What are SIEMs and what do they do?

For cyber security experts, network security is one of the most important they must monitor on a day to day basis. Now, more than ever, we are seeing more targeted threats to networks than ever before. However, there are many tools that can help a cyber security expert keep a network secure and safe. One of those tools is called Security Information and Event Management or SIEM for short. What a SIEM does is help security professionals see what actions and activities are going on. It will also log activities as well so security professionals can see them as well. SIEMs have been around for a little while in the industry, but SIEMs have been changing over those years to help protect against ever changing threats. Newer models are introducing threat intelligence. The SIEM will look at both user and network behavior to gather more intelligence whether the actions are malicious or not. Newer SIEMs can also allow network security professionals to define how systems behave. A SIEM works by collecting and distributing logs. Logs are basically recording of the events that happen within a network. They are comprised log entries which are event specific events that occurred within a system or a network. A SIEM will collect logs from systems and applications on the network. It will also collect logs from network and security devices like firewalls and other packet filters, anti-virus, routers and switches. Newer SIEMs are also able to pull information from cloud infrastructure. From there, it will then look at all the logs that have been collected. The SIEM will then put the events into different categorizes and detect the threats found. The SIEM will then start investigating and it will try to find where the malicious activity is originated from. When it finds where the activity is, it will then alert network security professionals to what is happening and where it is located. Over time, a SIEM is also able to discover trends. Like anti-virus, a SIEM can see how different threats act and then it put them into different categorizes. From here a SIEM can see if a threat acts like a DOS attack then it would be put in that category and would be solved how DOS attacks are solved. A SIEM can also monitor behaviors and set benchmarks of what regular traffic looks like. When abnormal amounts of traffic is detected, it will alert a network professional and show where the event is occurring.

Even a decade later, SIEMs are still a vocal point of network security design. This is because of their ability to be used for different things. For instance, SIEMs can be used for security monitoring. SIEMs can help because of their ability to provide real-time monitoring of current network systems, users and incidents. It will also generate and record it’s monitoring activities for accounting purposes. It also provides alerts about events to security personnel. The alert will tell them where the event occurred and what it is.  SIEMs can also be used for advanced threat detection. Advanced threats are those designed to steal information over a length of time. This malware is usually persistent remote access. SIEM is designed to detect these attacks. Over time, a SIEM can also be used data retention. Data retention is what defines policies of persistent data and records and management. Persistent data is data that is not likely to be modified. So, SIEMs can group policies and persistent data together so that it can enforce users to abide by certain rules when interacting with certain pieces of data.

Like said before, SIEMs have been around the network security world for over a decade. Usually with technology, the longer something has been out, the cheaper it usually is. However, with SIEMs, that is not the case. This is mostly because of SIEMs changing to meet industry needs. For the most part, SIEMs are still on the expensive side for network solutions. This makes it hard for smaller businesses to include it into their networks. However, because of the growing security needs of small businesses, we may see a decrease in price. All in all, SIEMs are a vital component in network security architecture. They provide many security solutions wrapped into one system. SIEMs are not the solution to all network security issues, but it will no doubt be able to provide users with great network security.


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