Security incident and event management (SIEM) refers to the process of recording, monitoring, correlating, and analyzing the security events in an IT environment in real time. No matter the size of a business, SIEM tools can have significant benefits for everything from compliance reporting to stopping attacks. Any managed services provider (MSP) can benefit from having SIEM software in its portfolio.
SIEM tools combine security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) functionalities. They use log data flows from different areas of an organization to create a real-time picture of potential threats to the IT environment, enabling your cybersecurity to be proactive rather than reactive. By relying on data from the variety of hosts in an IT environment, SIEM tools can provide you with a broad understanding of what is happening at every level of a business.
Why you need a SIEM tool
As an MSP, you know how important it is to provide your customers with the consistent high-quality service they’ve come to expect from you. SIEM tools can help you do that by providing simplified compliance reporting, greater visibility into IT environments, and scalability as business grows.
For MSPs, including SIEM tools in your portfolio will allow you to provide your customers with stronger cybersecurity support thanks to centralized logging capabilities. This can lead to increased revenue and improved profit margins, as well as better customer relationships and loyalty.
Summary of SIEM benefits
The SIEM process is one of the most critical branches of cybersecurity. By collecting, naturalizing, and correlating log data from an organization, SIEM tools help you reduce security breaches with proactive security.
Benefit #1: data aggregation and visibility
Visibility into your entire IT environment is one of the biggest benefits of SIEM. This visibility goes hand in hand with the way that logs are normalized and correlated in a SIEM tool.
No matter the size of a business, there are likely a variety of different components in the IT environment, each of which is generating, formatting, and sending huge amounts of data. Not only are these components producing tons of data, they’re likely each doing so in different ways. Trying to make sense of all that data manually is a nearly impossible task, and one that would necessitate devoting a huge amount of time and energy to a job that can easily be automated.
That’s why the SIEM capabilities that relate to data aggregation and normalization are so beneficial. Not only does a SIEM tool collect and store the data from the security tools in your IT environment in a centralized location, it normalizes them into a uniform format so you can easily compare the data. The tool also analyzes and correlates this data, finding connections that can help you detect security incidents quickly.
Benefit #2: incident detection
Many of the hosts on your system that log security breaches don’t include built-in incident detection capabilities. That means they can observe events and produce log entries, but can’t analyze them for potential suspicious activity. However, because SIEM tools correlate and analyze the log data that’s produced across hosts, they’re able to detect the incidents that might otherwise be missed—either because the relevant logs were not analyzed or because they were too widely separated between hosts to be detected.
As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, they’re able to avoid detection better than ever. By gathering and normalizing log data from different systems, a SIEM tool can see the different elements of attacks that are seen on the different hosts within your system. For example, one part of an attack might be seen on a computer’s operating system, while another part might be seen by a network intrusion prevention system. By correlating log data from each host, the tool is then able to reconstruct the series of events to determine the precise nature of the attack and whether it succeeded. Once the correlated event has been detected, the tool can send alerts to notify the IT team of the full scope of the attack and direct them to the associated log data so that they can respond accordingly.
There is a huge difference between detecting an attack as it’s occurring versus detecting it long after it has already succeeded. By detecting incidents that might otherwise go unnoticed until much later, the SIEM workflow can limit the scale of damage that might result from the threat.
Benefit #3: improved efficiency
SIEM tools can significantly improve your efficiency when it comes to understanding and handling events in your IT environment. With SIEM tools, you can view the security log data from the many different hosts in your system from a single interface. This expedites the incident handling process in several ways. First, the ability to easily see log data from the hosts in your environment allows your IT team to quickly identify an attack’s route through your business. Second, the centralized data lets you easily identify the hosts that were affected by an attack.
SIEM tools also include automated mechanisms that use data correlation and analysis to stop attacks as soon as they are detected. These capabilities enable SIEM tools to stop attacks while they’re still in progress and to contain hosts that have already been compromised, thus reducing the impact of a security breach.
Working more efficiently, especially when it comes to ongoing security incidents, is a huge asset for MSPs to be able to provide their customers. By responding quickly to perceived events, SIEM tools can help you reduce the financial impact of a breach—as well as the amount of damage that occurs in the first place.
Benefit #4: simplified compliance reporting
Practically every business, no matter the size or the industry, has at least some regulations that it needs to comply with. Ensuring that you’re abiding by those regulations and that you can prove your compliance can be a difficult and time-consuming task. Luckily, thanks to the collection, normalization, and organization of log data, SIEM tools can help simplify the compliance reporting process. In fact, the benefits of SIEM tools as centralized logging solutions for compliance reporting are so significant that some businesses deploy SIEMs primarily to streamline their compliance reporting.
Most compliance reporting demands rich customized reports involving all the relevant logged security events from across the various hosts in an IT environment. Without a SIEM system, it’s unlikely that you have robust centralized logging capabilities. That means you may need to manually retrieve data from each of the hosts in your IT environment or be forced to generate individual reports from each host and then reassemble them into a single report. This is particularly difficult given that all the different hosts in your system are likely logging their data differently, which makes correlation an enormous effort without SIEM tools that automatically normalize your log data.
SIEM tools can save businesses both time and money by simplifying compliance reporting to make sure MSP customers are not in violation of any regulations. Without accurate reporting to prove compliance, businesses may face hefty fines and loss of accreditation. With SIEM tools, MSPs can easily generate reports that provide details on their customers’ compliance with the relevant regulatory protocols.
A SIEM Solution for MSPs
SolarWinds® Threat Monitor offers MSPs SIEM capabilities to offer their customers. With centralized logging, you can simplify compliance reporting efforts while also strengthening your ability to detect and respond to security incidents in the IT environment. Threat Monitor’s alerts help ensure the right people are notified when a threat is detected so they can immediately investigate the issue, potentially even stopping attacks in progress. The tool’s dashboard makes it easy to visualize what‘s happening in your customers’ digital environments.
With its SIEM capabilities, Threat Monitor also includes an assortment of templates that make it easier to demonstrate compliance with initiatives and legislation including HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, ISO, and more.
For more information on SIEM benefits, read through our related blog articles.