SIEM and SOAR: Unlocking the secrets to proactive threat detection and response

In an online world, today’s businesses face greater sophisticated security threats than ever before, and increasingly they must confront these threats with understaffed cybersecurity teams. However, as businesses continue to search for ways to streamline their incident response tools and processes with the hope of faster, more efficient incident resolutions, tools such as SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) and SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response) are on the tip of everyone’s tongue.  

Here is a more detailed look at each technology and their uses cases: 

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) 

A SIEM collects and stores security data from a variety of sources, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and web application firewalls. This data can then be used to identify threats, investigate incidents, and track compliance. 

A good example of a SIEM use case is where a system identifies an irregular amount of login attempts for an application or system. After detection, the SIEM alerts the security operations (SecOps) team about the incident to conduct investigations of a potentially compromised system or user credential. 

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) 

Like SIEMs, SOAR tools are intended to help security teams reduce alert fatigue and streamline incident response processes. Cloud-based SOAR platforms take things a step further by automating repetitive security tasks, optimising processes and enable orchestration of different technologies into standardised response procedures.  

SOAR relies on machine learning to predict repeatable patterns to help security operations centre (SOC) teams differentiate between false positives / negatives and intercept cyber-attacks proactively, rather than reactively. Today, SOAR use cases have evolved to include SOC process optimisation, threat investigation and threat intelligence management. 

SIEM and SOAR – How do we use these tools in tandem? 

Consider the example: A brute-force alert has just been triggered as it violates a SIEM rule. What are the next steps for incident response? The logs show 10 login attempts in under one minute. A security analyst now needs to investigate the alert and take an action. However, the number of daily alerts is higher than the SOC team can handle.  

Along comes SOAR. With a SOAR in place, the user account in question can be disabled automatically. Additionally, further steps can be automated to streamline the workflow and reduce human intervention. 

Benefits of using SIEM and SOAR together: 

  • Increased visibility: Both tools can provide a comprehensive view of your landscape 
  • Reduced risk: SIEM and SOAR can help you reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents working in tandem 
  • Improved compliance: SIEM and SOAR can help you improve your compliance with security regulations 
  • Increased efficiency: SIEM and SOAR can help you save time and money by automating security tasks. 

Can SOAR Replace SIEM? 

Although SIEM and SOAR may be used interchangeably, it is vital to understand that they serve different purposes in cybersecurity. SIEM provides real-time event monitoring and analysis, while SOAR allows automation of incident response processes and orchestration. 

The requirement for a SIEM arises because an organisation generates thousands of daily logs and events. A SOAR improves the SOC’s incident response and automation processes by using artificial intelligence and machine learning along with external threat intelligence feeds and other third-party sources to obtain a holistic picture of the security landscape of the organisation’s assets. 

SIEM and SOAR are no longer considered to be independent of one another. Today with modern SIEM solutions built natively into cloud technologies, SIEM capabilities are now expected to be integrated into SOAR solutions.  

How to choose the right tool for you? 

The best way to decide which technology is right for your organisation is to consider the specific needs. If you’re looking for a tool to only help you collect and store security data, a SIEM is a good solution. If you’re looking for a tool to help you automate security tasks and respond to threats more proactively, a SOAR coupled with SIEM capabilities may be the better solution. 

With the ever-growing adoption of cloud technologies, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence), security tools like SIEM and SOARs are paramount to the overall success of proactively responding to threats within organisations which prioritise security and risk management. By combining ‘best of both’ of these security solutions, organisations will be ready to better protect against threats whilst minimising the operational overhead of security incidents. 

If you’re not sure which technology is right for you, it’s important to consult with a security expert such as GFT. We can help you assess your requirements and recommend the best solution for your organisation.

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