Cyber-attacks and IT breaches are no longer something unusual in today’s information society. Day by day they increase more and more and have their influence on the enterprises’ reputation and profit. Attackers have turned into professionals who constantly look to exploit any gap in IT systems, applications, and hardware. One of the key security approaches to prevent and combat attacks is to identify and respond to security events in real-time to minimize the damage. That is possible by using Security Information and Event Management Software (SIEM). It is a security management approach that aims to have a holistic view of the security of a company’s information technology.

  • What does SIEM actually do?

SIEM is a system that is used to detect, prevent and resolve all cyberattacks while centralizing all the security events from every device within a network. The first function of a SIEM is gathering all the raw security data from companies’ firewalls, wireless access points, servers, and personal devices. The SIEM doesn’t just log events, but is customized to detect suspicious activity and recognize actual threats.

Furthermore, SIEM can create daily graphs and reports that show the user exactly what is going on. It filters through events and categorizes them by the severity of the threat. If the threat is not too serious but may carry some concern, a report is made; and if the event is critical, a notification is immediately sent to the IT team in order to diagnose the situation. Security architects would understand how much value it brings, given that individual software tools generate reports on their designated tasks. Collecting logs from multiple devices across different networks gives the IT staff an opportunity to analyze them and identify potential issues more easily, increasing operational efficiency.

  • Best Practices to Implement SIEM

Implementing SIEM will ensure you respect the rules and regulations of IT compliance, which requires monitoring and reporting on threats. There are several federal, state and local regulations dictating how the data is handled and stored, and these vary by industry. Some regulations that require compliance reports are the SOX, FISMA, PCI DSS, HIPAA, FERPA, etc.

This article provides you with several best practices for the successful implementation of what is an important defense mechanism and compliance control tool for information security teams.

1. Planning implementation

The first step in implementing SIEM should be to understanding the goals and the timeline of the integration. SIEMs are known with their complex nature and neglecting proper planning can expose weaknesses within the organization.

Based on requirements, you should use policy-based rules to define which logs and activities your SIEM should monitor and compare this policy against external compliance requirements to determine your needs. It’s a good idea to begin with a clear view of the use cases for SIEM for your particular business. Review the security processes and policies that can support your proposed SIEM implementation, including existing controls in place to meet compliance requirements. Proper planning ensures that the SIEM solution isn’t simply a generic security, but instead is tailored to the exact needs and expectations of the organization.

2. Start with a Pilot Run

It is not a good approach to implement a SIEM system throughout the entire organization’s IT infrastructure at the same time. A pilot run is a smart way to make a test by running the technology on a smaller subset of your technology infrastructure. Not only does this phase provide proof of concept, but it also demonstrates the potential return on investment for a SIEM system.

During this test run, collect as much data as possible to allow for a clear picture of how the system would run. The data you obtain from a pilot run is crucial in identifying weaknesses in security policies or compliance controls that should be plugged. Of course, it is not always possible to collect data from every single source across the organization. In this case, you should prioritize sections dealing with the critical systems and sensitive data.

3. Create rules

SIEM relies on information to be efficient. By applying correlation rules, it can detect events and threats that would be more difficult to identify in isolation. It is critical to ensure that correlation engines are functioning with basic policies. Besides, determining more customized rules to be implemented in the long term should be taken up in this stage. These rules help optimize documentation and alerting without damaging network performance. They should also be customized to meet any necessary compliance requirements.

4. Identify compliance requirements

SIEM software can help organizations meet compliance requirements and regulations. However, these requirements can often overlap. To avoid this scenario, you can draft documents that specify the compliance requirements you need to meet and check that list against potential SIEM solutions to ensure they cover your needs.

5. Define process

Before deployment, put a handoff plan in place to transfer control from the implementation team to security operations or IT management team. Adjust in accordance with your company’s staffing capabilities to ensure teams can effectively manage the SIEM going forward.

Any other long-term management processes should be outlined as well. Companies must train staff on general SIEM management as well as their team’s logging processes and data management plans. You may need to adjust to avoid understaffing, unmanageable logging rates, and storage capacity issues.

6. Continuously Update Your SIEM System

Extensive planning and step-by-step implementation are some best practices, but continuous refinement and improvement are of a great importance, as well. Cybercriminals come up with increasingly sophisticated forms of attack, so you should be a step ahead by continuously improving the security tools, policies, and procedures. Running a production SIEM deployment itself gives you a useful feedback for you to tweak and fine-tune everything to better protect against security threats.

Investing in Security Incident and Event Management solutions is of a great value and implementing it properly could help you to get significant business benefits. SIEM detects and responds to security incidents in real time, which reduces the risk of noncompliance. It also helps realize greater value across all underlying security technology and systems. Reporting with SIEM is more comprehensive and less time-intensive, helping to reduce capital and operational costs through consolidation. These are all important for any business that aims to stay on top of the market game.