SIEM solutions are a crucial part of log management and comprehensive security. For businesses looking to add to or upgrade their solutions, here is the best SIEM tools list for 2020.
Security information and event management, or SIEM, provides insights into a corporate IT environment through functions like log management and security information management. Just about every business can benefit from the comprehensive security features that only the best SIEM software can offer. When you’re choosing a SIEM tool, look for features like compliance reporting, threat detection, historical log analysis, a user-friendly dashboard, and sophisticated analytics capabilities.
To help you choose the ideal SIEM solutions for your business, I run through quite a few of the best SIEM tools in market today. I start with my favorite options, products that balance affordability with full features: SolarWinds Security Event Manager and Threat Monitor. Check these out for great log management and strong security. Beyond these, there’s a crowded playing field — so I’m here to share the basics of what you need to know about an array of the best SIEM tools.
With that being said, here are my picks for top SIEM products in 2020.
- SolarWinds Security Event Manager
- Micro Focus ArcSight ESM
- SolarWinds Threat Monitor
- Splunk Enterprise Security
- LogRhythm NextGen SIEM
- IBM QRadar
- AlienVault Unified Security Management
- Sumo Logic
- RSA NetWitness Suite
- McAfee Enterprise Security Manager
What Is Security Information and Event Management?
If your organization wants to establish an effective protocol for cybersecurity, a SIEM system is the best way to do so. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools, which have been around for more than a decade, are the most effective way for organizations to protect sensitive data. Larger enterprises are the primary customers for SIEM tools since they are the most likely to require IT oversight, but small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can still enjoy the benefits of SIEM capabilities — often through a partnership with a managed service provider (MSP).
Not every SIEM tool includes every function — a SIEM product can describe separate functions like log management, security log and event management, security event correlation, and security information management. Further, businesses are increasingly choosing SIEM products in part because they can help them align their security strategy with specific compliance frameworks. In many cases, most or all of these features are brought together into one product for business use (although that’s no guarantee that all the features are equally optimized).
In short, SIEM tools function by collecting and aggregating log data. A SIEM solution analyzes security alerts from all manner of applications and hardware across a network — from antivirus tools to servers to firewalls, and more. These more targeted tools alone aren’t enough to protect a business — only a SIEM tool can give you a “big picture” understanding of your cybersecurity threat landscape. SIEMs can detect and defend against active threats, but also analyze logs for insights into anomalies and attacks after the fact, giving you the “why” behind an event.
SIEM tools are proving to be more important than ever in 2020, as it has become undeniably useful to be able to draw together data and threats from across your IT environment into a single easy-to-use dashboard. Plus, many of today’s smart tools are configured to flag suspect patterns on their own — and sometimes even resolve the underlying issue automatically. The best SIEM tools are adept at using past trends to differentiate between actual threats and legitimate use, enabling you to avoid false alarms while simultaneously ensuring optimal protection. Ultimately, in 2020, there’s really no reason to be stuck with a suboptimal tool when there are so many powerful options widely available.
What to Look for in the Best SIEM Solutions
SIEM products have a few basic characteristics. They ingest data from multiple sources (including threat intelligence), then interpret that data, send alerts, perform analytics, and provide a historical overview or summary. Of course, when it comes to choosing a SIEM security solution, every business will have its own criteria for deciding whether the capabilities of a tool align with their needs. This will depend on factors like business size, types of data, vendor array, specific regulatory frameworks, budget, and, of course, an IT team’s usability preferences. There are a few questions you’ll want to ask as you check out the best SIEM tools in the market.
- Will the tool actually improve your log collection abilities? This is basic, but important, as you want software that enhances how you collect and manage logs. Look for compatibility across systems and devices — and it never hurts to have a dashboard with user-friendly features.
- Will the tool allow you to achieve compliance? Look for a tool that helps with auditing and reporting. Even if you’re not concerned with compliance now, you should be. A SIEM tool is a great way to step up your game in this area.
- Is the threat response workflow set up to help you manage past security events? One of the major advantages of a SIEM tool is that it allows you to get an overview of past events, analyze what happened, and instruct the system to use historical patterns to inform its activity moving forward. Look for helpful, drill-down analytics capabilities.
- Does the tool provide the fast, effective, automated responses you need? First, it’s critical that incident response time is fast enough. Additionally, customizable security alerts can really make your life easier. You want to be able to turn away without wondering whether you’re neglecting a major issue. Make sure alerting is a priority within the tool.
If you’re asking these kinds of questions as you check out this year’s SIEM tools, you’ll be well-positioned to make a smart decision. The following list provides a comprehensive overview of the best SIEM tools in market in 2020. I’ll start with my top pick, but the rest of the list isn’t necessarily in order — it’s all about figuring out what’s right for your company.
SolarWinds Security Event Manager provides all the log management features you need: security event-time correlation, compliance reporting, and advanced analytics features. It’s built for businesses that are specifically looking for robust log monitoring as well as better prioritization and response for incident management.
You can also use the tool’s file integrity checker to track access and other changes made to files and folders — a nice bonus. This platform lets you customize and improve security with data encryption, SSO/smart card integration, and the ability to block IPs, applications, and USBs as needed. Plus, you get a fully-functional 30-day free trial.
ArcSight has an open architecture which gives it a few standout capabilities. This tool can ingest data from a wider range of sources than many SIEM products, and its structured data can be used outside of ArcSight, which may be useful for more expert IT teams. What’s more, Micro Focus just acquired Interset, a security analytics software company, to add to its behavioral analytics and machine learning portfolio. I wouldn’t count on those capabilities showing up in ArcSight just yet, but it could be worth keeping an eye on this end of the market.
SolarWinds Threat Monitor is a powerful security-focused SIEM solution that analyzes security log info across a range of sources and cross-checks anomalies against a continuously updated global threat database. This tool gives you automated, intelligent responses to security events plus comprehensive alerts.
The tool is available for both on-premises or in the cloud and comes with a year of log archival space in addition to indexed log capabilities for easier normalization and search. It also comes with a free trial — 14 days — with the cloud version being a very popular choice for MSPs.
Splunk Enterprise Security is a popular option that has been around for over a decade. As the name implies, this is an enterprise-level option, which also means the licensing costs aren’t particularly competitive — this tool may be too pricey for some. You can get this tool as on-premises software or as a SaaS solution (ideal for AWS users). The dashboard has useful visualizations like graphs and charts. It supports as many plugins and third-party integrations as you’re likely to need. That said, the learning curve can be steep if you’re looking to take advantage of deeper analytics features.
This is a solid, fast option for critical log management on Windows. The tool is fairly easy to deploy for trained IT staff, and the dashboard helps simplify workflow. If you have specific compliance standards and know your queries, it’s quick to configure the reports you need. This tool has rapidly-evolving AI and automation features, which isn’t the case with every tool. All this being said, this platform doesn’t scale particularly well for larger businesses, and there’s limited support if you need to expand into cloud environments.
Businesses looking to integrate a wide range of logs across their critical systems will likely find QRadar reliable. Plus, this IBM product has smart features that catch a diversity of ever-changing threats. It’s not necessarily the most intuitive product, as it has a complex architecture to match its capabilities. For instance, setting alerts in QRadar can be a bit cumbersome. Of course, IBM products come with the higher price tag you would expect, but enterprises with extensive log management needs should consider this solid option.
This is a decent option for SMBs looking for an entry-level SIEM product, and it can be implemented on both Mac and Windows. This product doesn’t offer the breadth of features of leading competitors, although it recently added endpoint detection and new response capabilities. It’s worth pointing out that AlienVault was acquired by AT&T in 2018, but so far, it’s unclear whether this will have an impact on this product.
This is a newer, cloud-based platform that is appropriate in terms of both cost and features for SMBs. Since the product is new, there isn’t much of a community base in place, but Sumo Logic claims its product fills gaps in IT security that other products have missed — especially when it comes to cloud deployments. Note that this tool seems to have more of a technical user in mind, so the design features aren’t as appealing.
Another solid option for log management and threat intelligence. With a maintenance and support agreement, you get over two dozen intelligence feeds populated by RSA to add to whatever intel you enter into the system. All this allows for robust threat analysis. In fact, with this SIEM tool, you can recreate full sessions to see exactly what happened during an attack and get insight into hackers’ tactics with automated behavioral analytics. It’s on the upper end of the pricing spectrum, so it might be more appropriate for enterprises.
This is a familiar option but be warned that other McAfee products have been discontinued abruptly in the past. On top of that, the product’s log sharing with tools from other vendors isn’t straightforward. However, if you’re already implementing other McAfee products like their famed antivirus software, it may make sense to choose a McAfee SIEM solution to streamline your operations. In any case, selecting this solution will get you the basic dashboard management and reporting capabilities you need, so it might be worth checking out the price point to see if it makes sense for you.
If you’re looking for the best all-around security and log management option for both Windows and Mac OS, look no further than SolarWinds SIEM tool Security Event Manager. It’s easy-to-use and features intuitive, appealing dashboards that let you centralize and streamline your operations without sacrificing in-depth insights.
Free trials of enterprise-grade SIEM software are a great way to try out a solution to see if you need the features a full SIEM software can offer.
If you’re researching log management solutions, I wouldn’t be surprised if your company could use a server monitoring upgrade, too. This post breaks down what server monitoring means today so you can stay on top of system resource usage — even in the era of cloud computing.
Log management is an important component of SIEM, but this is the list you need if you’re looking specifically for log data solutions. Get software stats about message-per-hour, storage, Windows events, and everything else that factors into this function.