Technology August 31, 2020 Last updated August 31st, 2020 1,516 Reads share

The Future of Cybersecurity Is SIEM: 4 Signs It’s Time to Invest

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If there’s one safe bet in data security, it’s this: The more connected our world becomes, the more cyberthreats we’ll face.

Either heed that trend, or fall victim to it. Whether your company has been breached before or not, the best way to level-up its cybersecurity is to invest in an SIEM service.

What is SIEM?

SIEM stands for “security incident and event management.” SIEM software pulls data from event logs and analyzes it for potential abnormalities or threats. It creates a central hub from which you can monitor alerts and take action against breach attempts. 

SIEM technology can be deployed on premises, or you can co-manage a SIEM platform from the cloud with a company like StratoZen. There are pros and cons to each approach, but the main drawback to in-house SIEM software is that it requires a team of trained IT personnel. SIEM systems show what threats need attention but not how to respond.

Once an SIEM system flags suspicious activity, it’s up to you. You can either employ a team of data security experts — whose annual salaries can easily run into the six figures — or use an automated approach known as “SOAR security.” SOAR, which stands for “security orchestration, automation, and response,” can shut down certain threats before they get a foothold. 

To be clear, SOAR is not a hands-off solution. Many actions can be automated; others will need a human to initiate them. In most cases, however, that takes one or two people, not an entire team — as is required by manual case management and security protocols. 

Whether you go with SOAR or an all-human approach to incident response, SIEM technology gives you the top-down view that today’s cybersecurity environment requires. 

When SIEM makes sense

Is it time to invest in SIEM technology? If you see any of these four signs, don’t hesitate:

1. Your business stores sensitive data.

Whether your organization stores sensitive information on-site or in the cloud, you need to know if it’s accessed suspiciously. Without SIEM technology, experienced cybercriminals can get in and get out without being noticed. 

The trouble is, many small- to medium-sized companies believe, incorrectly, that they don’t have any information worth stealing. When most people think of “sensitive information,” they think of credit card numbers, passwords, email addresses, medical records, and financial information. While these things are worth safeguarding, they’re not the only data hackers might be after.

Just this month, Intel became the latest victim of a breach resulting in intellectual property theft. Hackers made off with 20 GB of data, including firmware code and debugging tools. Last month, two Chinese nationals were indicted for hacking hundreds of companies and attempting to steal COVID-19 vaccine research.

These days, startups store intellectual property that’s every bit as valuable as major companies. Imagine what the consequences would be if every trade secret and internal document your company has developed was suddenly dumped on the web. This might be reason enough to invest in an SIEM service.

2. Your business deals with complicated compliance standards.

The financial services industry, the medical community, and any business that handles customers’ credit cards are subject to special compliance standards. HIPAA, the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, and the Payment Card Industry Security Standard all add complications to the already complex world of data security.

According to a recent report on payment card data breaches, none of the companies that have had a breach since 2008 was in full compliance with PCI DSS at the time. In fact, only one in five American companies were completely compliant with PCI DSS last year. 

Slipping into noncompliance is as easy as leaving a database unencrypted. An SIEM service can help you fix vulnerabilities before a breach attempt is successful. 

3. You don’t have (and can’t afford) a dedicated security team. 

Having a good SIEM security tool but no one to monitor it is like having a home security system with no law enforcement around. Although some sophisticated SIEM solutions can recommend follow-up steps, no software is ever going to replace expert human analysis.

Seventy-two percent of organizations cite inadequate staffing or a lack of staff expertise as a barrier to fully utilizing their SIEM software. Many organizations simply don’t understand the investment required to set up SIEM software on-site or anticipate the challenge of finding qualified people to manage it.

To deploy SIEM software in-house, you must first prepare the infrastructure, such as servers, that will house the software. Then you have to manage the event logs, implement access restrictions, and of course, train your IT team. Add it all up, and most companies simply don’t have the budget or bandwidth to do it themselves. 

4. You don’t have a plan to respond quickly to threats. 

From an attacker’s first action to compromise, a successful data breach takes only minutes. Unfortunately, breaches often go undiscovered for months. On average, it takes 280 days to identify and contain a breach, in which time the organization may spend millions on remediation.

Reducing the lifecycle of a breach can dramatically cut its costs. But stunningly, only 36% of employees involved in data-breach response plans for their organizations say they are equipped to respond to a hack.

When it comes to detecting and stopping a breach, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. According to a 2020 IBM report, organizations with fully deployed security automation solutions were able to cut the dwell time of a breach down by 74 days. Companies with a battle-tested incident response plan and team in place dropped the cost of a breach by an average of $2 million. Having a SIEM and SOAR system in place can quite literally save seven figures.

Cybersecurity can be intimidating, especially for non-technical business leaders. But don’t let that stop you from taking action. If any of these factors ring true for your company, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pulling the trigger on SIEM services now could make all the difference if your company becomes a target.