Starting with the basics
Security information and event management (SIEM) helps with managing and analyzing the vast amount of log information generated by networks. Of all the capabilities of SIEM, event correlation is the most powerful. This technique analyzes log data from your servers, applications, routers, firewalls, and other network devices, and identifies patterns of activity that indicate potential attacks. Event correlation lets you get the most out of the information you already have so you can streamline security incident detection.
What types of attacks does event correlation detect?
Event correlation follows a bottom-up approach. When it detects an individual event that could be part of an attack, it looks for a related sequence of events until it can validate the existence of a potential attack pattern. With this approach, event correlation has the flexibility to look for a limitless number of patterns so you can keep up with constantly evolving attacks on your network. Below are a few classes of attacks which this technique helps you ward off:
- Advanced persistent threats: Discover attackers who attempt to move through your network undetected and conduct malicious activity in the background. Event correlation helps you discover these attempts by looking out for key indicators that suggest malicious background activity. For instance, you can identify the creation of backdoor accounts as well as the installation of suspicious software and services.
- Data breaches: Monitor your confidential data to ensure it remains protected from illegal accesses. Examples of this include anomalous file deletions or unauthorized SQL backups.
- Malicious insiders: Keep an eye on your employees by looking out for malicious insider activity. Brute-force entry to critical organization servers or workstations as well as unwarranted use of network resources fall under this category.
- Lateral movement: Detect lateral movement through your network and contain damage before it spreads. This could include a worm being installed on several network devices or multiple file modifications across the network, which could indicate possible ransomware activity.
How do organizations benefit?
- Integrated perspective on security: With event correlation, security is enforced on the network as a whole rather than separately for different devices.
- Quicker, more accurate incident detection: Event correlation identifies events within moments, as soon as the logs are collected and processed. It also provides context to individual events by looking for a trail of related events. This makes detecting incidents more accurate and reduces false positives.
- Continuous improvement of security policies: Detected incidents reveal weak areas in your network, which helps security administrators prioritize and strengthen security in the areas that need it most.
- Efficient forensic investigations: By providing the full picture of how an attacker was able to breach a network, event correlation lays a strong foundation for further forensic investigations.
- Easy IT compliance: Adhering to compliance policies is easier when you can show that there are strong systems in place to detect incidents and discover exactly how they came about.
To gain a better understanding of event correlation, you can read ManageEngine’s white paper on the topic, which provides an in-depth look at this technique and explains how organizations can incorporate it into their security frameworks.