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Should IDS and SIM/SEM/SIEM be used for network intrusion monitoring?

Is it enough just to monitor log data, or does that data need to be fed into a SIM/SEM/SIEM product in order to ease the data analysis process? Network security expert Mike Chapple weighs in.

Is it enough just to analyze log data, or it is necessary (or beneficial) to have IDS feed to SIM/SEM as well? Will correlated logs provide me with enough information to pinpoint a security issue or will signature-based IDS provide me with an additional view, which cannot be determined just with logs?

Generally speaking, a SIM/SEM/SIEM network intrusion monitoring system is an enhancement to an existing IDS. It...

will store and further process the logs generated by the IDS and allow you to correlate IDS entries with other security events, such as vulnerabilities detected by a network scanner. The use of a SIM/SEM/SIEM can greatly reduce the amount of time spent reviewing log records by automating the task.

That said, SIM/SEM/SIEM devices are expensive. If you don't have the budget to purchase a good SIM/SEM/SIEM, you're probably better off doing network intrusion monitoring yourself than installing a marginal quality SIM/SEM/SIEM. Less sophisticated systems integrate with fewer of your security devices, require more extensive configuration and maintenance and will probably increase the total cost of ownership.

You shouldn't lose any data between your IDS and your SIM, but it's always a good idea to monitor log data and keep IDS logs as a backup in the event the SIM malfunctions or becomes unavailable.

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This was last published in April 2009

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