Cybersecurity is a word that has become a vital part of all business operations. It's no longer an assignment linked to compliance requirements for select industries or something that affects only mega-conglomerates. Effective cybersecurity is a must-have for every business that uses the internet or connected devices. Within the past few years, major attacks have played out in the news media that target unexpected organizations and industries. Widespread, sophisticated attacks that are easy to access mean smaller businesses become a fast and easy target. The value of information and the effectiveness of ransomware means the manufacturing industry is a target and even critical infrastructure is at risk.
To combat these growing threats, leaders of all types of organizations are seeking the perfect cybersecurity solution, and vendors have much to offer. However, not every organization and business has the same needs, and not every security offering provides the same features. For most business leaders unfamiliar with the world of cybersecurity, research can quickly become confusing. That's why it's important to consider broad solutions, like a SIEM system that addresses many of the dangers of sophisticated cyberattacks and offers the most up-to-date protection features.
It's critically important to recognize that no cybersecurity solution is made up of tools alone. Cybersecurity analysts and engineers are highly trained professionals with experience utilizing cybersecurity tools and the tasks required to detect and respond to active cyberattacks. Unfortunately, there is no magic button or security stack that can offer comprehensive protection without the efforts of trained professionals. Yet, this doesn't mean that every organization can fund or attract a fully staffed on-premise security team. Along with the growing need for cybersecurity solutions comes a growing demand for security professionals in an industry that was already facing a talent shortage. This means that the hiring market for cybersecurity professionals is competitive, and many businesses will need other options.
Luckily, there are options for companies starting from scratch with their security efforts and organizations with an existing IT security team. Managed SIEM services from Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) bridge the gap between vendors who sell cybersecurity tools and a fully-functional security operations center within your facility. To provide a better view into the value of a SIEM system overseen by off-site cybersecurity specialists, we're going to explain how third-party cybersecurity providers operate and what a SIEM has to offer.
What is Managed SIEM?
Managed SIEM, also known as SIEM as a Service, is a comprehensive security solution where a managed security service provider offers Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) as a service to an organization. SIEM software collects data from the different technologies within your system, monitors and analyzes that data for deviations and possible security risks, and then takes the appropriate action against those threats.
A SIEM system works by exporting data from your network to your security system for analysis and investigation. As you might imagine, this is a massive amount of information to be categorized and analyzed for malicious activities. The SIEM system takes another step to categorize and normalize the data to make it easily digestible for cybersecurity professionals to investigate. As a system, SIEM was conceived to monitor entire IT networks and keep an eye out for anomalous activity or unusual behaviors, affecting organizations’ internal or external systems.
SIEM systems have been so effective at what they do that organizations of all types have begun implementing them to protect against advanced and persistent threats against their systems, including ransomware, SQL injection attacks, and data breaches.
While our description accurately describes a SIEM system, it doesn't include the underlying actions required by cybersecurity professionals to achieve this seamless collection of data. A SIEM system collects data, it categorizes the data, and only sends useful information to security analysts. The system can also send alerts about suspicious behavior and launch automated incident response actions. To accomplish all these tasks, security specialists must optimize the SIEM system to work with your unique network. In other words, the system must be told which information to collect, the types of behavior that is suspicious, and what IR actions should be taken when a specific event occurs. After optimization, SIEM requires feedback to eliminate false alerts and further tune the system.
What is Co-Managed SIEM?
Co-managed SIEM is a collaborative approach to cybersecurity that involves a partnership between organizations and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). This model blends the strengths of both parties, which offers a comprehensive security solution tailored to the organization's unique needs.
The benefits of co-managed SIEM services are many, including shared responsibility and control, access to the expertise of the MSSP, and enhanced threat detection and response capabilities. By working together, the organization and MSSP can create a customized and scalable solution that allows for more effective monitoring and management of security events.
This cooperative approach not only bolsters the organization's cybersecurity posture but also enables it to adapt and grow in response to evolving threats and changing business requirements.
What's the Difference Between Managed and Co-Managed SIEM?
By now, we've established that SIEM is a crucial cybersecurity tool and MSSPs provide managed security services. It's important to note at this point that MSSPs are independent companies with different service offerings. Some of these providers offer SIEM as a service, which means your security provider supplies and installs a collection of SIEM tools that provide real-time incident monitoring and threat detection. The provider also remotely manages the software and monitors your network for potential security threats. Managed and Co-managed SIEM can both be described as types of SIEM as a service. However, there are distinct differences between the two.
Fully managed SIEM means all of your SIEM services are outsourced to your security provider. Your security provider will supply your SIEM software, install and deploy the software, optimize and tune your SIEM, and monitor the system. Managed SIEM is a complete SIEM solution that requires no work from your IT team. This allows an organization to completely replace the tasks required by an internal team or start from scratch and quickly deploy complete SIEM services complete with the expertise of trained security professionals.
Pros and Cons
While managed SIEM offers numerous advantages, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of both approaches. One of the most significant benefits of managed SIEM is the ability to leverage the expertise of trained security professionals who can promptly deploy a solution without burdening your IT team. This not only frees up internal resources for other tasks but also ensures that your security infrastructure is optimized and well-maintained.
On the other hand, some potential drawbacks of managed SIEM include reduced control over your security infrastructure and potential compatibility issues with existing systems. Since the security provider takes full responsibility for your SIEM services, your organization may have limited input on specific configurations and customizations. Additionally, integrating a managed SIEM solution with your existing systems may require some work to ensure seamless operation.
Companies with an existing IT security team can also benefit from SIEM as a service. Yet, many companies aren't planning to completely replace their existing security staff. Co-managed SIEM is a balance between self-managed SIEM and fully managed SIEM. It can address the various needs of companies with security personnel that don't have the capacity to effectively manage SIEM. A co-managed solution can address the need for 24/7 monitoring, successful deployment and optimization, and outsourcing specific risk management tasks. A co-managed SIEM service provider works with your IT security team as a partner.
Pros and Cons
One of the primary advantages of co-managed SIEM is the collaborative relationship it forms between your IT security team and the service provider. This partnership allows your organization to benefit from the service provider's expertise while retaining full control over your security infrastructure. Co-managed SIEM can also help address resource constraints by providing 24/7 monitoring and assistance in optimizing your SIEM deployment.
However, there are potential downsides to co-managed SIEM as well. For instance, effective collaboration between your IT security team and the service provider requires clear communication and coordination, which could be challenging in some cases. Additionally, while co-managed SIEM allows you to maintain more control over your security infrastructure, your organization still needs to rely on the service provider for certain aspects of your SIEM services. This dependency might be a concern for some organizations, especially those with strict security requirements or unique customization needs.
What is an MSSP?
The acronym MSSP stands for Managed Security Services Provider. An MSSP is a third-party provider that offers IT security services to existing companies. Depending on your needs, your MSSP may provide a fully managed cybersecurity solution that includes tools, software, and professional oversight or specific services that integrate with your existing security tools and IT security team. Typically, services include the management and monitoring of systems and security devices. An MSSP may take responsibility for deploying and optimizing tools like a SIEM system, as well as upgrades, system changes, and scaling to your growing business.
An MSSP can augment or replace an organization's internal security team. For businesses without an internal security team seeking a fast and robust solution, some MSSPs can offer complete cybersecurity services that include tools that work together, software installation and deployment, and 24/7 support from security professionals. Companies with an existing IT security team can also benefit from services provided by an MSSP. For instance, assistance from an MSSP can be crucial when an important role is vacant, additional expertise is needed, or the internal team doesn't provide around-the-clock protection. Managed services can help businesses improve their overall security posture and scale their cybersecurity efforts to match a growing business.
Why is SIEM an integral part of information security architecture?
The main value of SIEM software is that it takes an enormous amount of complex data and provides a single pane of glass to observe potential security events or incidents through.
Having a centralized log analysis allows an organization to have a single source of truth for data from across all their integrated systems. It can filter through thousands of actions and activities and determine whether they are correlated.
In other words, SIEM doesn’t just identify whether a security breach happened: it can also pinpoint how it happened, and whether it’s associated with any other potential breaches.
This type of centralized log analysis is becoming more and more crucial to organizations that take their information security seriously. In fact, the FDIC mandates centralized log analysis for banks that want to remain in compliance.
SIEM vs Log Management
On the surface, this may sound like simple log management. But there is a critical difference: context.
Manual Log Management
With manual log management, logs are recorded and collected from the disparate elements of an organization’s information system. They may be collected in a central location, they may be analyzed on their own.
The logs are then monitored and managed. But the question is… how well? And by who?
If the person, department, or program are running manual queries against a log of information, how do they determine what patterns to look for? How do they identify abnormalities, to begin with? Can you ensure they won’t skip over relevant logs and actions? Once they have identified a potential abnormality, can they identify correlated incidents?
And perhaps the most important question of all: do they know what to do next?
Security Information Event Management (SIEM)
SIEM systems, by contrast, can monitor millions of logs per day. They can query against those logs automatically.
Using machine learning and pattern recognition, SIEM software can identify potential breaches and anomalous events in real-time. And, more importantly, they can identify the correlations between those events and recommend follow up actions.
We like to use the analogy of the popular TV show detective, staring at their corkboard with all the evidence tacked up on it, connecting strings between independent pieces of evidence in order to give a compelling explanation of what happened.
The SIEM system is the Private Eye for your information security architecture, constantly putting together the clues to isolate events, determine the root cause, and proactively work to keep your data secure.
8 Ways SIEM as a Service Provides Superior Protection Against Cyberattacks
Both managed and co-managed SIEM include added professional support to enhance your cybersecurity efforts and help you get the most from your SIEM. The number of high-profile breaches climbs every year. Ransom demands are steadily growing. The cybersecurity threat landscape is more complex than ever, making SIEM an essential tool for most types of organizations. Yet, SIEM is a complex environment with a vast collection of tasks and commands. Without the human element, your SIEM system will never reach its full potential. Whether you're considering co-managed SIEM or a fully-managed SIEM service, there are many benefits to SIEM services from an MSSP.
If you have an on-site IT security team, they are humans who sleep, take vacations, and occasionally get sick. SIEM is a highly useful tool that is necessary for most businesses to achieve effective protection from cyberattacks. However, it is a hands-on technology that requires constant and consistent monitoring, configuration, and tuning to maintain peak performance. The system also generates hundreds of alerts each day that must be evaluated by data analysts.
Managed SIEM outsources all these tasks to your provider, taking the burdens off the shoulders of your IT team. Co-managed SIEM works as a partner to your existing security personnel to ensure your network is protected during off-hours when cyberattacks are most likely to occur. For most companies with an on-premise SOC, outsourcing some SIEM responsibilities frees your team to maintain the focus they need to successfully protect your network.
An established MSSP has a full staff of professional cybersecurity experts. For businesses starting a cybersecurity program from scratch, managed SIEM eliminates the cumbersome recruiting tasks and costs associated with securing cybersecurity professionals in a competitive hiring market. Instead of taking on the challenge of hiring and potentially securing proper training for security analysts and engineers, your team will have immediate and ongoing access to professional advice and immediate actions to protect your network. For companies without an on-premise SOC, the professional security expertise from your SIEM provider can offer these important benefits.
- Professional deployment and optimization of your SIEM system that includes asset identification, log event collection management, reduction of false alerts through constructive feedback, and testing to bolster ongoing success
- The ability to utilize the full capabilities of industry-leading software through the actions of professional security experts who already have experience using the technology
- A shorter learning curve for more immediate results
- Elimination of alert fatigue that often leads to ignored or unrecognized threats
The security expertise provided by co-managed SIEM services from your MSSP can enhance your existing IT team in many ways. Pandemic budget cuts have forced many businesses to work with under-staffed IT teams, and the competitive hiring market can make it even more challenging to retain cybersecurity experts. When third-party security engineers and analysts act as a partner to your existing IT staff through co-managed SIEM, you can reap these benefits from their experience.
- Your team can continue to build skills and expertise by gaining knowledge from the co-managed provider's team
- Increased customization allows you to maintain control over how your SIEM system is tuned to your network's environment
- Faster problem resolution with expert advice and actions taken by your provider's off-site team
- Complete visibility into your network through easy-to-use dashboards that are monitored by both teams
- Relief from alert fatigue with assistance from an experienced team
- Affordable Startup Costs and Scaling
An on-premise SOC requires your organization to provide all the infrastructure and software for your security solution. Often, companies starting from scratch are small or growing businesses that simply don't have the funds to cover this large investment. Furthermore, significant time and manual tasks are required to properly research the resources and staff your organization requires for a fully effective on-premise SOC. Managed SIEM services are provided as a service that is billed monthly for fast startup and a way to distribute the overall costs of effective cybersecurity.
For businesses with an existing IT team and internal infrastructure, scaling can be a challenge. Budgets within an organization are carefully calculated based on ROI and the funds that are absolutely necessary for business functions. Growing your business is a gamble in many ways, and cyberattacks can derail the growth, or even shut down a company that fails to successfully protect its assets. However, planning for growth that doesn't go as expected can mean your company spends limited funds on cybersecurity tools that yield little or no ROI. Managed and co-managed SIEM provides services that can scale on-demand with your company's growth. Instead of making security investments a guessing game, you can scale your security to match your company's ongoing development.
Co-Management Reduces Your Team's Workload
Every IT professional has a full workload maintaining a streamlined effective network and putting out fires when issues inevitably arise. All too often, small companies add security tasks to the many demands required of IT staff. While this can work to stretch an IT budget, it stretches the resources and fragments the focus of your IT team, leaving your network exposed to potential vulnerabilities and your employees subject to stress-related mistakes. An effective SIEM system takes significant expertise and effort to sift through the noise collected by software and detect vital information to protect your network.
Whether your IT team includes security professionals or IT professionals can help you determine the level of SIEM management you need. Co-managed SIEM helps you outsource tasks to dedicated experts that can efficiently parse through mountains of data and take care of manual tasks that keep your SIEM system running effectively. Taking these tasks off the plate of your on-site team allows in-house professionals to focus on emergent tasks and important security information.
Shared Knowledge From an Institutional Expert
Millions of cyberattacks target businesses across the world every day. It's virtually impossible for any single team of individuals to research and document all the attacks that could occur and the potential vulnerabilities that may exist within a business network. MSSPs work with companies large and small across multiple industries and gain new information about potential vulnerabilities and attacks in real-time. Simply put, an MSSP has more resources to gather information from multiple sources than any organization can achieve alone.
As industry leaders in cybersecurity, this information sourced from multiple businesses and industries can serve as an extra layer of protection for companies that haven't been targeted by a specific attack. Instead of spending countless hours searching for potential attacks on the horizon, businesses can reap the benefits of repairing vulnerabilities revealed by other businesses and organizations. This shared knowledge results in the recognition of potential security gaps before they result in a breach.
Co-Managed SIEM Offers Flexibility
For companies with a staff of IT security professionals, the idea of outsourced SIEM management can raise questions and concerns. While a company might be looking for ways to improve overall security posture with improved SIEM effectivity or working on a smaller budget, completely replacing your on-prem SOC might not be the answer. Co-managed SIEM offers you an opportunity to choose how much of your SIEM services should be taken care of in-house and the way outsourced SIEM management can complement your existing efforts.
By partnering with an MSSP to advance your SIEM effectiveness, you can stay in the loop with everything that occurs within your network. Your team and your MSSPs team will receive the same information in real-time and can collaborate on how to react to incidents. With a partner, you can make the most of your team's education and expertise by allowing your Level 1 and 2 internal staff to stay focused on the high-level tasks that align with their training and experience. The result is an efficiently managed SIEM that eliminates the risks that come with overworked IT teams.
Managed Security Clearly Defines Responsibility
The multitude of tasks that go into implementing and running an effective SIEM system takes a lot of work. For some companies, dividing those tasks among two teams can mean certain tasks get overlooked. While some companies have the resources to adequately orchestrate who does what in a co-managed SIEM, others might be overwhelmed with the feeling that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. In such a situation, making the choice to completely outsource SIEM management will clearly define responsibilities and free up your internal team to complete other high-level IT security tasks.
Assistance With Compliance Tasks
Cybersecurity should not be defined by compliance requirements. However, organizations across many industries are required to meet stringent compliance obligations. Security compliance is not a requirement to be checked off a list each year, it's a set of regulations that must be followed in the completion of everyday activities. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to fines, penalties, and even restricted or revoked licenses.
A managed or co-managed SIEM provides you with the professional assistance you need to incorporate the data handling and storage requirements your compliance regulations demand into your SIEM system. With a partner managing your SIEM, you can get help to identify security gaps, generate compliance reports, and strengthen your overall security posture to reach your compliance goals before critical deadlines arrive.
Managed and Co-Managed SIEM Provide Industry Expertise to Improve Security
Managed SIEM doesn't take control out of the hands of your organization. It provides your IT team with a trusted partner to assist with one of the most hands-on cybersecurity tools protecting your company. Besides gaining the benefits of leading-edge technology that can help you maintain complete visibility into the actions within your network, you get the full support of highly trained and experienced professionals to help you build and maintain a healthy security posture.
Managed and co-managed SIEM can work to decrease your IT team's workload while cutting costs and improving your overall security posture for a reduction in security breaches. With multiple tools to collect data from internal devices, cloud platforms, and remote devices, managed SIEM provides your company with the most modern technology to detect all types of threats and is instantly ready to scale at the speed of your growing business. With options for fully managed or co-managed SIEM, your business can have as much or as little control (responsibility) as you want. Humans will always be an essential part of effective cybersecurity and the demands of an effective SIEM system highlight the important roles played by cybersecurity experts working to protect all types of organizations.
SIEM isn't a set it and forget it tool designed to automate cybersecurity for your business. BitLyft Cybersecurity provides SIEM as a Service for organizations across almost any industry. We can install, manage, and optimize SIEM software for your entire cybersecurity system as an extension of your existing security team.
If you’re interested in learning how BitLyft can help secure your data and keep your organization safe and compliant, request a free demo of our services today. We’d be proud to show you what we can do.