What is SIEM?

Natasha Roberts by Published On - 07.29.2021   Data Security

What is SIEM

The purpose of a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution is to aggregate and correlate event data from a wide range of devices, servers, peripherals, and applications, across your entire IT infrastructure, including any cloud platforms you use. SIEM solutions will help to detect anomalous network activity and identify trends that might be indicative of a security threat.

What is a SIEM Solution?

A SIEM solution will provide a centralized console where you can monitor all network activity and launch investigations into actual or potential security incidents, which will involve sorting/searching event logs, presented in a human-readable format.

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What are the benefits of SIEM?

When it comes to cyber-security, visibility is key! However, trying to gain visibility by manually sifting through the events logs generated by each and every network component would be impractical, if not impossible. A SIEM solution will automate the process of collecting, normalizing, storing, and organizing these event logs, enabling your security team to respond to security incidents in a fast and efficient manner.

What are the Limitations of SIEM?

Too expensive

That’s right, SIEM solutions are expensive! The SIEM software itself may cost anywhere between $20,000 to $1M, and you will also have to pay notable sums of money for installation, consultancy, and support. And let’s not forget, you will also need a team of IT security specialists to monitor the event logs, and be ready to respond to potential security incidents around the clock. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is usually too much for small to mid-sized companies.

Too much noise

Even though the reports generated by SIEM solutions are considerably more intuitive than the native logs generated by the components on your network, they still produce a lot of noise and require some level of expertise to make sense of them. This can result in security teams chasing false flags, while important events are overlooked. Customers have often reported that they find it difficult to resolve problems based on the data produced by their SIEM solution.

Limited contextual information

Given the large number of security threats that exist, it is crucially important that security teams prioritize their workflow, which means identifying their most critical assets and the biggest threats to those assets. SIEM solutions provide limited contextual information, which makes it difficult for security teams to differentiate between a genuine, and potentially serious incident, and legitimate network activity.

Limited data-centric auditing

While SIEM solutions have a very broad scope in terms of the data they can collect, they have blind spots when it comes to monitoring unstructured data, such as Word documents, spreadsheets, emails, and so on. Likewise, a SIEM solution will supply limited information about which users performed which operations. For example, a SIEM solution will be able to detect anomalous traffic coming from a specific IP address, but it won’t provide information about the user account(s) responsible for the traffic, which files were accessed, and whether or not they contain sensitive data.

These days, given that companies are storing increasingly more unstructured data, and that increasingly more employees are working remotely, the cyber-security paradigm has been shifting away from one that focuses on perimeter security, to one that is more data-centric. As such, the limitations mentioned above are not trivial.

Is SIEM Right for You?

Essentially, it depends on your budget. For smaller companies, the answer is probably no!, especially when there are lightweight alternatives available. For example, a data-centric real-time auditing solution focuses more on users, and how they interact with your data.

While there are obvious limitations associated with these solutions, it’s worth bearing in mind that when you try to do everything, you may end up achieving nothing. Even without a full-blown SIEM, you still have access to the event logs produced by your AV software, firewall, or Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), and as these technologies evolve, the logs which they generate will probably become more intuitive to the end-user.

Additionally, for companies that use a lot of cloud services, such as Office 365, Azure AD, and Amazon S3, a SIEM solution will be even less relevant. After all, when using a cloud provider, they are responsible for securing their own infrastructure, and will no doubt have their own SIEM solution in place. In which case, your security team can focus on keeping track of who has access to what data, when, and why.

How Does Lepide Help?

Integration and contextualization

The Lepide Data Security Platform can integrate with any SIEM solution, including Splunk, LogRhythm, IBM QRadar, HP ArcSight, and you can even integrate multiple SIEM solutions simultaneously. It will provide real-world context around the data collected from your SIEM solution(s), thus enabling your security team to quickly identify anomalous activity, and spend less time investigating false flags.

Data Classification

Lepide Data Security Platform provides data discovery and classification out-of-the-box. As mentioned previously, the cyber-security landscape has been gradually shifting towards a paradigm that is centered around users, and the data they interact with. However, in order to adopt a data-centric model, you must first ensure that you know exactly what data you store, how sensitive the data is, and where it is located. Having this information available will make it easier for security teams to filter the relevant data produced by your SIEM solution. After all, why would you want to receive alerts on data that is freely available to the public?

Threshold alerting

Unlike most SIEM solutions, it also has the ability to respond to events that match a pre-defined threshold condition, such as successive failed logon attempts, or when multiple files have been encrypted or downloaded within a given time frame. For example, if X number of events occurred within Y seconds, a custom script can be executed which might disable a user account, stop a specific process, change the firewall settings or simply shut down the affected server.

Compliance

These days, organizations, big and small, are legally required to monitoring access to the personal data they collect from their customers. While most SIEM solutions will provide the logging functionality required to comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and so on, they may underperform when it comes to demonstrating this knowledge to the supervisory authorities. For example, with Lepide Data Security Platform, you can generate pre-defined reports at the push of a button, that are customized to meet the requirements of most well-established data privacy laws.

Time and money

You should have at least one member of staff on standby 24/7 to address any security incidents that arise. However, given that it is considerably easier to use than SIEM software, you won’t need to employ as many security professionals, and it will be considerably easier to train existing staff to use the platform. Obviously, this will save both time and money.

If you’d like to see how the Lepide Data Security Platform can help you overcome the limitations of SIEM solutions and get better visibility over your data, schedule a demo with one of our engineers or start your free trial today.

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