security information management (SIM) definition

What is security information management (SIM)?

Security information management (SIM) is the practice of collecting, monitoring and analyzing security-related data from computer logs. A security information management system (SIMS) automates that practice. Security information management is sometimes called security event management (SEM) or security information and event management (SIEM).

Security information includes log data generated from numerous sources, including antivirus software, intrusion-detection systems (IDS), intrusion-prevention systems (IPS), file systems, firewalls, routers, servers and switches.

Security information management systems may:

  • Monitor events in real time.
  • Display a real-time view of activity.
  • Translate event data from various sources into a common format, typically XML.
  • Aggregate data.
  • Correlate data from multiple sources.
  • Cross-correlate to help administrators discern between real threats and false positives.
  • Provide automated incidence response.
  • Send alerts and generate reports.

Commercial SIM products include ArcSight ESM, nFX's SIM One, Network Intelligence's enVision, Prism Microsystems' EventTracker, Trigeo, Symantec's Security Information Manager, Cisco Security MARS and Snare. Open source SIM products include OSSIM, a product of the Open Source Security Information Management initiative, and Prelude, from PreludeIDS.

Although SIM products can automate many tasks around security information gathering and processing, they can't operate effectively without significant effort and investment on the part of the organization in question. According to Neil Roiter, Senior Technology Editor of Information Security magazine, "Security information and event management (SIEM) products are only as good as the policies and processes they support, and the analyst resources that a company can pour into them."

Learn More About IT:
> Adrian Lane explains mining enterprise SIM logs for relevant security event data.
> Network World Buyers Guide provides an overview of security information management and compares SIM products.
> Neil Roiter explains why security information management is not for small businesses -- or the faint of heart.

This was first published in September 2009

Next Steps

Read about the latest enterprise security threats and learn about the benefits and features of threat intelligence service models available to help enterprises protect against them.

Find expert advice about the top threat intelligence services and learn how to choose the best service for your organization.

Find out how SIEM systems use security information to benefit enterprise security.

How security information and event management systems benefit enterprises.

Learn how organizations can evaluate security information and event management services in order to discover which SIEM product suits their needs.

Learn how organizations can evaluate security information and event management services in order to discover which SIEM product suits their needs.

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