Managed Cloud SIEM: What it is, and isn’t

Zach DeMeyer
January 30, 2024

A critical component of any robust cybersecurity strategy is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system. SIEM is like the watchful guardian of your digital kingdom. It's designed to collect, analyze, and correlate data from various sources within your IT infrastructure to help you identify and respond to security incidents.  

Although SIEM systems are a crucial tool for safeguarding your organization, not all SIEM solutions are created equal. Many SIEMs require expertise and headcount to implement, use, and maintain, which cuts into thin cybersecurity budgets. In fact, it takes an average of 1.5 dedicated full-time employees to manage and operate a traditional SIEM. On top of that, they require infrastructure to host and leverage, adding more dollar signs to the bottom line. That's where Managed Cloud SIEM comes into play, letting organizations leverage SIEM while allowing them to focus their time and budget on larger security outcomes.

Let's dive into what managed cloud SIEM is, and just as importantly, what it isn't.

What is Managed Cloud SIEM?

Managed Cloud SIEM is a cybersecurity solution that outsources the hosting and developing of a SIEM system to a third-party provider. This provider takes on the responsibility of setting up and maintaining the SIEM solution’s servers, creating dashboards and detections, and providing expert analysis and response to threats. In some cases, this provider may be a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), but recently, some vendors are offering their SIEM as a completely managed service from the cloud, enabling businesses to leverage the SIEM without having to host it or manage its detection rules or correlations.

Managed cloud SIEM solutions offer several key benefits:

Expertise

One of the primary advantages of managed cloud SIEM is that it’s created and maintained by cybersecurity experts well-versed in the latest threats and best practices. These experts create pre-built detection rules and correlations that automate your SIEM visibility engine and can monitor your network and security events around the clock. The best SIEM providers offer both as an additional service, ensuring that potential issues are detected and addressed promptly while also allowing you to save time and money spent on bringing in top security talent.

Cost-effective  

Building and maintaining an in-house SIEM system can be cost-prohibitive for many organizations, both in the expertise required to set up and tune them as well as the servers on which they operate. Managed cloud SIEM allows you to leverage the benefits of a SIEM solution without the heavy upfront investment in hardware, software, and personnel. What’s more, because of their pre-built integrations and detection capabilities, managed SIEM options allow you to get up and running much quicker than if you had to set one up from scratch.

Scalability

Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, you can tailor your managed cloud SIEM solution to fit your requirements. Managed SIEM uses the cloud to be incredibly scalable. Not only does this mean they can adapt to your organization's changing needs and the ever-shifting cybersecurity landscape, but they can also work well regardless of what resources are at play. This extensibility also means that managed SIEM can be effective for both in-office and remote work, making them a highly sought after security solution in hybrid work environments.

Streamlined incident response

Culminating all the points above, managed cloud SIEM leads to threats being uncovered faster and correlated across endpoints and applications. Through event correlation, managed cloud SIEM uses the vendor’s security expertise on top of machine learning algorithms to identify ties between events that would seem innocuous normally. Then, understanding these relations, you uncover threats in real-time, so you can minimize the potential damage and downtime of a breach before an attack can develop. When you add in the expertise and 24x7 aspects of a fully managed SIEM option, or Managed eXtended Detection and Response (MXDR), you not only have quicker response through SIEM, but also full coverage of your environment when you’re off the clock.  

What Managed Cloud SIEM isn't

Now that we've covered what managed cloud SIEM is, let's clarify what it isn't:

A silver bullet

Anyone in the security industry knows that no one solution can protect you from cyberattacks. Although managed cloud SIEM is powerful, it's not a magic solution that guarantees complete protection against all cyber threats. It's just one part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes other layers of defense, like network and endpoint security solutions, employee training, and routine evaluations and maintenance.

A "set it and forget it" solution

Although managed cloud SIEM providers handle the heavy lifting of setting up a visibility engine, it's not a hands-off approach for your organization. You will need to, at the very least, monitor your solution for any anomalies and act accordingly. If you opt for more of an MXDR option, collaboration and communication with your vendor are essential to ensure your SIEM system aligns with your specific security goals and risk profile.

Immune to false positives

No SIEM system is perfect, and false positives—incorrectly identifying a legitimate activity as a security threat—can occur. Effective managed cloud SIEM solutions incorporate human intelligence to reduce false positives and ensure accurate threat detection. Some go so far as to correlate events across endpoints, apps, and infrastructure to paint a bigger picture of a potential attack, letting you know what was affected and how to address it. However, every SIEM has false positives, and it's important to have a trusted partner who actively manages false positives to deliver the highest fidelity alerts possible.

A replacement for cybersecurity awareness

Even with managed cloud SIEM in place, employee cybersecurity awareness and training are critical to creating a security-first culture and protecting your business assets against threats. The human element is often the weakest link in security, and the rise of business email compromise (BEC) over the last several years puts employees at the front lines of your business’s security posture. Well-trained and informed employees can help prevent security incidents, but only if they know how to spot threats and are bought into their role in the overall security picture.

Using Managed Cloud SIEM in your environment

Managed cloud SIEM is a valuable addition to any organization's cybersecurity strategy, offering expertise, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and streamlined incident response. However, it's essential to understand its limitations and recognize that it's just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle.

To fortify your defenses against cyber threats effectively, consider implementing managed SIEM as part of a broader cybersecurity strategy that includes employee training, regular security assessments, and a proactive approach to staying ahead of evolving threats. With the right combination of tools and practices, you can better protect your organization's digital assets and maintain a strong security posture in today's ever-changing threat landscape.

To learn more about what a managed cloud SIEM option can do for your business, read our eBook.

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