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Best Practices for SIEM Implementation — What You Should Know

Aaron Walker
Aaron Walker  |  September 12, 2019

Cybersecurity systems involve many technologies and can be built with various options, but large companies should implement a security information and event management (SIEM) solution to increase overall system security. 

A SIEM is a software solution designed to document network activity, store security logs, and discover security events. The technology is a central component to many cybersecurity operations systems and incredibly helpful in storing network information and managing security incidents. 

Since cybersecurity systems are highly complex, especially for the enterprise, tools can be difficult to scope, implement, and eventually deploy. This step-by-step guide will help teams considering a new SIEM properly document the implementation.

Every company’s implementation will be different, but these steps are crucial to effective performance after deployment. The following four key areas are an important part of planning a fully integrated implementation and transitional process.

Best practices for SIEM implementation

1. Define project and requirements

The first step to launching a SIEM implementation process is planning the project’s timeline. This involves outlining the scope of the project along with its necessary informational, budgetary, and physical resources. Here, companies should define their goals and identify all necessary resources.

Most companies have similar goals, all of which relate to building a network security management system centralized at the point of a new SIEM. Businesses need to set basic rules, identify necessary compliance and policy requirements, and structure their post-implementation SIEM management plan. 

SIEM products require connections to virtually all of your network infrastructure and software assets for optimal performance, so defining log sources is a good place to start. Logs come from different locations throughout your company's network. 

These are some basic components that most companies include while scoping their SIEM requirements and log sources:

2. Research products

Product research is a step that each business tackles uniquely. There are three main informational resources to consider before making a final decision on a SIEM for your company. 

Vendor analysis — Vendor analysis is typically conducted in two or three ways. The first is through utilizing information from the vendors themselves. A number of online resources, as well as search engines themselves, can help identify the major SIEM vendors quickly. Businesses can then contact the vendor for more information as it relates to their specific situation. 

Software analyst firms and empirical testing can also be used as resources for evaluation. Research and testing services providers produce insights on markets and tools. Just be cautious, as some of these providers may lack transparency in their evaluation and rating criteria.

Product reviews — Review sites like G2 are great places to read firsthand accounts of SIEM tools being used in the real world. Companies can easily visit G2's SIEM category and see the products ranging in popularity and satisfaction. We also provide ratings for individual features and information related to the user’s role, company size, and industry.

Use case assessment — Assessing the use case as it pertains to your business will likely require communication with the vendors on your shortlist of potential products. Many of them will provide industry-specific scenarios, case studies, and product demos at your request. 

Teams fulfilling all three requirements will come away with a list of potential products. This list will make it easier to choose a solution based on how each tool would or would not fulfill the requirements they’ve already outlined and the resources they have available. 

3. Implementation planning

Once a product has been selected, outline a number of implementation procedures to ensure a smooth and effective transition.  These are a few components to include in your plan. 

Design architecture — Diagram all data sources related to log sources and data inputs. Deploy information collectors to ensure all log sources are connected.  In addition to data aggregation from all your connected devices, SIEM systems integrate both internal and third-party threat and vulnerability data. Storage and alerting systems also ensure proper functionality after deployment.

Create rules — Ensure your correlation engines are functioning with basic policies and determine the more customized rules and policies to implement in the long term. These rules are intended to optimize documentation and alerting without damaging network performance. They should also be customized to meet any necessary compliance requirements previously outlined. 

Define process — Before deployment, put a handoff plan in place to transfer control from the implementation team to security operations or IT management team. Adjust in accordance with your company’s staffing capabilities to ensure teams can effectively manage the SIEM going forward. 

Any other long-term management processes should be outlined as well. Companies must train staff on general SIEM management as well as their team’s logging processes and data management plans. You may need to adjust to avoid understaffing, unmanageable logging rates, and storage capacity issues. 

Security information and event management or SIEM is an important aspect of cybersecurity.

4. Deployment and review

As deployment becomes a reality, a few immediate actions need to take place. Here is what to focus on once a new SIEM is operationalized.

Collection — Examine recently implemented SIEM systems to ensure data is collected and encrypted properly. Depending on your solution, agent-based systems should be examined and monitored during preliminary deployment to ensure they’re collecting data properly. Those implementing agentless solutions should simply ensure all points of monitoring are communicating back to the SIEM properly. 

Storage — Once information is being properly collected, teams must ensure all activities, logs, and events are stored correctly. Companies using external storage systems must make sure transfers and integrations are secured and functional, that databases are properly formatted, and that information is queryable once stored. 

Testing —  Test the system to visualize connected devices and display to those planned. Users can test a new SIEM solution by simulating events. Threat modeling and simulated tests should be conducted. These mimic real-world security threats to verify that all operations are functional. Teams should also compare data on correlated and severe events to their pre-implementation figures. 

Once the testing and review processes are completed, implementation teams should hand off to security teams for full-time management. 

Post-implementation tips for SIEM management

SIEM solutions require continuous updating and monitoring. Teams should continue testing their solutions against the latest kinds of attacks. Any activity to test for and reduce false positives is also prudent.

Teams should keep their SIEM connected to threat data sources, such as threat intelligence feeds and honeypots, to ensure they’re prepared to identify all kinds of emerging threats, even those not present during implementation. 

Adjustments and updates are inevitable, and policies will likely evolve. The management process is just as complicated as the implementation process. If you follow these steps and continuously monitor SIEM performance, your network, IT infrastructure, and business as a whole will be better off.


Related content: Cybersecurity Trends in 2019 →

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Aaron Walker
Author

Aaron Walker

As an analyst at G2, Aaron’s research is focused on cloud, application, and network security technologies. As the cybersecurity market continues to explode, Aaron maintains the growing market on G2.com, adding 90+ categories of security technology (and emerging technologies that are added regularly). His exposure to both security vendors and data from security buyers provides a unique perspective that fuels G2’s research reports and content, including pieces focused on trends, market analysis, and acquisitions. In his free time, Aaron enjoys film photography, graphic design, and lizards.