With the increase in cyber activity over the years, new tools have been developed which perform different types of analysis looking to help prevent cyber breaches.  Many of these tools perform vital functions automatically, and most produce activity logs of what they are seeing in an environment.  The challenge that has evolved is that each tool works in a “silo” doing what it does, but ONLY knows about what it is looking for.  In many cases a seemingly innocuous activity in one tool could be an indicator of a breach attempt when coupled with a seemingly innocuous activity in a separate tool tat you are using.  In comes the SIEM to help understand the entire picture.

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system is a comprehensive cybersecurity tool used by organizations to monitor, analyze, and respond to security-related events across their IT infrastructure. It combines two primary functionalities: Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM). Here’s a breakdown of its key aspects:

  • Data Collection: SIEM systems collect security data from various sources, such as network devices, servers, applications, and security tools (like firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, antivirus software, etc.).
  • Event Correlation: SIEM systems can correlate events from different sources to identify patterns and detect potential security threats. This helps in finding complex attacks that might not be obvious from a single data source.
  • Log Management: SIEM systems manage large volumes of logs, providing a centralized platform to store, organize, and query these logs for analysis.  As most individual tools such as a firewall will only store loges for a very short period of time before they are overwritten, the SIEM will allow you to store these logs for a specific length of time so they will be available when you need them for forensic analysis if a breach occurs.  This is also the requirement for most compliances such as CMMC and HIPAA.
  • Incident Response: SIEM systems can automate response actions or trigger workflows to assist in incident management when a security threat is detected.
  • Compliance and Reporting: SIEM systems often include tools for generating reports and ensuring compliance with various regulatory requirements, like CMMC, GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI-DSS.

However, having this information is only a small part of the battle.  While it is great to be able to see what happened AFTER it is over, a SIEM can also give you the ability to thwart attacks in process.  This requires 24/7/365 monitoring by a Security Operations Center (SOC).  Most small and medium sized organizations do not have the resources to hire a team of experts who can look at this information in real-time, especially off hours when many breach attempts occur, so often outsourcing this function is the most cost effective way to reduce your organization risk in this capacity.

In summary, a SIEM system is a vital component in a comprehensive security program, enabling organizations to maintain a comprehensive view of their security posture and respond to threats more effectively.