incomplete thought: less integration, more security value

I’ve been mentally writing and rewriting a post about SIEM and IPS and spending time on tuning alarms, but just don’t really have a ton to say that’s new. Then I posted (minutes ago) about how we can’t have nice things…. It got my wheels turning…

One point the author makes is, “[solutions] tend to require a bunch of integration work…” Well, that’s sadly true; every enterprise vendor customer wants something different, some checkbox or some strange integration. The problem is how the vendors will often satisfy the need, but then insist on using that as an excuse to include the feature in the base product for everyone. This bloats products, making them difficult and confusing to use. The age old, “we’ll get customer Y to fund this new idea which we’ll then resell over and over after.”

I also believe it leads to dumber products and large blindspots, especially in security products that lose sight of answering the core security questions, “What actually gives me security value?” “What value does X give me?” It’s hard for a vendor to globally answer those, so it’s nice to let customers actually put in their own work on the tool, rather than automate everything and make it ramen-noodle-bland. Instead, vendors seem to be answering, “What would you like in the tool,” without referencing back to the core questions.

Getting back to SIEM and a concrete example, it’s a frustrating time trying to tune alarms down to a level where I’m not inundated by thousands of “usually nothing” alarms and not cutting such large swaths of blindness that a truck can drive on into my network. All while working within the sometimes awful boundaries of the tools at hand. I’m often mentally lamenting not being able to parse the logs myself!

Spend enough time with a SIEM, and you start to realize it’s not very good from a security perspective except in hindsight (investigation and forensics) and centralized log gathering. Kinda like DLP, it takes hands-on time to get past marketing positioning and actually figure out for yourself what the real value is going to be. There are better detection mechanisms than SIEM alone. (If your SIEM alerts on an event your better detection tools shovel to it, why aren’t you alerting from the first tool? The tuning will be better.) [Assertions like these are why this is incomplete…]

I’m sure there’s marketing in there, and maybe this is a long-term vs short-term marketing problem where you want a tool to sellsellsell rather than be a narrow-focus, useful, and long-term successful tool like an nmap or nessus or something; your tool just *is* useful rather than superficially forcing it.

This might be one of the underlying and subtle problems of a compliance-driven industry, unfortunately. Certainly not a nail in the coffin of compliance, but definitely a problem.