Choosing the right Security Information and Event Management software can be difficult.

As you consider threat detection systems, find the tools you’ll need to protect your organization against various types of cyber attacks. Examine how you should build out your protection. The SIEM market today is nearly a $3 billion industry and growing.

Gartner predicts spending on SIEM technologies will rise, to almost $2.6 billion in 2018 and $3.4 billion in 2021.

The benefits of a sound, real-time security system are well worth the investment.

Take the time to consider the preparations necessary for successful expansion into the technology.

What is SIEM?

SIEM is a combination of two separate systems. Both of these systems are important and are very closely related to each other. The two baselines that form SIEM are known as SIM (Security Information Management) and SEM (Security Event Management).

SIM stands for “Security Information Management.” SIM refers to the way that a company collects data. In most cases, data is combined into a specific format, such as the log file. That format is then placed in a centralized location. Once you have a format and a spot for your data, it can be analyzed quickly.

SIM products run directly on the systems they monitor. The software sends log information to the central portal. This is usually a cloud server. Cloud servers have more robust security monitoring than in-house hardware. They also provide a degree of separation for added protection.
The SIM console gives clients visual aids filtered through local parameters. Cybersecurity incidents can be identified, recreated and audited through accounting logs. They can also be recreated if necessary. SIM software consoles require a specialized administrator. XML is the standard form that software agents use.

SIM does not refer to a complete enterprise security solution, though it is often mistaken for one. SIM relates only to the data collection techniques used to discover problems within a system.

SEM stands for “Security Event Management.” SEM can refer to the centralized system that a SIM software package connects to. In this example, the SEM refers to the outsourced host.

Syslog and SNMP are two common protocols used to send data to an SEM hub. Reputable SEM platforms support all major communication protocols. Broad systems provide the best range of event collection.

security tool that works in real time

How Security Information And Event Management Works

SIEM identifies the correlation between separate log entries. More advanced platforms also include entity and user behavior analysis (UEBA). Other systems may also include SOAR. SOAR stands for “Security Orchestration and Automated Response.” UEBA and SOAR are very helpful in specific instances.

Security Information and Event Management can also be defined as monitoring and logging data. Unlike SIM or SEM alone, SIEM refers to the application more than the function.
Most security operations experts consider SIEM to be more than a simple monitoring and logging solution.

Here are some best practices when selecting and using a SIEM.

management of security incidents

Identifying the Critical Assets

The first thing organizations must do is identify critical assets. Identification leads to prioritization. No company has the resources to protect everything equally. Prioritizing assets allows an organization to maximize its security within a budget.

Prioritizing assets also help in selecting a SIEM platform. We will go over some of the best platforms below. Each of these platforms has different advantages and disadvantages. You will not know the SIEM platform that will help you unless you understand your priorities.

Understanding a companies needs also helps to scale the SIEM platform used. SIEM tools can help with low-level compliance efforts without much customization.

Enterprise visibility is another goal altogether. This requires a much higher level of deployment. This goal does not require as much customization. Does your company know its goals? Take the time to form a detailed strategy before investing.

SIEM security management

Training Staff to Understand SIEM Software

The second step is to ensure that in-house staff understands SIEM as a platform.

What system log files will the SIEM platform monitor? Does your company use a variety of logs? You may process data differently in various departments. You must normalize these logs before a SIEM system helps you. Different logs do not allow the system to execute to its maximum potential or deliver actionable reports. Why? The data is not consistent.

Create a Scaling Strategy

Some companies duplicate a logging strategy as they expand. The need for servers will eventually increase. As it does, the company duplicates the log rules. The log files will copy themselves as time goes on. This helps preserve records if a company is acquired or merges with another.

Creating a viable strategy becomes more difficult if servers are spread throughout different time zones and locations. Ideally, you would standardize the time zone your organization will use. Unsynchronized time stamps may result from neglecting this step. Finally, configure the triage of potential incidents on the system.

Make Sure the SIEM solution Meets Your Needs

Do not overpay for features. Each SIEM comes with a log gathering requirement. For instance, Syslog logs connect through outsourced agents. Logs from Microsoft deal with locally installed agents. Logs are then collected centrally from a Remote Procedure Call or a Windows Management Instrumentation. Only then are they given to the devices collecting logs.

Executives are responsible for determining the security needs of each prioritized asset. This is essential to produce measurable and actionable results from a SIEM.

Log Only Critical Assets (at First)

Secondary features can roll out after configuring the full log environment. Managing this step by step helps to avoid errors. It also helps to hold back full commitment until the SIEM is tested.

The General Procedure for Use of a SIEM System

Your SIEM security system should be able to help you accomplish the following tasks –

  • Begin collecting logs from vetted sources of intelligence.
  • Use supplemental analytics data to enrich the logs.
  • Form lists of global threats based on intelligence.
  • Invoke Internet download and HR management procedures.
  • Find the correlations in your logs.
  • Investigate these correlations. Follow up on them and fix errors.
  • Document your SOPs, SLAs, and TTs.
  • Build out your whitelists.
a hand representing data privacy

Top SIEM Tools to Consider

The capabilities of each SIEM Tool listed vary. Make sure that you vet each system based on your individual needs.


Open source SIEM is quite popular. OSSEC is used most often as a host-based system for intrusion prevention and detection. This system is often abbreviated as an IDS. OSSEC works with Solaris, Mac OS,  Linux ,and Windows servers and Mac OS. It works well because of its structure. Two components comprise OSSEC: 1. the host agent and 2. the main applications.

OSSEC allows direct monitoring for rootkit detection, file integrity, and log files. It can also connect to mail, FTP, web, firewall, and DNS based IDS platforms. You also can synchronize log analysis from primary commercial network services.


Snort is an IDS that is network-based. It lives farther away from the host, allowing it to scan and monitor more traffic. Snort analyzes your network flow in real time. Its display is quite robust: you can dump packets, perform analysis or display packets in real time.

If your network link has a throughput of 100 Gbps or higher, Snort may be the product for your company. The configuration has a high relative learning curve, but the system is worth the wait. Make sure that your staff has a sturdy grip on how to use Snort. It has robust analytical and filtering capabilities alongside its high-performance output plugins. You can use this SIEM tool in many ways.


ELK may be the most popular solution on the market. ELK is the combination of products from SIEM vendors Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana.

Elasticsearch provides the engine to store data. It is considered a top solution in the marketplace.

Logstash can receive your log data from anywhere. It can also enhance, process and filter your log data if needed.

Finally, Kibana gives you your visuals. There is no argument in the world of IT about Kibana’s capabilities. It is considered the top open source analytics visualization system produced in the industry so far.

This stack forms the base of many commercial Security Information and Event Management platforms. Each program specializes, making the entire stack more stable. This is an excellent choice for high performance and a relatively simple learning curve.


Are you making use of various open source tools? Prelude is the platform that combines them all. It fills in certain holes that Snort and OSSEC do not prioritize.

Prelude gives you the ability to store logs from multiple sources in one place. It does this using IDMEF technology (Intrusion Detection Message Exchange Format). You gain the ability to analyze, filter, correlate, alert and visualize your data. The commercial version is more robust than the open source version. If you need top performance, go commercial.


ELK is one of the top SIEM solutions. OSSIM is a close second. OSSIM is the open source sister to the Unified Security Management package from Alien Vault. It has a testing framework that is reminiscent of Prelude. It is considered an excellent tool.

OSSIM is more robust as a commercial offering. The SIEM, open source version, works well with micro deployments. Get the commercial offering if you need performance at scale.

managing options with SIEM tools

SolarWinds Log Manager

You get the Log and Event Manager and the Event Log Management Consolidator for free as a trial. SolarWinds SIEM systems allow you to view logs across more than one Windows system. You can filter your logs and patterns. The Security Events Manager gives you the capacity to assess and store your historical log data.


LogFusion is a simple program. However, it has a simple user portal and a flat learning curve. If you want to handle remote logging, log dumps and remote event channels from a single screen, this is the platform for you.

Netwrix Event Log Manager

If you do not need all of the features of Auditor, then the Netwrix Event Log Manager may be right up your alley. You get event consolidation from a whole network in a single location. You can create email alerts in real time. You also have a limited ability to archive and some alert criteria filtering for extra measure.

SIEM Tools and Technology: Key Takeaways

Security Information and Event Management is a growing industry, and there are many SIEM tools available on the market.

Many products under the same banner have different specialties. Make sure that you first identify the needs of your company before investing in this industry. This helps to reduce functional overlap and increase efficiency.

Companies need to evaluate products based on their individual goals to decide which solution best suits their needs.

Do not become confused by the conflicting definitions you may see experts using when referring to SIM, SEM and SIEM solutions. Keep in mind the needs of your company first, and match product definitions to those needs for best results.