It’s going to be one of those jargon-heavy, highly technical articles — There’s really no two ways about it. We’ll try to tamp down the tech mumble and be as concise as possible. In this piece, we’re going to talk about SIEM vs. IDS. And primarily, how both IDS and SIEM can be used in conjunction across an enterprise network to detect and prevent unauthorized access or exposure to sensitive data.
What is Security Information and Event Management – SIEM?
Security Information and Event Management or SIEM for short is a security technology that combines information management and event management to provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by network hardware and applications. SIEM solutions collect and consolidate security-related log data from various sources, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and other network devices. The data is then analyzed, parsed through, audited, and correlated in real-time to detect security threats and provide actionable intelligence to security teams.
SIEM solutions also provide reporting and forensic capabilities, enabling organizations to track security incidents, identify trends and patterns, and perform post-incident analysis. The technology helps organizations to comply with various security and regulatory requirements, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard – PCI DSS – and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – HIPAA.
Chances are that you’re already using a SIEM solution. For example, if you offer an e-shop, that receives online payments, your Money Process API or the Platform you employ to process those payments is no doubt safeguarded by a SIEM system.
What is an Intrusion Detection System (IDS)?
An Intrusion Detection System or IDS – is a security platform and tech created to detect and alert on security incidents and anomalies within a network. The primary goal of an IDS is to identify unauthorized or malicious activity on the network and provide real-time alerts to your security hit squad. An IDS operates by monitoring network traffic, system logs, or other sources of security-related data to identify suspicious patterns or behaviors.
There are two main types of IDS:
- Network-based IDS or NIDS is deployed on network devices, such as routers and switches, to monitor network traffic in real time.
- Host-based IDS or HID is installed on individual servers, workstations, and other endpoint devices to monitor system activity and logs.
The alerts generated by an IDS can be used to trigger security responses, such as blocking malicious traffic or isolating infected devices. Additionally, the data collected by an IDS can be used to improve the overall security posture of an organization, by identifying security weaknesses and trends in malicious activity.
SIEM vs. IDS debate — they sound the same, in practice, right?
In essence, both SIEM and IDS’s main objective is to protect your business against digital highwaymen, and human error — sometimes, your network, your platform, and your gateways are porous not because they are being constantly poked, but because someone in your team dropped the ball. Something as innocuous as forgetting to install an update can have devastating effects. Both these solutions are there to give you a head’s up on where your digital ecosystem is treading water.
Still, there are some key differences between SIEM and IDS, let’s look at them.
IDS vs SIEM where do they differ?
The debate between SIEM vs IDS centers on their primary goals, capabilities, and deployment methods.
SIEM is designed to provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s security posture by collecting, analyzing, and correlating security-related log data from multiple sources. It is typically deployed as a centralized platform and provides real-time threat detection, incident response, and forensic analysis capabilities.
On the other hand, IDS is designed to detect and alert on security incidents within a network by monitoring network traffic, system logs, or other sources of security-related data. IDS solutions can be deployed as network-based or host-based systems and are primarily used to detect security incidents in real time.
While both technologies are important for an organization’s security posture, SIEM and IDS serve different purposes and can complement each other. SIEM can provide a centralized view of security incidents and an organization’s overall security posture, while IDS can detect specific security incidents and provide real-time alerts.
SIEM gives you an overall POV of your platform. Think of it as giving you a thumbs up or thumbs down on whether something you’re about to eat is nutritious or not. Meanwhile, IDS gives you specifically – some of which you can use to either strengthen your posture or simply disregard because they don’t fit into your overall equation. Continuing with the meal metaphor, IDS tells you whether that snack has enough proteins, whether it has an excess of sugars, and whether it fits with a Keto diet or not.
Let’s break it down and give you a checklist of what each of these solutions and tools does.
Checklist of differences between SIEM and IDS
- Collects analyze, and correlates security-related log data from multiple sources
- Provides a centralized view of an organization’s security posture
- Offers real-time threat detection, incident response, and forensic analysis capabilities
- Typically deployed as a centralized platform.
- SIEM tools permit users to initiate preventive actions.
- Monitors network traffic, system logs, or other sources of security-related data
- Detects and alerts on specific security incidents in real-time
- Can be deployed as network-based or host-based systems
- Primarily focused on detecting specific security incidents
Choosing between SIEM and IDS
Choosing between SIEM and IDS depends on your specific security needs and goals. Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:
- Purpose: Consider what you want to achieve with your security solution. If you are looking for a comprehensive view of your security posture and real-time threat detection, then SIEM may be a better option. If you are primarily focused on detecting specific security incidents, then IDS may be a better fit.
- Deployment: Consider how you want to deploy your solution. SIEM is typically deployed as a centralized platform, while IDS can be deployed as network-based or host-based systems. The type of deployment will depend on your architecture and the specific security incidents you want to detect.
- Data Sources: Consider what type of data you want to monitor. SIEM can collect, analyze, and correlate security-related log data from multiple sources, while IDS focuses on monitoring network traffic, system logs, or other sources of security-related data.
- Integration: Consider how you want to integrate your security solution with other tools and technologies. SIEM solutions are often integrated with other security technologies, such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems – IPS -, and vulnerability management tools.
- Budget: Consider your budget and the cost of deployment and maintenance for each solution. SIEM solutions can be more expensive to deploy and maintain than IDS solutions but may provide a more comprehensive view of your security posture.
The truth, in a nutshell, is if you have a budget – or you’re bartering with sensitive data – then you should invest in both solutions. They complement each other and in many cases serve to give you a much more robust POV and action plan on how to safeguard your systems and structures.