By Vinaya Sheshadri, Practice Leader Cyber Security at RiverSafe

A good SIEM tool is a necessity for any organisation looking to protect their digital environment. They help security teams be more proactive, and identify potential threats before they can disrupt operations or expose sensitive data.

By monitoring systems and networks for unusual activity, SIEM solutions allow organisations to detect, investigate, and deal with possible security issues or cyberattacks quickly, minimising the damage that they might cause.

SIEM technology has been around for a while, and in that time these products have evolved significantly, improving their ability to flag anomalous events and behaviours and increasing the amount of data they can parse simultaneously.

But the most crucial innovations have come with the advent of cloud-native SIEM solutions. Boasting all the benefits of SaaS products, like fast deployment and scalability, cloud-based SIEM platforms also offer a host of advantages that their on-premise peers do not.

With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated and widespread, keeping your security stack up-to-date is critical. The threat landscape is evolving constantly, and yesterday’s security tools cannot defend against today’s cyber risks.

If your organisation is relying on on-premises SIEM solutions, then you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to fast-developing threats.

Many of the most common disadvantages of running an on-premises SIEM solution aren’t just inconvenient compared to their cloud counterparts; they can also present security risks. Let’s take a look at some of the key pitfalls of on-premise SIEMs.

High (and recurring) costs

On-premises SIEM solutions can be costly, not only to purchase but also to maintain.

As well as the upfront investment needed in storage, servers, hardware, and software licences, responsibility for ongoing maintenance or upgrades falls on the shoulders of the organisation. For a SIEM to deliver proper protection, it needs to be regularly updated, optimised, and patched, requiring significant time and effort from your IT team.

Limited scalability

Change is the only constant in today’s economy, and as a result, the ability to flex resources based on an organisation’s needs can give businesses the edge. Scaling up capacity to meet usage demands or scaling down to reduce waste and overspend is essential—and the faster you can do it, the better.

On-premise SIEM deployments can often lack this flexibility, and this sluggishness to respond to changing requirements can leave your organisation unprotected. Adding new data streams or event types to look out for may require additional hardware or infrastructure upgrades if the existing system can’t handle the extra data volume and processing requirements.

Complex deployment

Deploying any kind of software on-premises is complex and time-consuming. With multiple data sources to ingest and rules to put in place, a SIEM can be especially tricky to implement. Often taking months to roll out, on-premises SIEM tools usually require expert assistance to install, which can be costly. Plus, the potential consequences of any errors or misconfigurations that occur during set-up can be dire.

Legacy SIEM solutions may also be limited in terms of integration with other security tools, leaving you with unmonitored weak spots across your environment. Any integrations you do have in place must be carefully monitored, as missed connection updates can lead to integrations breaking and events being missed.

Extensive data storage

The entire purpose of SIEM is to collect and analyse data for suspicious occurrences. Gaining the deep, real-time visibility required to protect your applications, infrastructure, and networks means collecting logs and audit trails so they can be examined and reported on.

The more data your SIEM is ingesting, the more protected you’ll be—but that data has to go somewhere, and on-premises data storage isn’t cheap.

Compliance challenges

Not only can storing data locally on your own on-premises servers be costly, but it can also be challenging to organise and maintain if you have a lot of it.

Complying with certain data and privacy regulations often necessitates that you store data in a certain way and often for certain periods, meaning you’ll likely need to be hands-on with managing this data.

You’ll need to be able to keep track of its movements and access history too; data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA, for example, have strict regulations that must be followed if data crosses international borders or state lines. This tends to be more difficult when your data is isolated in local storage.

 Lock-in periods

We’ve already mentioned how on-premises SIEMs are limited when it comes to the flexibility of users, data streams, or resources. Licencing the product itself can also prove more restrictive than you’d like. Once a SIEM is implemented, switching to a more suitable platform (and migrating all your log data along with it) can be tough, not to mention prohibitively expensive. This outlay, and the sunk-cost fallacy that often comes along with it, can prevent organisations from branching out into other security tools, and soldiering on with a SIEM that doesn’t offer the best performance or features.

Next-generation SIEM delivers many benefits, from rich, AI-powered functionality and always-up-to-date threat intelligence to customisation possibilities and reduced false positives. But whatever your primary motivation for moving to a cloud-based SIEM, the end result of these benefits is better protection for your organisation in a time when the threat of cyberattacks and the impact of insider threats are on the rise.

About the Author

Common Pitfalls of Running On-Premises SIEM SolutionsVinaya is a highly experienced security engineer, certified in Splunk, McAfee, IBM and more, with over 8 years of experience handling diverse security technologies such as SIEM, SOAR, EDR and Vulnerability Management.

At RiverSafe, Vinaya is the Practice Lead for Cyber Security. In this role he leads and guides other consultants within the business, ensuring the team provide the best results possible to RiverSafe’s customers. Vinaya is also heavily involved in the business development of RiverSafe as an organisation.

Vinaya has a post graduate degree in Data Telecommunication Networks from the University of Salford and has worked as both an IT consultant and security engineer for companies like Caretower, Happiest Minds Technologies and Paladion Networks.

All of the knowledge gained throughout his career is now being invested into ensuring RiverSafe solutions and services are the best they can be and keep its customers’ networks secure.

When not working, Vinaya enjoys travelling, cooking and photography.

Vinaya can be reached at RiverSafe’s company website https://riversafe.co.uk/

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