Did you know your network is generating massive amount of actionable data every second of the day? With the log data generated you’re able to draw valuable insights into employee behavior, rule violations, regulatory compliance, unusual system behavior, and most importantly insider threats. The analysis of log data is often referred to as log monitoring or security information and event management (SIEM).


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What is log monitoring?

What makes SIEM solutions so valuable is the role it plays as detection and prevention aid to an organization. The data in security logs can help you identify insider threats, external access attempts, breach detection, device compromise, and so much more. With so much critical security data, it would make sense why protecting yourself with preventative SIEM solutions would be a worthwhile investment

SIEM is an automated process that analyzes log data throughout your network in real-time. It runs constant correlations between event data to identify unusual behaviour. This analysis is then presented to network managers or auditors in a digestible format.

SIEM Over the Years

For decades only large enterprises had access to SIEM solutions. This was mainly driven by compliance requirements. Large enterprises had the advantage of employing one to two human monitors to keep track of security incidents. However, as the threats have become more advanced over the years the more small and medium sized businesses have had a need for a SIEM solution.

What exactly are these complex threats that are driving demand for SIEM solutions? Some of the notable ones include malware, ransomware, targeted phishing, careless users, and the top threat of malicious insiders. Even national security organizations have had trouble preventing insider threat. Contributing to the increase of data breaches are insiders having so many devices that connect into your network. Pair this with telecommuting and it can become very tough and complex to keep up with all the activities of your employees and managers. This is where SIEM solutions offer efficiency in analysis. SIEM solutions have become much more affordable over the years and can often be found bundled with other cybersecurity solutions. Compare this to decades ago when SIEM was an expensive stand alone option only accessible to enterprises large enough to afford it.

SIEM & Insider Threats

Analyzing log data may seem like it wouldn’t yield much data, but when it comes to insider threat SIEM solutions create a fortress. This is only possible because of what log data reveals about users. With a robust SIEM solution an organization can define what normal behaviour is for a user and be notified of any unusual patterns outside of that standard. This is advanced profiling of an insider threat. Additionally a SIEM solution provides IT forensics so that an organization can prevent or swiftly respond to a data breach.

The Ponemon Institute conducted a survey and found that 84% of organizations have indicated that they believe SIEM is very important. The same survey also indicated that 68% of respondents said that they require additional staffing to maximize the full value of SIEM solutions. There are a few features that you want to look out for when finding what SIEM solution will meet your security and compliance needs.

Ideal Features in SIEM Solutions

  1. Correlation & Automated Analysis: The core feature of any SIEM solution is correlation and automated analysis. This means that the SIEM solution can bring together several different occurrences in your log data and detect abnormal behavior or even compromise.  Without this there is no SIEM solution.
  2. Advanced Profiling & Behavioral Analytics: To get the best results your SIEM solution should have the ability to develop a baseline “normal” behavior while on your network. Good solutions allow administrators to define what is normal for their organization and alert both them and the user of deviation from the baseline. Customization based on the role of the user also aids in SIEM effectiveness. For example the data and behaviour of an accountant will be different than that of a content writer.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: Just because the reasons companies are adopting SIEM solutions has changed doesn’t mean foundations should be forgotten. Effective SIEM solutions will simplify regulatory reporting and audits for your organization. The technology should ideally collect the common denominator data once and organize it to fit a variety of regulations. Some of these include Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),  Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and Information Security Management ISO 27001. Just to name a few, globally there are many to comply with such as Europe’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It helps to be prepared and SIEM solutions can ensure you are ready.
  4. Incident Notification: Critical to the effectiveness of a company’s security is a SIEM solution’s ability to notify administrators of a security incident. However when pair with behavioral analytics and automated security measures, incident notification really becomes even more effective. The SIEM solution you use requires ever more advanced features in order to deter insider threats. Incident notification should be paired with rules and automated consequences. This allows you to not just detect an insider incident but also automatically respond based on the severity of the behavior deviation.

Insider threat is not going away anytime soon, it is best to equip your organization with the necessary tools to prevent security incidents from occurring. SIEM helps to fortify your organization by allowing you to proactively prevent insider incidents from occurring, rather than trying to manage the fallout from a breach.