Security information and event management tools require 'fine tuning,' user says

Security information and event management (SIEM) equipment is valuable for getting a bird's-eye view of security in the enterprise, but there are deployment challenges that IT security managers need to recognize.

Reed Smith LLP, a large law firm that operates four data centers and about two dozen offices worldwide, has been progressing through an enterprisewide deployment of HP's SIEM product, ArcSight. It consolidates and correlates input from firewalls, intrusion-prevention systems, servers, antivirus, vulnerability scanners, routers and more, including capturing NetFlow data. The firm is getting a better real-time picture of network activity, not just threats but server availability, for instance.

REPORT: Best practice for SIEM deployments

However, like exercising to get stronger, SIEM has some "no pain, no gain" aspects. Work has to go into properly activating a SIEM, according to Eric Mazurak, network and security engineer at Reed Smith.

"There will be a high false positive rate if you don't do fine tuning," says Mazurak, adding, "the more logging you do, the more tuning is involved." Basically, that involves getting a thorough understanding of the SIEM interface and making changes to out-of-the box rules so that the SIEM is making the most accurate assessment it can. Mazurka recommends test-driving a SIEM for a while in a production network before committing to a purchase. Once the SIEM is in, it will need continuing maintenance, he adds.

The data a SIEM relies on will be flowing in constantly from any source supported by the SIEM connectors that collect and "normalize" the information so the SIEM can process it. If the SIEM vendor already has these software connectors for the variety of network resources you monitor, that's fine. But that's not always the case. Sometimes you might have to pay a SIEM vendor to write a connector, or do it yourself, to support specific network or security products you use. So it's important to find out if a SIEM vendor is able to support custom-coding work. ArcSight also has SIEM connectors available in an appliance form, he adds.

The SIEM connectors collecting and "normalizing" input from a wide range of other products raise another issue, Mazurak points out. These connectors have to be updated and changed whenever the products themselves are updated or changed. So it's important to understand the SIEM vendor's track record in doing this and be confident the vendor will be making these adjustments in terms of software updates in the future.

SIEM helps address the problem of "too many consoles" for firewall, IPS and other security monitors, Mazurak notes. It breaks up the sense of being siloed that those supporting security management can have. SIEM introduces a new kind of awareness about what is happening in the enterprise. Because of that, there may well need to be a new kind of team-building to bring various IT support staff into assisting with SIEM.

"Just getting data into it alone requires working with teams, and have them sending data in the way that the SIEM understands," says Mazurak.

SIEM, in theory, may be able to perform correlation and analysis well enough on threats to automate or advise response. HP recently announced it has done work to integrate HP ArcSight with the HP TippingPoint IPS to perform automated blocking.

Reed Smith has not tried automating response at this point in its SIEM deployment but expects to try this type of capability out in the future.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityarcsightSIEM

More about ArcSightHewlett-Packard AustraliaHPIPSLANLPTippingPointTippingPoint

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ellen Messmer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place