SOAR vs. SIEM: What Is the Difference?

5 min. read

SOAR (security orchestration, automation, and response) and SIEM (security information and event management) are indispensable cybersecurity tools catering to distinct functions.

SOAR automates and coordinates security incident response, reducing the workload on security teams. It is beneficial for handling repetitive tasks, allowing analysts to focus on complex threats.

On the other hand, SIEM combines security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) into one system. It collects and analyzes security data from multiple sources to detect and respond to security events in real-time.

While SIEM primarily focuses on collecting and analyzing security event data, SOAR extends these capabilities through automation, orchestration, and predefined incident response playbooks.

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The Differences Between SIEM and SOAR

SOAR and SIEM exhibit significant differences in their functions and capabilities. These differences are instrumental in understanding how each tool contributes to a comprehensive security strategy:

  • Focus and Purpose:
    • SOAR platforms primarily focus on automating and orchestrating incident response processes, allowing security teams to respond quickly and efficiently to security incidents and threats.
    • SIEM systems are designed to collect, correlate, and analyze security event data from various sources to provide insights into potential security issues but offer a different level of automation for incident response.
  • Automation:
    • SOAR solutions offer extensive automation capabilities, enabling the execution of predefined actions and workflows in response to security events or incidents. This automation reduces manual intervention and response time.
    • SIEM systems provide a different level of automation for incident response. They focus more on data aggregation, correlation, and reporting.
  • Integration:
    • SOAR platforms are known for their ability to integrate with a wide range of security tools and technologies, allowing for seamless communication and orchestration between different security solutions.
    • SIEM solutions typically integrate with various data sources to collect and centralize security event data but may offer a different level of integration for automated incident response actions.
  • Incident Response:
    • SOAR platforms excel in incident response by providing a war room for incident investigation and collaboration, automating repetitive tasks, orchestrating incident workflows, and enabling security teams to respond rapidly to incidents, reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR).
    • SIEM systems provide visibility into security events and can generate alerts. Still, they rely on human analysts to investigate, assess, and respond to incidents, which can lead to longer response times.
  • Scalability:
    • SOAR solutions are scalable and adaptable to various security environments, making them suitable for organizations of different sizes.
    • SIEM solutions can be resource-intensive and may require substantial hardware and software infrastructure for larger organizations.

What are the Benefits of SIEM?

SIEM systems offer a multitude of benefits that are essential for organizations aiming to fortify their cybersecurity defenses:

Enhanced Security Monitoring Through Data Collection and Analysis

SIEM tools are instrumental in monitoring network activity and security events in real-time. They collect data from various sources, allowing for the rapid detection of potential security threats. SIEM facilitates quick threat detection and response by providing security professionals with real-time visibility.

Improved Incident Response Times Through Real-Time Alerting

SIEM solutions collect and correlate data from multiple sources, enabling real-time identification and prioritization of security incidents. This real-time alerting mechanism empowers security professionals to take swift action, mitigating potential damage and reducing threat response times.

Compliance Adherence Through Advanced Reporting Capabilities

SIEM systems play a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. By aggregating and correlating diverse logs and events, SIEM aids in identifying and prioritizing security incidents, thereby reducing response times and mitigating potential damage.

Operational Efficiency Through Automation and Improved Prioritization

SIEM tools have automation features that streamline tasks such as log aggregation, correlation, and alerting. This operational efficiency empowers security analysts to focus on higher-level security concerns and critical tasks. Timely detection and response to security incidents minimize the impact of breaches, reducing potential downtime and mitigating risks associated with data breaches or system compromises.

Holistic View of Security Posture Through Integration with Other Security Solutions

SIEM solutions are known for integrating seamlessly with various security solutions, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software. This integration allows organizations to gain a comprehensive view of their security environment. Armed with this holistic view, security teams can better understand trends, identify vulnerabilities, and strengthen overall security strategies.

What are the Benefits of SOAR?

Top SOAR Use Cases

A survey done by Palo Alto Networks of enterprise security teams showed these automation priorities.

SOAR platforms are a cornerstone of efficient and effective security operations. They deliver a wide range of benefits, making them an indispensable asset in the cybersecurity arsenal.

Improved SOC Efficiency by Automating Incident Response

One of the most significant advantages of SOAR is its ability to automate incident response workflows. SOAR frees security analysts to focus on critical incidents by automating repetitive tasks and integrating various security tools. SOAR offers predefined playbooks for different use cases, such as indicator enrichment, alert deduplication, phishing responses, ransomware responses, threat intelligence feed management, malware investigations, and IT operations tasks like employee onboarding and offboarding.

Responds to Incidents with Speed and at Scale

Efficiency is at the core of SOAR's design. It streamlines security processes, connects disparate security tools, and balances machine-powered security automation and human intervention. This approach enables organizations to perform security operations and incident responses efficiently, even at scale.

Ingests, Searches, and Queries All Security Alerts

Complex, real-time investigations occasionally require human intervention. SOAR ensures that analysts can access lightning-quick search, query, and investigation tools to accelerate incident response. By unifying alerts, incidents, and indicators from any source on a single platform, SOAR empowers security teams to respond swiftly and effectively to evolving threats.

Facilitates Analyst Collaboration on Investigations

SOAR promotes collaboration among security analysts with its collaborative investigation features. Analysts can assist each other, run real-time security commands, and learn from each incident through auto-documentation of all actions.

Acts on Threat Intelligence with Agility and Confidence

Unifying, aggregating, scoring, and sharing threat intelligence can be seamless through SOAR's playbook-driven automation. Some SOAR solutions provide built-in, high-fidelity threat intelligence, which can be further enriched by incorporating additional third-party threat intelligence feeds. This approach allows organizations to better identify and prioritize critical threats with agility and confidence.

By understanding the differences and benefits of SOAR and SIEM, cybersecurity professionals, including security analysts, SOC managers, and CISOs, can make informed decisions to strengthen their organization's security posture. The combination of these tools forms a robust cybersecurity strategy that efficiently detects, responds to, and mitigates evolving threats in today's complex threat landscape.

Learn more about Cortex XSOAR.

Learn more about this new approach to security operations by reading, What is Cortex XSIAM?.


The primary difference lies in their focus and functionality. SOAR is designed to automate and orchestrate incident response processes, streamlining workflows and enabling faster responses to security incidents. Conversely, SIEM primarily focuses on collecting, analyzing, and correlating security event data to provide insights and detect threats in real-time.
SOAR enhances incident response times by automating routine tasks and orchestrating incident response workflows. This automation reduces manual intervention and speeds up the containment and remediation of security incidents. SIEM, while valuable for alerting, may provide a different level of automation in incident response.
Common SOAR use cases include automating threat intelligence feed management, phishing response, malware investigation, and incident enrichment. Conversely, SIEM is commonly used for real-time threat detection, security event correlation, compliance reporting, and log management.
SOAR and SIEM serve different but complementary purposes; one does not necessarily replace the other. SIEM provides essential visibility and analysis of security events, while SOAR automates incident response processes. While some overlap exists, using both in tandem often provides the most comprehensive security approach.
SOAR can integrate threat intelligence feeds to enhance automated response actions, such as blocking known malicious IPs or domains. SIEM also incorporates threat intelligence but primarily focuses on correlating it with real-time security events for detection and alerting.
SOAR and SIEM solutions vary in scalability depending on the vendor and deployment. Both can be scaled to suit the needs of organizations of various sizes. Scalability considerations may include hardware resources, licensing, and integration capabilities.
SIEM systems are often favored for compliance reporting due to their extensive data collection and analysis capabilities. They provide the necessary data and insights required for compliance audits. SOAR, while valuable for incident response, may not offer the same level of compliance reporting out-of-the-box.
SOAR platforms often include native threat intelligence management capabilities, allowing users to aggregate, score, and automate threat intelligence feeds. SIEM solutions can also incorporate threat intelligence but are more focused on correlating this data with real-time security events.
Key factors include the organization's specific cybersecurity needs, the existing technology stack, the desired level of automation, compliance requirements, and budget considerations. Evaluating these factors and conducting a comprehensive risk assessment can help guide the decision-making process.