Data breaches are becoming increasingly common these days. A growing number of hackers are becoming very brazen and conducting some truly frightening cyberattacks. One report shows that the number of annual data breaches increased around 60% between 2010 and 2021.
There are a lot of benefits of using Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to protect data from hackers. If you have never heard of this technology before, this post illustrates its importance for data security.
Gartner VP Analyst Anton Chuvakin once suggested that fake SIEM alternatives exist. Just because a cybersecurity technology is better than SIEM in one or a few use cases does not mean that it can already be an alternative. It is one of the best solutions for companies trying to protect data.
“No one threat detection technology can replace a SIEM or serve as a credible overall alternative, but many exceed SIEM for specific use cases,” Chuvakin wrote, adding that “a better wheel is not a car alternative.”
However, this statement was made around half a decade ago. Much has changed in the cybersecurity industry, and excellent solutions that can rival SIEM or supplant its functionalities have already been developed.
A viable SIEM alternative enterprises should consider is Open XDR. Dubbed as an all-in-one SecOps platform, it provides a unified, automated, and simplified way to undertake security operations. It is characterized by the ability to go beyond endpoints and achieve holistic security posture visibility. It also entails an open and vendor-agnostic approach to detecting and responding to cyber threats.
XDR (eXtended Detection and Response) is “a unified security incident detection and response platform that automatically collects and correlates data from multiple proprietary security components,” according to Gartner. Open XDR improves XDR by covering all data from existing security components, not just proprietary data.
Moreover, Open XDR combines multiple security solutions including user entity and behavior analytics (UEBA), threat intelligence platform (TIP), network detection and response (NDR), security orchestration automation and response (SOAR), and security information and event management (SIEM).
SIEM being a part of Open XDR here does not necessarily mean that SIEM is available as a component or small application under a bigger platform. Instead, Open XDR incorporates the functions of SIEM where they are applicable or integrates existing solutions that perform SIEM operations.
Open XDR offers a considerably broader range of capabilities not as a platform that comes with its own long list of functions but as a platform that integrates existing capabilities. It works with an enterprise’s existing security stack, ensuring easy and rapid deployment. It also provides comprehensive coverage over the entire threat lifecycle, from detection to response.
Same goals, different architecture
A comparison of Gartner’s definitions for SIEM and XDR would show that the two are somewhat similar. They both enhance threat detection through the contextualization of security data obtained from various security components throughout the enterprise. Open XDR is essentially XDR with an emphasis on using integration (openness) and comprehensive data coverage (covering proprietary and non-proprietary data).
Now, comparing SIEM and Open XDR, it can be said that they are aimed at the same outcomes but differ in their architectures and methods. And the latter arguably has the edge. The advantages can be summed up as follows:
- Forced normalization and enrichment – In Open XDR, the system ensures that all data are similar or compatible with each other (normalized) before they are stored in a data lake. If the data is incomplete, additional information is sourced and appended (enrichment).
- Automatic correlation and contextualization – Open XDR employs artificial intelligence to automatically correlate alerts or security data to ensure accurate and thorough detections. There are no human-formulated rules just like what happens under SIEM.
- Quick response on the same platform – Open XDR is designed to undertake correlations (to detect incidents) and promptly proceed to provide the appropriate response within the same platform. This makes the Open XDR process considerably faster, as opposed to SIEM, which typically has to transmit the alerts to a SOAR component for correlation and proper threat detection. The processed information is then returned to SIEM for a suitable response.
- Unification of security tools and solutions – Moreover, Open XDR provides the advantage of having access to various security tools (because of extensive integration) under a single platform. As mentioned earlier, these tools include UEBA, TIP, SOAR, and NDR. With SIEM, security analysts would have to figure out on their own how they can combine complex tools.
Forced data normalization and enrichment in Open XDR make it a better platform for leveraging artificial intelligence. Since data is normalized before storage, it is easier to build a good AI system for correlating security alerts and events and establishing context to facilitate more effective automated detection and responses.
Conventional SIEM cannot match this efficiency and optimal use of AI. It cannot produce an AI engine with fidelity comparable to what Open XDR can provide. Also, SIEM’s use of AI is unlikely to be as easy to scale as it is with Open XDR.
Possibly trumping NextGen SIEM
SIEM has also evolved over the past few years. The emergence of NextGen SIEM is a welcome development. However, NextGen SIEM is not exactly a SIEM alternative. Its core functionalities are still the same as its predecessor. New functions and foundational features may have been added, but they are unlikely to address new threats that have been specifically devised by threat actors to exploit SIEM weaknesses and get around SIEM controls.
The gap between NextGen SIEM and top-tier Open XDR platforms may no longer be as big as what can be observed in the conventional SIEM and Open XDR comparison. Still, when discussing SIEM alternatives, it is Open XDR that shows what a real alternative is all about. It is not just an improved version of SIEM. It is built to address challenges that may not be resolved by SIEM and its next-gen iteration.
NextGen SIEM may already be using Big Data technologies, UEBA and other security tools, improved user interfaces and experiences, SOAR integration, and plugins for data modeling. However, these enhancements are not competitive enough against the architectural advantages of Open XDR.
SIEM Offers Excellent Benefits for Data Security
Data protection is a growing concern as cyberattacks become more prolific with each passing day. While pundits may continue to say that SIEM remains irreplaceable, it cannot be denied that newer solutions have emerged to do more than what SIEM does. They can be incredibly helpful for data security. Also, the security needs of organizations have changed, and they may require something more than SIEM to effectively detect and respond to threats.
Open XDR is more than just an upgrade to SIEM. It offers something different and better. It is not a mere improvement over SIEM but a new way of dealing with threats in line with the changes in the cyber threat landscape, the broadening of enterprise attack surfaces, and the diminishing efficiency of security teams because of the use of disjointed multiple security solutions.