Harnessing the Cloud and Big Data for Increased Security Intelligence: Introducing QRadar 7.1

Advances in this release include massive data set correlation and also considers those that have built significant private and public cloud infrastructures and are looking for new virtual workloads to deploy in the cloud.

With the release of QRadar Security Intelligence Platform 7.1, we’re excited to share with you a host of new advances to our family of Security Intelligence products – including QRadar SIEM, QRadar Log Manager and QRadar Risk Manager.  These innovations are making it easier for users to leverage cloud investments, simplify management, collect and manage data more flexibly, and replicate or extend QRadar deployments.  As a result, QRadar users will receive even greater insight and visibility, further reduce manual work and gain higher system performance.  Let’s dive in!

Leverage Cloud Investments

We know many of you have built significant private and public cloud infrastructures and are looking for new virtual workloads to deploy in the cloud.  With QRadar 7.1 you now have an additional type of appliance – the Event Collector – that you can deploy virtually, providing more ways to use your cloud environment to gain richer security intelligence.

Event collectors – which come in both virtual and hardware appliance form – provide continuous event logging capabilities, even when network connectivity is unreliable.  They collect event logs and forward them to an event processor or all-in-one appliance for correlation, analysis and long-term storage.  If network connectivity is lost, they can queue events in a storage buffer and then forward them upon re-connecting.  (We call this “store and forward.”)  In addition to serving locations with intermittent network connections (like naval vessels), event collectors are well-suited for collecting logs in distributed locations with low to moderate event volumes, such as retail stores and satellite offices.  A large retailer, for example, might have hundreds of stores in which they want to collect event data, but the data generated in each location is modest enough that event processors (with terabytes of storage per appliance) aren’t required.

With this release, you now have access to a full complement of virtual appliances – console & all-in-one, event processor, flow processor, VFlow collector, and event collector – to best utilize your current and future cloud infrastructures.  Even better, appliances can be mixed and matched among virtual appliance, hardware appliance and traditional software form factors, to meet your specific needs.

Simplify Management – Especially for Big Data

As we and others like Scott Crawford and Jon Oltsik have written, information security is truly a big data analytics challenge today.  With its heritage in network flow collection and anomaly detection, QRadar has been collecting and correlating massive data sets in real-time since before big data became a white-hot phenomenon.  Critical infrastructure and tier-one telecommunications providers, banks, and energy and utility companies are using QRadar to correlate as many as one million events per second (EPS) in real-time, thanks to QRadar’s purpose-built, embedded Ariel database.  But with such massive data volumes come management challenges.

In response, we developed new Index Management capabilities in QRadar 7.1 that provide more refined data management and ultimately better performance.  As the volume of stored data explodes, challenges inherent in querying big data become more pronounced – and so do the benefits of optimizing indexes for the queries most often run.  QRadar’s default search indexes have always followed the 80/20 rule, providing out-of-the-box indexing for the most commonly used properties.  Now we’re taking indexing a step further, enabling deep customization and tuning.

With QRadar 7.1, users have granular control over the creation of search indexes that enable speedy querying.  While the fixed database indexing configuration that QRadar has historically provided works well for most scenarios, some clients would benefit from additional or different indexes.  That’s why we added the ability to customize the indexing scheme for the event and flow database – so users can drop existing indexes to free up system resources or create new indexes to optimize the system for their specific needs.

QRadar also provides invaluable visibility into the use of indexes – with statistical reporting on the frequency of searches involving each property, how often each property’s index is used, and the size of each index – to help inform indexing decisions.  This enables more efficient storage utilization and superior search performance.

Do you suspect one property is getting searched a lot?  Get the data.

Do you wonder how big an index has grown?  Find out.

Want to start indexing a custom property and see how often that index is used?  No problem.

Another new capability that simplifies management is QRadar Risk Manager’s Enhanced Policy Monitoring.  Risk Manager excels at monitoring network configurations and system vulnerabilities for potential security and compliance violations, and has always alerted when a policy is violated.  Now it takes monitoring a step further with the ability to automatically notify when a policy is passed, providing positive evidence of compliance with external regulations and internal corporate policies.  For example, you might want a positive notification when the percent of regulatory assets with Internet exposure vulnerabilities is within policy, or when the percent of regulatory assets with client side vulnerabilities that have communicated with the Internet is within policy.  Now you can gain affirmative proof of such compliance.

Collect and Manage Data More Flexibly

QRadar 7.1 also offers new capabilities for collecting and managing data with greater flexibility.  These include WinCollect – a versatile and scalable new QRadar capability for Windows event collection.  WinCollect provides a superior and agentless means for collecting events from large numbers of systems.  Installed on a Windows server of the customer’s choice, WinCollect can use the Windows Event Log API to pull events from target systems and then forward them to QRadar, or use Windows event forwarding and allow target systems to automatically push events to it and then forward them to QRadar.  WinCollect complements existing collection mechanisms, including Q1 Labs’ own ALE solution, third-party approaches, and native Windows Server capabilities.  In a subsequent blog post, we’ll explain the advantages of each approach and the value of having a broad set of choices.

Event collectors (described earlier) also help simplify data collection and management, in addition to leveraging cloud infrastructure and enabling event collection under unreliable connectivity.  To begin with, their ability to “store and forward” data not only applies when a network connection is lost; it can also be used proactively for policy-based event forwarding.  In some cases, a remote location might have reliable but limited network bandwidth, and you might want to limit the collector’s use of bandwidth to specific (less busy) times.  With QRadar 7.1, you can limit forwarding by bandwidth utilization (e.g., never consume >1MB/second), and/or set an hourly, daily or weekly forwarding schedule.  In addition, event collectors can filter event data before it is forwarded for correlation, reporting and long-term storage.

Additionally, we have released more than a dozen new product integrations (device support modules) that enable users to normalize and analyze even more types of security telemetry.  These include IBM Security zSecure Audit, which allows sending z/OS, RACF, ACF2, Top Secret, DB2, and CICS events from the System Management Facilities (SMF) log to QRadar (in addition to the native z/OS logs that QRadar already collects).  We have also completed integrations with many third-party products, such as Verdasys Digital Guardian, AppSecInc DbProtect and Trend Micro Deep Discovery.

Build Extended Solutions and Replicate Existing Deployments

Lastly, we are enabling clients to build extended security intelligence solutions and replicate existing deployments.  With Security Intelligence Content Importing/Exporting, you can export correlation rules, building blocks, reference sets, report templates, dashboard widgets and more from a QRadar system to an external device, and subsequently import them into another QRadar system.  This enables quick deployment of a new QRadar system based on an existing system or template, as well as sharing of security intelligence content across systems.

We see this being used in several ways:

  • Enabling clients to copy custom-built security intelligence content from one deployment to another (across business units or geographies)
  • Enabling clients to copy content from a development or test environment to a production system
  • Enabling solution providers and system integrators to build unique Security Intelligence intellectual property that they can distribute to their customers.

While QRadar already delivers thousands of rules, report templates, dashboard widgets and saved searches out-of-the-box, many business partners have additional expertise to offer to clients, and have been eagerly awaiting this capability.

To Learn More

With this hefty release completed, we’re gearing up to bring some fantastic new innovations to market in 2013.  In the meantime, please try QRadar 7.1 for yourself and let us know what you think.  We also encourage you to learn about the other IBM Security product releases just announced, which include capabilities for securing big data environments (including IBM InfoSphere BigInsights and Cloudera), risk-based access control for mobile users in BYOD environments, and privileged identity management.

Contact us to schedule an overview of the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform

Harnessing the Cloud and Big Data for Increased Security Intelligence: Introducing QRadar 7.1 | The SIEM, Log Management, and Risk Management Blog.

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