They say that no man is an island, and in the security space that’s very true. No system is, either – especially those tasked with some kind of security management. We get caught up in SIEM and Log Management platforms to suck in every piece of information they can to help with event correlation and analysis, but when it comes down to it security management is just one aspect of an enterprise’s management stack. SIEM/Log Management is only one discipline in the security management chain, and must feed some portion of its analysis to supporting systems. So clearly integration is key, both to getting value from SIEM/LM, and to making sure the rest of the organization is on board with buying and deploying the technology.

For a number of enterprise IT management systems it is important to integrate with the SIEM/Log Management platform, ranging from importing data sources, to sending alerts, even up to participating in an IT organization’s workflow. We’ve broken the integrations up into inbound (receiving data from another tool) and outbound (sending data/alerts to another tool).

Inbound integration

  1. Security management tools: We discussed this a bit when talking about data collection, regarding the importance of broadening the number of data sources for analysis and reporting. These systems include vulnerability management, configuration management, change detection, network behavioral analysis, file integrity monitoring, endpoint security consoles, etc. Typically integration with these systems is via custom connectors, and most SIEM/LM players have relationships with the big vendors in each space.
  2. Identity Management: Identity integration was discussed in the last post on advanced features and is another key system for providing data to the SIEM/LM platform. This can include user and group information (to streamline deployment and ongoing user management) from enterprise directory systems like Active Directory and LDAP, as well as provisioning and entitlement information to implement user activity monitoring. These integrations tend to be via custom connectors as well.

Because these inbound integrations tend to require custom connectors to get proper breadth and fidelity of data, it’s a good idea to learn a bit about each vendor’s partner program. Vendors use these programs to gain access to the engineering teams behind their data sources; but more importantly devote the resources to developing rules, policies, and reports to take advantage of the additional data.

Outbound integration

  1. IT GRC: Given that SIEM/Log Management gathers information useful to substantiate security controls for compliance purposes, clearly it would be helpful to be able to send that information to a broader IT GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) platform that is presumably managing the compliance process at a higher level. So integration(s) with whatever IT GRC platform is in use within your organization (if any) is an important consideration for deciiding to acquire of SIEM/Log Management technology.
  2. Help Desk: The analysis performed within the SIEM/Log Management platform provides information about attacks in progress and usually requires some type of remediation action once an alert is validated. To streamline fixing these issues, it’s useful to be able to submit trouble tickets directly into the organization’s help desk system to close the loop. Some SIEM/Log Management platform have a built-in trouble ticket system, but we’ve found that capability is infrequently used, since all companies large enough to utilize SIEM/LM also have some kind of external help desk system. Look for the ability to not only send alerts (with sufficient detail to allow the operations team to quickly fix the issue), but also to receive information back when a ticket is closed, and to automatically close the alert within the SIEM platform.
  3. CMDB: Many enterprises have also embraced configuration management databases (CMDB) technology to track IT assets and ensure that configurations adhere to corporate policies. When trying to ensure changes are authorized, it’s helpful to be able to send indications of changes at the system and/or device level to the CMDB for confirmation.

Again, paying attention to each vendor’s partner program and announced relationships can yield valuable information about the frequency of true enterprise deployment, as large customers demand their vendors work together – often forcing some kind of integration. It also pays to as vendor references about their integration offerings – because issuing a press release does not mean the integration is functional, complete, or useful.