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Log Review Checklist For Responders Under Fire

Checklists are one of the most important things for first responders to have access to when responding to an incident. The reasons are many, and most of them tend to fall back on the human nature of the first responder. Incident response can impose a lot of stress on an individual, whether from management or the sheer criticality of the potentially hacked resource, it can be easy to miss a step or remember a command incorrectly when under fire.
Checklists are one of the most important things for first responders to have access to when responding to an incident. The reasons are many, and most of them tend to fall back on the human nature of the first responder. Incident response can impose a lot of stress on an individual, whether from management or the sheer criticality of the potentially hacked resource, it can be easy to miss a step or remember a command incorrectly when under fire.I've written about some of the cheat sheets from Lenny Zeltser in the past. He has put together a great resource of his own cheat sheets and links to others. The latest is a "Critical Log Review Checklist for Security Incidents" co-authored by Lenny and Anton Chuvakin.

Lenny and Anton's new checklist takes an incident handler, or system administrator with a potentially hacked system, through where and what to look for. The first part of the checklist lays out the general approach that should be taken followed by potential security log sources, typical log locations, and what to look for on a variety of systems like Windows, Linux, network devices and Web servers.

One important thing I want to point out is that the checklist is distributed under a Creative Commons v3 "Attribution" License. The license means that anyone is allowed to take the checklist and adapt it to meet their needs as long as they provide attribution of the work back to Lenny and Anton.

So, take this checklist and customize it for your organization. For example, if you are a Windows-only IT shop, then adapt the checklist by removing the Linux-related content, and vice versa. Organizations that have implemented centralized log management can modify the document to remove the common locations where logs are found or include a link above that section to where the centralized logs can be searched.

There are slew of options of how to adapt the checklist to your environment, but the most important incident response process is the preparation stage where you actually prepare by training and outfitting your responders and handlers with this checklist and they tools they need so they are ready.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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