Netsurion EventTracker Review

Gives us a good quality view of what's going on in our environment

What is our primary use case?

EventTracker analyzes all of the different types of security events, it both aggregates and correlates. They send us a daily report of things like servers that aren't responding that normally respond and any kind of events that they see from the day before. If there is a serious perceived security event, they will call. I have two folks at InfoSec, so they will call directly and say, "Hey, we're seeing something here." Then between the two of them, they'll try and identify whether it is a true event or not, and then monthly, we sit down with them on a call where we talk about what's going on and if there are opportunities for improvement.

If there was an event that we felt they shouldn't have escalated to us then we'll let them know and we'll talk about how it could have been avoided or vice versa or if there was an event that we didn't get escalated but it should have been. We don't get a lot of those, mostly it's about, "Hey, we're adding this new device, we want to make sure it's on the list, so it's getting monitored", and things like that.

How has it helped my organization?

EventTracker enables us to keep on top of our work. We're a hospital, so we're 24/7. We don't have enough staff to do that, so they're able to monitor things off-hours, and then even during hours I get two people from InfoSec. They can't be sitting there staring at a screen all the time, they have to go out and do other things and attend meetings, etc. and so they're able to rely on the tool to correlate and then notify them either via pager or phone call if something comes up that is deemed to be important enough to be notified. That's huge for us because we don't have the budget from a staffing standpoint to have people on-site 24/7.

Back in the day, I used to work for Intel and we had a whole room full of people who just sat there and stared at the screen for events. It was in their data center group. We don't have that kind of staff. The only people half staring at a screen all day long are the call center, and they're the ones who take tickets and talk to end-users but they don't have the time to sit there and monitor the event logs and all of the other things. That's the value the tool gives us. I can have people doing real work and then things that need to be escalated are escalated. It saves us roughly two full-time employees. It cuts my team in half. 

EventTracker also helps us with compliance mandates. The tool helps us document that we're following best practice, that we're identifying issues and tracking them, and that we have logs of what issues were identified. That allows us to be able to show a lot of the documentation that we are really doing best practice. I just don't physically have enough team members to do that. This allows me to be able to provide that 24/7.

It's not just a tool, it's a service. The secret sauce is not the tool. I could buy a tool from a dozen vendors. I have a tool to be able to aggregate and correlate all of these events and send something to a screen. But if I still have to have somebody sitting there staring at a screen all day long, that's valuable but not as valuable as someone that has a team, that is an essential SOC, that is aware of what's going on in the world and is saying "I'm seeing this in seven places, including El Centro, let's get ahold of El Centro so they can start taking action on it."

There's nobody that's dedicated to internal incident management. I have two information security folks and they do everything from internal incident management to designing new implementations, to reviews of existing annual information, and security audits. They do all of that, but they don't sit there all day long, staring at a screen, looking at incidents, and trying to figure out what to do. That's the value that we get out of it. That's the extra value.

What is most valuable?

Monitoring our environment and reporting out different events is important. They perform a suite of services. They monitor all of our servers, all of our key infrastructure, like our DNS, our switches, all that stuff. They aggregate and correlate that quarterly. They'll tell us if we're getting a lot of login failures and something is going on or if something's weird.

I like the dashboard. Our security folks look at it all the time. They have it running, they have a big screen monitor in one of their offices and it's up all the time.

I don't use the UI very much but from what I've been told by the security team, it's very easy to use. Compared to other products, the team found it pretty easy to use. We've got the dashboards published on a large screen TV so they can look at it all the time, and then they typically have it on their desk. It is also available on smartphones.

We import log data into EventTracker. It feeds the overall picture of giving us a good quality view of what's going on in our environment.

What needs improvement?

Communication is always something that can be improved, but I feel that any time we've had a communication issue, it's quickly addressed when we bring those up at the monthly meetings. Usually, it's an individual that wasn't clear in the communication, it's not the process per se. You always have to be able to segregate if the process didn't work or an individual either didn't say the right thing or my people didn't understand what they were being told. So far, I have not understood or heard of any issues that were more process or tool-related, it's individual-related. 

The industry is changing. The landscape is changing all the time and they seem to do a pretty good job of keeping up with that. That's a challenge in information security. That's a target that doesn't just move. It moves from room to room, to room, not just a few inches, one way or the other. You're constantly changing. You're chasing a moving target that's really moving. It boils it down to here's what we think is going on versus our people. If all they did was keep track of what was going on in the industry, that's all they'd do because I only have two people.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using EventTracker since I have been at my company for the past year but it's been at my company for several years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is as stable as a rock. I have not heard of a single outage on it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't scaled it out to anything other than what we had. They've done a pretty good job of implementing it. Since I've been here, we've had a virtual server primarily here and there, but we have not done a lot of scaling out. There hasn't been a discussion about what limitations there would be.

It monitors all of our infrastructure, all of our servers. It's being very extensively used. As we grow those, we're getting ready to open a new building early next year, all of the equipment that goes into that building will be added to it.

We fully implemented it so I don't know that there's a lot other than organic growth that would need to be done.

How are customer service and technical support?

My InfoSec team talks to support occasionally. There have been a few cases where they saw something they didn't quite understand, so they would call and ask for information, but it's been few and far between. I have not heard of any issues with support. I heard that their experience with them has been good. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

At a previous company, we used a different tool. It was a much more encompassing tool that does a bunch of different event monitoring, correlation, and aggregation. It was a management suite that did things like backups as well. I know when we implemented it at Intel, it was atrocious. The problem was the process. We had tens of thousands of servers and we implemented the tool and we turned everything on. Events scrolled by the screen so fast, you couldn't even see them. We had to say, "Well, wait a minute. Let's dial this back a little bit." They also didn't do a good job of aggregating or correlating. 

The main difference between that tool and EventTracker is the ease of use. That tool was all CLI based. Everything was command-line based. The syntax that you had to use with that CLI was very challenging and very specific. If you thought you were doing the right thing but something did work and it wouldn't warn you that you didn't do it right.

How was the initial setup?

I have not been told that there were any issues when it was implemented. We have not done any major upgrades since I've been here. We've done incremental patch-type things but I don't know of any issues.

I did hear it was relatively labor-intensive, but that's because of all of the processes around the communication, like what gets communicated and what doesn't. That's to be expected anytime you're doing a lot of workflow work, that takes time.

There's daily maintenance in that they're responding to events or they're working on the tool. There is very little done as far as trying to make changes to the tool itself. Our information security team does respond to events. It's a chunk of their time. We don't have to spend a lot of time at all tweaking the tool. I wouldn't say we spend even an hour a day.

I have two people in InfoSc and a couple of people in my network team that reviews it. My help desk people will review it but they don't really use it per se. They'll see events and that's it. Most of the time that really goes to the information security team.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI is $160,000 a year before overhead, then adding in the overhead of 30 to 40% with benefits and everything else, it's easily over $200,000 a year.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They've been very fair. I think that we've had to push back a little bit here and there on pricing. 

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I have learned is that the outsourcing of this service has a dramatic impact on the organization. We can't just keep throwing bodies at it internally, we have to leverage somebody else's knowledge.

Some people don't trust outsourcing. I'm not a big outsourcing guy. But I really don't treat them as an outsource, I treat them more as a partner. You're going to have to do this one way or the other, or are you going to get nailed at some point. That's just the way it is. If you're not following these things, you're going to get nailed. If you trust them and you realize that they're doing things that you should be doing or are doing, you're going to save a lot of money out. It's going to be cost-effective for you. It won't just save money, it will be cost-effective.

I would rate EventTracker a ten out of ten. 

Having dealt with a lot of vendors and their sales, they are probably one of the more low-keyed. They're not out there constantly trying to sell me stuff. I don't know if it's because we have everything so there's nothing left to sell or not, but they've been very easy to deal with. Their leadership and their sales organization have been very easy to deal with.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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