What Is SIEM? (With Features and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important for businesses to take information security seriously and protect their IT infrastructure from a wide range of threats. Security information and event management (SIEM), is a security solution that helps businesses monitor threats, detect abnormalities, and secure their digital assets. Learning about SIEM can help you understand key aspects of this technology and its importance to modern businesses. In this article, we answer the question, "What is SIEM?", explain its benefits, list its features, and provide tips for using SIEM.

What is SIEM?

The answer to the question, "What is SIEM?" is that SIEM systems offer businesses comprehensive sets of security tools to protect their digital infrastructure. This approach combines security information management, which involves monitoring IT systems for the purpose of threat detection, and security event management, which refers to responding to threats to minimize any damage to the system. A SIEM program monitors an IT system and detects abnormalities. For example, if a user unsuccessfully attempts to log in to a company device many times in a short space of time, a SIEM system can flag this as suspicious activity.

Some SIEM systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect, classify, and categorize security threats. Many systems feature tools that can automatically detect threats and provide security responses to these threats in real time. Programs like firewalls and antivirus software can form part of an effective SIEM system. If a SIEM system detects abnormal behaviour, it might automatically restrict access to an individual device or take steps to quarantine parts of a network to prevent a threat from spreading. There are constant updates for SIEM systems to ensure they can respond to new types of cybersecurity threats.

Benefits of a SIEM system

A SIEM system can offer a business many benefits. Here four of the main benefits of SIEM systems:

Threat detection

A SIEM solution can help a business monitor its entire IT infrastructure for threats or vulnerabilities. This can help reduce the chance of security breaches that can cause vast damage to company infrastructure. SIEM solutions reduce the amount of time it can take to identify and respond to security threats. By monitoring systems and detecting abnormal behaviour, SIEM systems can prevent attacks. A SIEM system can protect a business from many kinds of attacks, including insider threats, phishing attacks, malicious code injections, and denial of service attacks.

Security efficiency

A SIEM system can make a business's approach to cybersecurity more efficient and cost effective. It can monitor the entire IT infrastructure of a business, reducing the time individual system administrators spend watching for threats. You can use SIEM systems to automate many security tasks, including monitoring for and responding to threats. These systems increasingly use AI to identify threats and respond appropriately. They allow a business to gather information from all their IT devices in a single security operations centre, which can increase the efficiency of security responses.

Related: How to Become a Security Consultant in 8 Steps (Plus Skills)

Increased productivity

A SIEM solution can make IT teams more productive by providing new sets of automated tools that assist with every aspect of cybersecurity. Automated threat detection and AI solutions eliminate the requirement for manual examination of suspicious behaviour, freeing up team members for other tasks. When a business has confidence in the safety of its IT infrastructure, it can quickly take on new challenges and increase the size of the company.

Regulatory compliance

Many businesses operate under a complex regulatory framework concerning data storage and security. A SIEM solution can help automate many of the processes surrounding data collection and storage and can produce reports and audits that businesses can use to demonstrate compliance. This can help a business ensure that it follows all relevant regulations and doesn't incur any fines or other penalties from the jurisdictions it operates in.

Features of SIEM solutions

A SIEM solution includes many tools and features. Here are five of the key features of a SIEM system:

Log data management

Log data management involves collecting and storing log files from operating systems and devices across a network. This allows a business to analyze all log data and track any abnormalities. Log data can reveal the source of a security event, and it can indicate how a malicious actor gained access to a system. By collecting and analyzing log data in real time, SIEM solutions can quickly identify security threats and alert administrators to take the appropriate action.

Network analysis

A SIEM solution can help monitor and analyze every aspect of a network, from monitoring servers and databases to inspecting packet captures and tracking network flow. Changes in network activity or performance may indicate that a security event is taking place, so real-time monitoring of activity is an important part of a cybersecurity strategy. A SIEM system uses AI and machine learning to filter vast amounts of network data and correctly identify abnormal behaviour. Businesses can customize their SIEM approach over time to filter out false positives and make it more effective.

Threat recognition

There are many potential security threats that businesses strive to mitigate using SIEM solutions. Businesses face both known security threats in the form of existing malware and unknown security risks from new malware designed to infiltrate systems and cause damage or steal information. SIEM systems detect threats like insider attacks due to compromised credentials, phishing attacks that strive to imitate trusted actors to steal login data, and SQL injections of malicious code. Machine learning helps train SIEM solutions to recognize these threats and alert IT administrators.

Related: What Is a Network Firewall? (With Key Terms and Benefits)

Alerts and responses

When SIEM systems detect a threat, they can send alerts to IT administrators and the security operations centre. Businesses can customize these alerts according to the type of attack, the level of risk, and other parameters. By quickly identifying threats and sending out alerts, SIEM solutions help ensure a quick response. Some SIEM systems can automatically respond to threats by quarantining compromised devices and shutting down parts of the network.

Forensic investigations

All the data that SIEM systems gather can assist with forensic investigations into security events and breaches. By collecting log data and network information, security professionals can analyze any security incidents so they can update protocols to prevent future attacks. A SIEM system can make a vast amount of security information easily accessible and offer tools for analysis, assisting with threat investigation.

Tips for using SIEM systems

There are many ways that SIEM systems can benefit a business. Here are four tips for using such a system:

Understand requirements

Before you implement a SIEM system within a business, take time to understand your IT infrastructure and security requirements. Consider the nature of the business, the sensitivity of the information you handle, and the number of users and devices on your network. Think about the regulatory compliance requirements within your industry and consider how a SIEM system can help with recording and record keeping. Identify any security threats within your industry and think about the type of system you could choose to help reduce risks.

Consult with security professionals

Before you implement a SIEM solution, try to consult with IT security professionals within your organization. They often have a good understanding of security threats and can offer suggestions for choosing an optimal solution. Ask for suggestions and feedback and ask questions to learn more about potential security threats. You can also contact IT security consultants for advice and suggestions on SIEM approaches.

Related: Top 10 Security Certifications for IT Professionals

Choose a SIEM solution

Once you understand your requirements for a SIEM solution, you can choose one from a provider. There are many systems to choose from, including individual SIEM software to cloud computing solutions. Compare the distinct features of each product and choose one that suits your requirements and budget.

Configure and update

After you implement a SIEM solution, continue to refine your monitoring, threat detection, and response protocols. If the system identifies many threats that turn out to be innocent activity, you can adjust the alert settings to reduce the number of false positives. Try to implement IT security policies regarding individual devices and password security throughout the business. If everyone in an organization understands the importance of IT security, it can reduce the success of potential attack vectors. You can continue to update your SIEM system so it can identify new types of malware or malicious code.

Explore more articles