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SIEM, SOAR, and XDR: how are they different?

The increased prevalence of cyber-attacks around the world is an ongoing and escalating problem for organisations and businesses. Staying ahead of the emerging and future cyber threats is a full-time job and businesses are beginning to turn to dedicated security specialists to ensure their security risks are mitigated. 

Endpoint security and firewalls are two foundational elements of enterprise security, but with the proliferation of remote work and IoT devices, centralised management tools have become a key part of it too. These central management tools share a similar goal: enabling you to monitor all your security tools and infrastructure from a single layer. 

This guide looks at the differences between SIEM, SOAR, and XDR:

  • SIEM – security information and event management 
  • SOAR – Security Orchestration, Automation and Response
  • XDR – Extended Detection and Response

What is SIEM?

Security information and event management (SIEM) is first and foremost a log collection tool intended to support compliance, data storage and analysis. Security analytics is an added capability that has been largely bolted on to SIEM solutions and does not adequately identify threats without running separate security analytic functions on top of huge amounts of data sets. 

SIEM provides organisations with real-time security event analysis to help with the investigation, early threat detection and incident response. SIEM has emerged as the most important tool for any organisation as it has the capability to collect a variety of data from different sources and systems, analyse them in real-time, and generate reports to enable quick action. Microsoft Sentinel is an example of a cloud-based SIEM platform  

What is SOAR?

Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) has a primary goal of response and action, by identifying a threat from data and determining how to respond based on the situation. For example, a SOAR program can analyse network traffic data, may detect a potential threat such as a malicious URL, and make the decision to block that URL at the firewall. The benefits of SOAR include quicker response to threats, more efficient use of staff, and the assurance that security controls are in place. Over time, as the security team matures, the SOAR can perform these actions without user feedback, freeing up resources for more high-risk alerts and threats. 

SOAR incorporates orchestration, automation and response capabilities into the SIEM. While valuable, SOAR on its own does not solve the big data analytics challenge nor protect data or systems. 

What is XDR?

A holistic approach to threat detection and response, XDR compiles security data ingestion, analysis, prevention and remediation workflows across an organisation’s entire security stack – all with one console. With XDR you have the ability to uncover hidden threats that might otherwise be missed. You can also easily automate even complex multi-step responses over your technology stacks. XDR falls into two different categories: open XDR and native XDR. 

What is the difference between SIEM, SOAR, and XDR?

SOAR and SIEM are complementary systems that work together. In many cases, they are used side-by-side to provide you with the best of both worlds in terms of security operations. The SIEM solution can collect and correlate logs to identify the ones that qualify as an alert, while the SOAR (Security Operations Center) is able to receive data from the SIEM. It then takes over for resolutions. 

XDR has risen to fill the void created by SIEM and SOAR with a uniquely different approach. XDR is the next evolution of endpoint detection and response (EDR) which is anchored in endpoint data and optimisation. XDR takes this further to include an entire environment, including network, cloud, authentication, etc), and allows for advanced analytics capabilities that enable organisations to quickly respond to their highest priority events. 

Is one solution better than the other? 

Simply put, while there are differences between these security tools, they all have capabilities that are necessary. XDR is not a substitute for SIEM as the latter does more than just detecting threats. Outside of threat detection, SIEM fulfils other needs such as log management and compliance. SOAR offers orchestration capability to optimise resources and prioritise activity, which XDR usually does not have the ability to do. 

These security tools can work together to provide the most comprehensive and robust security solution for your organisation. With the ever-changing cyber security threat landscape, having the right security tools for your organisation cannot be understated. The cyber security specialists at INTELLIWORX can manage all your business security needs so you don’t have to worry about a thing. 

Shane Maher

We passionately work on the IT Infrastructure of mid-tier businesses and support MSPs into cloud services. I have over 17 years of commercial experience that includes supporting and managing IT systems, developing infrastructure solutions, both onsite & in the cloud.

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