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SIEM or SOC-as-a-Service

In 2018, 93% of malware was found to be polymorphic – meaning it changes to evade detection. So what are you doing to keep up with those changes?

Businesses today are constantly under threat of cyberattacks. Cybercriminals continually launch new and more sophisticated exploits with ransomware, viruses, phishing, and denial-of-service attacks that can spread throughout your network and computers. This means that you must always be on the defense. If you don’t have the right solutions and expertise to proactively detect and respond to advanced threats, your data is in jeopardy. Just one error can lead to devastating consequences.

You may think that your business is too small to be a target. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Companies of all sizes are at risk. You must be on guard and protect your personal identifiable information, proprietary information, and other confidential data from being compromised or stolen. This is why you must use cutting-edge security strategies like a security information and event management system (SIEM) or Security Operations Center (SOC) or SOC-as-a Service. But how do you know which one is best for your business?

Let’s outline the pitfalls of SIEMs and review an alternative strategy known as SOC-as-a-Service – a strategy that provides the same level of security without all of the downsides.

What Is a SIEM?

Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) identifies, monitors, records, and analyzes security events within a real-time IT environment. It provides a centralized and comprehensive view of the security of your IT infrastructure. SIEM utilizes the core technology of a Security Operations Center (SOC). This is a dedicated team of security experts who use advanced tools to thoroughly monitor your IT network infrastructure for threats, including those from malicious insiders.

A SOC uses SIEM software as a foundational component. It’s a collection of tools that provides a combination of SIM (security information management) also known as log management, and SEM (security event management), also known as the correlation engine. With a SIM and SEM, a SIEM offers actionable intelligence. This information is gathered from a high volume of diverse log data collected by your computers and servers, as well as security devices like firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention services, databases, applications, switches, and routers.

What Does a SIEM Do?

A SIEM searches and filters data and can tell who did what, when, and from where. It uses predefined correlation rules from previously detected attack vectors. Then it provides audit-quality reports that you can use for compliance purposes. A SIEM:

  • Stores data so SOC team members can make decisions.
  • Uses dashboards to analyze data to detect patterns or activity that aren’t normal.
  • Correlates data and sorts it into packets to turn it into useful information.
  • Aggregates data from a number of sites, such as servers, networks, databases, email systems and applications for further analysis.
  • Alerts when there are potential security issues.

What a SIEM Can’t Do

  • Detect zero-day attacks (unknown attacks) because it won’t have the rules needed to do this.
  • Use human intelligence to prioritize attacks.
  • Run on its own without a team of security experts.

The Risks and Downsides To Using a SIEM

We mentioned above we’d outline the pitfalls to using a SIEM, so let’s take a look at some of the risks and downsides:

1. Costly To Run: To use a SIEM requires a big labor commitment from a dedicated staff. You need a full-time team of security engineers from the start. It doesn’t matter whether you use an on-premises SIEM, cloud SIEM, or managed/co-managed SIEM. There’s a lot to take care of when using a SIEM that can divert time away from other IT priorities. Implementing a SIEM isn’t practical for most businesses because it’s too costly and time-consuming. Experts estimate that for every dollar spent on a SIEM tool, you’ll spend three times this amount managing it.

2. Data Consumption Costs: SIEMs are best when they provide real-time access from multiple data sources. However, SIEM vendors typically charge based on consumption volume/velocity of log data in events-per-second. This can mean having to decide between protection and your available budget. Plus, SIEM pricing models are unpredictable. The number of devices and volume of logs can grow substantially as time goes by, meaning greater expenses in the future.

Because SIEM pricing revolves around log data consumption, during an attack, your system could generate two to three times its ordinary volume of data. This means that you should have a SIEM that can handle at least twice its usual workload. When using a SIEM, you’ll need to pay for the level of security you require based on your company’s worst day, meaning you pay increased costs on a daily basis.

3. Complex to Use: Your team must begin with defining your security objectives so they can design the security architecture. They will need to identify all devices from which log data will be collected, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, workstations, tablets, laptops, servers, databases, and applications. Then they must determine the network segments to monitor and how to convert data into structured data. This must then be filtered based on fields.

Your security engineers must continually build and refine correlation rules according to the latest threat intelligence data so they can attack vectors. We mentioned above that 93% of malware was found to be polymorphic, which makes this incredibly difficult. Each of these steps requires IT security engineering expertise, and usually a level-1 engineer, level-2 engineer, and an incident response specialist.

Each stage of SIEM implementation has its own layer of complexity.

  • Deployment: Deployment cycles are long and challenging; they can run as long as 12 months. Once deployed and your engineers activate normalization engines to convert raw logs into structured data, mis-categorizations commonly occur. Your company isn’t adequately protected by the SIEM during deployment.
  • Administration: SIEMs require constant tuning. Rules must be regularly updated. Software vendors frequently issue patches and updates for devices. When this happens, the SIEM needs to be matched to the new version, or false positives will occur.
  • Operations: SIEMs generate a large volume of alerts that require 24×7 monitoring and response. Then there are misconfigurations and version interoperabilities that occur between SIEMs and devices and increase false positives by the thousands. If you ignore these, your business remains vulnerable.

4. Too Many False Positives: A SIEM can generate thousands of alerts every day, and in many cases, false positives will be generated and security engineers must identify which are false and which aren’t. False positives don’t require immediate action, but experts must determine that they aren’t valid ongoing attacks that require rapid remediation. Even with a UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics) that uses machine learning and additional threat intelligence feeds (via subscription), all alerts must still be analyzed by a human engineer to identify false positives and high-priority alerts.

5. Time-Intensive: It can take a security engineer an hour or more to act on eight to ten security alerts. A mid-sized business with two-hundred employees can result in one-hundred critical alerts each day. This means you’ll need at least two full-time security experts. Then you’ll need another security expert to update and manage the SIEM, agents, reports, and security integrations.

6. Underperformance Is Common: SIEMs can often underperform due to the following:

  • Interference: SIEMS are constantly multi-tasking, which requires data from a variety of log sources in real-time. The majority of SIEMs use the same engine for log ingestion, correlation, analysis, searching, and reporting. But they can interfere with one another and not deliver their full functionality.
  • Constant Upgrades Are Required: Typically, your SIEM vendor supplies hardware and sells different classes of equipment that you need. But eventually, you’ll reach max capacity and need to upgrade to a higher capacity SIEM platform. This can be very expensive, resulting in double or even triple the original cost.
  • Delays In Reporting: A SIEM is designed to analyze real-time data from across a network’s devices. Unfortunately, reporting is usually a non-critical function and covers only one or two weeks of data.

Plus, SIEMs often result in poor reporting performance. You’ll need dedicated log management tools for quarterly reporting, and multi-year reports with a third-tier architecture, such as a big-data security analytics program.

A SIEM Isn’t A Holistic Cybersecurity Solution… You Need More Than a SIEM.

You can invest vast amounts of time and money into a SIEM. Plus, with the sophisticated and evolving attacks of today’s threat landscape, you need more; you need a SOC with 24×7 network security monitoring. Building a SOC is also complicated, costly, and time-consuming. In addition to buying and setting up your own SIEM, you’ll need to train a team of security experts to implement it. But for most, their budgets won’t allow this.

Unfortunately, neither SIEMs nor SOCs fit within the budgets for many companies because they would need to buy the solution and staff it themselves.

SOC-As-a-Service Fills This Need…

For those on a limited budget, SOC-as-a-Service provides the end-to-end security they need. You are essentially outsourcing a security service focused on threat detection and incident response. SOC-as-a-Service is affordable because it doesn’t require investment in additional hardware, software, or staff. It’s quick and easy to deploy and manage, and you’ll have the security experts, process and technology you need to run a SOC. It deploys in less than 60 minutes.

SOC-as-a-Service protects your IT infrastructure and resources wherever they reside, including on-premises, cloud infrastructure, and SaaS applications. SOC-as-a-Service offers:

A Concierge Security Team that customizes security policies based on your business-specific needs, and provides scheduled reports on open/closed incidents, unpatched vulnerabilities, and top attack sources and targets. Your business will have:

  • A named primary contact
  • Phone/email/text support
  • An understanding of your network infrastructure
  • Proactive threat hunting
  • Forensics analysis

Threat Tracking & Alerts with:

  • 24×7 network monitoring
  • Log storage and analysis
  • Tailored communication and escalations
  • Defined SLAs and SOPs
  • Recommended actions
  • Compliance controls monitoring
  • External vulnerability scans

You’ll Benefit From:

1. Predictable Pricing That Won’t Change: It’s based on the number of log sources or the volume of log data ingested, and on the number of employees, the number of servers, and the number of customer sites.

2. A Complete Solution with No Added Costs: You won’t have to purchase any hardware or software. You’ll have an end-to-end service that includes a proprietary cloud-based SIEM, threat intelligence subscriptions, and all the expertise and tools.

3. Hybrid-AI (Artificial Intelligence) With Human-Assisted Machine Learning: This provides ten times better threat detection with five times fewer false positives than a typical SIEM. It uses machine scale efficiency in a cloud-based multi-tenant architecture to process an unlimited number of logs.

Want To Learn More About SOC-as-a-Service?

SOC-as-a-Service redefines the economics of security. It’s a comprehensive security solution that small and medium-sized businesses can actually afford. For more information, please contact us.