IBM QRadar Review

Although it provides incident management of the alerts it produces, this could be improved to allow more restrictions

Valuable Features

IBM Security QRadar has many valuable features. One of the most valuable features of IBM Security QRadar is the ease of extracting information from raw logs/events, whether the log source sending the events is supported by IBM or not (for example, a custom in-house application) and use this information in creating searches, correlation rules, reports, and dashboards. Another feature is scalability; scaling up a deployment to support more events per second is made simple just by “linking” new appliances to the main deployment through configuration steps that only take minutes to complete. I do not know if I can call this a feature, but a “general” feature of QRadar is that it does not require highly technically skilled personnel to administer. The dashboards and configurations through the web UI are easy to read, understand, and change.

Room for Improvement

Although QRadar provides incident management of the alerts it produces, this area could use a little improvement to allow more restrictions on who can close alerts and easily updating alerts with and reading text templates.

Use of Solution

I have used IBM Security QRadar for nearly two years now. I use it as a user in my organization’s Managed Security Services division where we monitor clients’ environments. I also work with it as an implementer to deploy and customize it for clients.

Deployment Issues

Any deployment will have issues. The issues that I encounter with deploying QRadar are raised with IBM Support and are usually solved quickly through applying patches or changing individual files to fix the web GUI issue.

Stability Issues

The causes of stability issues are usually not QRadar, but of misconfigured devices/log sources (for example, sending debug events to QRadar that results in millions of events in a short period of time). However, if a deployment is done correctly, QRadar stays stable.

Scalability Issues

No, I did not face issues with scalability. One of the great features of QRadar is the ease of scalability. A license upgrade is simply done by purchasing it and applying it through the GUI which only takes minutes to. If an organization wants a larger expansion, all that it has to do is to buy the required hardware with QRadar installed, and “link” it to the main deployment through steps that also take minutes. This new hardware will provide the extra events per second or flows per minute capabilities required for the expansion.

Customer Service and Technical Support

IBM provides support in various regions in the world. The level of technical support is good. Once a support ticket is open, the support team tries to fix it directly or passes it on to higher levels, and will involve the QRadar development team if required.

Previous Solutions

No, I did not use a separate solution, although I have read and heard about different solutions from the various clients I have met with. Clients switch to using QRadar because they say that maintaining and administering other solutions becomes a hassle and requires trained personnel. Another reason clients switch to using QRadar because of cost.

Initial Setup

The initial setup of QRadar is straightforward. From the installation perspective, IBM provides one ISO file that can be used to install any of the QRadar components, with the activation key deciding which components to install. From the deployment perspective, QRadar has the ability to automatically detect many log sources sending logs. The out-of-the-box dashboards, searches, reports, and correlation rules allows QRadar to start displaying intelligence and insight on devices, network statistics, authentication, and many more, and to start alerting on offenses and policy violations automatically. Coupling this with the automatically detected log sources, a demonstration of QRadar can only take a few hours from the installation, to automatically detecting a log source such as firewall logs, to getting alerts on excessive firewall denies, port scans, etc.

Other Advice

The advice I would give to others is to work with the implementation team to properly fine tune the out-of-the-box “building block rules” and to enter their network hierarchy in QRadar in order for it to give best results and reduce false positive alerts.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're a value added services security company that is a distributor of Q1-Labs QRadar (now IBM).
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1 Comment
Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employeesVendor

I am taking IBM Security Qradar exam c2150-400 early Aug 2015.

25 July 15
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