Welcome!

Search Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Jnan Dash, Shelly Palmer, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Search, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Beyond Intrusion Detection: Eight Best Practices for Cloud SIEM Deployment

Improving visibility across the enterprise

For all the right reasons, your company has been thinking about deploying SIEM…to create an alert system when those with less than good intentions come knocking; to remediate potential network threats; to comply with federal, state or industry regulations; and identify the risks and vulnerabilities throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure and architecture. If you maintain even a modest (SMB -> Fortune 1000) organization that has any online identity, SIEM should be the cornerstone of your asset protection strategy.

First and foremost, SIEM (and to a certain extent log management) is about visibility. Who is doing what and when on your network. It is as much about understanding the holistic landscape of your infrastructure as it is protecting proprietary assets. Without it, it’s akin to coaching the Big Game without any idea who is the opponent; or for that matter if you even have a starting left guard.

But fun metaphors aside, SIEM is a critical enterprise tool. And just like any enterprise solution, it requires forethought, vigilance and most importantly, a good game plan. And when deployed properly it can change your IT department from infrastructure-based, to information-centric. And as such you get to make better decisions, faster.

And with every technology there are best practices and pitfalls. In past articles I have spoken at length regarding the advantages of deploying and managing SIEM in the cloud. Many of these surround the affordability, manageability, control and capability of the solution. For many, security from the cloud is still an emerging concept. But for those who’ve already made the leap, they are reaping the significant benefits. But I want to move beyond the arguments of “going cloud” when deciding on security solutions. Today I want to focus on what happens next. How do you start collecting that ROI once a cloud-based security-as-a-service has been chosen?

The reason most enterprise deployments fail (on premise or cloud) can be typically traced to two causes: (1.) Lack of buy-in from the executive level or employee resistance to change, but more often the culprit is (2.) lack of vision or process. Too many companies jump in and apply a solution because they heard it was important or were sold a Porsche when all they needed was a family SUV. Of course one of the benefits of cloud-based security is the ability to "buy" the SUV and instantly scale up to that Porsche, if and when, the business need requires it (without touching CapEx budgets!)! But with that here are 8 best practices you should implement when moving forward with your cloud-based security initiative:

Best Practice #1: Identify your goals and match your scope to them. There are five questions you need to ask before moving forward with any deployment. 1. WHY do you need SIEM (compliance? user and/or partner expansion? BYOD? Breach detection?) HOW will SIEM be deployed to properly address these issues (what processes, functionality and capabilities are needed; which needs to be outsourced/replaced/improved) WHAT needs to be collected, analyzed and reported? HOW BIG does the deployment need to scale to accurately and cost effectively meet your specific business need? And WHERE is the information situated that should/must be monitored?

Best practice #2: Incremental usage. The quickest route to success is taking baby steps. The idea is to prove the concept and then expand the scope. To some this might be to start with log management and add  SIEM once you understand the requirements, commitment and volume. Now because security-as-a-service is so flexible and can ramp up or down instantly, an easy entry point might be to start with only those elements that fulfill compliance. The project might be overwhelming, but if you take it in bite-sized phases, you will find the victories come easier and the ROI is justified. When dealing with a cloud security deployment, it is easy to turn on the fire hose when only a garden hose is needed. But the beauty of a cloud deployment is the ease and flexibility of scaling. Again, another example of incremental usage would be either to apply SIEM against specific use case scenarios or possibly just migrate a division or a department or a function (as opposed to the entire enterprise).

Best Practice #3: Determine what IS and ISN’T a threat to your network. Returning to the fire hose metaphor, when deploying a SIEM initiative, it is very easy to get lost in a sea of data. It can be like trying to drink from that proverbial fire hose. The trick is to recognize what constitutes a true risk and eliminate false positives. And this requires some internal analysis to create a series of rules that sift out the white noise and differentiate “normal” traffic from suspicious activity. For instance, if there is an attempted access to your partner portal from Russia—is that normal? Do you even have a partner in Minsk? But even a simple filter isn’t quite enough. Risk is three dimensional and it can hide in plain sight. That’s why you continue to filter based on time of day, IP address, server, attempts, network availability and a myriad of other forensic qualifiers before the alert is grave enough to require immediate attention.

Best practice #4: Map response plans. Now that an incident gets your attention, what do you do? Do you launch an account investigation, suspend the user, deactivate a password, apply a  denial-of-service against the IP or a number of remediations based on the severity, vulnerability and identity of the transgressor. This goes back to workflow and process. Who is going to what to whom and how? SIEM is a process-reliant technology. You simply can’t flip a switch and say you’ve put up a magic forcefield around your network. Your response plan is your blueprint to closing the vulnerability gaps and ensuring compliance.

Best practice #5 Correlate data from multiple sources. The practice of situational awareness is what adds the muscle into a SIEM initiative. Like #4, it isn’t enough to plug in a solution and press “go.” Situational awareness takes into account a multitude of different endpoints, servers, data streams, assets and inventories, events and flows, from across the enterprise and puts information into context.  Context is the most important portion of risk assessment.  For example, a shark is a threat. However if that shark is 10 miles away, it is not a direct or immediate threat. Doesn't mean you're not vulnerable if that shark gets hungry. Having an engine that not only creates accurate perspective, but analyzes, understands and acts upon behaviors is key. And to do that a centralized SIEM engine needs the data from more than just a single source or single server.

Best Practice #6: Requires Real time monitoring 7/24/365. For many companies this is a challenge, but hackers don’t sleep. And although a great deal of SIEM and Log Management is automated, it still requires the vigilance of 24 hour monitoring. Trees might be falling in the forest, but if there is no one to see them, breaches occur, networks are compromised. I’ve witnessed plenty of IT departments that don’t have the resources. Again, this is a considerable advantage that security-as-s-service provides and allows you to sleep just a little better at night. Knowing that this one crucial element of your security is professionally addressed without additional staff or budget makes the cloud that much more valuable.

Best Practice #7 Remain calm! One thing we’ve noticed is that soon after the deployment of a SIEM/Log Management it seems there are alerts and issues you never dreamed about. Things are bound to look worse before they get better and it can seem overwhelming; kind of opening a Pandora’s Box of malware and botnets.  For the most part it is because you now know what you didn’t know before.  In some respect it is like looking at your hotel room comforter under black light and a microscope. But once you realize what you’re looking at and that much or the remediation can be automated, soon, (with a bit of fine tuning and normalizing correlation feeds) you will be measure that the anomalous events lessen and the alert prioritizations allow you to make timely and intelligent decisions.

Best practice #8: Evolution. Security is a moving target. You need to revisit you processes and workflows every few months to make sure you are up to date with compliance requirements, new users/access points and expanded or redefined workflows. This is more than recognizing the latest virus threats. New users access your network with regularity. New layers of regulations are added. There are new applications requiring monitoring. All in all, by giving your cloud-based SIEM and log management solutions the new and necessary data, your enterprise will be more secure than it was yesterday.

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.