Wednesday, June 25, 2008

11 Signs That Your SIEM Is A Dog or "Raffy, You Killed SIM!"

Prerequisite: read this (thanks Raffy). Stop reading right before you reach the last line though :-)  Then maybe read this too (thanks anonymous).

Next, insert appropriate morbid jokes <here> for "IDS is dead", "NAC is dead", "GRC is dead", everybody is dead... WTF? Are we at the cemetery or what? Is "dead" dead? Yeah, but it came back as a zombie :-) So, "dead" is a "living dead" "dead" now. Ha*3.

Finally, think! Why were you thinking of buying a SIEM? 'Cause the big "G" in the sky said so? And while you are thinking, check these fun points out:

  1. Does your SIEM require 17 beefy servers to operate? How many gallons of foreign oil have to go up in smoke to power that mammoth up? And you know what happened to mammoths, don't you?
  2. If your "high-performance" SIEM appliance can only run 5 correlation rules at the same time, what "high" do they mean, really? Hold this thought....
  3. Is five field engineers, two developers and CTO enough to install it? Who else needs to help? Ah, sorry, I missed the DBA :-)
  4. Do you know when "If CustomVariable17 = Value5" condition matches? Will you still remember it in a year?
  5. Can you tell "taxonomy" from "ontology"? You can now? Good for you. Are you more secure now? More efficient? Compliant?
  6. How many shifts of security analysts do you have watching the shiny consoles 24/7? If zero, then why - oh - why those consoles are running in the first place? "If a tree falls..." - you know how this one ends. Correct! You get hit by the bough.
  7. When was the last time you built a custom agent for parsing and normalizing, say, SAP logs? Did it work? What did you do after it didn't? Cried? And did it help? Then a burly vendor SE showed up, charged you $37,600 and left? Happy now?
  8. Do you automatically correlate IDS/IPS alerts with vulnerability data ... for client-side attacks? Really? :-)
  9. There are dozens of firewall, IDS/IPS, router, etc brands, each with its own log type. This is actually simple! But there are thousands upon thousands of applications in use today. Some have logs. All are different. Care to build rules for that? Now you finally know why SIEM vendors don't parse their own Java logs (no shit!)
  10. Do you know what "threat x vulnerability x random()" equals to? Yup, it still equals random(). Automated prioritization, you say?
  11. Do you know why some SIEM vendors are migrating to IT GRC now? So they can go and die there ... quietly.

All in all, I have to agree with Raffy to a large extent!  The world has evolved - and SIEM has not. It might not be dead (as old attacks and defenses never really die and large organization still build and man massive SOCs where SIEM is "a must"), but in this age of web application hacking, CSRF and XSS, phishing, PCI DSS, massive bot armies, client-side 0-days, stealth malware, etc, paying $x,000,000 for a pile of ugly Java code is insane ... As a result, SIEM has greatly diminished in importance and has become just one small thing you might do with logs and some other data. What made it so? Mostly implementation complexity - but a slew of other factors mentioned above as well.

So, consider this instead:

  • Compliance? "Sorry, buddy, you need this for compliance, not that. "
  • Want to simplify your incident response? Get log management and fly through all your logs, not crawl through some of them.
  • Have a very real need to dig into your logs for troubleshooting or tracking that pesky user? Log management works.

Now, what if you have a latent and vague desire to "correlate something" and a million nice greenbacks to flush down the drain? OK, go get your SIEM toy for $780,000 + 20% maintenance/year ... a true bargain (price valid today only).

Finally, I would like to end this on an optimistic note. Do we need more intelligence to analyze the log data we have collected? Of course! Do we have a widest set of log use cases from today's security  to tomorrow's regulations? You bet. And, for you Raffy, I'd add "... we also have other data to analyze together with logs." So, can we "reinvent SIEM?" Yes, I think so! It just hasn't been done yet ... For now, just use log management.

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Dr Anton Chuvakin