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Securing the Clouds: Navigating Multi-Cloud Security with Advanced SIEM Strategies
Published Jan 25 2024 09:00 AM 2,860 Views
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Note: this is the first of a four-part blog series that explores the complexities of securing multiple clouds and the limitations of traditional Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools.

This first article is by a team of Microsoft experts who share their insights and experiences on limitations of traditional Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems in multi-cloud environments. It highlights issues such as diverse data formats, inconsistent security protocols, high data volume and velocity, evolving threat landscapes, integration difficulties, cloud-specific threat detection limitations, cost and resource constraints, and inflexible upgrades. The article emphasizes the need for next-generation SIEM solutions that are cloud-native, scalable, flexible, and intelligent to effectively secure both cloud and on-premises environments in the face of these challenges.

 

Multi-cloud challenges and SIEM limitations

The era of cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses operate, providing flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. However, the transition to and implementation of multi-cloud environments comes with a unique set of security challenges. These include disparate data formats, varying security protocols, and the sheer volume and velocity of data traffic that traditional SIEM tools were not originally designed to handle. Organizations that take proactive measures and who leverage a modern SIEM strategy with the correct balance of tools, including moving from best of breed to best of platform, and who work towards reducing complexity will be less vulnerable to attacks and better positioned to thrive.

 

Diverse data and inconsistent protocols 

Significant complexity arises from the need to manage and secure disparate data types across different cloud platforms. Each cloud service provider (CSP) has its own set of tools and services, with varying logging formats and protocols. Traditional SIEM solutions struggle to integrate this diverse data and are often designed with a single, on-premises infrastructure in mind. As a result, they were not originally designed to handle the complexity, scale, and variety of data sources that exist in today's hybrid and cloud-based infrastructures. Their architecture and capabilities are often limited to on-premises use cases, making it challenging to effectively ingest, process, and analyze the wide array of data generated by diverse sources in these environments. This, in turn, can lead to gaps in monitoring and analysis. 

 

Volume and velocity

The volume of data generated by cloud services can be staggering. Most traditional SIEMs are not built to scale rapidly or cost-effectively with the exponential growth of log data, which can result in performance bottlenecks and increased costs. Moreover, the velocity at which this data is generated and needs to be analyzed is another challenge. This requires SIEMs to have high processing capabilities and advanced analytics to provide timely insights into security events.

 

Evolving threat landscape

Cloud services are continuously evolving, with frequent updates and new features. This constant change means that security monitoring tools must be equally agile. Traditional SIEM systems may not update as quickly, leading to outdated security measures that cannot protect against the latest threats or leverage the newest cloud security services.

 

Integration and correlation issues

Integrating multiple SIEM solutions across multiple clouds can lead to increased complexity in data correlation and analysis. With data silos, security teams often find it challenging to correlate events across different platforms, which is crucial for detecting sophisticated attacks. These SIEM systems may require custom configurations and extensive manual effort to achieve a unified view, consuming valuable time and resources.

 

Limitations in cloud-specific threat detection

Traditional SIEM tools are often limited in their ability to detect cloud-specific threats and vulnerabilities. They might lack the context or specialized detection capabilities needed to identify and respond to incidents that are unique to cloud environments, such as misconfigured storage buckets, excessive permissions, or unsecured serverless computing resources.

 

Cost and resource constraints

The cost implications of operating multiple SIEMs are not trivial. Licensing, infrastructure, and operational costs can skyrocket, particularly as data volumes grow and retention periods must extend to meet new and changing regulatory requirements. Additionally, the expertise required to manage and maintain multiple SIEMs can strain already limited cybersecurity personnel resources.

 

Inflexible and cumbersome upgrades

Traditional SIEM tools may also be inflexible, requiring significant downtime for upgrades and maintenance, which can be at odds with the all-day, everyday nature of cloud services. This inflexibility can hinder a business's ability to adapt quickly to new security requirements or operational demands.

 

The limitations of traditional SIEM tools in the context of multi-cloud security can lead to increased risk and decreased visibility into threats. Therefore, organizations must look towards next-generation SIEM solutions that are built for modern cloud capabilities, offering the scalability, flexibility, and advanced analytics needed to secure their cloud and on-premises environments effectively.

 

Conclusion

Multi-cloud security is a complex and evolving challenge that requires a modern and agile approach. Traditional SIEM tools are not designed to cope with the scale, diversity, and dynamism of cloud-based environments, resulting in reduced visibility, increased risk, and inefficient operations. To overcome these limitations, organizations need to adopt next-generation SIEM solutions that are cloud-native, scalable, flexible, and intelligent.

Future posts in this series will cover the following topics:  

  • How Microsoft has applied a threat-driven approach to enrich use-case development as a proactive and strategic way of managing cybersecurity risks that focuses on the threats rather than just the controls and vulnerabilities as required by your compliance requirements.  
  • How Microsoft has implemented its security solutions across Azure, Oracle, AWS, and on-premises environments, thus enabling a unified and comprehensive defense against threats, for any enterprise
  • Key benefits and outcome examples for some of our multi-cloud security projects, including improved detection capabilities, enhanced visibility across enterprise, efficiency, and cost savings. 
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