With security breaches reaching worldwide news on an almost monthly basis, FIM or file integrity monitoring tools have become crucial for businesses to run securely. These tools are used to prevent data leaks to competitors and malicious agents.
What Is File Integrity Monitoring?
FIM is a type of security measure which deals exclusively with files that have been tampered with. This type of software will generally capture an image of your entire system, and then at regular intervals compare that image to what is on it currently.
If there is an unauthorized change detected(for example, a user that doesn’t have access permissions opening a file.) It can immediately alert you, or even act against it itself.
In this article, we’ve assembled the best pieces of file integrity monitoring software to come out this year, so take a look at our in-depth guide below.
Here’s the Best File Integrity Monitoring Tools & Software of 2021:
1. SolarWinds Security Event Manager
Coming in at number 1 we have SolarWinds Security Event Manager. It can be easily summarized as a business-oriented tool that helps centralize all of your information to have quality FIM. This tool features SIEM(Security information and event management) monitoring capabilities in real-time, and will quickly inform you of any suspicious activity within your files.
The tool will show you who changed what within your files, as well as any other user activity, which will, in turn, allow you to customize your alert system so that it only notifies you if there’s something actually going on. Furthermore, this tool will go beyond what is usually expected of an FIM tool. This is our top pick for what tool you should entrust your business’ data and files to. This is in part due to its extremely streamlined and intuitive interface. For example, you’ll see that the sidebar on the homepage will show you the number of changes made under the “Change Management” section. You can also easily filter through different events by using keywords, making filtering out noise a breeze.
- It helps you centralize and normalize all of your log-collection into one tool.
- It will automatically detect and respond to almost all threats
- It has compliance-reporting tools built into it from the get-go
- The UI is sleek and easy to use
- Licencing it is a simple, and relatively inexpensive process
The SolarWinds also features a variety of compliances within it as soon as you get it, which is excellent for regulated businesses, or those with an abundance of sensitive information.
3. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
The SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is an extremely versatile tool, allowing you to monitor your systems regardless of their OS. Furthermore, it can monitor both from an on-premise installation and from a variety of cloud options. There are over 1200 ready-made templates in the tool, containing vendor applications, databases, as well as other pieces of infrastructure. The excellent thing about this is that you don’t need too much technical know-how in order to get this done.
- You can get started within minutes of installing the tool
- It’ll allow you to monitor Azure, AWS, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
- There are over 1200 ready-made templates that come in-built, with the SolarWinds community being responsible for over 1000 more
- It allows you to customize your monitoring with a variety of scripts(PowerShell, Rest API, WMI, SNMP)
- It features infrastructure dependency mapping
This tool is excellent for beginners or those that need a very customized approach to their monitoring. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find it quite easy to find a template that does all you need it to. On the other hand, a larger business might need an extremely precise and customized approach to their FIM, which is what this tool is for.
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OSSEC is one of the most common starting points in the world of file integrity monitoring. This is an open-source tool marketed as an intrusion detection system on Linux and Mac. This tool has an in-built file-monitoring function which OSSEC titled Syscheck.
The default setting for this is for it to run every 6 hours and check if there have been any changes made to the files that you’ve selected. This is done this way in order to ensure that the tool doesn’t occupy too much CPU power. If you’re looking for an FIM tool that only takes a small toll on your CPU, this might be the one for you.
With that being said, OSSEC does have its weaknesses. For example, if you’re using Windows you’ll soon find that OSSEC only has a server-agent mode for windows, rendering many of its functionalities moot.
Like most other open-source programs, OSSEC has superior, paid alternatives. However, if you’re not quite ready to make the jump yet, here’s what OSSEC gives you.Main Features:
- It’s free and open-source, making it a great pick for smaller businesses or individual projects.
- Has two modes: serverless and server-agent, both of which are useful.
- While its Windows support isn’t ideal, it is miles better than most free Windows alternatives.
- It can respond to any intrusions in real-time, applying firewalls, integrating with 3rd party content, and taking self-healing actions.
All in all, OSSEC is an excellent tool to start out with, however, large-medium businesses that stick with it long-term are few and far in between.
The Trustwave Endpoint Protection tool is a cloud-based tool that, while useful for FIM, is not primarily geared towards it. Because of this, it is significantly pricier than an FIM-exclusive tool. If you’re looking for one tool to handle FIM, log monitoring, incident management, etc. then you’ll find that kind of versatility here.
- It’s an extremely easy tool to set up and install
- You can easily access Trustwave SIEM information
- Trustwave customer support is responsive and helpful
- It has built-in PCI reporting and compliance
With all of this being said, if you aren’t looking for advanced features outside of the scope of FIM, then this tool might just be too complex for you. While it is quite good in an enterprise setting due to the visibility across a variety of data sources it gives, its pricy nature makes it a hard sell for any other business.
Tripwire is yet another example of an enterprise product. Its fame comes from its ability to detect intrusions, however, its FIM abilities are not to be underestimated. Its main appeal is its user-friendly UI as well as how well it works out of the box. It’ll provide you with a variety of easily readable graphs which show changes per platform, and will tell you if those changes were authorized or not. You can also filter through these based on a number of factors such as which user made them, what time it was, etc.
- It’ll show you all of the details about any changes made
- You’ll be able to set up a scoring system that reflects your risk margins
- It automatically reconciles the changes it detects through its process, differentiating good changes from awry ones.
- It comes fully functional out of the box
This FIM tool comes together with compliance parameters, so if you’re hunting for ISO, CIS, NIST, or other guidelines, this might be the tool for you.
Qualys Cloud Agent is an efficient and robust FIM tool. It’ll swiftly take note of all file changes, and allow you to group up your files for notification purposes. This helps with finding simpler changes such as making files, renaming, or deleting them. One of its biggest perks is its cloud nature, as most businesses are no longer on the market for on-premise installations.
- Picking what to monitor can be a difficult task, Qualys automates this by having in-built out of the box profiles based on your industry.
- It comes with best practices and a variety of vendor-suggested guidelines, compliances, and PCI mandates
- It is easily scalable to a larger business
While the Qualys Cloud Agent is a quality tool, users have made complaints about the lack of customizability, as well as the UI’s ambiguity at times.
Who Can Benefit From FIM?
Pretty much all businesses should invest in FIM software. With that being said, certain industries make file integrity a top priority, and in these cases, FIM tools are almost mandatory:
- Highly Regulated Industries: Certain standards will require your business to have an FIM solution in order to pass them, such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley. The financial and medical industries are most affected by this, as are businesses that process credit cards.
- Industries Handling Sensitive Info: If your organization is handling sensitive information such as trade secrets, purchasing an FIM tool might be just what you need. While these cases don’t make it mandatory to do so, it can represent a large advantage over your competition, as well as help avoid scandals.
- All Businesses: It’s a common myth that only enterprises need FIM software. While it is true that they are in much direr of a need, small and medium businesses can benefit from it as well. With open-source options available on the market, there is hardly any reason not to have one.
Keep in mind that even if you’re only running a small or medium business, hacks are becoming more and more common, and preventing them might be all that stands between you and bankruptcy.
How To Choose The Best Tool
If you’re running a business with a vast array of crucial files, then you’ll want to go for the software with the highest integrity, regardless of cost. If you’re looking to centralize your data, and profit from quality FIM, then the Security Event Manager is your ideal choice. On the other hand, if you’re still skeptical about FIM, and do not find it mandatory, starting with a tool like OSSEC might be just what you need to change your mind.