SAO vs. SIEM: Not Enemies, But a Security Defending Duo

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions have been with us for more than a decade. Recently, Security Automation and Orchestration (SAO) products have moved into the spotlight, causing many to wonder if the days of SIEM are numbered. However, as both products continue to evolve, it’s becoming clear that it is less a matter of SAO vs. SIEM, but instead SAO and SIEM.

SIEM: The Protective Wall Against Breaches

Storing, cataloging, and assigning values to activities in your server, network, and application infrastructure and their resulting logs makes a lot of sense. SIEMs allow for:

  • Data Collection and Audit Trails  – SIEMs record all data surrounding security events, allowing for detailed analysis and accurate reporting for regulation compliance. Some tools, like Event Manager, also compile data from multiple sources to provide uniform formatting, allowing for easier analysis.
  • Prioritization – SIEMs helps users determine the level of criticality of different security alerts, allowing for teams to deal with the highest threats first.
  • IT Alerts  – With prioritization protocol in place, SIEMs can alert users of critical threats faster, allowing for a more rapid response.

SAO: The Watcher on the Wall

While SIEM is excellent for analysis and early warning, SAO focuses more on taking immediate action through automation. For example, SAO software provides:

  • Automate investigation – SAOs can help eliminate some of the time-consuming tasks brought on by the massive collection of data that SIEMs provide. For example, a security team can create a structured way to hide or discard thousands of log messages that have no day-to-day impact on IT security and business operations.
  • Escalation of alerts – Once automation procedures are configured, this allows for team members to put more focus on critical alerts that are a higher threat to the system.
  • Automatic response – SAOs can be programmed to take pre-approved system action against a threat if a common (and well understood) alert is raised.

The Future of Security

Security events are no longer an occasional burden to IT teams. They are now a constant threat that grows and changes by the hour. There is no perfect catch-all software that will protect systems and their users. Instead of choosing SAO vs. SIEM, security teams must use multiple tools in order to ensure the safety of their data.

SIEMs and SAOs are not the only two pieces of software that can work in tandem to help warn and fend off security threats. For example, combining SAO, SIEM, and Privileged Access Management (PAM) software enables an organization to be alerted to a threat, manage the attack, and isolate which account was responsible for the attack. Together, security management software like SAOs and SIEMs can help create a truly robust security portfolio.

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