Security information and event management (SIEM) and security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) are both integral tools of a security operations center (SOC), and they assist with incident management and response. While SIEM involves analyzing logs from multiple sources to detect threats, SOAR is about orchestrating several pieces of information and automating response. It's critical to comprehend the differences between these two approaches because both are essential for helping a security analyst, but in unique ways. Let's take it one step at a time.


SIEM is the modern day fusion of security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM). While SIM involves collection, storage, and analysis of logs from various sources to keep track of network activities, SEM is about taking it a step further and evaluating the logs in real time to spot abnormal activity. The combination of the two—SIEM—traces an attacker's footprints across sources, connects the dots using established correlation rules, and raises alerts to the security team, all from within a single pane of glass.

A log's basic information should include: which user performed what activity, on which host, and when. A security event is any observed change to normal behavior in the network. Examples of events include unexpected logon sessions to a network, account lockouts, and failed password attempts.

Components of SIEM

A SIEM solution analyzes the log data to detect threats and helps you adhere to compliance standards. Its core components are:

  • Log collection: Ingesting logs from servers, firewalls, workstations, databases, applications, cloud services, etc.
  • Parsing and categorizing: Aggregating and processing raw logs collected from different sources into a standard format.
  • Correlation and reporting: Finding patterns, spotting anomalies with use cases, assigning risk scores based on severity, and issuing alerts to the SOC team.

A good SIEM solution can help you get the most out of your log data by:

  • Monitoring and identifying risks in real time, allowing you to detect attacks as they happen.
  • Generating reports and consolidated dashboards for the SOC team to have a comprehensive view of the security environment.
  • Keeping up with corporate and regulatory policies like PCI DSS, SOX, HIPAA, and others via compliance monitoring.

In a nutshell, a SIEM system gathers logs from various sources, analyses them to identify risks, assigns a risk score based on established rules, and then informs the security analyst of any high risk incident.

When the security team has gained sufficient visibility into its network landscape through a SIEM solution, the stage is set for the next series of steps a security analyst can perform to respond to the threat.


Typically, the security operations team is exhausted from continuously dealing with alerts ranging from low to high severity. Every alert, it is agreed, requires a swift response, but it does not have to be human-dependent. SOAR proposes automating and expediting such routine incident response duties through predefined workflows, thus saving time and effort.

Components of SOAR

SOAR focuses on attaining more context about a threat, automating routine tasks, and helping the SOC respond to incidents faster. Its core components are:

  • Ingest alerts: Fetches threat feeds from SIEM, external threat intelligence, and other API-based platforms.
  • Orchestration and automation: Automatically investigates threats by integrating with various associated tools and solutions.
  • Threat Response: Implements a quick and automatic fix as instructed by a playbook or workflow.
  • Resolution: Builds insights with advanced threat analytics and escalates if necessary by automatically assigning tickets for follow-up and further investigation by an analyst.

In addition to threat feeds, SOAR also gathers data from external threat intelligence platforms, endpoint security software, and other third-party sources to determine the complete picture of the situation. The alerts are investigated after they are mapped to specific use cases, and preset remedial measures are executed. Users can also create and customize investigative paths and remedial actions. To ensure no critical incidents are missed, automated tickets can be assigned by integrating with a service desk or other ticketing platforms.

SOAR allows the security team to effectively address more threats while lowering reaction time.

The difference

Let's go with a simple example. The ABC organization's SOC team receives a notification from its SIEM system about a possible brute-force attack.

The SIEM solution evidences this from processing logs collected in real time. The numerous logs generated in a network are aggregated and stored in a searchable format. In this one particular event, it is found that the user attempted 10 logins in less than one minute and failed before logging in successfully. This violates a preset rule, and an alert is triggered.

Now that the alert has been raised, the security analyst must investigate and take action. But the trouble is that it's only one of 1,000 similar alerts they get everyday. With SOAR in place, the alert automatically triggers a custom workflow that disables the user. SOAR also groups similar alerts to create an incident and assigns a ticket to a dedicated technician for further investigation into the attack.

If SOAR hadn't been in place to quickly initiate a fix, the attack could have spiraled out of hand by the time a security analyst arrived on the scene to investigate the alert.

Now you can tell the difference. SIEM analyses and generates alerts from logs. SOAR receives all of these alerts and more, correlates them, and automatically makes the appropriate corrections.

Both are critical components of an organization's incident management architecture and, interestingly, they are no longer distinct concepts. Both have converged to become a single entity. A solid SIEM solution now incorporates SOAR's capabilities to provide 360-degree incident management and response.

Checkout Log360, a comprehensive SIEM solution from ManageEngine, featuring user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA)-driven threat detection, and SOAR capabilities for effective incident management and response.

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