Research Publication

Monitoring up the Stack: Adding Value to SIEM

By Mike Rothman

SIEM and Log Management platforms have seen significant investment, and the evolving nature of attacks means end users are looking for more ways to leverage their security investments. SIEM/Log Management does a good job of collecting data, but extracting actionable information remains a challenge. In part this is due to the “drinking from the fire hose” phenomenon, where the speed and volume of incoming data make it difficult to keep up. Additionally, the data needs to be pieced together with sufficient reference points from multiple event sources to provide context. But we find that the most significant limiting factor is often a network-centric perspective on data collection and analysis. As an industry we look at network traffic rather than transactions; we look at packet density instead of services; we look at IP addresses rather than user identity. We lack context to draw conclusions about the amount of real risk any specific attack presents.

Historically, compliance and operations management have driven investment in SIEM, Log Management, and other complimentary monitoring investments. SIEM can provide continuous monitoring, but most SIEM deployments are not set up to provide timely threat response to application attacks. And we all know that a majority of attacks (whether 60% or 80% doesn’t matter) focus directly on applications. To support more advanced policies and controls we need to peel back the veil of network-oriented analysis and climb the stack, looking at applications and business transactions. In some cases this just means a new way of looking at existing data. But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? To monitor up the stack effectively, we need to look at how the architecture, policy management, data collection, and analysis of an existing SIEM implementation must change.

The aim of this report is to answer the question: “How can I derive more value from my SIEM installation?”

A special thanks to ArcSight for sponsoring the report.

Download: Monitoring up the Stack: Adding Value to SIEM

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