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.

Other interesting terms…

Read more about “SIEM”

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.

Who Uses SIEM Software?

Most SIEM software users are big corporations and public sector companies that are required to comply with strict regulations.

A few medium-sized businesses also use SIEM software. A majority of small companies, however, do not see the need to invest in it or feel they do not have the necessary funds to employ an expert to maintain the software. Small and medium-sized business (SMB) users may opt for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model of SIEM offered by some third-party providers. Large enterprises, meanwhile, choose to use the software in-house due to the sensitivity of the data they handle.

However, most analysts believe that this will change soon as most SIEM products now incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence into the software. They predict that most SIEM software vendors will also offer hybrid products (when not done already) that make analytics available via the cloud.