As cyber threats continue to become more sophisticated, it is crucial for businesses to have a robust security strategy in place to protect their assets, reputation, and customers. A log collecting plan is a critical component of an organization’s overall security strategy because it enables enterprises to collect, store, and analyze log data from various sources to discover security-related issues and events. Here is a foundational log gathering technique that adheres to good practices.

Determine Log Sources

The first step in creating a log collecting plan is to determine all log sources inside the business, including servers, network devices, applications, and security tools. This will ensure that all applicable log data is gathered and evaluated. Any and all devices attached to the network should be sending logs to the SIEM. This will provide good correlation and allow the movements of any attacker to be tracked as they move through the organisation.

Establish Log Retention Policy

Establishing a log retention policy that specifies how long log data will be maintained and retained is equally important. This policy should consider legal, regulatory, and compliance obligations in addition to the organization’s internal rules. Another major factor is cost! Ensure that the logs being collected have security value and are capabale of generating meaningul and actionable insight. Don’t collect logs just to tick a box or keep auditors happy.

Implement Centralized Logging

A centralized logging solution, such as a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system, should be implemented to gather and store log data from all sources in a central location. This will ensure that all log data is readily available and can be evaluated in real-time. This will also assist with log correlation and the ability to track an attackers movements through systems. Logs collectors can be staged in various locations but they should ultimitely send to acenral location. This can be difficuly however especially if there are regulatory requirements to keep logs in geographical boundaries. Cost must also be a factor. Make sure that the appropriate dilligence is done to balance cost vs compliance vs benefits.

Configure Log Forwarding

Configuring all log sources to send log data to the centralized logging system is the next step. Standard log forwarding protocols, such as syslog or SNMP, can be used for this purpose. Try and stick to industry standard protocols with as little customisation as possible.

Use Encryption

Encryption should be used to safeguard log data both in transit and at rest. This will aid in protecting log data from illegal access and maintaining its confidentiality. This is especially true if sending logs out via the internet to a SAS solution.

Monitor Logs

Continuously monitoring log data for any suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary behavior is essential. This can be accomplished using both automated tools and scripts and manual evaluation. The point of collecting logs is to get actionable signals and alerts from them so ensure that all log data being stored is being scanned and subject to detection of any malicious activity.

Invest in Analysis Tools

Investing in analysis tools can greatly improve a company’s ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Analysis tools can automatically correlate and analyze log data in real-time, helping to quickly identify potential security-related concerns and occurrences.

One of the most commonly used analysis tools is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system. SIEM systems provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by network hardware and applications. They can collect data from various sources, including log files, network traffic, and other security systems, and correlate that data to provide a comprehensive view of the security status of the organization.

A SIEM system can provide several benefits to a company’s security strategy. For instance, it can detect and alert security personnel to potential security breaches, allowing for a rapid response. It can also automate certain security tasks, such as threat detection and remediation, which can free up personnel to focus on other critical tasks.

Moreover, a SIEM system can also help organizations comply with various regulatory requirements, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). By providing detailed audit logs, reports, and alerts, a SIEM system can help ensure that companies meet the necessary compliance standards.

It is important to note that implementing and using a SIEM system effectively can be a complex and resource-intensive process. It requires proper configuration, fine-tuning, and ongoing maintenance. As such, it is recommended that companies seek the help of experienced professionals in this field.

Investing in analysis tools such as a SIEM system can be a significant investment, but it is an investment that can pay off in the long run by enhancing a company’s security posture, reducing risk, and improving compliance with regulatory requirements.

Create Incident Response Plan

Creating an incident response plan is a crucial component of any organization’s security strategy. An incident response plan outlines the steps that an organization will take in the event of a security incident. The plan should include a comprehensive strategy for recognizing, containing, eliminating, and recovering from events.

The first step in creating an incident response plan is to assemble a response team. This team should include individuals from various departments within the organization, such as IT, legal, public relations, and senior management. The response team should be trained in incident response procedures and should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

The incident response plan should include procedures for identifying and assessing the severity of security incidents. It should specify which incidents require an immediate response, and which can be addressed during normal business hours. The plan should also define the criteria for escalating incidents to higher levels of management.

The plan should include clear procedures for containing and eliminating security incidents. This might include isolating affected systems, disabling network connections, and removing malicious software. The plan should also specify the criteria for restoring systems to their normal operation.

The incident response plan should also include communication protocols with stakeholders and regulatory organizations. This might include notifying customers, partners, and other affected parties, as well as reporting the incident to the appropriate regulatory bodies. The plan should also specify who is responsible for communicating with these parties and what information should be provided.

Regularly Test the Log Collecting Approach and Incident Response Plan

It is important to test the incident response plan regularly to ensure that it is effective and up-to-date. This might involve conducting simulated security incidents or tabletop exercises to assess the response team’s readiness and identify any areas for improvement. Regular testing can help ensure that the incident response plan is effective in the event of a real security incident.

Review and Report

Regularly reviewing logs and generating reports can help organizations stay on top of their security posture and identify potential security issues. By analyzing log data, security teams can identify patterns and trends that may indicate security incidents or vulnerabilities. Additionally, reports can provide insight into the effectiveness of the organization’s security strategy and identify areas for improvement.

Logs can be reviewed to identify anomalies, such as unusual activity or unauthorized access attempts, and to detect potential threats. By regularly reviewing logs, security teams can quickly detect and respond to security incidents, minimizing their impact on the organization. Log review can also help organizations identify and remediate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers.

Generating reports from log data can provide valuable insight into the security posture of the organization. Reports can show the frequency and severity of security incidents, as well as the effectiveness of the organization’s security controls. This information can be used to improve the organization’s security posture, enhance its incident response plan, and identify potential areas for additional investment in security.

Reporting can also be used to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements. Many regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), require organizations to collect and analyze log data to demonstrate compliance. By generating reports that show compliance with these regulations, organizations can avoid potential fines and other penalties.

It is important to note that log review and reporting can be a resource-intensive process. Organizations must have the right tools and personnel in place to effectively review logs and generate reports. However, the benefits of regular log review and reporting, including improved security posture, increased compliance, and more effective incident response, make this investment well worth the effort.

The Takeaway

This log gathering approach is adaptable and may be tailored to an organization’s specific requirements. It is essential to continually evaluate and update any plan to ensure that it remains aligned with the growing security demands and threat landscape of the company. By following the foundational log gathering techniques outlined above, businesses can develop an effective security strategy that allows them to proactively identify and respond to potential security issues, safeguarding their assets and reputation in the process.