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How to Choose the Best SIEM System: 5 Things to Consider

Posted by Jarrod Thompson on Mar 18, 2021 3:19:26 PM

Security information and event management, or “SIEM,” is a tool that assimilates all of your log data to give you an all-encompassing overview of the activity on your network. SIEM tools watch over your network and help you stop trouble in its tracks. Whether your organization has 200 or 20,000 employees, SIEM software can be a vital part of any company’s cybersecurity posture.

Benefits of a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Software

SIEM Tools Provide Organization and Consolidation

SIEM products let your organization manage all of your data in one place. SIEM tools pull relevant information from multiple data sources, then ingest them into a single tool. These sources can include operating systems, network devices, and business applications. If your organization relied on each of these data sources independently, you might have to go into multiple applications to view the data output. 

You’ll Get a Comprehensive Look at Your Cybersecurity

SIEM software gives you a timely and manageable picture of your entire network. Especially in the case of a security breach, when time is of the essence, SIEM protects your business by enabling a quicker response.

A Comprehensive SIEM Solution Increases Protection, Compliance, and Reporting

Implementing a SIEM system into your security program indicates that you are willing to take steps to secure your customers’ data. Compliance can make or break a company's reputation, whether HIPAA, PCI, or another primary law that requires compliance audits. Using a SIEM tool lets these governing bodies know that your organization takes compliance regulations seriously and that you do not cut corners when it comes to data protection. Most SIEM tools will be able to generate a specialized report that attests to your regulatory compliance. 

Top Things to Consider When Choosing a SIEM Tool & Service

Much like any business decision, your choice for SIEM should be one that suits your company’s needs. Choosing the best SIEM solution comes down to how well you understand your internal operations. Talk to the person in charge of your organization’s IT infrastructure. You should involve as many resources as necessary to make an informed investment in SIEM products and services

SIEM tools are available in managed or unmanaged options. Managed SIEM services provide you with a dedicated expert to aid in tuning, monitoring, and management. Unmanaged SIEM, on the other hand, only includes the technical log aggregation and generic alerting. Some log aggregate software is even labeled as SIEM but does not have alerting or response capabilities. Thoroughly research your organizational needs and prospective vendors before pulling the trigger on a SIEM program. 

#1: Find a SIEM Product That Suits Your Business’ Needs

With an unmanaged SIEM, you should dedicate at least 1.5 FTE to vet alerts and tune the tool. Straight out of the box, SIEM alerts include a lot of “noise.” These non-threatening alerts get in the way of real notifications, and they must be tuned out to maximize the usefulness of your SIEM software. If your company does not have enough internal resources to dedicate to monitoring and tuning your SIEM tools, then you may be better off with a managed SIEM option. ProCircular offers both managed and unmanaged SIEM options through AT&T’s AlienVault.

#2 Choose the Best SIEM Solution For Your Budget

The cost of SIEM tools depends on the chosen vendor and the size of your organization. When you have more devices on the network, you have more avenues for malicious actors to gain access, more monitoring volume, and a higher risk of cyberattacks. You should consider investing in SIEM as soon as your network monitoring needs exceed what is possible to do manually. 

The type of SIEM program also affects the price. Unmanaged SIEM software is a capital expense, whereas managed SIEM is an operational expense. While the unmanaged option comes with a smaller, one-off price tag, you will not see the whole value of a SIEM unless it is properly architected and maintained. 

#3 Consider Your Existing Data Security Program

SIEM is not a silver bullet to solve your data security concerns. There are additional security steps that can be prioritized before or after your SIEM investment. Before implementing SIEM, you should be performing annual network penetration tests to identify and remediate security risks. Risk registers, security awareness training, and vulnerability testing are all primary preventative measures that aim to maintain your network privacy. SIEM is secondary, the first of several reactionary resources to use in the face of an ongoing security event. 

Remember that SIEM does not work retroactively. Your SIEM program will only produce logs and alerts after it is implemented. With this in mind, SIEM should be prioritized ahead of other reactionary measures, like an incident response plan or reoccurring tabletop exercises. A perfect response plan will be useless if you can’t detect the breach. Additionally, the best SIEM solutions will not protect you if you have a weak or nonexistent password policy. While SIEM can have a big impact on your security posture, it is just one piece of your dually proactive and reactive security operations. 

 #4: Review Your Long Term Event Logging, Data Storage, and Compliance Needs

Ensuring the SIEM system you choose has enough storage for your data is critical. Some industry compliance regulations require you to retain log data for a period of time. HIPAA, for example, requires logs to be saved for six years. 

AlienVault has customizable raw log backup configurations, but they are saved for 365 days by default. AlienVault’s subscription plans offer monthly storage that ranges from 250 GB to 4 TB per month. When shopping SIEM vendors and subscription options, evaluate your organization’s storage and retention needs, and make sure to invest in SIEM products that can accommodate.

#5: Choose a Cybersecurity Company That Offers Incident Response Services & Forensics Capabilities with the SIEM Product

SIEM logs help investigators back-track and gather forensic data in the event of an incident. Alerts help you discover security events, and the logs help you find and close the unauthorized point of entry. If you do not have the resources or expertise to respond to the alert promptly, then your SIEM is less useful than it could be. 

A primary benefit of managed SIEM is that you have a dedicated expert in your corner. Security events are extremely stressful and confusing for those affected by them. It can be helpful to enlist a third-party who deals with these things regularly. ProCircular has escalation criteria that can seamlessly transition from detection to incident response and limit the time attackers spend on your network.  

Get a Customizable SIEM Program by Partnering with ProCircular 

When you’re ready for SIEM, take your time, and meet with vendors to express your concerns and excitements about this new tech. Before you start shopping, assess your business’ needs, resource availability, budgetary constraints, and existing cybersecurity posture to understand what you want and need from a SIEM program. If you have further questions about AT&T’s AlienVault or Managed SIEM options, reach out to ProCircular via our web form or call us at 844-95-SECUR.

Topics: Cybersecurity, Network Security, SIEM, Monitoring

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