SIEM, SOAR or both – what do we need?

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While SIEM and SOAR share common components, they serve different purposes. Let’s take a closer look at the two technologies.

The function and use cases for SIEM

SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) systems perform key functions in cybersecurity operations. These functions include:

  1. Log Management: SIEM systems collect, aggregate, and store logs from various sources such as network devices, servers, applications, and security appliances. These logs provide a wealth of information about events occurring within an organization’s IT infrastructure.
  2. Security Event Correlation: SIEM platforms analyse and correlate log data to identify patterns and relationships between events. By correlating events from multiple sources, SIEM systems can detect complex attack sequences or abnormal behaviours that may indicate a security incident.
  3. Threat Detection: SIEM systems use rules, signatures, and behavioural analytics to detect known and unknown threats. This includes detecting malicious activities such as malware infections, unauthorized access attempts, data exfiltration, and other suspicious behaviours.
  4. Incident Response: SIEM platforms facilitate incident response by providing real-time alerts and notifications when security incidents occur. Security analysts can use SIEM dashboards and reports to investigate incidents, analyse the scope and impact of attacks, and take appropriate response actions.
  5. Compliance Reporting: SIEM systems help organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements by collecting and analysing data to demonstrate adherence to security policies and standards. SIEM platforms often include built-in reporting capabilities to generate compliance reports for auditors and regulators.
  6. Forensic Analysis: SIEM systems support forensic analysis by providing historical log data and event timelines. Security analysts can use SIEM tools to reconstruct security incidents, track the source of attacks, and identify any compromised systems or data.
  7. User Activity Monitoring: SIEM platforms monitor user activity within an organization’s IT environment to detect insider threats, policy violations, or unauthorized access. By analysing user behaviour and access patterns, SIEM systems can identify suspicious activities indicative of insider threats or compromised accounts.

Overall, SIEM systems play a crucial role in enhancing cybersecurity posture by providing real-time threat detection, incident response capabilities, and compliance reporting functionalities.

The function and use cases for SOAR

SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) platforms integrate security tools and technologies to streamline security operations and incident response processes. They perform key functions to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of cybersecurity operations. The primary functions of SOAR platforms include:

  1. Incident Orchestration: SOAR platforms automate the orchestration of incident response workflows by defining and executing a sequence of actions across different security tools and systems. This includes tasks such as alert triage, enrichment, analysis, containment, and remediation.
  2. Automation: SOAR platforms automate repetitive and manual security tasks to reduce the burden on security analysts and accelerate incident response times. Automation can include actions such as threat intelligence enrichment, file analysis, user activity control, and policy validation.
  3. Integration: SOAR platforms integrate with a wide range of security tools, including SIEM systems, endpoint protection platforms, threat intelligence feeds, firewalls, and ticketing systems. This integration enables seamless communication and data sharing between disparate security tools, allowing for a more coordinated and effective response to security incidents.
  4. Playbooks: SOAR platforms use playbooks, which are predefined workflows that dictate how manage and remediate to security incidents. Playbooks specify the sequence of actions to take in response to specific types of incidents, ensuring consistency and repeatability in incident response processes.
  5. Alert Triage and Prioritization: SOAR platforms automatically prioritize and categorize security alerts based on predefined criteria such as severity, impact, and relevance. This helps security analysts focus their efforts on addressing the most critical threats and reduces the time spent on low-priority alerts.
  6. Threat Intelligence Management: SOAR platforms integrate with threat intelligence feeds to enrich security alerts and provide context about emerging threats. They automatically correlate security events with relevant threat intelligence data to identify indicators of compromise (IOCs) and facilitate more informed decision-making during incident response.
  7. Reporting and Analytics: SOAR platforms provide reporting and analytics capabilities to track key metrics related to incident response performance, such as incident resolution rates. This data helps organizations assess their security posture, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.

 SOAR is essential element in enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and scalability of security operations by automating workflows, integrating disparate security tools, and providing centralized visibility and control over incident response processes.

SIEM or SOAR – comparison

Purpose:

  • The primary purpose of SIEM is to collect, aggregate, and analyse log data from various sources to detect security incidents, identify threats, and facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements. SIEM focuses on log management, correlation, and real-time monitoring.
  • SOAR platforms are to streamline and automate security operations and incident response processes. They focus on orchestrating workflows, automating repetitive tasks, integrating security tools, and enabling a more coordinated and efficient response to security incidents.

Automation and Orchestration:

  • While SIEM systems may have basic automation capabilities, such as alerting and simple remediation actions, they primarily focus on log analysis and correlation. SIEM does not typically offer the sophisticated orchestration capabilities found in SOAR platforms.
  • SOAR platforms specialize in automation and orchestration. They automate repetitive tasks, orchestrate complex workflows across multiple security tools, and enable incident response automation. SOAR platforms can execute predefined workflow to manage security incidents from detection to resolution without manual intervention.

Integrations:

  • SIEM platforms integrate with various security tools and data sources to collect and analyse log data. They often integrate with endpoint protection systems, firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and threat intelligence feeds.
  • SOAR platforms provide extensive integration capabilities, enabling seamless communication and data sharing between disparate security tools. They integrate with SIEM systems, as well as with other security solutions such as ticketing systems, threat intelligence feeds, and vulnerability management tools.

Incident Response:

  • SIEM systems provide real-time alerting and monitoring capabilities to detect security incidents. However, incident response in SIEM environments often requires manual intervention by security analysts to investigate alerts, analyse log data, and initiate response actions.
  • SOAR platforms automate incident response processes, enabling faster and more efficient response to security incidents. They prioritize alerts, execute automated response actions based on predefined playbooks, and provide centralized management and tracking of incident response activities.

Where should I start?

If you have SIEM, then SOAR is a next step in security operations. SOAR starts from where a SIEM system’s capabilities end. So, there are two complementary security solutions.

If you have neither SIEM nor SOAR, then an effective way is to start from log management and implement alert or correlation rules. Next validate detected events and tune executed rules.

To improve investigation workflow, you can engage targeted orchestration. Through SOAR integrations you can take various actions from one console. Finally SOAR provides automated threat qualification, investigation, and response process.

How to pick the right SOAR? 

Below you can find three hints to choose the right platform:

  1. Use a tool that is close to your ecosystem (SIEM, ticketing system).
  2. Verify integrations you need or ability to write your own.
  3. Remember about support and services.

 In summary, while SIEM and SOAR serve different purposes, they are complementary technologies that together enhance an organization’s cybersecurity posture. SIEM provides real-time monitoring, threat detection, and compliance reporting, while SOAR streamlines and automates incident response workflows, enabling a more efficient and coordinated response to security incidents.