5 Best SIEM Tools and How to Choose

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Cybersecurity has become something of great concern to the IT world over the last few years. The increase in remote working and the move to cloud-based and e-commerce solutions have opened up many new opportunities for cyber exploits and malware attacks.

According to the FBI, the incidence of malware and network attacks, particularly ransomware, on both commercial and home systems has shown a major increase. At a corporate and personal level, ID theft has also increased greatly. Companies are becoming increasingly concerned about intellectual property theft.

One final thorn in the side is increasing compliance and reporting requirements at national and international levels around privacy and data management in general. This is particularly the case in the financial sector.

The IT response is to step up defenses against network-based and malware exploits in the form of a new discipline, security information and event management (SIEM). This SIEM set of tools is used to pull together the various security elements—both new and already deployed—with the intention of providing real-time monitoring, threat detection, and incident response capabilities. In this post, you’ll learn what SIEM is, how it helps, and five of the best SIEM tools available.

What Is SIEM?

SIEM refers to a set of technologies, processes, and practices that help organizations collect, analyze, and manage security event data from various sources within their IT infrastructure.

How Does SIEM Help?

SIEM systems aggregate logs and security event data from multiple sources, such as network devices, servers, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and applications. These data sources generate vast amounts of information, including log entries, alerts, and system events. SIEM tools centralize and correlate this data to identify patterns, anomalies, and potential security threats.

More recently, AI is used to analyze data in real-time and pick out items of interest from the general background noise, creating alerts and reports.

SIEM Tools

SIEM tools typically include features such as log collection agents, data storage, correlation engines, visualization dashboards, and reporting capabilities. They help security teams gain visibility into their organization’s security posture, detect and investigate security incidents, and improve overall cybersecurity defenses.

Let’s take a look at five top enterprise-level SIEM tools.


InfluxDB is a highly regarded open source time series database tool that some users consider the best option. It integrates with other tools such as Grafana and Telegraf. It has both free and paid options in a range designed for small to enterprise-level clients. InfluxDB also includes Marketplace Subscriptions that allow the user to take advantage of cloud service provider benefits. Learn more here.

Splunk Enterprise Security

Splunk is a widely recognized SIEM tool known for its powerful analytics capabilities and customizable dashboards. It’s an excellent SIEM solution. It integrates with almost any network and security device, making it a unique player in the market.

Splunk is available in a number of pricing options. The price can be related to workload, the amount of data consumed, the number of devices monitored, and the number of activities being monitored.

IBM QRadar

QRadar offers advanced threat detection and real-time monitoring, with features like anomaly detection and behavioral analysis. A major benefit is that it will correlate, track, and identify related activities throughout a kill chain.

Again, pricing is dependent on the options chosen and the environment. An example on their pricing page shows an estimated monthly cost of between $26,500 and $41,000 per month for 1,000 users and 1,000 servers. However, this is qualified by a request to ask for a formal quotation.


LogRhythm provides comprehensive log management, threat intelligence, and incident response capabilities, along with built-in analytics. It’s very well regarded in the market, and many users consider it the most cost-effective and mature SIEM available today. However, others say that it can have trouble handling large volumes of incoming data.

Again, pricing depends on the subscription level and type chosen in a flexible pricing model. For pricing, visit this page.

McAfee Enterprise Security Manager (ESM)

This solution comes from the well-known McAfee stable. As might be expected, it’s a full-service product covering the identification, neutralization, and investigation of real and potential threats. One key advantage is the seamless integration with other McAfee products, particularly their desktop anti-malware products.

It offers real-time monitoring, threat intelligence, and compliance reporting, with integration options for other McAfee products.

Once more, pricing depends on the coverage level and the options chosen. There’s a more flexible pricing model for SIEM VMs, which offers licensing for each device as an eight-core VM. Users can add cores in smaller increments to an existing license. Starting price is $40,794 for one of McAfee’s all-in-one SKUs, but this needs to be confirmed with McAfee.

Other potential solution providers

Other contenders include:

  • Elastic Security
  • Datadog Security Monitor
  • SolarWinds
  • LogPoint
  • Graylog
  • ManageEngine
  • Exabeam
  • InsightIDR

Choosing the Best SIEM Tool

When choosing a SIEM tool, consider the following factors.


It’s essential to evaluate the total capital and recurrent costs of ownership, including licensing fees, maintenance costs, and any additional hardware or software requirements.


Ensure the tool can handle the volume of logs and events generated by your organization’s IT infrastructure. Use peak volumes.


It’s becoming more and more common to have an environment incorporating best-of-breed solutions from different suppliers. The problem then arises in ensuring that each element of the overall solution can fit seamlessly into the SIEM environment, perhaps by importing and exporting data in a standard format.

Real-time monitoring and alerting

The tool should provide real-time monitoring capabilities, proactive threat detection, and customizable alerting mechanisms.

This is where the rubber hits the road.

Identifying and reacting to an attack quickly is vital, particularly in the case of a DDoS network attack. The tool must be capable of identifying and alerting security staff to unusual traffic patterns and activities that indicate a possible threat.

Analytics and reporting

Consider the tool’s analytical capabilities, such as behavior analytics, anomaly detection, and customizable reporting options.

This is particularly important where fixed-format compliance reports are needed.

Compliance support

If compliance with specific regulations (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA) is a requirement, verify that the SIEM tool offers built-in compliance reporting and supports relevant standards.

As mentioned above, compliance with defined national and international standards is becoming increasingly important. Indeed, access to some markets is dependent on being able to demonstrate compliance.

Usability and ease of deployment

Evaluate the tool’s user interface, ease of configuration, and deployment options to ensure it fits your organization’s technical capabilities.

Implementing a SIEM environment will need resources. Before selecting a tool, you’ll need to see how it fits with your existing tools and if any new hardware or software resources are needed.

It’s also prudent to carry out a version check. From time to time, interfaces and other features and functions are dependent on a particular version of the software.

Vendor support and updates

Check the vendor’s reputation for customer support, ongoing product updates, and responsiveness to security threats.

Having swift and sure support from your SIEM supplier is non-negotiable. You need to be sure that they have the resources to help you if and when you need support during a crisis.

Final Thoughts

By considering these factors and conducting a thorough evaluation, you can choose a SIEM tool that best aligns with your organization’s security needs, budget, and technical infrastructure.

The next step is to carry out a trial of the top two selected options. This can be done quickly and cheaply using the free trial options offered by suppliers such as InfluxDB.

This post was written by Iain Robertson. Iain operates as a freelance IT specialist through his own company, after leaving formal employment in 1997. He provides onsite and remote global interim, contract and temporary support as a senior executive in general and ICT management. He usually operates as an ICT project manager or ICT leader in the Tertiary Education sector. He has recently semi-retired as an ICT Director and part-time ICT lecturer in an Ethiopian University.