Security Information Event Management (SIEM) technology is a crucial part of your organization’s cybersecurity efforts. But should you install your SIEM tools On-Prem? Or should you rely on a managed SIEM service?
While the answer largely depends on your organization, (and the SIEM as a Service provider in question,) there are some Pros & Cons to each of these approaches.
On-Prem SIEM Installation: Pros
There are a few different reasons why your organization might consider installing a SIEM system on the premises, to either comanage with your SIEM provider or run internally.
On-Prem Pro #1: Your Data Stays On-Site
Here’s the thing about sensitive data: it’s risky.
There are risks involved in storing data for long periods. And there are risks involved when you transmit data.
While there are many ways to reliably and safely transmit data to a cloud-based SIEM without incursion, some organizations feel safer by keeping the SIEM software on-prem.
On-Prem Pro #2: Control Over The Platform
Organizations that run their own SIEM have control over all aspects of their SIEM.
Here’s the thing: in order to run a SIEM effectively, the team managing it has to understand the context of your business.
Where do you do business? Who logs into your system? How do customers, vendors, and internal employees interact with the elements of your system?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, a SIEM will never be fully effective.
Having full control over your SIEM means you can tailor it to the context of your business’ unique fingerprint… if you know how.
On-Prem Pro #3: Control Over Your Team
This crucial context element means that any team that runs your SIEM needs to have a close relationship with your organization, whether they are internal or 3rd party.
If you are in charge of hiring and managing your own security team, you can make sure to train that security team to understand your business’ context.
Having control over your team means that you set the expectations and deliverables for your security team, and you always know where you stand.
On-Prem SIEM Installation: Cons
With all that being said, installing your own SIEM on-prem does come with a serious set of drawbacks.
On-Prem Con #1: Prohibitive Costs
Running your own SIEM on-prem, with your own team to effectively manage it, is expensive.
Think about it: first off, you have to buy the SIEM tools that you plan to use. But that’s the easy part.
Next, since we’re talking about assembling and monitoring a metric boatload of logs, from every single data collection point on your system, we need to consider the infrastructure to effectively run a SIEM on-prem.
We’re talking storage. And servers. All the hardware required to run your SIEM well.
And now for the most expensive bit: the people.
Onboarding, training, and managing a cybersecurity team is not a small investment. For qualified people, it can be a very steep cost.
So if you’re considering running your SIEM on-prem, make sure you’ve got the budget for it.
On-Prem Con #2: Learning Curve & Delays
First off, learning how to manage a SIEM is a complex process.
As a rule, it will take an entire security team anywhere up to 12 months to become proficient with new SIEM tools.
And learning the SIEM technology is the easy part.
As we mentioned before, running a SIEM effectively means tailoring it to the context of your business’ unique fingerprint.
That means not just understanding your business model and your habits, but learning how to tweak the SIEM system to accurately reflect the realities of your system.
The time that it takes to become proficient with the platform and your context translates to delays in actual threat detection.
That’s right. That means the $250k investment you just put into your security solution might not actually be producing any results for the first year.
On-Prem Con #3: Limited/Delayed Integrations
One of the crucial elements of a mature, effective SIEM deployment is its ability to integrate with every part of your system.
But it just so happens that integrations are complicated.
Installing SIEM technology on-prem requires a working knowledge of the SIEM software, all the other software and tech on the system, and knowing how to keep those integrations updated.
The longer you go without updating your integrations, the more compromised and less effective those connections become.
If your team is waiting for your SIEM software provider to release integration updates, those connection updates are delayed.
It’s important to be consistently and proactively updating those integrations.
Those delays can equate to data correlation errors and omissions… which means moving one step forward, two steps back.
Unless you spend the big bucks on an internal team that is intimately trained on every single technology on your system… chances are, you’ll experience those delays in proper integration.
Managed SIEM Services: Pros
On-Prem installs offer high control, but also high cost and high delay while your team learns the ropes. Relying on a SIEM as a Service (SaaS) provider has a whole different set of benefits:
SIEM as a Service Pro #1: Less Delay
When you hire a professional managed SIEM service, you’re hiring a security team that is already up to speed on the SIEM technology in question.
That means that the SIEM software will come pre-configured. And the team will come pre-trained.
A configuration and onboarding process that could take months with an internal team can be reduced to days or weeks with a professional SaaS provider.
SIEM as a Service Pro #2: Less Cost
Relying on a managed SIEM service can bring significant cost savings to the table.
For one thing, if your SaaS provider is cloud-based, you don’t need to worry about the infrastructure investment. Your provider is coming to the table with all the servers and storage and whatnot to run the SIEM effectively without having to install any costly hardware on your system.
You also get a knowledgeable staff without the training investment… in both time and money.
On top of that, you get maintenance, support, and updates worked out for you as part of your contract. Which in itself is a huge cost savings when compared to paying for the manpower of an entire cybersecurity team on your own payroll.
SIEM as a Service Pro #3: Easier Customization
Running a SIEM on-prem means you can customize every aspect of your system, if you want. But your team will need to spend a lot of time and energy working on it. If they even know how.
By contrast, a good SaaS provider should work with your business to learn your fingerprint and provide tailored SIEM tools as a part of their on-going service platform or solution.
That means custom alarm building and reporting that is real and relevant to your business’ needs, and will be understood by all the stakeholders in your company.
It also means custom dashboards with all the relevant metrics for you to monitor the security of your network and give you access to your data as you need it.
All without a significant manpower investment.
Managed SIEM Services: Cons
However, there’s no such thing as a perfect SIEM solution. Managed SIEM services come with their own set of possible limitations that you should be aware of:
SIEM as a Service Con #1: Data Must Be Moved Offsite
As we mentioned before, data management is always risky.
It’s risky to keep data at rest, but there’s a risk in moving that data offsite as well.
While the risk is small if managed correctly, “in flight” data can be vulnerable if the right precautions aren’t taken.
If you use a managed SIEM service, know how often the SaaS provider updates their systems and integrations, and above all else make sure they have great encryption practices for your logs… whether they are in flight or at rest.
SIEM as a Service Con #2: Alarm Fatigue
If your antivirus software sends you a notification every 5 minutes, and most of them aren’t credible threats, how often will it take you to ignore those notifications entirely?
It’s a phenomenon known as alarm fatigue, and it can lead to missing real credible threats to your system.
If your SIEM provider is focused solely on monitoring and reporting threats, and not effectively managing them on your behalf, you may be paying for a sequence of alarms and notifications that you will effectively ignore.
If that’s the case, why bother paying for security at all?
That’s why it’s important to vet your potential SIEM provider and make sure they are as dedicated to threat mitigation and threat remediation as you are.
Here’s a tip: If your SaaS provider thinks the letter ‘M’ in SIEM stands for “Monitoring” and not “Management,” you may not be as protected as you think!
SIEM as a Service Con #3: Data Access
Here’s another con: not all managed SIEM services will give you access to your data.
They may just collect logs from your data collection points, compile them on their own servers, and send you a report or summary. But you have no access to the raw data itself.
Even though it is your data.
You should be able to rely on your SaaS provider, but you should also be able to access your data if you want or need it for any reason.
If your SaaS provider doesn’t give you a way to access your data, preferably through a customized dashboard, it may be time to reconsider your service.
On-Prem or Managed SIEM Service: Protect Your System
Regardless of which solution is right for you, an effective SIEM tool can be the most effective way to keep your organization’s data safe and secure.
If you’re ready to talk about your options for SIEM technologies, we at BitLyft Cybersecurity would love to hear from you.
If you are building your own security team and are looking for an On-Prem install, we can help with that.
If you’re looking for a managed SIEM service that you can rely on to effectively mitigate and remediate threats to your system, all while providing access to your safely encrypted data, we can do that to.
Request a demo today to see how we can keep your business secure across your entire digital presence.