Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Janakiram MSV, Jnan Dash, Andreas Grabner, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cognitive Computing , Machine Learning , Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: 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
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, a Senior Manager, Business Strategy, at Cisco Systems, will discuss how IT and operational technology (OT) work together, as opposed to being in separate siloes as once was traditional. Attendees will learn how to fully leverage the power of IoT in their organization by bringing the two sides together and bridging the communication gap. He will also look at what good leadership must entail in order to accomplish this, and how IT managers ca...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...