Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


10:28 AM

Security Monitoring On A Budget: Security Know-How Needed

Managed providers and simpler security-monitoring appliances can help small and medium businesses better understand their networks, but building in-house expertise is important

Even three years ago, small businesses shied away from security monitoring as too complex and too difficult to deploy, with a 2009 article calling such systems "not for the faint of heart."

Now, log-management services in the cloud, easier-to-use managed security services, and simpler security information and event management (SIEM) solutions have made security monitoring possible for all but the smallest firms. For such businesses, gathering intelligence on security events can be an offshoot of network monitoring or the other way around, but each can give companies better visibility into what is going on with their information systems, says Nicole Pauls, director of product management for SolarWinds, an information-technology provider.

"Maybe I come in with a security problem, but I also want to do performance monitoring," Pauls says. "While we see a lot of companies approaching us from a security perspective, we also see IT generalists. They don't have a background in security, but they have a security need."

Today's common wisdom is that companies should assume that they are breached. No wonder, then, that even small and medium businesses are looking at analyzing logs and correlating events to create a better view of their security state. While cost is a big challenge for smaller firms, the primary hurdle is a lack of technical knowledge, security expertise, and time. For a lot of small companies, the IT person is also the security person and may have other duties as well.

"If you get down to 100 employees, you are lucky if you are going to find anyone who is the security person," says Roger Thornton, chief technology officer for AlienVault, a vendor of open-source security-monitoring system. "If you really don't have anyone dedicated to security, you are going to have to go down the route of an MSSP."

[Subtle attackers who are after intellectual property are hard to find; monitoring can help, but a good analyst can help even more. See Monitoring To Detect The Persistent Enemies.]

The companies typically do not have a large budget to spend on monitoring, but know that security is a necessary expense. For that reason, a managed security service tends to be best, but some easy-to-use on-premise solutions can work as well. eIQnetworks, for example, has MSSPs that buy its enterprise security monitoring equipment to power the services that they offer to customers, but the company also sells a simpler-to-use product to smaller businesses.

"The complaint we hear most about SIEM technologies is that they require a lot of overhead, not just from a hardware perspective but that they also require professional services and tuning in order to get the thing off the ground," says John Linkous, chief security and compliance officer for eIQnetworks. "So our approach is, let's hit 75 percent of what most information security people are going to want to look at and put in in a straight, easy-to-use package."

The company's product, SecureVue NGS, costs just under $13,000. AlienVault's OSSIM appliance costs $17,500 and combines more than 30 open-source tools into a common dashboard and security workflow. SolarWinds' Log and Event Manager starts at $4,500.

For companies that do not have a single security person who can spend the time installing, tuning, and maintaining a security monitoring system, a managed security service provider can take over the burden at an annual premium. Yet companies should still task one tech-savvy employee with monitoring the provider, because the responsibility for the corporate network still falls with the company, says AlienVault's Thornton.

"Even if you do you use an MSSP, it is really smart to have one person on the team who is working with them, asking to see what the raw data looks like, how many events did they process, and saying, 'Show me the false alarms that you guys didn't think were important,'" Thornton says. "You just have to continually audit that relationship."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
2/18/2013 | 4:59:48 PM
re: Security Monitoring On A Budget: Security Know-How Needed
Its not just about Security but also about compliance & log management. So the SIM aspect is just as important as the SEM. So for most organizations that can't afford costly and complex SIEM deployments, it's important to choose tools that are easy and cost effective like Secnology.
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Synapse is a Matrix reference homeserver written in python (pypi package matrix-synapse). Matrix is an ecosystem for open federated Instant Messaging and VoIP. In Synapse before version 1.28.0 Synapse is missing input validation of some parameters on the endpoints used to confirm third-party identif...
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Advanced Authentication versions prior to 6.3 SP4 have a potential broken authentication due to improper session management issue.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
A vulnerability in the HTML editor of Slab Quill 4.8.0 allows an attacker to execute arbitrary JavaScript by storing an XSS payload (a crafted onloadstart attribute of an IMG element) in a text field.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
In Liberty lisPBX 2.0-4, configuration backup files can be retrieved remotely from /backup/lispbx-CONF-YYYY-MM-DD.tar or /backup/lispbx-CDR-YYYY-MM-DD.tar without authentication or authorization. These configuration files have all PBX information including extension numbers, contacts, and passwords.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-12
Dell SRM versions prior to and Dell SMR versions prior to contain an Untrusted Deserialization Vulnerability. A remote unauthenticated attacker may potentially exploit this vulnerability, leading to arbitrary privileged code execution on the vulnerable application. The severity is Cr...