Seven Steps to Successfully Implementing SIEM

Zach DeMeyer
March 3, 2023

Implementing Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is crucial to building a strong security program. SIEM aggregates and analyzes data from across your company’s users, endpoints, networks, cloud infrastructure, apps, and more to give you better visibility into what’s happening in your environment. Doing so enables the critical processes of detecting and analyzing suspicious behaviors that indicate a potential breach, strengthening your overall security posture.

Once you have a handle on SIEM’s benefits, as well as how to choose the right SIEM provider for you, it’s critical that you implement your solution of choice properly.  Poorly deployed SIEM solutions aren’t effective, leaving the business without the threat detection, reporting, and other benefits of SIEM they need.

Todyl’s step-by-step guide to implementing SIEM

Many businesses rely on Todyl and our Managed Cloud SIEM to ensure their business stays ahead of the latest threats while also cutting down the expertise and heavy lifting required on their end. Based on that expertise, we’ve made a list of best practices for you to follow when rolling out your SIEM.

1. Confirm your needs and priority

You did your due diligence when finding your SIEM provider to understand what business needs you wanted to address through SIEM. Now, when setting up your SIEM, it’s important to redefine those goals, outcomes, and use cases from the start to ensure you’re on the right track. It will also help you best identify which data sources need to be integrated as you roll out implementation.

The key to a successful SIEM implementation is enabling comprehensive threat detection through comprehensive visibility. By converging all the data flows across your environment into SIEM, threats can be better correlated and identified across different systems. With that said, be sure to prioritize data sources based on your initial goals. Then, once your engine is running smoothly, you can start folding in more sources to ensure a complete picture.  

2. Integrate your stack

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start ingesting data from your resources and services into the SIEM. The best SIEM solutions come with a number of integrations pre-built for you out of the box, as well as pre-defined detection rules and dashboards. Using these rapid onboarding capabilities, you can quickly spin up your threat detection engine and bolster your security approach within minutes. Don’t wait days or weeks to gain a complete picture of your environment.

3. Establish a baseline

Now that the SIEM  is ingesting data, you need to understand your baseline. You won’t know when something’s wrong if you don’t know what standard operations look like, so let the SIEM run under normal circumstances to establish a model of normal activity. At this stage, you can begin beta-testing certain scenarios like password stuffing or unauthorized access to see how it will appear on your SIEM. That way, you can ensure that both you and the SIEM’s built-in analytics engine can properly identify any deviation from your standard operations.

4. Create rules and alerts

With a baseline established, you need to tell your SIEM how to operate when it detects a potential threat. There is a bevy of varying use cases for your SIEM, be it for identifying credential stuffing, detecting persistent attack vectors, or even sussing out potential insider threats.

Dictate when and how your SIEM should let you know something is off, so you’re not inundated by alerts every time something normal occurs. Ensure that only the right people receive alerts as well. There’s no need to inform everyone in the company that something is wrong.

5. Dictate follow-up procedures

Next, it’s time to establish your triage, investigation, and response procedures. Document them, and then train the key players on your team how to act when alerts are triggered so you can respond accordingly. Take it a step further and practice how to quarantine servers, deny access, or even wipe machines entirely if it seems like a breach occurred.

Like with muscle memory, the more you practice what to do in a crisis, the easier it will be in case a security event occurs. You can also opt for an managed detection and response (MDR) service to offload that work for you. Select SIEM providers offer their own complementary MDR service to integrate your existing data and streamline the process.  Make sure to pick an option backed by industry-sourced threat intel and with dedicated security expertise. If you want to learn more, check out our eBook on best practices for choosing an MDR provider.

6. Build reports

Now that data is flowing smoothly into the SIEM, your baselines are established, and you have detection capabilities in place to identify potential threats, it’s time to set up reports for awareness and transparency. Creating reports within your SIEM to analyze log data will streamline day-to-day work and set your teams up for successful audits.

Reports help you understand how your security controls work. Built correctly, they illuminate which of your rules are actively working, as well as any trends that will help you take proactive steps toward strengthening your security posture. They’re also critical when performing an after-action review  in the unfortunate case of a breach. With the right reports in place, you can better see what led up to a breach and patch vulnerabilities to protect against similar attacks in the future.

Additionally, you can also set up your reporting to prepare you for compliance audits. Most regulatory compliance dictates a minimum of one year of logs. Auditors often check those logs to see if security events occurred, if your business was prepared, and how you handled the response. Having these reports already in place will make your next upcoming audit much more straightforward.

7. Continuously optimize and finetune

You’ve completed your SIEM implementation, but don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Your environment, attack surfaces, and threat actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are always changing. Your SIEM should be just as adaptive.

Frequently check your SIEM for software updates. Finetune the rules you have in place to reduce noise, increase detection fidelity , and ensure integrations are sending data as expected. That way, you are always the first to know when something is wrong, even as your operations grow.

Gain crucial visibility into your stack with SIEM

Now that your SIEM is in place, it’s time to evaluate other facets of your security approach. Download our eBook to see what other options you may want to consider or see if your SIEM choice can help eliminate the need for smaller point solutions altogether.

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Additional reading

Todyl Success Story: IT Haven improves client satisfaction and security through consolidation
Calculating Cyber Risk Appetite
Breaking down the cyberattack lifecycle: Monetization

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