Every time an employee sends or receives email, updates software, or reconfigures a firewall, security log data is produced - and someone needs to interpret all this raw information to determine its significance.
Log management systems serve a vital function. Their purpose is to collect and organize this data to help businesses quickly identify security threats or areas of weakness.
SIEM solutions differ significantly from log management tools regarding functionality and intent. While both tools process event data, SIEM software specializes in finding security threats and alerting them when they occur - helping teams respond more rapidly.
Modern SIEM platforms aggregate and analyze event data from multiple sources, such as security devices, network infrastructure, systems, and applications. By gathering, normalizing, and collecting this information into a standardized format, SIEM platforms enable security teams to find patterns or anomalies within this information and set criteria for alerts when necessary. Additionally, security teams can utilize SIEM platforms as an easy way to access their full event database when required.
SIEM tools also aggregate historical threat data in real-time, searching for any patterns which might indicate an attack - for instance, a frequent pattern of failed login attempts may indicate a brute-force attempt. With such capabilities, security professionals are quickly equipped to respond and prevent or mitigate attacks before they become more severe.
While most DevOps and IT teams require a SIEM platform for security workflow management and log management solutions to handle the millions of events their infrastructure produces, one doesn't replace the other - most organizations need both tools to monitor, investigate and troubleshoot issues in production environments effectively. Let's explore this topic further by examining these technologies and their differences.
What is a Log Management System?
Security information and event management (SIEM) systems collect machine data from multiple sources, analyze it in real time, and alert on active threats. They do this by centrally collecting log data into one platform for correlation to identify patterns, detect anomalies and automate incident response processes.
Log tailing and rapid analysis features provide advanced features designed to assist security professionals with real-time insight into events as they happen, linking events using data. They're designed to support multiple devices, applications, and security tools through Syslog messages - an industry-standard format that facilitates interoperability among different products and platforms.
Log management systems provide IT and security teams with an efficient method for collecting, storing, retrieving, and searching unified and structured data across devices, applications, and security tools intuitively for reporting purposes and compliance auditing. They're built for multiple purposes, including operational reporting and compliance auditing.
Modern monitoring solutions typically use agents, API connections, and custom scripts to collect data from source systems. They feature out-of-the-box visualizations for common use cases and offer integrations with other platforms that can be triggered by rules (for instance, sending an alert directly into Slack), so teams can take immediate steps to address problems as soon as they occur - making these ideal solutions for managing application performance, availability and capacity planning.
What Is SIEM?
SIEM solutions serve a critical function: gathering and analyzing all log data security teams require to identify threats and respond accordingly. This process includes data aggregation, pre-processing, organization, correlation, and alerting.
Starting with log data collected from various sources such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and other network security infrastructure; then pre-processed so it is easily searchable - usually done through transformation to a standard format or by employing machine learning and algorithms to identify anomalous behavior; then stored centrally for analysis.
SIEM solutions generate thousands of daily alerts that security teams must prioritize and investigate. Still, those alerts lack context or are irrelevant to a security threat. In that case, security teams may become disoriented while losing out on key opportunities to prevent data breaches.
SIEM technology originally stemmed from log management; however, its scope has since expanded into an all-encompassing security platform capable of detecting, protecting, and recovering against all threats. Although SIEM solutions may be costly upfront, the investment could save substantial financial losses and regulatory fines when selecting licensing models that provide long-term scalability and affordability.
The Importance of Security Log Analysis
Data analytics has become an essential element of cyber security for modern businesses, providing insight into vulnerabilities, mitigating risks, and detecting and responding to attacks before they cause irreparable damage. Log analysis - which detects patterns or anomalies in security events - allows companies to quickly make sense of security incidents using tools like dashboards, reports, and alerts - is among the most useful uses of analytics in cyber security.
There are various tools for log management and security; however, the ideal log analysis solution combines real-time monitoring, event correlation, and customizable dashboards tailored specifically for use cases with the ability to ingest data from multiple source systems - providing analysts with an easier way to detect threats more easily.
SIEM solutions differ from log management because they focus on identifying security-related events and prioritizing responses accordingly. Furthermore, these tools come equipped with an extensive set of correlation rules out-of-the-box that assist analysts with making connections between seemingly unrelated events to identify threats - known as threat hunting.
Furthermore, some advanced SIEMs offer integration options such as Slack or JIRA notifications; others use machine learning technology for more precise detection and alerting.
Primary Features of a Log Management Solution
Log management software enables you to store and analyze security-related log data quickly. Furthermore, its search features allow for fast retrieval of necessary information.
Cost is one of the main factors preventing smaller organizations from adopting log management solutions. A typical SIEM system costs significant sums of money and requires at least one individual to manage it daily - an amount too steep for many organizations with smaller budgets to justify using one. But now, there are affordable options tailored specifically for them that meet these criteria.
Log management tools can greatly decrease the time required to locate and fix issues by providing an accessible repository for storing all the relevant information in one central place.They also automate tasks such as gathering and standardizing data from different sources, real-time threat detection, and automated incident response capabilities.
A comprehensive log management system should support multiple data sources, including web servers, authentication servers, and infrastructure devices. It should support various log formats and offer data parsing and transformation services so it is easily analyzed. Furthermore, alerts or information could be delivered based on specific rules; an engineer could configure his log management system so suspicious activity alerts would appear via Slack channels when detected.
Benefits of using log management and SIEMs
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software provides businesses with a digital forensics platform for collecting and analyzing system log data, which they can use to reconstruct past incidents, investigate new instances, and devise more efficient security methods.
SIEM solutions should collect event logs from firewalls, intrusion detection systems, operating systems, antivirus solutions, and authentication systems in real-time, then convert and organize them into categories for easier identification and correlation.
SIEMs provide more than just event monitoring; they also deliver operational reports and meet compliance requirements like auditing. Furthermore, these solutions provide flexibility regarding integration with other tools and technologies - for instance, integrating with an organization's existing IT infrastructure to reduce implementation work. Varonis offers several on-premise and SaaS-based SIEM products like Splunk, QRadar, and RSA Archer that are available as hardware appliances, virtual machines, or software - our experts can assist in selecting the appropriate one to meet both needs and budget requirements.