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Top SIEM Compliance Use Cases: GDPR, PCI DDS, ISO, And More

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems are pivotal in modern cybersecurity, offering an advanced approach to threat detection, management, and compliance. By aggregating and analyzing log data across an organization’s IT infrastructure, SIEM tools provide real-time visibility into security events, helping teams to quickly identify and respond to potential threats.Discover why compliance is an integral component of any SIEM here.

Even as the backbone of modern security postures, SIEM’s role continues to evolve as the broader field of AI starts to handle not only threat detection but increasingly act on and prevent incidents in the first place. The following article will cover thebenefits of integrating SIEM compliance use cases into your cybersecurity strategy, and best practices for implementation and management

Why Organizations Need SIEM For Compliance

During an attack, event logs can hold some of the earliest signs of malicious activity. These individual pieces of data contain information about system activities, user actions, and errors: all of which can be valuable assets to the security team. What once prevented their use, however, was their sheer quantity. Manually reviewing each log for potential security threats is deeply impractical, and traditional methods of log collection often result in an overwhelming number of false alerts. SIEM solutions alleviate these issues by aggregating event log data and enriching it with contextual information about users, assets, threats, and vulnerabilities. Learn more about the benefits of deploying SIEM here.

By continuously monitoring these logs, organizations can spot unusual patterns or anomalies that could signal a cybersecurity threat, such as repeated login failures, unexpected file permission changes, or irregular network traffic. In the event of a security breach, these event logs become invaluable for forensic analysis, helping to trace the sequence of events leading to the breach, determining its scope, and understanding the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by attackers. This insight is crucial for threat detection, enhancing security measures, and thwarting future attacks.

The reason for SIEM’s continued adoption is largely thanks to the last years’ widespread acceleration of AI learning models. By integrating cutting-edge AI into SIEM technology, SIEM systems are now able to not only flag potential issues, but automate the complex tasks of proactive threat response. By learning from historical security data and recognizing patterns, AI SIEM systems can anticipate and identify potential threats before they materialize, ushering in a new era of sophisticated, preemptive security management.

SIEM Use Cases: A Compliance-First Overview

SIEM compliance use cases span the broad range of cybersecurity itself: its advanced visibility and cutting-edge analytics offer significant time and cost savings for every team. Understanding precisely where SIEM fits into the wider scope of cybersecurity is vital to visualizing its success within your organization. Cybersecurity regulations have never been more important: with attackers having taken considerable chunks out of critical infrastructure throughout the last few years, regulatory bodies aim to maintain strong, industry-wide defenses. This cross-section of regulatory compliance models aims to show precisely how SIEM can protect and preserve customer, student, and personal data.

#1. SIEM for GDPR

One of the largest regulations by geographic size is the EU’s GDPR. GDPR, implemented in May 2018, mandates the stringent protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), covering both general personal data like IP addresses or usernames, and sensitive data such as biometric or genetic information. Should an organization fail to keep such data safe, fines can reach up to 2% of the organization’s entire global turnover.

Meta fell foul of GDPR compliance in 2022 to the tune of a 1.2-billion-euro fine. The court discovered Meta’s habit of transferring EU user data to the US without continuous GDPR- level safeguards in place – even though a ruling in 2020 demanded the ongoing protection of such information.

Modern security SIEM systems play a pivotal role in ensuring SIEM GDPR compliance by enforcing Data Protection by Design. This is achieved by the verification and auditing of security controls, ensuring the proper handling of user data. Alongside tighter security controls, it enhances visibility into log data, allowing for structured access and reporting to data owners, which is vital for GDPR’s transparency requirements.

#2. SIEM for HIPAA

In the US, HIPAA defines standards for any healthcare organizations that handle electronic health information. A core aspect of HIPAA mandates that organizations engage in comprehensive risk analysis and implement effective management strategies. HIPAA compliance has never been more important, thanks to the fact that healthcare has had a particularly rocky year for cybersecurity.

Both Norton and HCA Healthcare have experienced large-scale, deeply public ransomware attacks – in May, US healthcare giant Norton experienced an attack that saw the data of 2.5 million patients accessed and exfiltrated. This included names, Social Security numbers, insurance details, and medical identification numbers. But that’s nothing: HCA Healthcare’s breach exposed that of 11 million patients. This information was then sold on a popular cybercrime forum.

SIEM systems can prevent breaches by automatically identifying threats, before generating and intelligently prioritizing alerts. Part of this breach protection is its ability to rigorously monitor access control changes, including credential updates and encryption settings. The other component to SIEM’s support in HIPAA is its ability to cut down on bogus alerts. These streamline overworked security teams’ efforts, and help identify the areas that require immediate support. Finally, SIEM’s insight into network communications – and its baseline understanding of your organization’s normal data flows – allows it to flag and prevent the exfiltration of deeply personal healthcare data.

#3. SIEM for SOX

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), was the legislative response to major accounting scandals within Enron and WorldCom in the early noughties. This sets specific standards for U.S. public company boards, management, and accounting firms. Central to SOX regulation is the requirement for organizations to clearly communicate and demonstrate that the location of sensitive data is tightly controlled and maintained.

NCB Management Services, a debt collector, suffered a major data breach in early 2023. This breach potentially impacted over 1 million customers, with data including credit and debit card numbers along with security codes, access codes, and PINs being compromised due to hacking. The company was unaware of its own compromise until 3 days after the initial intrusion.

One of SOX’s requirements is that verifiable controls are put in place to track data access. To achieve this, SIEM’s device-installed agents can receive data from practically any organizational source, including files, FTP, and databases – this lays a foundation of visibility, while inbuilt reporting capabilities lend real-time insight into who accessed, modified, and moved what data.

The system diligently monitors the creation of accounts, changes in access requests, and any activity from terminated employees, ensuring robust access control and authentication practices.

#4. SIEM for PCI DSS

PCI DSS is a security standard for companies that handle branded credit cards. It’s become the industry standard for companies that take online payments but are equally checkered by a history of breaches and violations.

One of the most recent examples is an attack on Europe’s largest parking app operator. EasyPark is owned by the private equity investors Vitruvian Partners and Verdane. Its suite of parking apps operates in more than 4,000 cities across 23 countries, including the US, Australia, New Zealand, and most Western European states. In December 2023, it was discovered that RingGo and ParkMobile customers’ names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and parts of credit card numbers had been stolen.

In order for a company to be PCI DSS-compliant, there are 12 requirements. Throughout these, there’s a strong emphasis on the management of user identities including the creation, modification, and deletion of user IDs and credentials. This is partially thanks to the critical authentication required for any financial decision. Examples of SIEM PCI compliances include monitoring the actions of terminated users and inactive accounts, and ensuring that access rights are properly managed and audited

#5. FERPA

While some compliance bodies are set up to build trust in a customer base, FERPA is a federal law that enforces the protection of student records: this includes educational information, personally identifiable information (PII), and directory information.

This is due to the incredibly vulnerable position of educational institutions today: 54% of UK universities reported a data breach in the past 12 months. The fact that many of these universities are leading institutions of research makes them an attractive target for both financially motivated cyber criminals, and state-sponsored actors hoping to glean intellectual property.

Given the scope of protection required for universities, the customizable nature of a SIEM dashboard becomes vital: by presenting the relevant status of entire networks, rather than that of individual devices – servers, networking equipment, and security tools – the security team can cut right to the chase, and immediately assess the health of individual areas. Not only does this ease the burden on security staff, but SIEM’s deeper visibility further allows the university to demonstrate its compliance during audits, as the logs serve as evidence of the institution’s ongoing compliance efforts.

#6. NIST

While some regulations focus on specific industries, others – such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – provide several recommendations that many different organizations have adopted. Initially provided to federal agencies, its advice helps build compliance with other industry regulations, rather than being a rule in itself.

At its core, NIST offers advice in non-technical language across five functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. Each of these places a spotlight on judging and securing the assets within an organization. Its simplicity helps break down the often immensely complex field of breaches. For example, in the case of downstream supplier attacks, one company’s oversight can send shockwaves throughout completely disparate industries. One case has been an attack on document-sharing service Accellion, which has seen subsequent data leaks from Morgan Stanley, UC Berkeley, and an Arkansas- based healthcare provider.

NIST SIEM requirements play a crucial role in preventing supply chain attacks by monitoring alerts from firewalls and other security devices at the network’s edge. SIEM’s ability to identify novel attack patterns within network traffic brings overall network security into line with NIST recommendations

#7. SIEM for ISO 27001

In 2022, the latest ISO update was released – while not inherently a legal requirement, organizations hoping to gain – and maintain – their ISO 27001 certification need to comply with some key standards. Chief of this is the organization’s ability to establish, maintain, and continuously iterate on an information security management system. There’s also some significant overlap with NIST, as ISO 27001 requires its organizations to use the same framework of identify, detect, protect, recover, and respond.

A SIEM slots perfectly into the ISO’s demands as a single way of storing, securing, and managing all security data. Many of its compliance demands revolve around the ability of an organization to gather threat intel from various sources – across both cloud and on- premises architecture. Not only does a SIEM for ISO offer this, but further aligns with the ISO 27001’s approach to consolidation. Whereas the 2013 version had all 93 requirements spread across a dozen function-based teams, today’s controls are reduced to four themes: organizational, people, physical, and technological. Next-gen SIEMs streamline each of these by gathering and protecting sensitive log data from a single point of truth – radically supporting your on-the-ground analysts

The Next-Gen SIEM for Advanced Security Threats

Stellar Cyber’s Next-Gen SIEM solution stands at the forefront of modern cybersecurity, offering a comprehensive suite of tools designed to meet stringent requirements and streamline security into a single pane of glass. Our solution is tailored to ensure that your organization achieves not just compliance – but a responsive and finely tuned security posture.

Stellar’s SIEM tracks and audits all user-related events, from account creation and modification to deletion, including monitoring activities of terminated or dormant accounts. This ensures that user access rights are properly managed and audited. By integrating with antivirus solutions and employing file integrity monitoring, Stellar’s SIEM capabilities ensure that endpoints are secure and compliant.

Alongside ensuring every user is who they say they are, Stellar’s NG SIEM helps monitor for intrusion attempts via its robust log management capability. By aggregating and analyzing the innumerable logs across your network, Stellar provides a unified view of your security environment, making it easier to spot anomalies and respond swiftly.

Support your IT team with AI that delivers out-of-the-box incident identification: detect and respond to issues in minutes, rather than days. Discover more about Stellar Cyber’s SIEM today.