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What is Security Logging and Monitoring?

A quick question for the cybersecurity decision-makers: How do you want your cybersecurity software to be defined? Agile? Durable? Intelligent? They’re all important considerations. However, the function of a cybersecurity infrastructure is more than simply identifying and countering security threats. Your security infrastructure should be more than just a “bouncer”… something that identifies threats and throws them out of the infrastructure with its tail between its legs. It should also encompass security logging and monitoring, both of which are both integral components to maintaining a robust cybersecurity infrastructure.

Your cybersecurity software should be in a state of constant learning.

Think of an enterprise’s cybersecurity software as a digital immune system. Your immune system does more than just fight off simple infections. It learns from them.

Your immune system memorizes the characteristics of the infection it just fought off so if a similar infection enters your body again, it’ll have an easier time fighting it off.

An effective cybersecurity system works in a similar way. Many Security Information and Event Management software (SIEM) vendors have begun to integrate machine learning with their AI with this exact goal in mind.

What is Security Logging and Monitoring?

Security event logging and monitoring are two parts of a singular process that is integral to the maintenance of a secure infrastructure.

Every activity on your environment, from emails to logins to firewall updates, is considered a security event. All of these events are, (or should be,) logged in order to keep tabs on everything that’s happening in your technology landscape.

When it comes to monitoring those logs, organizations will examine the electronic audit log files of confidential information for signs of unauthorized activities.

If unauthorized activities (or attempts thereof) are found, the data will be moved to a central database for additional investigations and necessary action.

In a time where digital threats are widespread and ever-changing, the data gleaned from these log files is vital in keeping the infrastructure agile and responsive.

How does it work?

Security event logging and monitoring can only work when it is part of an effective data collection and analysis process. Security logs often contain a massive swath of data. So much of it that it will be near impossible for a human eye to effectively identify threats within it.

This means there will often be missed security incidents, false flags, and duplicate information.

This means that the key to effective Security Logging and Monitoring processes is the ability to weed out unnecessary information. To focus solely on critical events that could compromise the integrity and/or availability of the confidential information.

An effective log data collection and analysis process should incorporate tools to quickly and easily review audit logs for evidence of critical events like:

  • Reconnaissance against your environment – where adversaries perform research on your environment… that could make you their next target.
  • Weaponization – an intrusion within your environment where adversaries have decided to take action against your network and IT systems.
  • Delivery – the manifestation of an exploit against a vulnerability within your network or IT systems.
  • Installation of malware – observed when an adversary has modified native functionality in your environment to maintain persistence.
  • Command and Control – when criminal hackers gain access to your server and systems and effectively take control of your environment.
  • Action begins – determining what the adversary actions and maintaining visibility to them at all times are critical, you want to understand their desired goal and prevent the successful intrusion.

Security Logging and Monitoring is a battle on two fronts. It requires periodic and long-term analysis of data to monitor instances to gauge the long-term effects of implemented systems and controls. All suspicious instances are reported to key personnel for immediate action, but they are also stored centrally for further analysis of long term trends.

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What are the benefits of security logging and monitoring?

When you implement a robust system of Security Logging and Monitoring your organization benefits in a number of different ways;

Security logging and monitoring for the detection of security breaches

Most enterprises are afflicted by different types of security events. They can help guard against malicious external threats while also guarding against internal misuses of information. They can be detected in real-time to facilitate fast intervention while also contributing to your long-term strategy.

Security logging and monitoring for event reconstruction

Even if a breach should occur, audit trails can facilitate a reconstruction of the events leading up to the incursion. CIOs will have a clear idea of how the breach occurred and how to rectify vulnerabilities.

If a security breach were to occur, wouldn’t you like to be in a position where you could tell your board or investors exactly what happened and what steps you’re taking to prevent it from happening again?

Security logging and monitoring for faster recovery

Downtime is the bane of businesses. Audit logs can create a fast and effective recovery process. They can help to reconstruct data files which were lost or corrupted by reverse engineering from the changes recorded in the logs.

Outsource or keep in-house?

The right course of action will depend entirely on the needs of your business. Here are two key considerations:

  • Do you have the tools and talent?– If you’re struggling to fill key cybersecurity positions you may well benefit from outsourced help.
  • Could your team be doing something more important?- Log reviews and analysis tend to be time and labor-intensive activities. If your team has other, more important projects to work on, then you should strongly consider hiring additional help.

Planning for the future by learning from the past

Security logging and monitoring allows you to effectively respond to incidents. The best part about it all is that the longer your SIEM system is in place, the better equipped it will be at fighting off future security events.

A strong immune system is vital in ensuring our own health in the same way a mature SIEM is vital in ensuring your organization’s longevity.

If you’re looking for an expert partner in cybersecurity to help your business develop a strong security immune system, we’d love to hear from you. BitLyft offers cutting edge SIEM powered two of the leading providers and security monitoring solutions (LogRhythm & Securonix) that can help keep your organization secure, no matter your industry or context.

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About the Author

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

Jason is a Chief Executive Officer of BitLyft Cyber Security. He has spent the last 19 years of his career focusing on network, system administration, and cloud technologies. He is passionate about helping businesses embrace the next generation of technology including cloud adoption and high performance scaling software.
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