IBM QRadar Tutorial

IBM QRadar Tutorial

Last updated on 25th Sep 2020, Blog, Tutorials

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What is the IBM QRadar?

The IBM QRadar is a security information and event management or SIEM product that is designed for enterprises. The tool collects data from the organization and the network devices. It also connects to the operating systems, host assets, applications, vulnerabilities, user activities, and behaviors. IBM QRadar is used to perform analysis of the log data and the network flows in real time so that malicious activities can be identified and stopped as soon as possible. Thus, the main aim of the IBM QRadar is to prevent or minimize the damage to its host organization.

The following are some of the reasons that lead to the most common problems faced by organizations in terms of security:

  • Lack of actionable real-time security intelligence indicators
  • Minimal endpoint visibility
  • No security or poor AI integration
  • No detection of anomalous or abnormal activity
  • Too many tools and poor integration
  • The volume of logs that produce noise
  • Automation with poor or no defense
  • Higher cost for maintaining and managing security
  • Lack of resources and proper skills
  • An inability to enforce the compliance policies efficiently

The IBM QRadar SIEM uses a real-time integrated Cybersecurity AI, machine learning (ML), and behavior analytics to prevent the attacks in the blink of an eye and with a very less cost compared to what human supervision can ensure. QRadar can address the bulk security issues that the companies face and save a lot of money. The security teams that struggle with patching endpoints properly and updating them can get their problems solved with IBM BigFix that has QRadar SIEM integrated into it. Most of the common issues are solved with this.

Deployment of the IBM QRadar SIEM is possible in the form of software, hardware, or a product meant for virtual application. Event processors for the collection, storage, and analysis of event collectors and event data make up the architecture of the product. They help to capture and forward the data.

There are flow processors as well that collect the network flows of Layer 4 of the OSI model. The Layer 7 application traffic gets a deep packet inspection through the QFlow processors. Management of SIEM can be performed by the SOC or Security Operations Center through centralized consoles. The flow processors are similar to the event processors, however, these are meant for network flows. The consoles offer a lot of help to the people who are managing or using the SIEM.

Evolution of IBM QRadar

According to IBM, the QRadar Security Information and Event Management is an essential tool that would aid the security teams in prioritizing the threats across the enterprise and detecting them accurately. The tool offers the necessary intelligent insights that would help the teams to respond as quickly as possible and reduce the impact of the incidents. Network flow data and log events from thousands of endpoints, devices, and applications over the network are consolidated.

QRadar then correlates all the different information and these related events are compiled to produce single alerts so that remediation and incident analysis can be accelerated. QRadar and SIEM are available on premises and the cloud environments.

Significance of IBM QRadar

IBM QRadar is revolutionizing security integration and is helping organizations all around the world to protect their data. Today product deployments can take place in lots of different scenarios and it is hard for companies to track every pathway. This is where IBM QRadar comes in to help the organizations stabilize their security and protect themselves against potential threats.

The following is the significance of IBM QRadar – why it has stood out, despite all the different services offered across the world.

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  • Comprehensive visibility – The product helps to gain a centralized insight into the data flows, events, and logs on the SaaS (software-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service)  environments and on-premises.
  • Elimination of manual tasks – All the events in a certain threat can be centrally seen in one place and the expensive manual tracking can be eliminated. Analysts can focus on investigating the matter (security threat), followed by a proper response.
  • Easily cater to the compliance protocols – It becomes easier to comply with the international policies and the external regulations that are achieved by leveraging the pre-built reports and templates.
  • Real-time threat detection – Out-of-the-box analysis is leveraged that analyzes the network flows and logs automatically and generates proper alerts and the attacks are then directed via the proper kill chain.

The IBM QRadar offers the necessary compliance support and situational awareness. A combination of security event correlation, flow-based network knowledge, and assessment-based vulnerability assessment is used by QRadar SIEM.

Aspects of IBM QRadar SIEM

Let us look at an overview of the important aspects of the IBM QRadar SIEM.

  • Log activity – Network events can be monitored and displayed in real time and advanced searches can be performed through the IBM Security QRadar SIEM.
  • Assets – QRadar SIEM automatically constructs the asset profiles by using the vulnerability data and passive flow data to discover the hosts and network servers.
  • Network activity – The communication sessions between two hosts can be investigated with IBM Security QRadar SIEM.
  • Offenses – Offenses for security issues can be investigated by QRadar.
  • Data collection – Information in various formats is accepted by the QRadar SIEM from a vast category of devices that include network traffic, security events, and scan results.
  • Reports – Custom reports and use default reports can be created in IBM Security QRadar SIEM.
  • Supported web browsers – A supported web browser needs to be used to access all the features of the IBM Security QRadar.
  • Rules – The QRadar SIEM rules are performed on the events, offences, and flows. A response is generated by the rule if all the conditions of a test are met.

IBM Security QRadar Requirements

Hardware specifications

There are no specific hardware requirements for the product.

Software requirements

Java SDK with IBM Runtime Environment Java Technology 7.0.8

Tivoli Directory Integrator 7.1.7 for security management

Google Chrome 43 or later versions, Mozilla Firefox ESR 38 or future fix packs and Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 or future products

Default License Key

Access to the user interface can be gained for 5 weeks through a default license key. A window would show the date when the temporary license key would expire after the user has logged in.

Security exceptions and certificates

It is important to add an exception to Mozilla Firefox to log in to QRadar SIEM if the browser is being used. While using the Internet Explorer Web browser, a web security certificate message would be displayed when the QRadar SIEM system is accessed. The continue option needs to be selected.

Outcome (Advantages)

The IBM QRadar SIEM has a lot of features that make it a very dependable tool in terms of threat detection and proper security management. They are stated below.

Ingest vast amounts of data from cloud sources and on-premises

Insight is offered into the cloud-based resources and on-premises. The product applies business content to the data and maximizes the relevant risk and threat insights.

Support for TAXI/STIX and Threat Intelligence

IBM X-Force, which offers amazing threat intelligence is included, which enables the customers to add the required extra threat intelligence feed as they might desire through STIX/TAXII.

Built-in analytics is applied to accurately detect security threats

QRadar analyzes the endpoint, asset, user, network, threat data as well as vulnerability for accurate detection of the known and unknown threats. The tool features built-in analytics that helps to shorten the time and does not need data science experts.

Integrating over 450 out-of-the-box solutions

The product creates an ecosystem with more than 450 unique integrations and APKs. These along with the SDK help customers to get deeper insights, ingest data faster and improve the worth of the existing solutions.

Deployment of flexible architecture remotely or on the cloud

Multiple deployment choices are available to meet the growing needs. The solutions can be presented as software, hardware or virtual machines for the IaaS environments or on-premises. You would need to begin having an all-in-one solution. It is then possible to scale up to different networks with a model that is highly distributed over different geographical locations.

Correlate the related activities and prioritize the incidents

An important job of the product is to uniquely identify and track the related activities through the kill chain. Analysts can have end-to-end visibility into the potential incident in a single screen.

Self-managing, self-tuning, and highly scalable database

This feature helps the customers to prioritize on the security operations and not the system management. This helps to reduce the overall expenditure of ownership. If the database can self-manage and self-tune, it is possible to scale for supporting the largest organizations without the necessity of dedicated database administrators.

Automatic parsing and normalization of logs

The product has the capability to make sense of disparate data and provide an editor that is easy to use and quickly customize the onboard custom logs for analysis.

What does QRadar SIEM mean?

IBM Security Operations QRadar is an enterprise security information and event management (SIEM) product that can be integrated easily for supervising security workflows. The two workflows that are included in the base system include – Run Enrichment for IP and Security Incident Enrichment.

If the Source IP, Configuration Item or Destination IP are modified in a security incident, The REST calls to the second workflow are caused by a business rule. A call would be made for each of the modified fields. Following this, the Security Incident Enrichment workflow would make calls to QRadar depending on the modified fields. QRadar then sends the enriched data to the security incident and populate the work notes with a summary of the event flows and offences related to the IP addresses. The data can be viewed on the QRadar console through the links included in the summary.

Role of QRadar in event management

IBM Security QRadar demonstrates a modular architecture where deployments of various sizes and topologies are supported. All the software components run on a single appliance in a single-host deployment. The QRadar console provides the user interface and real-time events, reports, asset information, offences, and administrative functions.

Event management requires the supervision of several things like data nodes, the QRadar components, system health, network interface, network, and off-site hosts. Managing an event also requires the maintenance of different objects, which is done as specified underneath.

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  • Viewing the system health information – The system notifications and health information are shown in the system health view for the host.
  • Data nodes – A data node is an appliance that can add to the event and the flow processors to improve the search performance or increase the storage capacity. An unlimited number of data nodes can be added to the IBM Security QRadar deployment and they can be added at any time. Each data node can be connected to a single processor but a processor would be able to support multiple data nodes.
  • QRadar component types – Each appliance that is added to the deployment would have configurable components that would specify the way the host functions under the surveillance of QRadar.
  • QRadar system time – When the deployment is across multiple zones, all the appliances would use the same time as the IBM Security Radar Console. The alternative is to use Greenwich Mean Time.
  • Network interface management – Extra network interfaces can be added in addition to the default management interface to the IBM QRadar appliances. This would offer alternative network connectivity.
  • NAT-enabled networks – The function of the network address translation or NAT is to translate an IP address in one network to a different one in another network. Increased security is provided for the IBM Security QRadar deployment as the requests would be managed through the translation process. The internal IP addresses would be hidden.
  • Deploying changes – The configuration settings can be updated from the Admin tab. The changes would be saved to a staging area where these are stored until manual deployment.
  • Management of the off-site hosts – The off-site hosts are those that cannot be accessed through the QRadar Console in the current deployment. An off-site host can be configured to transfer the data for reception from the QRadar deployment.
  • Shutting down the systems – The appliance would be powered off as soon as the system is shut down. The IBM Security QRadar interface would become unavailable and the data collection would stop.
  • Collection of log files – The log files contain detailed information like host names, email addresses, and IP addresses. The log files can be collected and sent to IBM Support for further assistance.
  • Resetting SIM – Additional false positive information can be avoided by resetting the SIM after tuning the deployment. All source and destination IP addresses or offences can be removed from the SIM through this step.

When you plan or create your IBM® QRadar® deployment, it’s helpful to have a good awareness of QRadar architecture to assess how QRadar components might function in your network, and then to plan and create your QRadar deployment.

IBM QRadar collects, processes, aggregates, and stores network data in real time. QRadar uses that data to manage network security by providing real-time information and monitoring, alerts and offenses, and responses to network threats.

IBM QRadar SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) is a modular architecture that provides real-time visibility of your IT infrastructure, which you can use for threat detection and prioritization. You can scale QRadar to meet your log and flow collection, and analysis needs. You can add integrated modules to your QRadar platform, such as QRadar Risk Manager, QRadar Vulnerability Manager, and QRadar Incident Forensics.

The operation of the QRadar security intelligence platform consists of three layers, and applies to any QRadar deployment structure, regardless of its size and complexity. The following diagram shows the layers that make up the QRadar architecture.

The QRadar architecture functions the same way regardless of the size or number of components in a deployment. The following three layers that are represented in the diagram represent the core functionality of any QRadar system.

Data collection

Data collection is the first layer, where data such as events or flows is collected from your network. The All-in-One appliance can be used to collect the data directly from your network or you can use collectors such as QRadar Event Collectors or QRadar QFlow Collectors to collect event or flow data. The data is parsed and normalized before it passed to the processing layer. When the raw data is parsed, it is normalized to present it in a structured and usable format.

The core functionality of QRadar SIEM is focused on event data collection, and flow collection.

Event data represents events that occur at a point in time in the user’s environment such as user logins, email, VPN connections, firewall denys, proxy connections, and any other events that you might want to log in your device logs.

Flow data is network activity information or session information between two hosts on a network, which QRadar translates in to flow records. QRadar translates or normalizes raw data in to IP addresses, ports, byte and packet counts, and other information into flow records, which effectively represents a session between two hosts. In addition to collecting flow information with a Flow Collector, full packet capture is available with the QRadar Incident Forensics component.

Data processing

After data collection, the second layer or data processing layer is where event data and flow data are run through the Custom Rules Engine (CRE), which generates offenses and alerts, and then the data is written to storage.

Event data, and flow data can be processed by an All-in-One appliance without the need for adding Event Processors or Flow Processors. If the processing capacity of the All-in-One appliance is exceeded, then you might need to add Event Processors, Flow Processors or any other processing appliance to handle the additional requirements. You might also need more storage capacity, which can be handled by adding Data Nodes.

Other features such as QRadar Risk Manager (QRM), QRadar Vulnerability Manager (QVM), or QRadar Incident Forensics collect different types of data and provide more functions.

QRadar Risk Manager collects network infrastructure configuration, and provides a map of your network topology. You can use the data to manage risk by simulating various network scenarios through altering configurations and implementing rules in your network.

Use QRadar Vulnerability Manager to scan your network and process the vulnerability data or manage the vulnerability data that is collected from other scanners such as Nessus, and Rapid7. The vulnerability data that is collected is used to identify various security risks in your network.

Use QRadar Incident Forensics to perform in-depth forensic investigations, and replay full network sessions.

Data searches

In the third or top layer, data that is collected and processed by QRadar is available to users for searches, analysis, reporting, and alerts or offense investigation. Users can search, and manage the security admin tasks for their network from the user interface on the QRadar Console.

In an All-in-One system, all data is collected, processed, and stored on the All-in-One appliance.

In distributed environments, the QRadar Console does not perform event and flow processing, or storage. Instead, the QRadar Console is used primarily as the user interface where users can use it for searches, reports, alerts, and investigations.

How does SIEM work?

IBM Security QRadar takes the log data from the log sources that are used by the applications and devices in the network and consolidates them. However, it is important to take note that the software versions for all the IBM Security QRadar appliances in a deployment must be having not only the exact versions but the same fix level.

What are the major/primary SIEM tools?

The various tools under IBM QRadar help in the data processing. The major ones are as follows.

  • QRadar Vulnerability Manager – The tool scans the process and network vulnerability data. This data is used to identify the security risks in the network.
  • QRadar Risk Manager – QRadar Risk Manager collects the network infrastructure configuration and provides a map of the network topology. The data can be used to manage risk by the simulation of network scenarios by implementing rules and altering the configurations in the network.
  • Radar Incident Forensics – This tool performs in-depth network forensics and replays full network sessions.
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Benefits to using IBM QRadar SIEM

IBM QRadar SIEM is one of the best products when it comes to security management for an organization. The benefits of using this product are stated below.

Complete visibility for the cloud and traditional environments

It is true that getting insight across multiple security environments can be tough. However, with IBM QRadar, you would gain centralized insight into the network events and data flow, be it an IAAS or SaaS environment

Elimination of manual tasks empowers the analysts

The analysts lose valuable time trying to manually track the processes. Thus analysts are often pulled from their work at hand. The product offers a solution that allows the users to see all the events related to a particular threat in a single place and eliminate the manual tasks so that analysts can focus on response and investigation.

Real-time threat detection

It is difficult to keep out an eye constantly for threats as it would be a good wastage of time and resources. The out-of-the-box analytics would investigate into the network flows and logs detecting threats and prioritizing general alerts and force the attacks into the kill chain.

Security capabilities

In addition to the basic SIEM capabilities, support is offered for the threat intelligence feeds. The license extension would have the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence that would identify the URLs and IP addresses that are associated with malicious activity. A threat score and category would be given to each identified IP address or URL, which would help the organization prioritize threats and offer better analysis.

Reporting capabilities

IBM QRadar offers proper support for the major compliance reporting requirements initiatives like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Health Insurance Portability, and Accountability Act, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The product offers a report builder wizard for security teams to create custom reports.

IBM QRadar career

Training in IBM QRadar can land a job as technical support professional or a QRadar consultant. A lucrative job as a security analyst could also be the answer. Though learning about the tool can be very productive, it would be necessary to brush up the skills in networking and security analysis. The jobs could be paying as much as $35000 to $65000 depending on the position being offered.


The IBM QRadar is an amazing tool that can help organizations of any size to keep their data safe and secure. Integrating the tool in your system would definitely help you to secure all the data channels. The product would help to find the event and log data and keep them in specialized files for further analysis. Generation of alerts and proper measures would be the most important tasks that follow the analysis. The tool is one of the best security solutions of today.

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