How to choose the right SIEM software for your company

Security information and event management (SIEM) technology supports threat detection, compliance and security incident management through the collection and analysis (both near-real-time and historical) of security events, as well as a wide variety of other event and contextual data sources (cf. Gartner).

Put simply, SIEM is a class of software solutions that collect and analyze activity from many different resources across an entire IT infrastructure.

At its heart, SIEM is

  • a data collection and reporting system
  • an event correlator based on an analytical platform which indicates a security issue

SIEM tools are able to perform event correlations to process time and transaction-based events. The result is actionable data and incident awareness — thus, choosing the right SIEM tool is a critical decision for an organization.

Capabilities to consider when choosing a SIEM solution

This section presents an overview of the capabilities you should consider when choosing a SIEM solution:

Log analysis and event forensics

Being able to gain quick access to historical log data and analyze events will help you identify anomalies and network activity patterns that could indicate unwanted behaviors.

Ensure that your SIEM software allows you to:

  • interactively explore historical log data with simplicity and ease
  • isolate the root cause of a threat, breach, failure or any non-compliant activity
  • perform event forensics to determine what really happened before, during and after an event
  • track log activity over time and view suspicious events in context

Automated threat response

Incident response is the ability of SIEM software to respond to a detected security threat and contain or halt it with automated response actions. The application of incident response has expanded beyond security to cover IT troubleshooting and issue remediation for efficient IT administration.

SIEM software should be able to:

  • mitigate emerging security threats with automated active response
  • remediate operational IT issues with pre-programmed corrective actions
  • respond to policy violations and non-compliant activities with built-in correlation rules
  • counter situations like insecure network connections, system settings and policies, and unauthorized network and user access, USB device misuse, etc.

Compliance regulations and reporting

Satisfying compliance reporting requirements is a key aspect of SIEM. With out-of-the-box reporting templates and the power of customization and report scheduling, SIEM software becomes an integral part of IT security architecture.

SIEM software should be able to provide:

  • detailed reports of non-compliant activities and policy violations in the network
  • historical per-system, per-user-based and per-network event data for compliance auditing
  • Information about threat response and mitigation measures taken to contain or halt attacks

Visualization

Seeing your data and threat assessments as graphs will greatly improve how your security team functions. These features are increasingly offered as standard in SIEM software, either as an integrated function or provided by a third party add-on.

Scalability

It’s also important to consider the aspect of scalability when choosing a SIEM solution. Bringing new data into your data systems is always a challenge — concerns about capacity, response time and cost are always a push back to growth. Thus, you should choose a scalable SIEM solution that can grow with your organization.

Apart from this, companies need to evaluate products based on their own objectives to determine which ones best meet their needs. Security analysts need to take several other factors under consideration when evaluating SIEM vendors, like their ability to support a particular tool, how much data they’ll have within the system, and how much money they want to shell out.

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