Perimeter
6/2/2011
11:47 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Logging Isn't Hard -- Getting Started Is

The biggest hurdle for SMBs with logging is taking the first step

Having performed numerous incident response engagements for small to midsize businesses, the thing that causes never-ending frustration is the lack of logging. There have been a few exceptions where a sysadmin had the foresight to log everything, but more often the IT staff is stretched so thinly that they can't implement something like logging, which doesn't immediately fix some ongoing problem. Instead, they're forced to fight fires that never seem to stop popping up -- and I'm stuck with no more than 30 days of logs to work with.

When things really go south is when those fires IT is fighting are the result of a compromise. What could logs have done at that point? The Verizon Data Breach Incident Report includes some great statistics, one of which says that evidence of a breach was found in the logs in more than half of the cases. That might not seem significant until one realizes that had someone been monitoring those logs, the incident might have been detected early and possibly prevented, saving thousands to millions of dollars.

I've spoken a lot about the importance of regular log monitoring, but it's important to point out that logs have more value beyond preventative and detective capabilities afforded by daily log monitoring. Taking the time to collect the logs also provides a forensic trail that can be invaluable after an incident occurs. An incident responder can leverage the logs to answer the tough questions about how an attacker got in, what systems might have been touched after the initial breach, and whether sensitive data was exfiltrated. But the caveat is that logging has to be enabled, configured properly, and sent to a secure location.

Considering how ridiculously low-cost hard drive storage is, there's no reason why the smallest SMB can't set up a server with a 1- to 2-terabyte hard drive to serve as central collection point. The setup doesn't have to be elaborate: A Linux server running syslog or a Windows server running the free version of Splunk will suffice in the beginning. The most important thing is to start logging so the logs are there when they're needed.

One of the simplest yet most effective solutions I've seen in one environment was a single Linux server logging for approximately 60 desktops and servers. The Windows desktops and servers used Snare to send their logs via syslog to the logging server. The Linux and Mac systems used native syslog functionality to forward their logs to the central server. A firewall configuration on the server only allowed inbound logs and nothing outbound, so all management, including log analysis, was done at the server's console. It wasn't elaborate. It didn't allow for early detection. But, it did provide great value post-compromise during a forensic investigation.

The biggest hurdle to logging is starting. Once that's done, it's just a matter of working in a little time each day to review the logs to help catch problems before they become the stuff data breach headlines are made of.

John Sawyer is a Senior Security Analyst with InGuardians. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of his employer. He can be reached at johnhsawyer@gmail.com

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3409
Published: 2014-10-25
The Ethernet Connectivity Fault Management (CFM) handling feature in Cisco IOS 12.2(33)SRE9a and earlier and IOS XE 3.13S and earlier allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (device reload) via malformed CFM packets, aka Bug ID CSCuq93406.

CVE-2014-4620
Published: 2014-10-25
The EMC NetWorker Module for MEDITECH (aka NMMEDI) 3.0 build 87 through 90, when EMC RecoverPoint and Plink are used, stores cleartext RecoverPoint Appliance credentials in nsrmedisv.raw log files, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading these files.

CVE-2014-4623
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar 6.0.x, 6.1.x, and 7.0.x in Avamar Data Store (ADS) GEN4(S) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE), when Password Hardening before 2.0.0.4 is enabled, uses UNIX DES crypt for password hashing, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to obtain cleartext passwords via a brute-force a...

CVE-2014-4624
Published: 2014-10-25
EMC Avamar Data Store (ADS) and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) 6.x and 7.0.x through 7.0.2-43 do not require authentication for Java API calls, which allows remote attackers to discover grid MCUser and GSAN passwords via a crafted call.

CVE-2014-6151
Published: 2014-10-25
CRLF injection vulnerability in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.2.x allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via unspecified vectors.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.