SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) serves as part of enterprises’ digital perimeters in a way never before thought possible. Traditional antivirus alone can no longer provide the security enterprises once relied on; instead, a threat detection and remediation approach—as provided by SIEM—proves increasingly necessary to fortifying against modern cyber attacks.
Yet SIEM presents its own unique challenges and complexities. These can deter enterprise or employee adoption. In some cases, these challenges can even prevent SIEM optimization. We’ve written at length on these issues and how enterprises can work to alleviate these problems.
However, confronting the apparent issues in SIEM only constitutes half of the cybersecurity equation. The other half is how to optimize your SIEM to ensure its best performance.
Why do you need to optimize your SIEM? What can SIEM offer you when it’s fully optimized? We answer these questions and more!
What Does SIEM Mean for Your Enterprise?
SIEM refers to a relatively new branch of cybersecurity, combining Security Event Management (SEM) and Security Information Management (SIM) solutions. Through this technological integration, SIEM provides threat management, incident response support, log management, and forensic capabilities.
The three key SIEM capabilities include threat detection and response, log management, and compliance reporting. At its core, an enterprise SIEM solution can help your enterprise aggregate, normalize, and analyze data from throughout your network; thus the solution enables easy analysis even across wildly different data sources like applications or data streams.
As it processes your enterprise’s data logs, SIEM helps to correlate events occurring in disparate parts of your network. It can then discover potential security events or dwelling threats and alert your IT security team to them.
Finally, SIEM helps enterprises complete vital compliance reports, both governmental and industrial such as HIPAA. Many solutions offer out-of-the-box compliance templates to make compiling and filing reports easier than ever.
Why Should You Optimize Your SIEM?
Enterprises of all sizes seek out set-it-and-forget-it cybersecurity solutions, including within the SIEM category. This instinct makes sense; after all, why burden your IT security team and employees with the everyday demands of a more complex solution?
However, these actions don’t accurately reflect reality. Cybersecurity doesn’t function in a top-down model. Instead, all cybersecurity solutions—especially SIEM—require continual auditing and maintenance. In other words, they require support both from your IT team and your employees.
To optimize your SIEM, your IT security team should regularly assess how your solution processes information, correlates events and creates alerts. Moreover, your employees need to embrace and internalize cybersecurity best practices; they constitute your largest attack vector and their digital behaviors affect your solution’s performance.
Key Tips to Optimize Your SIEM
To best optimize your SIEM solution, your enterprise needs to treat SIEM as you would a sensitive but vital piece of analog machinery; in this example, even a single misaligned gear can send the entire device careening off course.
Here are some key tips to optimize your SIEM:
Deploy Your SIEM Solution Slowly
Ironically, the first step to properly optimize your SIEM is to begin slowly. Trying to deploy your solution across your enterprise network all at once can swiftly overwhelm your IT security team. After all, they would be in the midst of learning the new solution while juggling the incoming security alerts and threat intelligence feeds.
Additionally, an all-at-once approach can result in unexpected integration issues. SIEM works best when used in conjunction with other cybersecurity solutions like endpoint security and identity and access management. However, not all solutions work equally well with one another; an integration issue can cause new security holes and vulnerabilities.
Therefore, you should begin by deploying SIEM on your most critical network areas and most sensitive databases. This allows your IT security team to become used to the new solution and its correlation systems; they’ll have time to adjust their intelligence feeds and correlation rules before spreading the deployment to other network areas.
Don’t Stop SIEM Deployment
Your enterprise can’t just deploy SIEM on your most critical databases or major systems. Hackers look for any way into your network; every scrap of information or every chance for disruption entices their malicious behaviors.
Without SIEM to catch them, they’ll continue to dwell on your business networks or disrupt your processes. Moreover, hackers can wait for a while for any opening into your vital databases if they feel no pressure from your cybersecurity.
As a result, you must take the time to properly deploy SIEM across the entire enterprise network after you’ve begun the process. Absolutely you should take it slowly to avoid deployment issues. However, you shouldn’t stop the process even if you feel secure. Don’t assume your safety until you have SIEM everywhere.
Optimize Your SIEM Rules Set
SIEM operates through machine learning and correlation rules; the automation of correlation and threat detection takes a huge amount of the burden off your IT security team. However, these correlation rules do not spring up out of a vacuum.
Your IT security team must—must—perform regular auditing and maintenance over your correlation rules. They need to make sure your cybersecurity solution recognizes suspicious behaviors and distinguishes between suspicious behaviors and normal behaviors.
Furthermore, your SIEM correlation rules need to accommodate different enterprise environments. The rules for a hybrid environment should differ dramatically from a cloud environment, for example. Additionally, it must change as more mobile devices become introduced to the network.
Ideally, these audits should occur bimonthly if not more often. Additionally, your IT security team should document these rule changes for easy reference and assessment, if necessary. Without taking these steps, your enterprise will prove more vulnerable to false positives. These waste valuable investigation time and resources.
Improve SIEM Contextualization
This relates to the above topic but nevertheless matters. Contextualization allows your SIEM solution to distinguish between normal behaviors, or legitimate outside-the-norm behaviors, and actual suspicious behaviors. This too helps reduce the false positive rate and removes some of the burdens on IT investigators.
Facilitate Your Network Visibility
All cybersecurity hinges on visibility. We wrote that in bold to emphasize the rule; it may prove one of the most important lessons in all of information security.
Your IT environment includes on-premises servers, cloud databases, data streams, routers, mobile devices, and more. This offers a lot of space for hackers to infiltrate and dwell. You can’t hope to protect what you can’t see.
Therefore, to optimize your SIEM you should facilitate your network visibility. You can achieve this by conducting an audit on your network, including all devices connecting to your databases. In addition, you need to make sure your SIEM works well with your enterprise use-case. If your cybersecurity doesn’t perform well on your particular vertical, it may be time for an upgrade.
Check Your Capabilities
To optimize your SIEM, you can’t just focus on the solution’s capabilities. You need to critically examine your enterprise’s capabilities.
First, you need to match your log storage capacity with your business needs. Your storage should prove capable of handling at least a month or two of security data at a time for full correlation and analysis. If you can store more, that will help you immensely.
Additionally, you need to assess your IT security team. Cybersecurity talent is hard to come by, and you need the most talent you can muster to properly handle SIEM. If you need more team members, you should start seeking them before you deploy your SIEM. On the other hand, if you worry about cybersecurity burnout it may be time to implement better work-life balance initiatives.
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