SIEM, UEBA, and SOAR: What’s the difference?

The field of information security entails using different solutions that help protect the entire information environment at an organization. Information security solutions combine technical categories (hardware, software, infrastructure) and normative categories (corporate culture, IT policies, governance).

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Three information security systems you’ll hear a lot about in modern IT are SIEM, UEBA, and SOAR. This article informs you about exactly what each of these systems does and the main differences between them.

What is SIEM?

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a solution that gathers log and event information from various IT network endpoints in a centralized system. The SIEM tool attempts to identify threats by correlating all of the information it gathers from logs. Correlation is enabled by taking the disparate types of log and event data, parsing it, and storing it in a format that is useful for analysis.

Correlation rules are combined with real-time analysis of events to help detect threats in a SIEM system. SIEM software tends to be alert-heavy, meaning security teams are often inundated with more alerts than they can keep up. SIEM tools are commonplace in many organizations, and here are some of their main pros:

  • Improved cybersecurity incident handling and response.
  • Improved security defenses due to data aggregation, correlation rules, and real-time event monitoring.
  • The ability to automate compliance reporting and achieve compliance with applicable industry regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.

What is UEBA?

User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) is a system that uses behavioral analytics to monitor user activities and infrastructural entities such as servers and applications. UEBA systems establish a baseline level of user activity and their interactions with various entities, monitoring them for deviations from this baseline.

When a UEBA system detects an anomaly in behavior, it sends out alerts to InfoSec staff who can investigate further. Some of the benefits of UEBA systems include:

  • The ability to accurately detect compromised user accounts by identifying abnormal behavior.
  • UEBA systems are useful as part of a software toolkit for preventing data loss.
  • The prevention of misuse of privileged account access by ensuring the appropriate use of access rights.
  • Improved information security efficiency through automation.
  • Reduced attack surface using advanced behavioral analytics to frequently update IT security staff about potential weak points in the network.

What is SOAR?

Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) is an emerging type of solution that empowers organizations to respond to security events and threats faster and more efficiently. Gartner predicted SOAR tool adoption to increase from just 1 percent of organizations using them in 2018 to 15 percent by 2020.

SOAR tools can collect information on many types of security threats, alerts, and data from a huge range of internal and external sources. Some advantages of SOAR tools are:

  • Integration of existing information security tools and external sources of threat intelligence.
  • A centralized source of truth for all security information enables faster incident response.
  • Automated response to low-level security events, allowing InfoSec teams to focus on the most serious threats to enterprise security.
  • Less time spent investigating false positives.

Differences Between SIEM, UEBA, and SOAR

It might sound like simply using a SOAR tool will solve all your problems, however, that is not the case. Each of these systems has its own suite of benefits, and they are more powerful when combined than when used as standalone tools.

SIEM tools excel at gathering log data from various endpoints and storing this data in a useable format. While SIEM is more focused on log and event information related to suspicious network behavior, UEBA software emphasizes user and entity behavior. In this way, UEBA is an extension of SIEM applied to a different aspect of information security.

SOAR technologies meet the need for a missing component of SIEM tools, which is the ability to take action against malicious activity. SIEM tools can flag suspicious behavior, however, problems such as false positives and incident prioritization can deter from their proper use.

SOAR tools allow for automated responses to low-level incidents and correct incident prioritization. Because of their ability to orchestrate information from many different sources, SOAR systems also provide a greater level of efficiency and effectiveness to an organization’s information security defenses.


It’s worth noting that each of SIEM, UEBA, and SOAR technologies can provide excellent benefits in improving cybersecurity defenses. Each enterprise uses its own tools and it’s worth auditing your existing toolkit to check for overlap with any of the functions of SIEM, UEBA, and SOAR. The last thing you want to do is adopt redundant software that needlessly complicates things.

It’s worth noting that the use of these tools is not limited to large enterprises with huge IT budgets. Smaller businesses face information security threats too, and there are several open source SIEM tools available. UEBA is a more niche type of product and the open source market is not developed. SOAR is a newer type of technology so open source options for it are more limited.