Scalable, cloud-native solutions like Azure Sentinel help security teams streamline security operations in cloud environments.
In this first of a two-part blog series, we explore the challenges businesses face when detecting and responding to cyber threats and attacks, and how these challenges can be addressed by leveraging Microsoft Azure Sentinel.
A security information and event management (SIEM) solution collects security data from across the entire organizational infrastructure, host systems, applications, networks, and security devices. This makes it a one-stop solution to see all security data across the entire organization. SIEM solutions can:
- Analyze data for potential threats, vulnerabilities, and attack patterns, and then alert other security controls to stop potential attacks progress
- Detect and stop cyber attacks from happening
- Leverage machine learning (ML) and deep learning techniques to use data gathered from previous events to improve the accuracy of threat prediction
SIEM tools are a composed of two parts. A security event manager collects real-time event data such as failed login attempts and log tampering attempts, and a security information manager that is responsible for long-term data retention and analysis.
A security orchestration and automated response (SOAR) solution helps IT admins and security teams respond to alerts based on priority. It can also help orchestrate and automate mundane and time-consuming manual activities. SOAR solutions can:
- Automate investigation workflows so security teams have more time for important and skill-based tasks
- Automatically respond and take actions against alerts
The terms SIEM and SOAR are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand the differences in their functionality, as well as why using both tools together provide a collective defense-in-depth strategy against cyber threats and attacks.
Shortcomings of traditional SIEM and SOAR solutions
While traditional SIEM and SOAR solutions improve efficacy by helping teams identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, it’s worth noting a few shortcomings:
- SIEM and SOAR solutions are traditionally designed to function as separate tools.
- Most of the traditional SIEM and SOAR solutions cannot support in-depth cloud management and monitoring.
- The cost of onboarding a SIEM solution to cover your entire infrastructure can be high. Additionally, there may be more than one SIEM solution required to collect all network and application data logs and telemetry details.
- Not all traditional SIEM and SOAR solutions are designed to scale to support ever-growing logging, monitoring, threat detection and response needs.
- Configuring and managing these solutions requires specific skills and cost.
Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native, scalable SIEM and SOAR solution. Azure Sentinel stepped into the race in 2019 and has gained adoption thanks to its ability to support the ever-growing needs of enterprise customers. Sentinel can collect and analyze data from multiple data sources including Azure Cloud tenants and subscriptions, Office365, and other public cloud service providers, as well as on-premises environments, making it a single solution across the entire digital estate. Sentinel provides a bird’s-eye view of the entire organization’s assets. And it leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques for threat analysis and proactive threat hunting, blocking potential threats that can become attacks.
Advantages of Azure Sentinel
The advantages of Azure Sentinel over traditional solutions include the following:
- Cost. Pay as you go with as low as $2.46 per GB of data analyzed by Azure Sentinel. There are no upfront costs incurred to onboard Sentinel, which eliminates the expense and setup of traditional hardware SIEM tools.
- Scalability. Built to support pay-per-GB pricing, Azure Sentinel scales dynamically to adjust to changes in workload or compliance requirements.
- Ease of use. Setup is as easy as a couple of clicks for both cloud and on-prem environments.
- Integration. Sentinel easily integrates with current SIEM and SOAR solutions, providing a comprehensive view of security across your digital space.
- SIEM and SOAR together. Today’s complex environments need the combination of technology that SIEM and SOAR products provide when used together.
- Expanding capabilities. Microsoft is continuously expanding Sentinel’s capabilities, making it a top solution for SIEM and SOAR in the cyber security space.
Integrating Azure Sentinel into your cloud environment
The benefits of integrating Sentinel into your environment include the following:
- Connect all the data sources. Azure Sentinel can gather data from connectors such as AAD, Microsoft 365 Defender, Cloud App Security, and Microsoft Azure AD, just to name a few. It also has built-in connectors to expand security for non-MS solutions such as Okta SSO and Qualys VM.
- Workbooks. Workbooks enable users to monitor the data collected from data sources. Azure Sentinel provides default workbook templates that can be leveraged to visualize the data. It also provides custom workbooks.
- Analytics. Sentinel’s analytics capabilities can combine alerts into actionable incidents. It uses machine learning to map network behavior and identify anomalies across the resources in an environment. It also analyzes low-priority alerts that can become high-priority incidents.
- Security automation and orchestration. Azure Sentinel playbooks are used to automate and orchestrate incident response scenarios. Playbooks can be created by using several built-in connectors for Jira, ServiceNow, Teams, Slack, etc.
- Threat hunting. Azure Sentinel enables security analysts to search and query data for potential threats and anomalies not detected by security applications. Additionally, Sentinel provides built-in queries developed by Microsoft security researchers on a continuous basis, enabling security analysts to detect potential security threats.
In this article we explored the features and capabilities of Azure Sentinel including its advantages over traditional SIEM and SOAR solutions. In Part 2 of this blog series, we will discuss some Azure Sentinel use cases, including how it leverages its ML and AI techniques to discover threats in your environment, alerts the admins, and orchestrates tasks.