Keeping your Cloud Infrastructure Secure Using SIEM

What if instead of building a solution that processes and collects logs and security events, you could push the problem to the cloud through an encrypted channel? As a result, you would easily get detailed reports about threats to your company.

In this article, we will examine the topic of SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) and explain what SIEM is and what we gain from such a system. We will also list a few principles helpful in its implementation in the cloud model.

So, what’s the commotion?

SIEM is a multi-component security system for monitoring and analysis designed to help organizations detect threats and mitigate the effects of attacks. It combines several disciplines and tools under one coherent system:

  • Log Management System (LMS) – Tools used for traditional log collection and storage.
  • Security Information Management (SIM) – Tools or systems that focus on collecting and managing security-related data from multiple sources, such as firewalls, DNS servers, routers, and anti-viruses.
  • Security Event Management (SEM) – Systems based on proactive monitoring and analysis, including data visualization, event correlation and alerting.

SIEM is a term used today for a management system that combines all the above elements into one platform which knows how to automatically collect and process information from distributed sources, store it in one centralized location, compare various events and generate alerts based on this information.

The evolution of SIEM over time

SIEM is not a new technology. The platform’s core capabilities have existed in various forms for almost 15 years. Formerly, SIEM relied on local deployments to get a unified overview. This meant that hardware upgrades, data analysis, and scaling problems required constant tuning to achieve maximum performance. Modern SIEM tools focus on native sourcing support for cloud hosting providers. They also collect endpoint data such as parent/child processes into the flow to offer nuanced detection support – essential for compliance.

Why do we need SIEM?

No one doubts that the number and variety of attacks on information systems is constantly growing. System and network monitoring has always played a key role in protecting against attacks. Many interrelated attack methods and techniques have evolved over the years, and it has quickly become apparent that the changing nature of cybercrime means that some threats often go unnoticed.

For security analysts, SIEM systems are the central vantage point of the IT environment. By centralizing all the data that measures the health and security of your systems, you can have real-time visibility of all processes and events. The ability to correlate logs from multiple systems and present them in one view is the main advantage and benefit of SIEM.

Many complex incidents may go unnoticed by the first layer of security because individual events lack context. Rules set in SIEM systems and reporting mechanisms help organizations detect events that contribute to a more sophisticated attack or malicious activity. In addition, it is possible to automatically react to an ongoing attack and mitigate its effects.

What will you gain by moving SIEM to the cloud?

Cloud-based solutions provide flexibility to use a wide range of datasets in both on-premise and cloud-based systems. As more and more companies start working in models such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), the ease of integration with third party systems shows that SIEM in the cloud makes even more sense. The most important benefits of moving SIEM to the cloud are the flexibility provided by hybrid architecture, automatic software updates, simplified configuration, scalable infrastructure, large possibilities of adjusting the system to individual needs and high availability.

5 rules to help implement SIEM in the cloud model

In order to fully use the potential of SIEM, in particular the versions intended for enterprises, you need a good action plan and a large dose of precaution and vigilance. With proper implementation, SIEM can transform an IT department from an infrastructure-based model to an information-centered model

Implementing and managing SIEM in the cloud increases accessibility, efficiency, and ease of management, but like any technology, it has some drawbacks and pitfalls. By following a few simple rules, you can avoid them:

1. Define your goals and adapt implementations to them

Before implementing, answer these 5 questions:

  1. What do you need SIEM for? Compatibility issues? BYOD? Vulnerability detection?
  2. How should SIEM be implemented to meet your expectations (what processes, functionalities and properties should be covered by the SIEM)?
  3. What should be recorded, analyzed and reported?
  4. What should be the scale of implementation to properly and cost-effectively meet your business needs?
  5. Where is the data that should be monitored? 

2. Incremental use.

The quickest way to succeed is to start with small steps to broaden your scope. In some cases, this may mean starting with managing the logs and adding a SIEM as soon as you understand the requirements, volume and needs. Now, when security as a service enables a flexible and scalable approach, the starting point may be to launch a SIEM within the scope of regulations and standards that you must comply with or within individual areas, departments or units.

3. Define an incident response plan.

You should plan and define actions to be taken when an incident attracts your attention. Do you investigate, suspend the user, deactivate the password, deny the service for a particular IP address, or apply other corrective measures based on the severity of the threat, the level of vulnerability, or the identity of the attacker? A well-defined incident response plan allows you to manage vulnerabilities in your network and ensure compliance with the requirements.

4. Real time monitoring 7/24/365.

This can be a challenge for many organizations, but hackers are awake. Despite the fact that SIEM is a fully automated solution, it requires constant vigilance and monitoring by a human 24 hours a day, and many IT departments do not have sufficient resources for this. In this case, security as a service has an advantage over traditional solutions and allows you to sleep more peacefully at night. Knowing that this element of the security process can be handled by professionals without the need to involve additional staff and budget makes the solutions in the cloud model worthy of interest.

5. Be cold as ice!

Soon after the implementation and launch of a SIEM you may observe the occurrence of a completely unexpected number and type of alarms due to malware, botnets, and a whole host of other security nightmares. It’s like viewing bedding under a microscope. You learn that you are surrounded by a lot of strange creatures that have always been there, but when you take adequate measures to get rid of them, they turn out to be not as dangerous as they looked. It is similar with the launch of SIEM. Once you realize what is a threat and how to react to it, you will be able to make intelligent decisions and automate the entire process more and more.

Summary

SIEM is a security platform that processes event records and collects them in one place, offering a single view of your data with additional information.

The most important benefits of moving SIEM to the cloud include:

  • Flexibility provided by hybrid architecture
  • Automatic software updates
  • Simplified configuration, scalable infrastructure
  • Large possibilities of adjusting the system to individual needs and high availability

To implement SIEM in your company, you need a good plan and a large dose of thrift and vigilance. Remember, be cold as ice!

 

Article written by Piotr Slupski.