A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system is the backbone of your security operations center (SOC). But is your SIEM causing more problems than it’s solving?
You depend on your SIEM to collect information and tell your analysts about attacks and other anomalous behavior in the network. But if your SIEM is not properly tuned, it can do more harm than good. Your analysts get lost in a sea of cyber security alerts, many of which are false positives. Without the right solution in place to build context around alerts and make informed SIEM tuning decisions, alerts are just burning analysts out and hiding real security threats.
What Is Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue?
SOCs take in more telemetry every day. As your business grows, you add more machines, more networks, and more security tools. This means more alerts are coming in. Not all of those alerts are useful. According to an IDC/FireEye study, 45% of alerts coming into the SOC are false positives. With so many false positives, alerts start to feel meaningless. This is cybersecurity alert fatigue.
Alert fatigue can lead directly to compromise. With so much noise, identifying meaningful alerts in the SOC can feel like a wild goose chase, and security analysts get discouraged or burned out. When the queue is full, 34% of internal SOC teams and 44% of managed services SOC teams start to ignore cyber security alerts: in each case, a higher percentage than the fraction of SOC teams who respond by tuning the SIEM. This means real security incidents go undetected.
SOC leaders need to find a way to prevent alert fatigue while improving the SOC’s ability to prevent and respond to attacks. Fortunately, this is not a question of spending more money, buying more tools, and allocating more staff. You need a way to regularly test and tune your SIEM so it works the way it is meant to, before either attackers or alert fatigue strike.
How to Reduce Alert Fatigue
At its best, your SIEM is a valuable contributor to your cyber readiness: your level of ability to face and defeat real threats. To conquer alert fatigue, you need to make SIEM alerts work for you. You need to constantly optimize your SIEM to make sure you are getting actionable, usable information from it. This includes collecting reliable metrics around the efficiency of your SIEM, identifying what can be optimized, tuning those rules and procedures, and repeating this process over time in order to detect and respond to threats efficiently.
Effective Testing with “Live Fire”
You need to know how your SIEM responds under attack: what alerts it produces, and whether the rules are tuned well enough to detect those alerts as an incident. Many businesses do not know whether their SIEMs are doing this until they are actually attacked. But then, if their SIEM is not properly tuned to detect a particular attack, it is too late.
This underscores the importance of testing. You should test your SIEM regularly with live-fire attacks that resemble real-world threats. That way, you get a clearer idea of how well your SIEM actually detects attacks, implement necessary adjustments, and retest without having to wait until attackers strike.
Regular and Effective Tuning
Tuning is an iterative process, not a single action. Once you change or refine a rule, you must then identify how the change affects your ability to detect and respond to real threats. In response to those findings, you can perform more tuning and evaluate the result again. As with any other process in the SOC designed to increase your readiness, there is no comfortable endpoint. Instead, there is a continuous process of becoming better prepared to defeat attackers.
The best way to make sure you are tuning your SIEM properly is to have hard data about the effectiveness of the pieces of your SOC. That hard data comes from launching live-fire attacks that reflect what actually threatens your business, collecting detection and response data, and tracking that over time. Then, you can tune and create rules, set baselines, and optimize escalation procedures as necessary. With continued tracking of test result data in a readiness platform, you can constantly improve the efficiency of your SIEM while reducing cybersecurity alert fatigue and becoming better prepared to pretend, detect, and respond to threats.
From Alert Fatigue to Cyber Readiness
Defeating alert fatigue requires knowing what your SIEM is doing for you, and what changes to make in order to make it work more efficiently. The SightGain Continuous Readiness Platform is the only cyber solution that lets you perform live-fire testing against your environment and then collects and presents the empirical data you need to track and improve your readiness to face real cyber threats.