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Understanding the basics of Cloud Security: What is a SIEM?

by
Michael Osakwe
,
January 20, 2023
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Security practitioners today have more tools at their disposal than ever before, which makes it all the more important for them to have a handle on the value of each one. One of the most important infosec tools is a SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management System. A SIEM provides real-time visibility into security events across an organization’s whole IT infrastructure. In this blog post, we will discuss why a SIEM is so important for security professionals today.

What is a Security Information and Event Management System?

SIEMs are the merger of two technologies: Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM). A SIEM collects data from all parts of your organization's IT infrastructure and stores them in one central location. This data includes logs from firewalls, routers, servers, applications, and other network devices. The point of doing this is to get a bird’s eye view of your security risks and posture at a glance. Rather than relying on users manually alerts from each individual appliance or application in your environment (which would be unduly cumbersome), the SIEM aggrigates this information and can even syenthize it to create alerts that provide useful information for remediating issues. SIEMs also provide analytics that help detect risk, threats and suspicious activities in near real time or provide long term trend analysis of such problems, which is useful for security reviews, auditing, and proving compliance.

Are SIEMs the only solution to provide event & security analytics?

SIEMs are part of a broader class of tools and platforms that allow for observability and monitoring of IT systems, typically to maintain optimal operating conditions or respond to incidents. Generally, these tools allow for the aggregation of critical system information and in some cases automation of actions that resolve alerts and issues that arise within IT systems. Some other examples of tools like these are Extended Detection and Response (XDR) as well as Security Orchestration Automation and Reponse (SOAR) platforms.

SIEM vs SOAR

One key aspect of Security Orchestration Automation and Response platforms (SOARs) is that like SIEMs they integrate with other security appliances and services, however they’re mainly intended to automate routine tasks essential for maintaining the optimal configurations of such systems. Security orgs often create runbooks that inform how to go about managing critical security systems. Some platforms like Splunk integrate both SIEM and SOAR functionality to create a more comprehensive platform.

SIEM vs XDR

Like SIEMs and SOARs, Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions integrate with a wide variety of systems to provide analytics and metrics that inform IT and security decision making. However, the key purpose of XDR is threat detection. Information and controls are aggrarigated in such a way to allow for the immediate detection of things like advanced persistent threats, malware, and related risks.

How should you use SIEMs?

Generally SIEMs:

  • Identify. SIEMs identify risks that you might not have noticed by watching security appliance alerts in isolation.
  • Prioritize. By implementing even basic logic, you can create a way to schematize and categorize behaviors and activities that are anomalous, risky, or otherwise a high priority for investigation.
  • Analyze. SIEMs provide long term data that can be used to correlate activity to determine trends that will inform and improve your security operations.
  • Resolve. By aggrigating triggers and controls SIEMs give you more options to remediate an incident impacting multiple systems. 

There are several ways that you can use SIEMs to improve your organization's overall security posture: First off, with its ability to collect and analyze log data from multiple sources in real time, you can use it as an early warning system; if something suspicious happens on your network within minutes or even seconds after it occurs, you will be able to take action right away before any serious damage has been done. Additionally, with its comprehensive reporting capabilities—including dashboards with interactive visuals—you'll be able to get quick insights into trends in your traffic which can help you better understand who might be targeting your systems or where weaknesses may exist in your defenses. Finally, by automating certain processes like alerting or investigation workflows—which would otherwise have taken up significant amounts of time manually—you'll be able to free up resources so that they can focus on more strategic initiatives rather than mundane tasks like scanning logs for anomalies.

Does Nightfall integrate with SIEMs?

Nightfall users can use webhooks to easily ingest Nightfall alerts within any SIEM or alerting and response platform. Nightfall alerts provide detail rich data that allow users to assess what types of sensitive information is proliferating in their cloud systems, which users are most contributing to this risk, and much more.

Do you need a SIEM?

A SIEM solution is an essential tool for any organization that wants to have comprehensive visibility into its IT infrastructure and protect itself against potential cyber threats. By collecting data from multiple sources across an organization’s network, a SIEM can provide near real-time insight into suspicious activity on the network as well as detailed reports on trends in the environment over time. This makes it easier for security professionals to proactively monitor their networks for possible threats while also ensuring rapid response times when incidents do occur. Ultimately, having an effective SIEM solution in place can give organizations peace of mind that their systems are secure and protected against malicious actors who may try to exploit vulnerabilities in their systems or networks.

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