Why You Need Centralized Logging and Event Log Management


More companies are using their security logs to detect malicious incidents. Many of them are collecting too much log data—often billions of events. They brag about the size of their log storage drive arrays. Are they measured in terabytes or petabytes?

A mountain of data doesn’t give them as much useful information as they would like. Sometimes less is more. If you get so many alerts that you can’t adequately respond to them all, then something needs to change. A centralized log management system can help. This quick intro to logging and expert recommendations help new system admins understand what they should be doing to get the most out of security logs.

Security event logging basics

One of the best guides to security logging is the National Instituted of Standards & Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-92, Guide to Computer Security Log Management. Although it’s a bit dated, written in 2006, it still covers the basics of security log management well.

It places security log generators into three categories: operating system, application, or security-specific software (e.g., firewalls or intrusion detection systems [IDS]). Most computers have dozens of logs. …

Unix-style systems usually have syslog enabled by default, and you can configure the detail level. Many other application and security log files are disabled by default, but you can enable each individually with a single command line.

Each network device and security application and device will generate its own logs. Altogether, a system administrator will have hundreds of log files to choose from. A typical end-user system can generate thousands to tens of thousands of events per day. A server can easily generate hundreds of thousands to millions of events a day.  

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