Implementing Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) into your organization's infrastructure can be a valuable investment for any sized business. Not only does SIEM successfully monitor, detect, and alert for potential network security threats, but its advanced automation processes help companies to increase their security posture while maximizing their productivity.
However, SIEM is not just a "set it and forget it" solution. Moreover, merely investing in SIEM technology is not enough to reap the real benefits that these enterprise solutions provide.
Here are six steps you can take to operationalize your SIEM and make it work for you.
1. Dive into your organization's use cases.
There is no such thing as a universal SIEM integration. As every organization has unique business and security needs, the way you use SIEM technology may be very different than any other company. Because of this, your first step must be determining what your SIEM priorities are and selecting appropriate use cases for the technology.
Examples of typical use cases might be hardening login security and prioritizing security alerts, identifying compromised login credentials, ensuring compliance with PCI and HIPPA standards, or maximizing network transparency across all system endpoints. Regardless of how these use cases are prioritized, identifying them early on helps you define the most appropriate SIEM implementation strategy for your business.
2. Streamline incident response processes.
SIEM technology deploys powerful tools that enable organizations to run through security analysis against any proposed threats. Treating each incident as a crime scene investigation, IT administrators can use SIEM to triage each event or network anomaly that takes place and take immediate steps to remediate any gaps in system security.
It's essential to leverage SIEM's capabilities when it comes to streamlining its incident response processes. This is achieved by collecting logs from hosts monitoring all access points to critical resources, solutions involved in network perimeter defenses, and appropriate malware and application defense platforms. Once these are in place, a series of rules and triggers can be deployed to automate all aspects of the systems incident response protocols.
3. Tune to actionable alerting.
Because SIEM is so effective at data collection and correlation, it can often be utilized more for its automation capabilities and less for its intelligence. One of the critical features that SIEM technology affords is the ability to produce "actionable" alerts that help IT administrators make better decisions regarding the security and sustainability of their organization. However, a common problem with new SIEM integrations is the presence of too many alerts and false positives that lead many IT teams to become buried in noise.
Network alerts should be carefully tuned so that administrators receive only necessary, actionable alerts. In many cases, the best way to avoid a steady stream of false alarms is by beginning with a SIEM pilot run. Don't attempt to deploy your SIEM throughout your entire infrastructure overnight. Instead, testing your automations on smaller subsets of your technology will allow you to tune your SIEM so that it is accurately reporting on actionable items that need to be addressed. Read more about tuning.
4. Automate compliance reporting.
SIEM makes it possible for organizations accountable to varying types of compliance regulations to maintain their requirements and avoid costly penalties. However, first, an organization needs to have a clear picture of what their requirements are and prioritize objects around them. This transparency makes it possible to configure your SIEM compliance modules for appropriate monitoring and reporting activities.
Due to SIEM's real-time activity monitoring and networking safeguards, the technology makes it possible to show proof of due diligence on all areas of private and personal data security. SIEM can automatically report in an audit-ready format all information necessary to prove compliance for PCI/DSS, SOX, HIPPA, and other regulatory standards.
5. Aggregate and correlate the correct data.
Log aggregation and data collection is the foundation of modern SIEM technology. By pulling information from multiple systems at once and systematically sorting it so it's easily searchable with modern data tools, administrators can create automated workflows that help to maximize productivity levels and ensure heightened system security.
Collecting data from critical systems and security tools is one of the most common ways to identify anomalies in network activity that require immediate attention. Some examples of where data aggregation is most useful is when identifying trends or events from antivirus software, firewall to/from traffic activity or from repeat failed login attempts, and changes in user privileges or login credentials. Aggregating data can highlight patterns of traffic a single host may not identify.
6. Feed it Threat Intel.
While SIEM on its own is a powerful technology that improves organizational security, when combined with threat intelligence tools and solutions, it becomes a powerful cybersecurity platform. Adding threat intelligence to SIEM technology gives an organization greater visibility into high confidence repositories of known bad actors and tools and gives them the insight they need to make smarter decisions about their overall security measures.
Threat intelligence provides evidence-based knowledge that supports your SIEM automations and monitoring protocols. This includes recognizing relevant threats, emerging hazards to digital assets, and essential mechanisms and indicators that can lead to implications around enterprise security.
7. Utilize SOAR.
Implementing Security Orchestration Automation and Response can greatly optimize an organization's SIEM by automating a number of manual processes including adding data enrichment and gathering contextual data. Automation and orchestration can also help organizations quickly respond to threats by automatically executing actions in response to security alerts, allowing the organization to more quickly isolate and remediate incidents. Overall a well designed SOAR will improve analyst productivity and allow for better use of valuable resources.
Your Next Steps
While SIEM integrations provide the benefit of real-time network monitoring and threat analysis, they need to be correctly operationalized to maximize their value. By following these necessary steps, you'll be underway to having a well-configured, highly effective SIEM solution.
We also recommend this case study below, showing how one business used SIEM to meet their business and security goals.
If alerts are more of an issue for you, read how you can effectively tune your SIEM and how to prevent burnout amongst your analysts. Co-managed SIEM may also be a viable option for your team as you build your SOC.