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Security information and event management (SIEM) tools play an important role in maintaining a robust enterprise security program. Businesses need the visibility and advanced response capabilities that SIEMs provide to prevent the daily onslaught of increasingly complex, distributed cyber attacks. From zero-day threat detection to reduction of false positives, next-generation SIEM tools are introducing new ways to improve security operations.

There are dozens of strong SIEM solutions on the market today, each with its own unique set of pros and cons. Picking the best fit can be challenging; companies must consider a broad range of factors to determine the optimal return on investment. In this article, we'll discuss the essential issues and questions that your team must address as you embark on your SIEM journey.

Data management is the core.

Data availability and storage

  • What are our relevant data sources?
  • How much data is involved? Do we have the capacity to store it?
  • Where are we managing this data today, and what are the limitations?

SIEM solutions are only as good as the data they ingest. Answering these questions will help you think about the number of devices and users in your IT environment, what logs you are collecting today and what new data you need to gather in the future. 

It is also essential to consider the number of events and the size of the logs that these devices may generate to ensure your solution and available infrastructure can manage the flow of real-time data, as well as storing data due to company retention requirements.

Data source tolerance

Does the SIEM we are considering offer log compatibility and native support for the various log sources in my environment?

Systems generate logs in a variety of formats and structures. Seldom do companies automatically get normalized log data from every system. Answering these questions will shed light on the solution's log compatibility and capacity to handle logs from diverse sources. With the right technology, you should be able to account for logs collected from different sources in your IT environment.

Data modeling and correlation

Does the SIEM solution we are considering perform necessary data modeling and incident correlation to detect normal and suspicious behavior in the IT environment?

Basic SIEM tools should be able to collect, model and correlate security events based on a set of security rules. Advanced tools should be able to apply threat intelligence and additional context for more accurate analysis and correlation. A mature SIEM will incorporate sophisticated statistical models (typically constructed using AI/ML techniques) to automatically evaluate events in terms of risk, which will lead to minimizing false negatives while keeping the number of false positives to a manageable level.

User-friendly solutions accommodate all levels of expertise.

Ask these questions about usability.

Ease of use

  • Is the technology intuitive?
  • How steep is the learning curve? How much will I need to invest in training?
  • Does the SIEM product come with pre-built use cases and analytics?
  • Will this solution enhance our day-to-day operations?
  • Do the predefined use cases meet our IT environment requirements?

The technology should have an intuitive interface to enhance user productivity and should be straightforward for your team to adopt. It's also important to evaluate the amount of built-in content and use cases in the form of rules, alerts, reports and dashboards provided in a SIEM tool. Good use cases are those requiring less customization to fit in your environment appropriately and bring immediate value to security operations.

Ease of deployment and maintenance

Does it take extra development work to make it usable?

Before purchasing and deploying a SIEM solution, consider the complexity required to deploy and maintain it as well as the role that the vendor will play in that process. While some solutions offer value with little customization, others require extensive custom configuration and tooling upfront to meet your needs.

Value of reporting and insights

  • How easily can we make sense of the data?
  • How does the tool present the data?
  • Are reports generated manually or automatically?
  • What kind of reports do we need?
  • Can we customize the way the SIEM platform formats the reports?

When it comes to reporting and gaining valuable insight, every company and audience is different. It is vital to consider how you plan to leverage and present the data. Will default reporting suffice? If not, you can explore how customizable the reports and dashboards are across different SIEMs. 

Fundamentally, any SIEM should be able to effectively illustrate threats and the actions that security analysts should take without a large amount of development effort.

You get what you pay for.

Pricing model

  • What budget and pricing model are we comfortable with?
  • Which solution will provide the greatest return on our investment?

The nature of SIEM operations involves monitoring evolving data volumes, which can make budgeting a fluid process. Pricing becomes more challenging in cases where a business lacks clear information on data volumes and network activity beforehand. Depending on the deployment method, SIEM implementations can require additional servers and network connections that increase overall cybersecurity spending. 

Most cost-averse companies are opting for flat pricing models that charge customers based on the number of users instead of the volume of event data. This makes budgeting more predictable and simplifies the management of the security budget.

"Intelligent" SIEM solutions are winning the race.

Ask these questions about advanced capabilities.

Threat intelligence and context

Can the SIEM solution apply threat intelligence information and additional context to more accurately analyze log and event data?

Instead of relying on traditional rules that result in overwhelming false positives, this question can help you identify modern SIEM software that employs advanced concepts like big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze threats. This results in greater accuracy, fewer false positives and overall improved threat detection.


Can the SIEM solution integrate with security, orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) tools?

Before purchasing a SIEM product, consider its ability to integrate with SOAR tools and other enterprise systems to automate incident response. SOAR expediates the incident response process by automating the qualification and response to alerts reported by the SIEM. This is critical for teams with limited analysts available to take quick action on alerts.

Real-time threat detection ability

Does the software provide accurate real-time analytics?

When responding to incidents, timing is everything, and even a few minutes of delay can result in irreversible damage. Answering this question can help you identify the solutions that automatically collect and analyze logs and send anomalous alerts for immediate actions.

Start with answering these key questions, and you'll be well on your way to making a more informed decision on which SIEM solution might work best for you.

We can help you throughout your SIEM journey.

SIEM is a critical component of every security program. While there are several reputable, high-performing solutions available in the market today, selecting the best option requires considerations unique to each organization. Existing security infrastructure, long-term technology roadmaps, and size and quality of current staffing are just a few of the issues that need to be considered when choosing the right SIEM.

At WWT, we can help you understand how to address challenges unique to your company to achieve the business outcomes you need. No matter where you are in your SIEM journey, together we can evaluate, design, implement and operate the best technology to monitor and protect your environment. Contact us to schedule a briefing and discuss security operations.

We also understand that consolidating and simplifying your tech stack is important. We believe in understanding and making the most of existing capabilities before adding new solutions. Join a Tools Rationalization Workshop, where we can help you map out your existing tool portfolio to identify overlap and gaps within your technology environment.