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IBM QRadar vs Splunk

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The present business world largely depends on information. In fact, what we are living in at present is considered as an information age, and information is as important as our organizational assets. However, protecting this information is becoming essential in this modern world. Information breaches arise when it falls in the hands of hackers or unauthorised users whose intention is to steal it and cause destruction to organizational reputation.

As we are aware of the security breaches, it is better to have the tools which can protect the information from falling into the hands of hackers. Managing security is becoming very important these days. The Security Information and Event Management System (SIEM) is a significant approach to protect the organizational data.

What is SIEM (Security Information and Event Management System)?

The Security Information and Event Management system ingests event information from a wide variety of sources, which include security software, network infrastructure, appliances, and many other applications that run in an organization.

A SIEM performs two significant functions: one is to collect, store, analyze, investigate, and record the log information for forensics, regulatory compliance, and the other thing is to examine the data to detect the future breaches and prevent them in advance before they cause any harm to the organization.

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There are various Security information and event management tools available in the market to secure information from the breaches. Few among them are HP ArcSight, Splunk Enterprise Security, AlienVault Unified Security Management, IBM QRadar, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager, LogRhythm Security Intelligence Platform, RSA NetWitness, etc.

Here, in this blog, we are going to compare two of the popular SIEM tools, which are IBM QRadar and Splunk. Let's discuss the features of each tool and the significant differences.

What is IBM QRadar?

IBM QRadar is an Enterprise Security, Information, and Event Management system (SIEM). It collects information from the devices of an organization such as host assets, network devices, operating systems, and from various aspects such as vulnerabilities, user activities, and behaviours. IBM QRadar acts as a guard to the information and monitors every activity that occurs in the organization, and if it detects any malicious activity, it prevents it very quickly and minimises the risk factor to the organization.

IBM Security QRadar SIEM overview

The IBM Qradar SIEM is capable of supporting a modular appliance-based approach to SIEM that is developed to meet security evaluation needs such as network flow analysis, log event, and other analysis needs of the organizations. Additional integrated modules available are forensic analysis, vulnerability identification, incident response, etc. IBM QRadar SIEM is integrated with out-of-box 450 solutions and supports IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence via TAXI and STIX to enhance threat identification. 

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IBM QRadar key features

  • It collects the required info from the on-premises and cloud sources.
  • It integrates co-related activities to prioritise incidents. 
  • IBM QRadar is equipped with flexible architecture which is easy to deploy on-premises or on cloud.
  • Built-in analytics will help in identifying threats effectively. 
  • Highly scalable, and self-managing database.

What is Splunk?

Splunk INC is a multinational software platform based company whose software (Splunk) is used for indexing the machine data. Machine data can be converted into actionable information which helps in making data-driven decisions. The Splunk platform aggregates and analyzes the data from different sources such as programming interface and log information from websites, mobile devices, application servers, etc. Conversion of machine data into operational intelligence can help the Splunk customers in gaining awareness about what is happening over its IT environment in real-time.

[Related Blog: Splunk Architecture]

Splunk SIEM Overview

Splunk is an SIEM software platform which brings out the hidden insights out of machine data or other forms of big data and alerts the organization if any suspicious activity attempts to steal the data. Splunk is capable of reading any kind of data, be it structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Once done with reading data, Splunk allows you to search, tag, create reports and dashboards from this data. These reports will explain us the activities that are happening across the organization.

[Related Blog: Splunk Enterprise Security]

Splunk has become very powerful with the invention of big data technologies, and it can ingest information from any kind of data, which may or may not be the machine data, and performs analytics on big data.  Splunk has evolved from a simple log analysis tool to becoming an analytics performer on Big data.

Splunk Key features

  • Search, collect, and indexes data 
  • Analysis and Visualization
  • Automatically detects malicious activities across the networks
  • Real-time monitoring 
  • Customer user interface
  • Flexible enough to suit any organizational needs.  

Frequently Asked IBM Security QRadar SIEM Interview Questions

Key Differences between IBM QRadar and Splunk

Let’s have a look at the key differences between IBM QRadar and Splunk by considering the below factors.

  • Deployment.
  • Pricing structure.
  • Recent Additions to SIEM product development.
  • Strengths and Drawbacks of IBM Qradar.
  • Strengths and Drawbacks of Splunk.

[Related Page: Splunk Alert And Report]

Deployment

IBM QRadar is available on-premises hardware or in the cloud or software. Small and medium organizations can easily shift deployment and maintenance to IBM cloud-based solutions whereas larger firms have to choose either Hybrid approach or an on-premises deployment method to collect data from the cloud and local applications.

Splunk ES (Enterprise Security) can be deployed as software on premises regardless of whether it may be a private or public cloud, or a hybrid deployment. Companies all over the world are shifting their security models from on-premises to a hybrid model which enables them in driving the security analytics in both the ways, such as local and on a cloud. 

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Pricing structure

QRadar pricing is based on flows per second (FPS) and Events per second (EPS). It is available in two different variants, one is On-premises solutions which start at $10,400, with one-year free support, and the other option is cloud-based solutions which start at $800 per month on an yearly subscription basis. Other options available for free include, QRadar community edition, low EPS version, and low memory of QRadar.

When it comes to pricing of Splunk, it follows a different model. It charges based on the number of users and the amount of data ingested per day. Splunk Light can be accessed by five users and up to 20 GB data per day, and the charge is 75$ a month on an annual subscription basis. Splunk enterprise pack is available to unlimited users with unlimited amounts of data at 150$ a month billed annually.

Recent Additions to SIEM product development

Recently, IBM has enhanced QRadar with Watson, which made it a powerful platform with Watson capabilities and QRadar analytics platform. IBM QRadar user behaviour monitors the user behaviour and automatically detects if anything looks malicious, and Qradar network insights will enable a user in analyzing the networks in detecting the attacks and threats and helps in stopping them in advance. It also got improved with a capability to secure Azure, AWS, and O365 cloud services.

There were few additions to Splunk when compared to the past, and they are: 

  • Splunk ES content update: It is a pre-packaged security feature that is developed to detect, investigate, and manage threats which are specific. 
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Cyber4Sight for Splunk: It provides accessibility for the customers to Actionable Security Intelligence with the support of  Booz Allen threat intelligence services.
  • Splunk User Behaviour Analytics 4.0: This feature enables the customers to create and load their own machine learning models to detect unwanted activities across the networks. 

Strengths and Drawbacks of IBM Qradar

According to Gartner, QRadar is well suited for the medium and large companies that need core SIEM functionality, and also for those who are in search of finding a Unified platform which can manage all kinds of security and operational intelligence.

There are some backlogs associated with QRadar such as BIg Fix solution for endpoint monitoring. Gartner also stated that its clients had shown very less interest and turned to Third party vendors, and also its QRadar functionality lags behind other vendors.

Checkout Splunk Interview Questions

Strengths and Drawbacks of Splunk

Splunk is equipped with the advanced features which enable its customers to leverage its analytics potentiality to the maximum extent. Splunk has a wide range of partners who provide different services, and different apps are available through the Splunkbase app store.

Gartner stated that there are still few setbacks associated with Splunk. Its clients are dissatisfied with the licencing model and implementation cost. It mainly concentrates in Core SIEM capabilities and has taken no steps to detect the specific advanced threat detection solutions. 

Conclusion

Investing in improving the security of an organization is essential for its growth and development in the long run. Data breaches cause huge damage to the organizations in terms of money and reputation. Proper research can give you the information of both IBM QRadar and Splunk then you can select one which suits your needs better.   

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Ravindra Savaram
About The Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Content Lead at Mindmajix.com. His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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