SIM is Dead – Unless

I feel like I should post a follow-up to my recent post about SIM is dead. Here are some points I would like to clarify:

  • If I talk about SIM or SIEM, I am talking about the way current SIM solutions are working and the way they are implemented. That means things like relational database, fixed schema, parsed and normalized data, or hierarchical scaling.
  • Do I really believe that SIM is not useful? No. And I am not just saying that because I own stock in a SIM company. Just like Alex says in a comment on my original blog entry: IDS is not dead. SIM is probably not dead either. I know of quite some people that are very happy with their SIM implementation. However, there are many limitations with the way today’s SIMs are architected.
  • The architectural limits cripple the SIMs. They cannot deal with really large event volumes. With the current threat landscape this means that many use-cases cannot be implemented with a SIM. They simply can’t scale to that extent. Leverage IT search to do the heavy data lifting.
  • Network world published a review of recent SIEM technology. They note correctly that application data is becoming more and more important. SIMs have traditionally been built for firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and vulnerability scans and that’s what they are really good at. To be precise. That’s where some SIMs are really good. But as soon as you are dealing with other data sources, such as call detail records (CDRs) or other crazy application logs, you start overloading the existing schema, apply one hack after the other and eventually cripple the entire system.
  • Some SIMs have done a great job of implementing features that are well-suited for security operations centers (SOCs). In these environments, analysts are working on a console 7×24. They need features like workflow, collaboration, ticketing, live channels, etc. In such an environment, a collaborative approach between a SIM and an IT search solution can be quite effective. IT search is dedicated to data management, data routing and collection, and forensic investigations, as well as reporting. The SIM can be dedicated to real-time correlation, collaboration, and providing a front-end for the analysts.

This should clarify some of my points.

By Raffael Marty

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