Overcoming the Challenges of Log Data Management
Every business enterprise understands the importance of log data. It is the only source of information about everything that is happening in your network environment. This enables you to identify and fix problems easily or better still prevent them from happening.
These problems include service interruptions, security breaches, slow response times and device breakdown among others. They can significantly affect your revenue streams and customer satisfaction. It is true that many businesses generate huge amounts of unstructured log data each month from different sources including server activity, user interactions, and traffic monitoring.
The problem is that you cannot store these data in your log servers forever because they will fill them. This is why there are log management tools that help in keeping the number of logs at reasonable levels.
The work of log management tools
Log management tools perform a variety of functions that include:
- Deleting unwanted log data
- Exporting log data to be used elsewhere
- Copying log data to a storage location
- Pruning or preventing the creation of unwanted log entries
Challenges of log management
It is estimated that an average enterprise accumulates up to 4GB of log data each day with 95% of it being records of every transaction that takes place on the system. Many administrators make the mistake of considering this as ‘simple’ routine data especially when there is no proper log management strategy.
Log management tools are meant to collect, centralize and make these logs available for examination. The problem is that these tools cannot distinguish between normal and threat activity, require expertise, time and resources to examine threats, lacks analysis capabilities and hard to collect logs from the cloud.
With these problems, your enterprise needs a better solution that will not only handle basic log management but also handle the increasing number of logs, detect potential threats before they turn costly, meet stringent compliance requirements and perform real-time monitoring and reporting.
The answer has come in the name of SIEM with new capabilities including the tracking of activity and analyzing trends to identify patterns in attack behaviour. The best part of it is that these solutions are managed services which mean that you do not need extra resources in terms of hardware or software to use them.
Challenges of SIEM
While SIEM is proving to be a better solution to log management, it requires quality data for maximum yield. This solution is also not completely accurate as it can display huge numbers of false threats which require further tuning to reduce them.
The sensitivity and security of data make many large enterprises to use SIEM software on-premise although log data can be sent securely over HTTP or Rsyslog when using SIEM software-as-a-service.
Sometimes you may encounter problems with Rsyslog, Nxlog or HTTP but these are easy to troubleshoot using automated tests or configuration manuals. SIEM software may be preferred by most enterprises, but you should only do so if you have the required expertise and talent to run and maintain it.
Many enterprises are still relying on traditional log management tools, and things can get harder especially with the increasing number of logs from different online sources and sophistication of attacks. With the security analytics, correlation and customization capabilities of SIEM, it is now easy to manage logs, hunt treats, monitor requirements and comply with the standards. This does not mean that the process of switching is an easy one since it requires time and resources too but it brings more value.
The SIEM market has a good number of vendors and is quickly evolving with new capabilities such as UEBA. This is definitely what you need to remain in charge of your entire IT system.