Security information and event management (SIEM) refers to software that monitors data traffic (both incoming and outgoing) from computers, servers, applications, and any other Internet-connected device or application that make up an organization’s network.

The SIEM system constantly analyzes this data and helps you decide if there is a looming threat or an on-going attack. This lets you take the appropriate steps to deal with these problems before they escalate. 

Using security information and event management (SIEM) software can be likened to having a watchdog on patrol to look out for security-related events.

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SIEM is an evolved form of Security Event Management (SEM) and Security Information Management (SIM). SEM involves analyzing real-time event data to monitor threats, correlate events, and respond to incidents. SIM, meanwhile, comprises collecting, analyzing, and reporting log data (i.e., the information that comes from all systems and devices connected to a network).

How Does SIEM Work?

SIEM primarily aims to aggregate log data, search for trends, and create a report that users (typically cybersecurity professionals) can utilize to investigate security breaches. The SIEM software does this for an entire networked environment, including host systems and security devices such as antivirus software and firewalls. It then aggregates and normalizes or puts the data in the same format for proper analysis. Threats are detected by looking at anomalies in trends. Once the presence of threats is confirmed, it alerts the operator to a potential breach that requires further investigation.

SIEM software has two main objectives:

  • Come up with detailed reports of security-related events
  • Send alerts if an event strays from predetermined rules, which may indicate possible security breaches

An example of an event that SIEM software would flag is when a user makes numerous failed login attempts to a network-connected computer from an unlikely location. More specifically, if the rules say that no users outside the U.S. can access that system, the software would identify that particular user as a potential attacker and send an alert.

SIEM Capabilities

Security information and event management software provides users three key benefits:

  • Threat detection
  • Threat investigation
  • Time to respond

But, some also offer additional functionalities that include:

  • Advanced threat detection
  • Basic security monitoring
  • Forensics and incident response
  • Log collection
  • Notifications and alerts
  • Security incident detection

and others.