?

SIEM solutions help you improve IT security by storing, analyzing and correlating a myriad of security-related information, including system events captured in firewalls, anti-virus software, audit events and more. Events that are seen as being anomalous (based on rules created manually) can have alerts generated to prompt quicker action from the security team.

Why Isn’t SIEM For Everyone?

SIEM solutions are powerful, comprehensive and provide a high-level overview of all devices, platforms, networks and events. As a result of how powerful they are, they can be extremely complex to use effectively, often requiring additional hires to manage the workload. SIEM solutions are also very expensive, which immediately cuts off a large number of mid-level organizations looking to get a better handle on their information security.

So how is UEBA different to SIEM and which one should you go for?

What is User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)?

Many vendors pushing User and Entity Behavior Analytics or UEBA software will vary in the functionality they provide. There are vendors that specialize specifically in insider threats, cloud-security, business intelligence, artificial intelligence and more.

Whichever UEBA solution you go for, they will all operate under the same underlying principle to help mitigate the risks of both internal and external threats. They will monitor user activity with relation to your critical files, folders and systems over a “learning period” to first establish what is considered a normal baseline for behavior. We’re referring specifically here to file/folder access, modifications, user logons and network activity.

Once the learning period is complete, any deviation from the baseline that was set will generate an automated alert so that the security team can respond quickly. For example, if the UEBA software detects an unusually high number of file name modifications, it could potentially be a sign of a ransomware attack in progress.

Some UEBA solutions, like LepideAuditor, can also alert on single point anomalies and generate custom scripts automatically upon the detection of specific anomalies to help instantly mitigate the risks of insider threats and external attacks.

I Already Have SIEM – Should I Get UEBA?

There’s no easy answer to this one. It all comes down to what you want to achieve in terms of your information and data security. Here’s what we would recommend:

If you have a specific requirement to only analyze security event data generated by your devices, network, systems and applications, then SIEM is probably enough.

If you would like to gain a deeper understanding of how your users are interacting with your critical data in order to quickly detect and react to insider threats, then UEBA solutions will compliment your SIEM solution very well.

Determine what threats you are most concerned about (insider threats, ransomware, compliance fines) and that will help you determine which solution is best for you. If you’re already using SIEM to secure yourself against these threats, are you happy with how it is going? How difficult are you finding it to sift through the noise to determine the cause or effect of anomalous activity? How much are you spending on this software or on the staff to maintain it?

Both SIEM and UEBA software have critical functionality that will help organizations improve their security and meet compliance requirements. It’s now or never if you want to ensure you avoid becoming a headline. Don’t simply assume that SIEM is all you need. It’s worth taking a close look at UEBA.

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