From Darkness to Light: How

SIEM Helps Reduce Dwell Time


From Darkness to Light: How SIEM Helps Reduce Dwell Time

Many heist movies have a common theme: An inside person silently infiltrating the victim’s facilities or organizations. They play the long con by gathering sensitive documents and planting devices to cause disruption at a future point. All the while, the victim’s security team remains completely unaware of the breach.

While a common movie trope, this scenario is an apt analogy of how many cyber terrorists are operating these days. They are leveraging the time between their intrusion and detection – also known as dwell time – to exploit vulnerabilities in an organization’s IT infrastructure.

Dwell time, also referred to as the ‘breach detection gap,’ is calculated as a sum of the mean time to repair/remediate (MTTR) and mean time to detect (MTTD).

Simply put, DT = MTTR + MTTD.

Every second that ticks by during this dwell time represents an opportunity for attackers to wreak havoc. They can explore the system vulnerabilities in-depth, working to escalate privileges. They then leverage those permissions to push their malicious software onto as many systems and endpoint devices as possible.

Why is dwell time such a critical cybersecurity metric for C-suite executives to understand?

Consider the financial implications. A recent report by IBM shows that the average cost of a data breach has reached $4.45 million in 2023. Even a seemingly minor intrusion, left unchecked due to high dwell time, can snowball into a significant financial burden. Take the data breach at MGM last year, for example. The aftermath? The hostile actors were able to disrupt the entire casino operations, resulting in almost a 10-20% dip in the casino’s daily revenue. MGM’s market capital took a nearly $2 billion hit as a spillover effect. Beyond the financial toll, a cyberattack can damage your reputation, erode customer trust, and hinder your ability to operate effectively.

The good news is that long dwell time can be minimized. Businesses can significantly reduce dwell time by implementing Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems.

How SIEM shortens dwell time

While prevention is certainly better than cure, security teams must rethink the existing security paradigm of trying to keep attackers out of critical networking assets. They should assume that the hackers are already inside and then focus their efforts on proving that they are not. This is where cutting-edge SIEM becomes critical.

Modern SIEM systems aggregate and normalize data across IT environments for easier threat detection. SIEM can also scan for interconnected and relevant security events, searching for any potential signs of a data breach. If certain thresholds are met, SIEM systems can alert your security team. These alerts speed up necessary investigation times, which, in turn, speeds up remediation times once any cyber threat is detected.

Furthermore, you can:

Centralize your asset monitoring: SIEM provides a holistic view of security events across your IT infrastructure. This eliminates the need to manually sift through logs from individual security tools, saving valuable time during incident response.

Enable real-time threat detection: SIEM employs advanced analytics to identify anomalies and suspicious activity in real time. This lets your security team detect and respond to threats much faster, minimizing dwell time and potential damage.

Automate threat response: SIEM can be configured to trigger automated responses to specific security incidents. For example, it can automatically quarantine infected systems or block malicious traffic, further reducing the attacker’s window of opportunity.

While SIEM offers a powerful solution for reducing dwell time, implementing and maintaining it can get complex. Here’s where Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) can help.

Advantages of MSSP in building a robust SIEM framework

MSSPs act as a force multiplier for businesses looking to solidify their SIEM and minimize dwell time. By leveraging AI/ML, MSSPs can hunt down subtle threats hiding within your system before they escalate. They then use SIEM as a central hub, consolidating data from various security tools like XDR and MDR. This unified view allows for real-time threat detection, prioritization based on risk, and even automated response actions. Ultimately, MSSPs empower businesses to become more agile defenders, minimizing the window of opportunity for attackers and significantly reducing dwell time within your system. By partnering with an MSSP, enterprises gain access to the following benefits:

  • Expertise and experience: MSSPs possess the deep technical knowledge and experience required to configure and maintain an SIEM system effectively. They can tailor the SIEM solution to your business needs and security posture.
  • Continuous monitoring: MSSPs provide 24/7 monitoring of your SIEM system, ensuring that security alerts are promptly identified and addressed, even outside regular business hours.
  • Resource optimization: Implementing and managing SIEM in-house can require significant investment in personnel and infrastructure. Partnering with an MSSP allows you to leverage their expertise and resources, freeing your internal IT team to focus on core business functions.

The end goal? A near-zero dwell time.

Dwell time is a silent threat lurking within your network, waiting to exploit vulnerabilities. It is thus crucial to remember that a proactive approach to cybersecurity is not just about prevention. It’s about minimizing the damage from the inevitable. By prioritizing dwell time reduction and implementing an SIEM system with the help of an MSSP, you can create a better organization-wide cybersecurity posture. While achieving zero dwell time might be unrealistic, you can always go as close to zero as possible. An experienced MSSP and robust SIEM system can unlock this for you. Take action with HTC as your solution partner today.


Ramu Para

Ramu Para

Associate Director – Cybersecurity



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