Cyber security breaches and crises are only becoming more and more common. Now, no matter the business size, every company needs to be prepared to deal with cyber security and thoroughly prepare to protect their network. While there’s no perfect way to prevent any cyber security incidents, there are tools companies can and should use to reduce the chances, mitigate the effects of a breach, and help prevent future incidents.

One important tool is a SIEM tool. While SIEM tools are primarily something large companies focus on, companies of any size can benefit from having a SIEM tool implemented in their organization. But what are SIEM tools? What makes a good SIEM tool? And what are the benefits and challenges of implementation? Read on to learn more about SIEM tools and how it could benefit your company.

What Is SIEM?

To begin, it’s important to understand what SIEM means and looks like. SIEM is an acronym for Security Information and Event Management. SIEM is a combination of two already existing fields: security information management and security event management. For quite some time, most companies have understood the importance of both of those. Security information management helped organizations collect data logs to analyze and report on threats. Security event management provides real-time monitoring of security events and provides alerts.

With those definitions in mind, the purpose of SIEM is much clearer. SIEM brings together the data, analysis, and logs of security information management and the real-time monitoring and alerts of security event management. All together, SIEM provides real-time monitoring for security events, data logs, analysis, and alerts. Essentially, the simplest way of thinking about SIEM is that it is a way to view a company’s security holistically. It provides you with an overview of everything that’s working to protect your system and a strong look into where the weak spots are.

What Are SIEM Tools?

Most organizations agree that they want a solid holistic view of their security, but some aren’t sure how to do so. It can be time consuming to have your teams log every security event, categorize it, normalize it, and analyze it. To fully do SIEM, they would also need to be monitoring and alerting about important events. Doing all of this is generally too much for most organization’s resources. That’s why SIEM tools are incredibly valuable.

SIEM tools are comprehensive software tools that can perform the tasks of logging, analyzing, and monitoring. SIEM tools are a great way to provide in-depth security and protection in a way that doesn’t take extensive time from your team. But SIEM tools can range in price and cost organizations a decent chunk of cash to properly implement. That being said, SIEM tools are an investment in protection. Failing to properly protect a network and system could result in data breaches, leaks, and other crises. Protecting your system with deep and thorough SIEM can reduce the risks and help your organization stay on top of risks.

What Should Be Included in a Good SIEM Tool?

While SIEM tools are generally a strong investment to make, not every tool is created equally. Some tools don’t include all the necessary features for protecting a network thoroughly. Here we’ll outline the key features a good SIEM tool includes and what your organization should be looking for in a SIEM tool.

Threat detection
Threat detection is the first layer any good SIEM tool should have. After all, if the tool can’t detect potential threats, it won’t be adequately protecting your network from potential attacks. Detection needs to happen as early as possible for proper protection, so the faster a tool can alert you to a potential problem, the better. A SIEM tool can monitor and analyze all the endpoints, operating systems, applications, and user activity to find any spot where there could be abnormalities. When your SIEM tool detects a threat, it should also alert you and your team as quickly as possible and move immediately into threat response.

Log Collection
A solid SIEM tool will create a log of events for your team. It may be a basic feature, but the best SIEM tools will enhance your log creation abilities and simplify the analysis process for you and your team. Make sure the SIEM tool is compatible with any other tools you’re using for your log, so all of your information can be compared and analyzed together. It also never hurts to look for a tool that includes a user-friendly interface to view the log, so it’s easy to access and view.

Real-time monitoring
In order to properly detect a threat, your SIEM tool needs to be monitoring your entire network in real-time. Real-time monitoring significantly reduces the delays that could occur between a threat and alert, so you can stay on top of your system at all times. Thorough real-time monitoring will help you contain a potential threat before it expands to a breach and data loss.

Other detection tools typically operate by doing a sweep of the system every day or so for potential threats, which leaves room for an attacker to infiltrate your system. A good SIEM tool doesn’t provide gaps for an attacker to find space to enter without detection. But real-time monitoring does require a high amount of computing power, which can make it difficult to monitor in-house and potentially increase the cost of the tool. But if your organization is serious about high end protection, a good SIEM tool is a necessary investment, despite the cost.

Response
The threat response workflow is key to the best SIEM tools. After all, there is little point in a tool that merely alerts you that there’s a problem without helping move your system into response mode. SIEM tools generally aren’t designed to eliminate threats all on their own, but they should be designed to begin the process of alerting, responding, and continuing monitoring. Hunting features are another great way for a SIEM tool to move your system into response.

SIEM tools can also provide a thorough look into past events and threats and how they were mitigated to help you refine your response workflow. A thorough view into past responses can provide invaluable insight into how your responses can be improved, and that’s something a good SIEM tool should provide your team.

Investigation tools
Investigation tools is an umbrella term for a variety of tools, but the main ones your SIEM tool should be able to do is perform event log correlation and log forwarding. Event log correlation links log events to show potential issues to watch for while log forwarding sends logged events to additional tools for further analysis. Together, these features of a SIEM tool can help you determine if logged events are potentially malicious (or just an employee forgetting their password) while improving security and reducing future vulnerabilities.

Forensics
For some organizations, it’s important to have forensics in place in the case of an official investigation. Forensics provides official investigators information they need to officially investigate and pursue an attack on your network. Forensics features in a SIEM tool need to provide the who, what, where, and when of a breach, limit who can access that data, and collect it all in a tamper-proof form for an official investigation. Forensics features are most valuable for financial or government organizations since they are at high risk for theft, embezzlement, and other forms of attacks.

Behavioral analytics
A good SIEM tool will help make sure that only authorized users are able to access your network. While there are other tools that can perform this function, you can instead envelop this feature into a SIEM tool, so you have fewer tools trying to operate at the same time. Behavioral analytics with SIEM will allow your IT team to verify every user and then monitor activity after verification to make sure only authorized users are using the network. Your SIEM tool can flag verified users when there’s unusual behavior and analyze and connect that behavior with other logged events to determine if there’s a breach risk. AI can be one aspect of a SIEM tool that helps perform behavioral analytics and alert your team of any complications.

At the end of the day, the most important features in a SIEM tool are the features your team needs. If your organization is looking to improve your security, you typically already have an idea of what you want that to look like, and the SIEM tool of your choice should be one that meets those needs.

Why Is SIEM Important?

Most organizations understand that security is important. But is using a SIEM tool in particular important? A SIEM tool provides organizations with high-end security that provides a holistic view of security as a whole. This is particularly valuable for large organizations that have several tools working at the same time and can’t see every aspect of their network at once. But even smaller organizations can benefit from SIEM tools. Here are some reasons why SIEM is so important to holistic security:

  • Saves time and resources. Monitoring, logging, comparing, analyzing, alerting, and responding can all be time consuming efforts when left to individual tools or people. But SIEM brings automation to the table and provides your team with automated processes where possible to help save you time and resources while still providing thorough security.
  • Simplifies response. Using multiple tools is necessary, but having too many tools responsible for different aspects can allow for weak spots. SIEM can provide a holistic view of your security that can help you better orchestrate your response and strengthen your system as a whole. SIEM can also automate certain tasks of your response workflow, which can help them happen sooner and protect your system better.
  • Faster detection. In security, detection is everything. The faster you can detect a threat, the faster your team can respond and contain a potential breach. SIEM tools can help your team detect anomalies and potential threats faster, so you can respond faster and contain events quickly.

The Difficulties of Managing SIEM Tools In-House

SIEM tools are valuable to helping protect your organization and keep security a high priority. But while SIEM tools can simplify many things, managing a SIEM tool in-house can be complex. A SIEM tool needs to be set up and configured correctly to be as effective as possible, and it can be difficult for many organizations to do so properly without expending too much time and too many resources. Without proper configuration, SIEM might generate too many or too few alerts, which could both be problematic. Too many IT teams end up bogged down with ineffective dashboards.

Since there are so many challenges to properly managing SIEM in-house, many companies find themselves outsourcing security in different capacities. That’s what Open Systems provides for customers. We optimize the security environment, provide 24/7 monitoring, and run the SIEM tool for your team. Our security experts will take care of the challenges of setting up and configuring and monitoring, so your team can focus more on mission-critical tasks.

Making the Most of Microsoft’s Sentinel SIEM

Open Systems, a Microsoft Gold Partner, leverages Microsoft Sentinel. Sentinel is one of the world’s most complete and comprehensive SIEM tools, and it gathers over ten petabytes of data a day for security. But instead of your team having to run the Sentinel SIEM tool in-house, Open Systems security experts take care of it, leaving your team with more time for other tasks and to quickly respond to any alerts.

With Open System’s support, the security data we collect from our customer environments are analyzed using AI against that security data to provide a comprehensive threat analysis. When it comes to detecting threats with AI, the more SIEM reference data, the better. This data and our team will help expand your security and keep you aware of any potential threats or events that need further investigation. Open Systems helps our customers get the most from Sentinel and makes using a powerful SIEM tool easier.

Contact us to find out how Open Systems helps companies get the most out of their Microsoft Sentinel SIEM tool.