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9 Ways To Improve Your SIEM Security Investigations

11/11/19 8:00 AM  |  by RedLegg Blog

SIEM technology helps to provide a much needed window into the logging and alerting activity taking place in your environment. However, no SIEM tool is a perfect security solution on its own and requires active involvement from trained teams to diagnose and respond to network events as they occur. 

When a SIEM tool detects network or system anomalies, automated processes take over to alert administrators of the issues so that further investigations can take place. These investigations play a crucial role in discovering the root cause of security events as they occur so that they can be adequately addressed and you can avoid a potential breach.

Here are nine ways that your internal team can improve these SIEM investigations and get the most out of your SIEM integration.

1. Create a process for incident response, triage and remediation.

In order for security investigations to take place, it's important that all incident response procedures and policies are properly documented and referenced. These policies will then provide a list of steps that can be followed when incidents arise and security alerts are triggered. This applies to all stages of investigations, including initial steps to take when potential threats are discovered to final data analysis and remediation planning. 

2. Tune alerts to tune down the noise.

While SIEM automations and alerts can greatly benefit organizational efficiency and maximize productivity, too many warnings can cause fatigue and lead security and DevOps teams to become desensitized to potential threats.

It's essential to make sure your SIEM solution is appropriately optimized to avoid false positives when recognizing network anomalies. Many times this involves pilot launches of SIEM integrations to ensure all activity is being monitored and reported accurately before pushing a full-scale deployment. See more about SIEM tuning.

3. Update your rules on an ongoing basis.

SIEM alerts are created by rule-based correlations that are designed to detect threats as they occur. However, rules need to remain dynamic as the cybersecurity landscape continues to shift.

As technology changes and cybercriminals use more advanced forms of attack, organizations need to be prepared to pivot their security solutions quickly. By regularly auditing and fine-tuning SIEM rules and alerts, organizations can ensure that their security systems maintain relevancy and effectiveness.

4. Reconsider your alerting hierarchy, alert levels.

Adequately optimizing the frequency and level of alerts that your SIEM solution notifies can be one of the most effective ways to get the most out of your event investigations. However, this involves having clear transparency over your entire infrastructure as well as an understanding of a clear escalation path as events unfold.

Day-to-day alerts that need basic intervention should be investigated by Tier 1 analysts, while business-critical incidents should be saved for Tier 2 and Tier 3 analysts. Maintaining this structure will keep your SIEM functioning efficiently and lead to significant improvements in investigation lead times. 

5. Aggregate and correlate the right data. 

SIEM investigations begin and end with data analysis. However, if the right data is not aggregated and correlated from the beginning, it can lead to disastrous consequences when trying to find the root cause of mission-critical issues.

All network activity from endpoint to endpoint needs to be confidently monitored. This includes capturing all log information from software and hardware assets as well as tracking all changes in user privileges or login credentials. This helps to quickly identify both internal and external organizational threats.

6. Automate what you can.

A big part of carrying out successful SIEM investigations has to do with capitalizing on the automation benefits that SIEM tools provide.

SIEM enables organizations with the ability to deploy security orchestration, which combines both incident detection and response procedures to work harmoniously in one digital workflow format. These tools can automatically process and remove suspicious email, check files against reputation services, check geolocations of network users, and follow rule-based procedures when triaging events.

SOAR and SOAR-as-a-Service has also made its way into the market to help with response.

7. Begin threat hunting.

An essential part of SIEM investigations is discovering the root cause of severe network vulnerabilities and beginning threat hunting processes. SIEM tools significantly aid in this step as they provide security information from across the entire organization all in one easily accessible platform. (MDR services may also offer 'leadless' threat hunting.)

SIEM can segment anomalies in specific environments, making it easy to establish correlations and run behavioral analysis to uncover where vulnerabilities are occurring. From there, analysts can run deeper investigations on these vulnerabilities to discover where and why these systems may have become compromised, or if there is potential for it to happen again in the future. 

8. Perform internal pen testing and/or partner with a third-party tester.

Security hardening is another crucial step to take when finalizing SIEM investigations and remediating past network vulnerabilities. An extremely effective way of doing this is by performing internal penetration testing or by partnering with a third-party security services provider.

Pen testing has become a popular solution for enterprises who wish to test the overall effectiveness of their security initiatives along with how well their SIEM solution is working. Following a SIEM investigation, pen testing can be used to mimic the activities of a malicious attacker to see if the organization's security rules and triggers are able to recognize and respond to these incidents. 

9. Gain further insight with Threat Intel feeds.

One way to get more out of your SIEM investigation is by sidelining your data with threat intelligence feeds. Threat intelligence helps to provide more valuable insights about your investigations, including the tactics, tools, and procedures being used to leverage vulnerabilities in your networks and systems. If specific trends or user behavior are identified as being potentially threatening, security analysts can compare these against documented TTPs to quickly recognize and address dangerous threats as they emerge. 

SIEM investigations are a critical part of identifying and addressing enterprise threats as they surface. By following these steps, you can better receive the information you need to make better-informed decisions about the configuration and deployment of your SIEM solution.

Get further insight into why your SIEM deployment is taking forever, and discover ways you can prevent burnout amongst your analysts. If you feel like you may need a bit more help in managing your day-to-day SIEM activity, co-managed SIEM service could be the fit for you.

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