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All About Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

What you need to know to up your business network security game

John Teehan
Feb 13 · 4 min read

When it comes to maintaining strong cybersecurity, systems administrators need to keep track of real-time network activity, account usage, and commercial transactions. By keeping logs and engaging in comprehensive tracking, your IT experts can detect problems and threats as they happen and where. From there, admins can take decisive action to minimize the effects of cyberattacks or halt unauthorized usage before either can wreak havoc on your business network.

As threats to networks and data centers increase, so too does the need to increase efforts to detect and respond to these threats. Cybercriminals can exploit any number of paths to infiltrate your business networks. To counter this, it’s important to be able to observe activity across a wide range of devices and networks and be in a position to respond quickly and decisively.

This is where a security information and event management (SIEM) system comes into play.

Explaining SIEM

SIEM combines security information management (SIM) with security event management (SEM) forming a single collaborative security management system in which information from multiple sources is collected and analyzed using rules-based or statistical protocols in order to detect and respond to suspicious activity in an efficient and timely manner. This process could also include more sophisticated user behaviour analytics and machine learning.

An example of this process in action would be one in which someone has gone on vacation and discovered their credit or bank card has been blocked.

Financial institutions, particularly banks, were among the first to apply SIEM to their efforts to keep compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). If a bank or credit card owned by a person living in Oregon suddenly showed purchases made in the street markets of Bangalore, that would trigger a notice in the security information management part of the SIEM system and activate a quick response in the security event management part by placing a hold on that card’s use until the validity of the transaction could be confirmed.

As SIEM further refines over time, overall security will improve and potential inconveniences for customers will decrease and promote greater confidence in those businesses that adopt an effective SIEM system.

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The advantages of a SIEM system for your business

Incident detection

With password protection protocols, robust firewalls, and staff trained in smart Internet use, you would think that smart businesses have enough tools to prevent unauthorized network activity. Many businesses even have a rudimentary logging routine in place that can detect suspicious activity, raise red flags when necessary, and even block certain types of access.

Is that enough?

Using a SIEM system means adding additional layers of detection and the ability to investigate correlating events across multiple hosts and devices, analyze them, and determine what kind of breach or attack took place and how successful it might or might not have been.

Incidence response

What happens when an unauthorized use or blatant cyber attacks occur? By setting into motion a rules-based protocol and machine learning analytics, a SIEM system will take flagged activity and put a halt to it before damage can become severe.

An incidence response stops attacks while in progress, analyzes the information logs, and tracks the attack back to its source whether its origins be malware running on a desktop or mobile device or a hacker on the other side of the world. An effective SIEM system will also determine which hosts or devices were affected by the attack and isolate them from the rest of the system in case any may have been dangerously compromised.

Compliance reporting

Many businesses have regulatory compliance requirements such as PCS DSS or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which need to be strictly adhered to or otherwise be at risk of steep financial penalties and loss of customer confidence.

SIEM tools usually include built-in support for most compliance needs. Among those tools should be an ability to collect and compile data from a range of operating systems, applications and devices. The resulting security logs will save time and resources when it comes to reporting and can often meet multiple compliance requirements.

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Good for business

Security information and event management tools allow businesses to obtain a wider view of their IT and network security throughout the entire organization. With smart cyberattack monitoring and activity logs, combined with robust response management, businesses are better protected in a world in which new cyber threats pop up every day.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to place a priority on protecting business and customers. SIEM tools offer a comprehensive, streamlined solution to network security, and lets entrepreneurs focus on nurturing their business.

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John Teehan

Written by

Writer specializing in tech, business, parenting, pop culture, and gaming. Visit wordsbyjohn.net for more info and rates. Twitter: @WordsByJohn2

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

John Teehan

Written by

Writer specializing in tech, business, parenting, pop culture, and gaming. Visit wordsbyjohn.net for more info and rates. Twitter: @WordsByJohn2

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

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