Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reassessment Of SIEM Solutions On The Market - 1


It has been so long since the last time I have written about SIEM solutions in this blog! How long exactly? Well, since the last blog, I have changed 2 companies, 4 functions and relocated in another country type of long.

SIEM and Log Management topics are always very dear to me, although my focus on IT and Information Security has widened, to the point to include Information Risk Management as well.

I am going to resume the landscape in SIEM area in the last 3 years with the main actors involved.

HP ArcSight became Microfocus ArcSight with HP’s spin-off from the software business. The decision seems to be taken a long time ago already. The ambiguity in the way merger/selling operations were dealt between HP and Microfocus pushed the customers to look for alternatives. The acquisition of HP Software division including ArcSight product family by MicroFocus was announced on the 7th of September 2016 and was completed officially on the 1st of September 2017. But people close to the subject know that long before the acquisition announcement, product development activities were severely slowed down if not completely stopped.

HP ArcSight was already having some difficulties addressing long term storage of data on the platform itself other than lacking advanced features proposed by competitors. Running even simple queries on the old-fashioned Logger was taking ages, even when tried on the command line with scripts.

The problems were since addressed ArcSight Data Platform (I will later provide a dedicated post on that) and some advanced features are presented to the customers such as User Entity and Behavior Analysis (UEBA) but the damage I think is done. ArcSight has lost an important part of its customers other than the big accounts which really invested too much on the solution to leave it.

The arch-rival of ArcSight was IBM QRadar at the time we left. QRadar was somehow less customizable comparing to ArcSight but was a strong competitor in regards to the integrations it had such as Network Packet Flow Analysis (QFlow) being the most important. Other than this, platform was and still is, capable of indexing all log fields comparing to limited indexing capability of ArcSight, which can be considered as a huge advantage.

Moreover, architecture-wise, QRadar supported scaling out (increasing the performance/capacity by adding new devices), therefore allowing a much better retention of logs online, without sending logs to external storage while since recently ArcSight’s Logger only supported scaling up (increasing the performance/capacity by increasing system resources).

Relative simplicity of IBM QRadar also helped the solution’s overall stability, which on ArcSight’s side required a separate management appliance (ArcSight Management Center) and sometimes some 3rd party appliances for connector health management.

Another advantage of QRadar is its integrated additional capabilities, such as the User Behavior Analysis module which is not as efficient as a full blown UEBA solution from Exabeam for example to compare with but still does the essentials for enriching the bare log data. When talking about data enrichment ability to consume Vulnerability Management data also should not be left behind.

IBM QRadar seems, in my humble opinion, the best option for large environments and for on premise use.

McAfee ESM used to be the 3rd major actor behind ArcSight and Q-Radar. McAfee had the advantage of being simpler to configure and to license solution within a vendor-controlled package. Not much has changed since other than providing a big-data approach to McAfee ESM’s architecture, transforming the front-end to HTML5. McAfee’s SIEM solution was and is one of the least appealing SIEM solutions for me as it never got the attention it deserved from the organization, always lagging behind McAfee’s flagship products.

It can be advised to small-to-medium size organizations having with strong relations to McAfee.

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