SIEM alerts

What Types of Threats Could Trigger SIEM Alerts?

Cyber attacks happen so fast that only organizations with the correct security tools can combat these threats before any lethal damage. SIEMs are one of the most prominent security solutions organizations add to their security architecture, mainly for their holistic type of protection. This security solution collects data logs, correlates them, forms baselines, and uses them to detect abnormal behavior within an IT infrastructure. 

However, security alerts are a core integration of SIEM systems. The reason is that SIEM alerts help the security team to have a timely reminder or notification of a potential or already occurring security incident. In this article, you will learn the key elements of SIEM alerts and some incidents or events that could trigger one. Let’s dive in! 

What are SIEM Alerts, and How Do they Work? 

SIEM alerts are notifications generated by the security information and event management system based on already defined correlation protocols and rules. These correlation algorithms and rules are often customized to meet an organization’s security requirements. So, what happens is that whenever a series of events meet up with the specifications for a cyber threat, an alert is immediately issued to the security operations center (SOC). Hence, knowing the examples of SIEM alerts and common best practices is vital. 

Moreover, the design of the SIEM system is made to continuously monitor what is happening within an organization’s network in real time. In most cases, it collects and analyzes data logs from security devices, networks, IoT devices, and applications. So, what SIEM alerts do is that instead of allowing the security team to go through large volumes of data, it provides a more comprehensive and priority-based notification of security incidents. It ranks these incidents from the most urgent to the least, letting the security team handle urgent security threats instead of responding aimlessly. 

What Type of Cyber Threats Could Trigger SIEM Alerts? 

Abnormal User Behavior 

One of the major security threats that triggers SIEM alerts is when there’s unusual or abnormal behavior from a user. It does not matter if the user is an insider or external — unusual occurrences like irregular data movement,  consistent failed login attempts, and access to sensitive data could trigger this alert. 

Violation of Compliance Rules 

Many SIEM systems, especially those with next-gen functionality like Stellar Cyber, ensure the organization can keep up with compliance rules. Hence, when some activities or events deviate from internal policies or regulatory requirements, the SIEM system is quick to give out security alerts. 

Intrusion Attempts By Cybercriminals 

Another thing that will make the security operations center receive SIEM alerts is that there are intrusion attempts by cybercriminals. Intrusion attempts are mostly made by cybercriminals trying to get unauthorized access to data and resources through port scanning and installing malware. 

Software or System Errors 

Certain systems software and applications become vulnerable when they contain errors, and SIEM systems are aware of this. Thus, they are often triggered to send alerts when there are failures or misconfigurations on vital system software and applications. 

Security Updates and Patches 

An outdated computer system or application software can pose a huge threat to the entire security framework of an IT infrastructure. This is because it can create access points for cybercriminals due to its susceptibility not to withstand certain attacks. So, whenever there are security updates and patches, it triggers alerts to let the security team become aware of a new update. 

What are the Key Elements of SIEM Alert? 

SIEM alerts do not just happen on their own, so they need certain elements or components that work simultaneously to provide the best results. They include:

Event Correlation 

Event correlation is a vital component for generating SIEM alerts, and there’s a reason for this. The correlation of events is simply when the SIEM system connects a series of events to show or identify complex cyber threat patterns. Before event correlation can happen, data logs from vital sources must be collected to help provide a comprehensive context of each security incident. Furthermore, this event correlation also helps identify the appropriate incident response

Threshold Triggers 

To understand threshold triggers, the word “threshold” means the magnitude of something that must be exceeded for a certain reaction to happen. While relating it to SIEM alerts, threshold triggers are when certain metrics of an IT infrastructure go exceptionally high or low, triggering an alert. For instance, when an organization’s network traffic exceeds its normal level, it could trigger a SIEM alert. 

Triggers Based on Rules 

Rules and policies are important aspects of SIEM systems, often the common component that triggers alerts. In SIEM, rules are also known as baselines, which help to create a difference between normal and abnormal user behavior within a network. So, whenever users engage in suspicious activities or attack patterns, they break certain rules within the SIEM system, leading to an alert. 

Detection of Abnormal Events 

When SIEM systems collect data logs, they usually store them in a central position for future uses. What happens is that these SIEM systems often analyze what happened in the past and use them to create baselines of what to classify as normal behavior. So, whenever events or security incidents occur, the SIEM system analyzes them with the baseline to know if they’re normal or abnormal. 

Response to Events 

SIEM alerts can’t be complete without responding to an identified security event — this is even the principal aim. Some SIEM systems provide alerts and leave the security operations center to handle them. On the other hand, security solutions with next-gen SIEM functionalities like Stellar Cyber can handle certain cyber threats without needing help. 


Above, we discussed the meaning of SIEM alerts and how it helps organizations to get notifications of events happening within their IT infrastructure. Apparently, these alerts are a core part of the SIEM system and help in fast and real-time response to security threats.

There are key elements of SIEM alerts: event correlation, threshold triggers, detection of abnormal events, and response. However, certain events are the primary triggers of SIEM alerts, including software or system errors, attempted intrusion by cybercriminals, abnormal user behavior, violation of compliance rules, and many others. 

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