When it comes to threat detection, there are plenty of security controls out there that can help detect attacks within your network. And while these security controls are certainly useful, they don’t really give you the big picture of what happened.
Context matters. This is why proper event logging is such an important component of any organization’s cybersecurity posture. Simply stated, event logs create an audit trail of all activity across your networks: from firewall activity, to software updates, to remote access. These logs provide the data necessary to properly analyze your network, and, if an incident occurs, be able to understand the overall context of what happened, how and why
How Logs Can Help
Threat Identification and Prevent
In order to know what your network looks like when something goes wrong, you first need to understand what your network looks like when everything is working normally. Using event logs help create a profile of normal network activity in order to keep a baseline. Once you know what normal activity within your network looks like, logging can then help identify any activity outside of this norm.
By being able to identify unusual activity, event logs can be an invaluable tool in preventing attacks before they actually occur. When properly utilized, event logs are able to provide early warning signs of an attack and allow organization to respond before the intruders can cause damage.
Post-Breach Recover and Forensics
If, despite best efforts, a data breach does occur, event logs continue to be an important resource. After an attack, logs can first and foremost, help organization determine the scope of an attack, assess the damage and isolate the incident, ensuring it doesn’t spread to other parts of your network.
Logs also provide the information necessary to understand how an attack occurred in the first place. By providing the overall context of an incident, event logs help organization understand not only what happened, but how they can prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.
Despite the value event logs provide, many organizations neglect to use them. Because logs will create a trail about everything that happens on your network, they can be difficult to store and daunting to manage. While logs don’t need to be kept forever, its important have enough space to maintain log trails for a certain period of time. Logs can take up a lot of space, but if you overwrite them too much, you may lose critical information.
This is where Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems come in. While business should decide on log filtering and storage policies that work for them, SIEM systems can help automate this process to ensure that policy is effectively managed. SIEM systems also help analysis the often overwhelming amount of information event logs provide and even create alerts when it notices a potential problem.
Combining event logs and SIEM systems goes a long way toward providing organizations the necessary context to understand threats to their networks. Logs can provide tailor-made insight into an organization’s vulnerabilities. What’s more, logs can even help mitigate the regulatory consequences of a breach, by providing evidence that an attack wasn’t a result of company negligence. At the end of the day, when event logs are properly managed, there is no more valuable resource.