Archive for December, 2012


Most organizations face the same inherent challenges when dealing with security information and event management (SIEM): effectively balancing limited IT resources, ever-increasing supplies of log data, dealing with regulation compliance, and keeping staff training up-to-date. There are four best challenges that organizations should consider to achieve this balance:

  • Prioritize security information and event management appropriately throughout organizations—Organizations can define requirements and goals for performing logging and monitoring logs to include applicable laws, regulations, and existing organization policies. They can then prioritize goals based on balancing risk with time and resources needed to manage logs
  • Establish policies and procedures for security information and event management—Policies and procedures are beneficial because they ensure consistent approaches throughout organizations as well as ensure that laws and regulations are observed. Periodic audits can confirm that logging standards and guidelines are followed throughout organizations. Furthermore, testing and validating can properly ensure log management policies and procedures
  • Create and maintain robust security information and event management infrastructures—Having secure log management infrastructures aids in preserving the integrity of log data from accidental or intentional modifications or deletions and in maintaining confidentiality. It is also critical for creating scalable infrastructures for handling expected volumes of log data as well as peak volumes during extreme situations (e.g. widespread malware incidents)
  • Provide proper training for all staff with security information and event management responsibilities—While defining log management schemas, organizations must provide requisite training to relevant staffers regarding their log management responsibilities as well as skilled instruction on the resources necessary to support log management. This includes providing log management tools, tool documentation, technical guidance on log management, and disseminating information to log management staffers.

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Next-generation SIEM and log management:

One area where the tools can provide the most needed help is in compliance. Corporations increasingly face the challenge of staying accountable to customers, employees and shareholders, and that means protecting IT infrastructure, customer and corporate data, and complying with rules and regulations as defined by the government and industry. Log management and SIEM correlation technologies can work together to provide more comprehensive views to help companies satisfy their regulatory compliance requirements, make their IT and business processes more efficient and reduce management and technology costs in the process.
IT organizations also will expect log management and intelligence technologies to provide more value to business activity monitoring and business intelligence. Though SIEM will continue to capture security-related data, its correlation engine can be re-appropriated to correlate business processes and monitor internal events related to performance, uptime, capability utilization and service-level management. The combined solutions provide deeper insight into not just IT operations but also business processes. In short, by integrating SIEM and log management, it is easy to see how companies can save by re-duplicating efforts and functionality. The functions of collecting, archiving, indexing and correlating log data can be collapsed. That will also lead to savings in the resources required and in the maintenance of the tools.

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Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of an organization’s information technology (IT) security.

The underlying principle of a SIEM system is that relevant data about an enterprise’s security is produced in multiple locations and being able to look at all the data from a single point of view makes it easier to spot trends and see patterns that are out of the ordinary.

At the most basic level, a SIEM system can be rules-based or employ a statistical correlation engine to establish relationships between event log entries. In some systems, pre-processing may happen at edge collectors, with only certain events being passed through to a centralized management node. In this way, the volume of information being communicated and stored can be reduced.

SIEM systems collect logs and other security-related documentation for analysis. Most SIEM systems work by deploying multiple collection agents in a hierarchical manner to gather security-related events from end-user devices, servers, network equipment — and even specialized security equipment like firewalls, antivirus or intrusion prevention systems.

In order to provide the most complete security view, SIEMs generally require data from different types of devices and platforms such as switches, firewalls, routers, servers (Windows, Unix, Linux, etc.) and applications (databases, CRMs, SAP, Exchange, etc.). To allow the system to identify anomalous events, it’s important that the SIEM administrator first creates a profile of the system under normal event conditions.

SIEM systems are typically expensive to deploy and complex to operate and manage. While Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance has traditionally driven SIEM adoption in large enterprises, concerns over advanced persistent threats (APTs) have led smaller organizations to look at the benefits a SIEM managed security service provider (MSSP) can offer.

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