SIM: To Manage or Not to Manage, That is the Question

SIM and SEM are slightly different concepts.

Many years ago, companies used to worry about things like “Trojan horses” and “computer worms.” But over time, those ceased being the major threats as cybersecurity firms developed and implemented effective countermeasures. Unfortunately, despite the progress, the problem of security hasn’t gone away: far from it. Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, putting company data and business continuity at risk.

There’s another issue in 2019 too: the fact that businesses are more dependent than ever before on their data. Companies need data for everything, from managing customer experience to developing new products. Firms that don’t leverage data won’t survive the coming decade: they need to protect it.

Today’s cybersecurity threat landscape is radically different from that of five years ago. New threats include:

  • Ransomware – where criminals attempt to extract payment for the return of data – IoT device attacks
  • DNS infrastructure hacking
  • Hacks designed to hi-jack e-commerce payments.

The constant evolution of threats means that it’s often hard for smaller companies to keep up. Companies of any size are at risk. We’ve seen high-profile and successful attacks at Target, Ashley Madison, and Yahoo, to name a few.

As with any security system, a company’s defense is only as good as its weakest link. Many companies have complex supply chains, but there’s a lack of integration between suppliers and the companies they relate to. This creates vulnerabilities at the systems level. Rather than pooling cybersecurity resources, firms often see their security apparatus as a competitive advantage and are unwilling to share it with other people in their industry. The unintended consequence of this is, all too often, unnecessary chinks in a company’s armor. This makes it much more challenging to eliminate weak points in the chain.

Organizations Need To Be Able To Monitor Their Networks for Breaches

If companies want to react to this evolving security landscape, they need to be able to monitor their networks for breaches and respond to threats. SIM, or Security Information Management, is a tool that can help them achieve this.

SIM and SEM are slightly different concepts. SIM refers simply to the collection and storage of logged security data. SEM, or Security Event Management, is more concerned with categorizing security events into various silos, helping to make the management of security issues easier for CIOs and related staff. SEM software, for instance, might be able to detect suspicious logins or account authentications and send a labeled report to an analyst for further investigation while SIM would just create a log entry recording the event.

SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management, is a combination of the two. It not only provides a log of possible security breaches and events, but it also assists analysts in managing and prioritizing those events, providing a high-level overview.

Organizations need to use these tools to monitor their networks for several reasons.

Better Compliance Reporting

Data protection compliance often means that companies need to show how they protect their data and gather information when a breach occurs. Without SIEM, this is difficult, because there is no real-time method of collecting security information from a network and identifying the source of a particular breach or event. SIEM is necessary to enable firms to convert security events into practical and efficient reporting, both for external and internal purposes.

Detect Undetected Issues

SIEMs can also help in another meaningful way: the detecting of undetected issues. Hackers will often install malware on company machines and spend months collecting data before the firm recognizes the breach. By that time, it’s often too late, and the malicious attackers have all of the information they need to launch a full-scale attack.

SIEMs have an uncanny ability to find problems that a company didn’t know existed. Because of this, they are a necessary preventive measure: something that can stop what seem like small issues from developing into significant security events.

SIEM products have another ability: they can prevent cyber attacks while in progress. Real-time reporting gives analysts the tools they need to address vulnerabilities in real-time and prevent more damage from being done.

Better Incident Handling

Containing a security threat as soon as it becomes visible is a priority for companies. But without SIEM tools, it can be difficult.

The benefit of SIEM is that it funnels all security information from across the network into a single dashboard. An operator can see where an attack took place, the resources that were compromised, and who might have been affected. All of this information makes responding much more straightforward. Automated mechanisms in the software can shut down an attack at the source and then provide a report to the network manager who can then assess the information and take the next step.

Managed SIEM Services: A Cost-Effective Solution



SIEM software might seem like a great tool. But when you think about the total costs, including the expense of hiring additional cybersecurity staff, you soon realize that it’s cost prohibitive for most firms. Hiring security personnel to monitor log files 24/7 is not a practical option for the vast majority of IT departments.

The good news, though, is that by using a managed SIEM service, organizations get a cost-effective solution that protects their networks from breaches. Third-party services hire teams of network analysts to monitor the activity of your network (as well as those of other companies), cutting costs, yet delivering the same high level of service that you’d expect if you brought the same function in-house.

Just like an in-house team, a managed SIEM service can provide you with reports, real-time security, and threat detection. These third-party companies also offer additional benefits. Because they compete with one another, they’re continually upgrading the quality of their defenses and developing countermeasures to new threats. Managed SIEMs patch systems as soon as possible rather than wait for the next update cycle (like a traditional IT department would).

To manage or not to manage SIEM? That is the question. And the answer is that if you’re a small company with limited resources, then working with an SIEM service is almost always the more affordable and effective option. BitLyft can partner with you to provide high level security and reporting.

Get the Guide: 7 Pitfalls of Using SIEM Tools

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