What Are Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools?

5 min. read

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a set of tools and services offering a holistic view of an organization's information security, using predetermined rules to help security teams define threats and generate alerts. As such, they collect, aggregate and analyze volumes of data from an organization's applications, devices, servers and users in real time so security teams can detect and block attacks.

What Is Security and Information Event Management (SIEM)?


A SIEM, or security information and event management solution, aggregates security event data from application, network, endpoint and cloud environments and then utilizes it for security monitoring, threat detection and response, and sometimes risk scoring.

In 2005, Gartner analysts Mark Nicolett and Amrit Williams coined the term SIEM or security information and event management system. A SIEM combined the capabilities of:

  • SIM (security information management), which offered storage capacities and indexing of all traces of systems for analysis and reporting.
  • SEM (security event management) which offered real-time event processing to extract, normalize, correlate and report alerts to the operators in a management console.

As defined by Williams and Nicollet, a SIEM solution shall:

  • Be capable of analyzing, gathering and presenting information after collecting it from the network and connected security devices.
  • Have identity and access management applications.
  • Have tools for vulnerability management and policy compliance.
  • Consist of the operating system, application logs and database, and external threat data.

SIEM software collects, stores, analyzes and reports on log data that is generated by various systems and applications in a network. It monitors security-related activities, such as user logins, file access and changes to critical system files. SIEM vendors will often include or sell additional functionality as add-ons, including user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and response actions via security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR).

What Do SIEM Tools Do?

SIEM tools are tools that help monitor and manage security events through the use of data analytics and automation. They can be used to detect malicious activity on your network by monitoring all traffic that comes in and out of the network.

SIEMs were built to collect logs, aggregate data and analyze it from an organization's applications, devices, servers and users in real time so security teams can detect and block attacks, with the primary driver being compliance.

SIEM tools use predetermined rules to help security teams define threats and generate alerts. SIEMs take a somewhat imprecise approach to identifying threats, thereby running security analytics on top of huge datasets.

How Do SIEM Tools Work?


SIEM tools provide a central place to collect and log events and alerts, yet can be expensive and resource intensive, requiring frequent tuning and updates to rules.

A typical SIEM process includes the following four steps:

  • Collect data, including log data from various sources (including firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, etc.)
  • Normalize and aggregate collected data
  • Analyze the data to discover and detect threats
  • Identify security breaches and enable further investigation

SIEM tools can also be used for forensics and compliance purposes. They can be used to track user activity, system changes and other security-related activities, which can be used to generate reports and alerts.

Why Is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) important?

SIEM tools are a key component of any organization’s security information infrastructure. They are essential for any enterprise security strategy. They also provide organizations with visibility into the security of their environments and can help organizations identify areas of improvement.

Security information and event management (SIEM) technology supports threat detection, compliance and security incident management through the collection and analysis (both near-real time and historical) of security events, as well as a wide variety of other event and contextual data sources.

They’re important because they can also help organizations to proactively identify potential threats and take preventive measures to protect their networks. By automating security tasks, SIEM tools allow security personnel to focus on more important tasks.

Key SIEM Tools and Features

Next-gen SIEM incorporates two key technologies: user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and security orchestration and automation response (SOAR). These technologies enable complex threat identification, detection of lateral movement, and automated incident response as an integral part of a SIEM's functions.

SOAR adds orchestration, automation and integrations for response to SIEM. As an extension of the SIEM, SOAR allows the manual creation of playbooks to automate frequently used analyst workflows. SOAR tools are also used as “security middleware” that allows disparate security tools to talk to each other.

  • Data Collection and Analysis
    SIEM tools are able to collect security data from multiple sources, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems and antivirus software. The collected data is then analyzed to identify and investigate threats.
  • Real-Time Alerting
    SIEM tools are able to detect and alert organizations of potential threats in real time so they can take proactive steps to mitigate any potential damage.
  • Reporting
    SIEM tools provide detailed reports that give organizations visibility into their security posture and help them to identify gaps in their security strategy.
  • Integration with Other Security Solutions
    SIEM tools are able to integrate with other security solutions, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software, allowing organizations to have a comprehensive view of their security environment.

    When searching for a SIEM tool, there are several factors to consider. First, organizations should evaluate the features and scalability of each tool. This includes looking at the data sources it supports, the types of data it can collect and the types of alerts it can generate.

    The cost should also be evaluated. Many tools are available as software as a service, which can be more cost-effective than purchasing a license.

Compliance Management and Reporting

SIEM solutions can help organizations comply with industry and government regulations by tracking compliance with industry regulations and standards. This way, organizations can ensure that their security policies and procedures are up to date and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations and mandates.

In particular, with a SIEM, compliance requirements related to cybersecurity, data security and privacy, and breach reporting can be much easier for organizations to meet.

Benefits of SIEM Tools

SIEM relies heavily on logs of events, also known as an audit trail, to provide real-time insight into potential cybersecurity threats. By analyzing disparate logs over time, SIEMs produce real-time security alerts for further review by IT staff or a security operations center (SOC).

SIEM tools enable IT teams to:

  • Use event log management to consolidate data from several sources.
  • Attain organization-wide visibility in real time.
  • Correlate security events collected from logs using if-then rules to effectively add actionable intelligence to data.
  • Use automatic event notifications that can be managed via dashboards.

SIEM combines the management of security information and security events. This is accomplished using real-time monitoring and the notification of system administrators.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) FAQs

  • What type of data can the SIEM tool collect, analyze and report on?
  • What type of reporting capabilities does the SIEM tool have?
  • How user-friendly is the SIEM tool interface?
  • Does the SIEM tool have any prebuilt integrations or connectors?
  • How scalable is the SIEM tool for my organization?
  • Does the SIEM tool offer any cloud or on-premises deployment options?
  • What type of customer support does the SIEM tool provider offer?
  • How much does the SIEM tool cost?
  • What type of security certifications does the SIEM tool have?
  • What type of data privacy measures does the SIEM tool provide?
  • Unauthorized access and data breaches
  • Malware and ransomware attacks
  • Network and application vulnerabilities
  • Insider threats
  • Data leakage
  • Regulatory compliance issues
  • Cloud security risks
  • Weak identity and access management
  • Phishing and social engineering attacks
  • Data corruption and loss
  • Improved network visibility
  • Automation to improve cybersecurity
  • SIEM reporting supports compliance and forensic investigations
SIEM tools allow for integration with various security solutions. They possess easy scalability to support an organization’s growth, and they have cost-efficient and secure deployment options.