Make the most of your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution with these best practices

June 02, 2022 Tanner Brasch 5 min
Ensure your fight against cybercrime is a winning one. Discover the best practices and use cases for implementing SIEM as part of your cybersecurity master plan.

With cybersecurity threats growing in numbers and complexity, many organizations today have chosen to deploy a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution as a proactive measure for threat management, and to provide a centralized view of their organization’s security posture with advanced reporting of all security incidents.

The SIEM global market is on trend to expand to $5.5 billion by 2025, up from $4.2 billion in 2020 with a CAGR of 5.5%. With its increasing impact among organizations across various industries, businesses can attest that it may take concerted effort to get the best value from this complex solution—which is why we’ve shared best tips below to help you do just that. But first, a refresher.

What is SIEM?

Put simply, SIEM monitors business networks against cyberthreats and attempted intrusions before they have a chance to disrupt business operations, providing necessary reporting and log retention to maintain strict regulatory and compliance provisions. It does so through the following capabilities:

  • Security log, event and performance data collection from applications, servers, services, network devices and security tools
  • Aggregation, normalization and retention of collected log, event and performance data
  • Correlation and analysis of data across monitored systems in near–real time
  • Threat detection that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Automated event and incident management for rapid threat mitigation and elimination
  • Advanced report generation that includes compliance documentation required for applicable laws, regulations and industry standards
  • Data retention and storage for compliance and possible future forensic analysis including root cause analysis

What are the benefits of SIEM?

The enthusiasm for SIEM has been curbed by the perceived and real drawbacks in adopting the technology, such as the cost and complexity related to deploying the technology.

Recognizing the financial costs and damage to brand reputation, the benefits of deploying SIEM for better cyberattack notification and response cannot be ignored. The benefits often outweigh the costs—take these, for reference:

  • Simplified compliance. SIEM enables centralized compliance across an entire business infrastructure. Advanced automation organizes the collection and analysis of system logs and security events to reduce the utilization of internal resources while meeting strict compliance reporting standards.
  • Data and reporting. A deep level of reporting is a necessary, albeit challenging task for many organizations. SIEM provides recurring summary reports and online access to real-time data to reduce resource expenditures required for this process by providing on-demand reporting whenever needed.
  • Real-time threat protection. The protection across your entire infrastructure provided by SIEM significantly reduces the lead time required to identify and react to potential network threats and vulnerabilities, helping to strengthen security posture as the organization scales.
  • Data theft prevention. SIEM detects anomalous user behavior that can be symptomatic of an exploited account as a precursor to data exfiltration. Revealing such activity empowers avoidance of possible data theft and further system exploitation.

How does it work?

SIEM is a combination of two highly complementary security technologies: Security Information Management (SIM), which includes log management and compliance reporting, and Security Event Management (SEM), which provides real-time monitoring and incident management for security-related events from networks, security devices, systems and applications. Together, they provide an advanced layer of vigilance and detection against attempted intrusions and ease the burden of stringent compliance standards.

SIEM use cases

  • Bridge security skill and staffing gaps. SIEM solution leveraging AI and machine learning can optimize an organization’s security personnel with a single pane of glass view of network and security infrastructure and automated responses to events and incidents.
  • Help with demanding compliance regulations. For organizations that consider PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA and/or SOC 2/3 compliance, these mandates are becoming more prevalent. They place increased pressure on detecting and reporting breaches. SIEM helps meet rising demand and intricacy for compliance.
  • Prevent external threats…and internal threats. External menaces aren’t the only hazards that make organizations vulnerable; insider threats pose a mounting risk especially with the rise of hybrid and remote work environments. SIEM software allows organizations to continuously monitor employee actions and create alerts for irregular events based on “normal” activity. Businesses can also use SIEM to create alerts related to actions a given user is not allowed to perform, such as installing software or disabling security software.
  • Keep up with tomorrow’s cybercriminals. SIEM successfully mitigates against modern-day security breaches such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, phishing attacks, SQL injections and data exfiltration.

Best practices for implementation

Need some help making the most of your SIEM solution? Take advantage of these best practices:

  1. Think big picture for your comprehensive security. When researching solutions, look for technology vendors who offer complete, fully managed network security solutions—which look at security more holistically. In addition to offering SIEM, other protection might include firewall, intrusion prevention, content filtering and application control to complement and maximize networking and security.
  2. Look for a SIEM solution that goes a step further. Windstream Enterprise includes user entity behavior analytics (UEBA) as part of its SIEM solution to drive highly accurate and rapid user behavior correlations among multiple systems. This allows for simultaneous monitoring activities in user accounts and user entities to address threats by correlating both data sets.
  3. Don’t stop at the technology—get the expertise. The Windstream Enterprise Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC) makes the most of your SIEM solution by providing specialists who will proactively identify threats, detecting, investigating, responding to and containing threats efficiently. Our SIEM solution removes the capital investments and simplifies the implementation of the firewall.
  4. IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) is better with SIEM. Most organizations can’t quarantine their systems and networks from the rest of the Internet. At some point, they’ll need to expose part of the internal infrastructure to remote locations, applications and users. This requires creating rules in their firewalls to allow connectivity and organizations with Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) will turn on IPS capabilities to protect their servers and applications. IPS are excellent at detecting and stopping malicious traffic that is passing through the firewall. However, like the proverbial saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Will the security staff know in real time that their network is being besieged and respond appropriately, including updating their NGFW policies?
  5. The more the merrier. The effectiveness of SIEM systems increases exponentially with added visibility. Basically, the SIEM platform can’t be limited to collecting logs from security, but also needs to be monitoring third-party devices and applications that are often targets of attacks. Modern SIEM solutions have pre-built connectors or integrations for these technologies.

Regardless of how large or small your organization may be, taking proactive steps to monitor for and mitigate IT security risks is essential. SIEM solutions benefit enterprises in a variety of ways and have become a significant component in streamlining security workflows.

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Key Takeaway
SIEM technology in Windstream Enterprise's Managed Network Security solution is accompanied by firewall, intrusion prevention, content filtering and application control for the ultimate protection.

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