Blog | Logging | 4 minutes read

What is SIEM?

Siem

The impact of the colossal Starwood Hotels & Resorts data breach continues to reverberate across the global technology community. In its wake, the importance of log management and security information event management (SIEM) systems has once again come to the forefront.

Let’s explore what SIEM is, the many acronyms emerging in the SIEM space and where logging fits into the picture. 

Notable Acronyms and Parts of SIEM

The security sector is ever growing in fields like Data security, mobile security, cloud security, IoT security, infrastructure security, application security, messaging security, web security, risk & compliance, threat intelligence, specialized threat analysis and prediction, security operations, identity & access management and more. Zooming into SIEM, you should know the following:

Log Management System (LMS) collects log messages from various systems and hosts, enabling centralized access to this data from a single location. An LMS is a core component because it gives companies audit trails, archives and search results of all event logs to review when incidents occur. It also could provide alerts and notifications based on configurable rules. Log management systems enable both SIM and SEM.

Security Event Management (SEM) is specifically focused on real-time log event entries generated by security devices, network devices, systems and applications that present possible security implications. Security event managers focus on real-time monitoring, notifications, and correlation of security events.

Security Information Management (SIM) is another crucial security component that focuses on security log data generated by assets such as host systems, applications, and devices.  Security devices such as firewalls, proxy servers, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software and other assets management system contribute to the security information managed by an SIM.

Lastly, Security Event Correlation (SEC) is an approach that examines patterns in log files for potential hacking, flagging possible security threats for further investigation.

What is SIEM?

A key challenge in the realm of computer security is that cyber attacks are continually evolving as well as the race to prevent them. It is impossible to automate all security systems in advance of attacks and remove human involvement in security analysis retroactively. What we can do is learn from the past as best as we can to keep ahead. 

SIEM is evolving in system security that incorporates all of the above mentioned technologies: Log Management Systems, Security Event Management, Security Information Management and Security Event Correlation. As these various security components became increasingly integrated and merged over the years, SIEM emerged as the generalized industry term for managing information generated from combined security infrastructure and controls.

At its core, SIEM’s reliance on diverse security technologies increases the collective system security, and this interweaving of security approaches makes each individual security component more effective. 

In essence, SIEM is a management layer above a firm’s existing systems and security controls that provides a broad yet comprehensive way to view and analyze all of a company’s network activity from a single interface. A key advantage to SIEM is that security analysts can spend their time watching for security threats in real time, rather than devoting their days to studying the inner workings of every single security product in their systems.

There is also a movement from traditional on-premise SIEM solutions as organizations infrastructure and applications moved to the cloud and multi-cloud.

Who is SIEM for?

One could get very lost in the weeds with all these security acronyms so it might be helpful to focus on who SIEM is for.

  • Security Team – Primarily SIEM solutions primary users are the security personnel in your organization that gives them all the information, alerts and automation necessary to be two steps ahead of online threats.
  • Operations Team – SRE, DevOps and your operations team also benefit from SIEM tools to get the company operations back online and back to business as usual. They need access to logs, events, security incidents to figure out the root cause and resolve issues as quickly as possible.
  • Compliance Team – The handling of data has a growing number of rules from industry and government regulation (GDPR, HIPAA, PCI to name a few)

Logs Remain a Key SIEM Pillar

Both log management and SIEM are fields that are categorized under the computer security field, as they include both software and products that assist firms in managing secure information and security events.  Yet the crucial differences between SIEM and log management are often confused, often leading to an incomplete understanding of how to properly manage security events and secure information.

Logs are intrinsic to effective SIEM, particularly the mapping of a company’s business processes and infrastructure to those logs. And the more types of logs from as many sources as possible that a company can feed its SIEM system, the more actionable insights are generated.

Key to top-flight SIEM is ensuring systems are able to support all relevant devices from which it can parse and normalize log files. This ability to handle logs from many, disparate sources is what enables SIEM to cross-reference logs from across a network and correlate relevant events.

Effective SIEM solutions rely on logs from all critical components of a company’s business and network. These should include all firewall logs, logs from intrusion detection systems and antivirus system logs. As well, logs from primary servers should be included, particularly key application and database server logs along with the active directory server logs and web server logs.

It is also important to protect your sources of log information, particularly when attempting to prove any legal culpability from computer misuse. This is because cyber attackers can try to delete or falsify log entries to cover their activity in your system.

Conclusion

As you create an intelligent security strategy for your organization, one the building blocks will be your choice of a log management solution that works for your company, the infrastructure you have, and be confident that it grows as you grow.

Start using LogDNA in minutes and get in touch as you evolve your SIEM strategy.

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