Because security is an increasing concern for developers, a new movement is emerging, known as DevSecOps, which encourages developers to bring security and standards to the forefront while building applications. That means there’s good reason to stay on top of security information and event management trends and best practices, as well as the solutions that support it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how it works, benefits for developers, and why it matters.
Definition of SIEM
Security information and event management or SIEM is a security management approach that gives you a comprehensive look into how your information technology is performing. Simply put, it involves the real-time analysis of all security alerts that are generated by applications and network hardware.
Security information and event management brings together all the relevant security information that are being generated in different locations, similar to log management tools like Retrace, but with a particular focus on security information. In fact, log management tools are often categorized as SIEM tools due to their usefulness for managing security-related logs. Once you have all these data in one place, it is easier to see trends and patterns that may stand out. It takes a look at all the security information and all the security events from all over your network.
With SIEM, you have a central storage for all these security events and information. On that central repository, you can do all the analysis and interpretation of logs, thus allowing you to have a better analysis of these events and information even in real time. It also gives you a faster time in searching for and recovering security events and identification. Another benefit is that auditors and compliance managers would have an easier time reviewing and ensuring that your network is compliant with regulations.
Where Does a SIEM System Get Security Events and Information?
A SIEM system gathers logs and information from different places. It has collection agents that gather security data and events from:
- End user devices
- Network equipment
- Intrusion prevention solutions
- Other security equipment
Data collected from these are stored in a centralized location, usually a management console, that would be able to inspect all of these data and flag potential issues and anomalies, using a baseline standard of what a “normal system” would look like.
How Does SIEM Work?
Simple SIEM systems follow a set of rules and policies, or it may use correlation engines. This would allow it to find a connection between different log entries. Some solutions may also have a pre-processing mechanism, which takes a look at the events, and filters particular events to send to the central repository. This helps reduce the volume of logs that need to be transferred and stored. Some users, however, think that this might mean some events may be tagged as useless and filtered out.
Benefits of SIEM for Developers
1. SIEM enables you to react faster and whittles down the amount of data you have to go through.
Developers often have to find bugs in their software or applications. They need to look at security events and information as well to see if there are problems and determine the root cause of these glitches. Without SIEM, accomplishing this can be very tedious and time-consuming. You need to check the IPS, the network traffic, the firewall, and everything else again and again. There may be too much data that provide very little information or too much data that are unrelated to your application. What’s more, there is no context as to where errors happen and why.
SIEM aggregates the data for you, and these data come from a variety of sources, including databases, your applications, the servers, security, network and other places. You can easily monitor everything in one place without having to go from one area to another and then back again.
SIEM also correlates common attributes between two or more events and then links it all together. That means that you can study a particular type of security event, or even be able to see what a particular user did. Both of these make it easier to investigate what went wrong and how you could plug it. Thus, you can convert all that data into useful insights and information.
SIEM also provides you with better and more detailed alerts, as well as see things from a dashboard. That means you are no longer confined to just individual security event log entries. You can make use of charts that make it easier for you to detect patterns and trends.
2. Be more efficient in handling security incidents and events.
If there are security incidents, you can be more efficient with SIEM and be able to save resources and time in the process. You can pinpoint and identify issues a lot faster, and you can address any issues as these arise. Prompt resolution of issues can lower the damage they inflict.
Some real life examples: SIEM allows you to quickly identify the route of an attack, like where it originated and ultimately how it is moving and affecting your application. It also allows you to quickly identify everything that has been affected by a particular issue, and lastly, you can use automatic mechanisms to stop the attack or issue from spreading further.
Bonus Benefit: Compliance Reporting
SIEM can be deployed to help streamline compliance reporting. Without it, you would need to have a separate report for each server, host, and everything else. Or you would need to manually get all security logs from these different locations and then store them all on a centralized storage.
You will not only spend time doing this, but you will encounter some degree of difficulty in making sure that event logs gathered from different operating systems and software work together. Converting all of these into one format might mean a lot of code development. SIEM takes away that complexity.
These solutions transfer data and events from different places in your network, and store them all in one place. They can then easily generate reports according to your specifications, and these can include compliance reports. Some SIEM tools even have support for common regulatory compliance reports such as reports for the Sabarnes Oxley Act (SOX), HIPAA, and the PCI DSS.
The Final Word on SIEMs
SIEM systems can cost a lot to deploy and may be technically complex to manage, but with the obvious benefits in regulatory compliance, it has become non-negotiable for large companies and many smaller organizations as well. Persistent threats have also made smaller enterprises consider these systems. The good news is that these tools are now available as a service, making security information and event management more accessible for organizations of all sizes.
Additional Resources and Tutorials on SIEM
For more information and helpful tutorials on SIEM, visit the following resources:
- SIEM – A Beginner’s Guide
- Security Basics: Five Resources to Help Beginners Tackle SIEM
- A Dummies Guide to SIEM
- Benchmarking Security Information Event Management (SIEM)
- Vulnerability management systems and security information and event management (SIEM)