Splunk Enterprise Basics in IT Operations

The Digital Information wave generates an abundance of data every day. Organizations can use these digital footprints to their advantage by collecting, monitoring, managing and troubleshooting valuable intelligence hidden in data. However, maneuvering around the complexity of data can be overwhelming. Additionally, operational downtime is extremely expensive for businesses making it essential to invest in an efficient analytical software. In this blog we discuss the basics of one such emerging software….Splunk Enterprise.

Splunk Enterprise is the answer to organizations that understand the value of real-time data. Splunk implementation enables a shift from reactive to proactive problem-solving. This is critical in preventing problems and keeping business operational without unexpected interruptions. Not to mention other rewards such as improved efficiencies, customer satisfaction and new business leads.

Converting big data noise to actionable information is what Splunk Enterprise refers to as the path to Operational Intelligence. Not only does it claim to provide data driven insights into your business, it’s also easy to implement. If you’d like to know more about the basics of this software, keep reading.

Getting started with Splunk

In order to install Splunk, you need an understanding of the system and hardware configurations recommended by Splunk. You can get these details and information on the available deployment architectures available to you here.

Next, it’s important to know how Splunk stores and works with data. Following are few things you need to know before you start working with data in Splunk.

Splunk stores data in an index also called buckets. Indexes are a collection of directories and files located under $SPLUNK_HOME/var/lib/Splunk. Data is organized by age and Splunk removes old data from your system after several years. If you have specific requirements for data retention, you should carefully plan for your aging policy and data backup. We’ll cover more information on how Splunk ages data in future blogs.

Splunk requires data to be CIM (Common Information Model) compliant. CIM is Splunk’s method of data normalization and only data that is CIM compliant will be included in data models. An organization’s Splunk Admin can transform data into CIM compliant or a Splunk consulting agency can aid in this transformation.

Apart from data normalization, building a comprehensive database is also recommended. Integrating a good mix of data from different data sources such as network event logs, web logs, applications, call detail records etc. will help you gain the most value out of your Splunk Enterprise Security (ES). Incorporating a variety of data sources empowers Splunk to build an integrated view of your security infrastructure by conducting a correlation search across all your data types. So, don’t forget these important steps when getting started with Splunk ES.

Working with Correlation Searches in Splunk

Correlation searches are one of Splunk’s biggest strengths empowering users to identify suspicious events and patterns in their data. Splunk Enterprise comes with pre-packaged searches that can be enabled to run in the background to identify vulnerabilities and system threats. Users can also customize these correlation searches to suit their unique business needs and display them on the Security Posture dashboards.

It’s a good idea to set your searches to run on a schedule as opposed to real time since real time searches tend to occupy CPUs for a longer time.

Notable Events

When a search result meets specific conditions outlined by the user, it creates a Notable Event. These events are grouped by tags and event type and stored in the “notable” index. The Security Posture Dashboard and the Incident Review Dashboard are populated by these events.

Further investigation on Notable events can be conducted through the Incident Review dashboard, the Splunk App for PCI Compliance or the Notable Events Review dashboard in Splunk IT Service Intelligence.

Notable events are each assigned a “severity” of informational low, medium, high or critical and assigned an “urgency” based on the severity of the event. Some urgent events may need immediate attention and remediation. However, many may not need to be worked on. Splunk provides you the capability to suppress certain events by creating a notable event suppression. If you’d like to know how to suppress events in detail, read here.

This was a very basic description of Splunk Enterprise in IT Operations. Without doubt, Splunk is a powerful SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tool when used right. However, just like any other technology, it is important to get a deeper understanding of all its functionalities to leverage this revolutionary product. More topics will be covered in future blogs, so keep reading.

Splunk Enterprise professionals at Cyber Chasse can guide you through the deployment process and beyond. For more information, please visit Cyber Chasse or contact us at info@cyberchasse.com.