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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