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What is Security Incident Event Management (SIEM) & Why is it important?

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SIEM Security information and event management program

In today’s computing environment, Security Incident Event Management (SIEM) is a critical framework for protecting your business and its assets. SIEM combines Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM) to become a holistic security best practice, that:

1. Reveals potential threats, both known and unknown
2. Monitors the IT environment in real time to ensure that users have access to the resources that they are authorised for only
3. Automates a report for transparency
4. Supports the incident response should an anomaly be detected
SIEM is the monitoring framework which ensures that nothing surprising or suspicious can happen within your business’ optimised IT environment.

How does SIEM work?
SIEM is a monitoring tool. Once established, it can help you understand what should, and should not be happening on the network. SIEM will produce reports on failed logins into an account, take note of unexpected and unusual activity (an indicator of potential malware), and send out alerts if the system detects red flags.
SIEM is not a solution to a threat attacking a network, and it does not include firewalls or antivirus tools. It won’t remove any malicious activity that is detected on the network. You will need separate solutions for those. What your SIEM environment will do is ensure that nothing passes undetected into the environment, so it becomes impossible to sneak malware into the system and have it covertly gathering information.
From a technical viewpointSIEM systems deploy multiple collection agents that are linked in a hierarchical manner, which then gather information on security-related events from endpoints—such as devices, servers or network equipment. SIEM systems are also deployed onto points of security—such as firewalls, antivirus and intrusion prevention systems—as the alert component (i.e. when a hacker tries to break through, the IT security team is notified of the attempt).
What’s important is that all this data that SIEM gathers is forwarded to a centralised management console, enabling security professionals to gain a single point of transparency, and an overview to security threats across the entire environment.

Why is SIEM important for your business?
The initial thrust for SIEM came as part of PCI DSS compliance, being a necessary feature for the complaint processing of card payments. This established SIEM as a part of regulatory compliance for organisations managing sensitive or personal data. Reporting of threats and breaches is mandatory in these spaces, and SIEM systems prevent breaches from being overlooked.

As a massive time-saver, SIEM can drive innovation within your organisation, even if it isn’t bound by PCI DSS or similar regulation. SIEM automatically generates reports of all logged security events across every endpoint that it has been deployed to. Imagine the amount of legwork that would be required to undertake that process manually? Your IT security team has better things to do, so one of the biggest benefits of SIEM is the automation that it offers.

4 benefits of SIEM
1. SIEM substantially cuts down on the time it takes to identify threats to nothing. As soon as there is an anomaly, the 24/7 monitoring SIEM offers will flag the threat and generate a report.
2. It consolidates the entire view of an organisation’s security environment to a single, holistic view. With IT environments becoming ever more sophisticated, this prevents anything from being missed.
3. It achieves the regulatory and compliance requirements that many organisations are subject to.
4. If there is a breach, SIEM can be used to perform detailed forensic analysis and understand the full scope and impact of the breach.

How to maximise your SIEM value
SIEM technology relies on a couple of factors to fully protect your environment.

Firstly, SIEM needs data. As with any technology solution that runs off automation, the better the data that is “fed” to it, the more effective it’s going to be. The bigger the data set (assuming it’s good quality data), the better the system will be at spotting anything that falls outside the norm.

Secondly, SIEM needs an experienced hand to properly architect, roll-out and maintain it. For many small and medium-sized businesses, having an experienced partner that understands security deployments is integral to the success of SIEM. Finally, SIEM is most effective when its maintenance and resourcing is consistent, especially in the early stages, when SIEM is likely to throw up a lot of false positives during its learning phase. The more proactive the IT security team is in tracking down these false positives and flags, the more the SIEM solution can be trained to acknowledge legitimate data sources.

As your business becomes more mature in security, you can leverage SIEM to maximise its value. A sophisticated IT team might write scripts that automate more extensive SIEM functions, or scripts that pull out better data from different sources to deepen the picture of the environment.

Down the track, SIEM can be used to support other business areas. For example, SIEM’s ability to gather data on every endpoint can help your organisation understand how its assets are being used. This can be particularly beneficial if you, like so many other organisations, are enabling remote work for employees. It can also be used to enforce policies that aren’t specifically related to security (such as what an employee has access to on your network).

SIEM is the foundation for good security

Though SIEM, in some instances, can be difficult to architect—particularly within complex environments—any organisation that handles customer data or has sensitive internal data must have SIEM deployment. Having instant awareness of a threat to your network, quickly diagnosing what data was compromised in the event of a breach, and allowing your security team an efficient and instant view of the computing environment is critical when threats to your business can move quickly in real-time.

To understand how implementing SIEM can benefit your business to stay ahead of cyber security threats, click here. If you’d like to talk to Nexon about a SIEM solution, reach out to an expert.

 

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