5 Tips for Effective Log Analysis

woman on phone looking at log screen on computer

The technologies that you have invested in can provide even more value if you are able to analyze the log data effectively.  Here are 5 key tips for effective log monitoring.

Table of Contents

What is log monitoring?

Log monitoring is the practice of keeping an eye on the records that your computer creates about its activities. These records, called logs, can tell you a lot about what’s happening on your computer, like when it starts up, shuts down, or runs different programs.

By monitoring these logs, you can get a better understanding of what’s happening on your computer  and in your network and detect any issues that may arise. For example, if your computer is running slowly or crashing frequently, the logs can provide clues as to why that’s happening.

Log monitoring can also help you identify security issues, like if someone is trying to access your computer without your permission. By keeping a close eye on the logs, you can detect and respond to these types of threats before they cause any real damage. 

5 Tips for Effective Log Monitoring

#1 Understand which logs are worth monitoring

Small business environments can generate hundreds of logs per day, while larger organizations can create millions or even billions of logs.  With all this information available, it’s easy to get bogged down with information that isn’t particularly important or useful, making it harder to focus in on the events that should be investigated.  In some cases, it’s critical that all logs of other types are recorded and monitored. For example, devices in the Cardholder Data Environment require constant monitoring for PCI compliance. Understanding which logs need to be monitored in your organization is the first step to creating an effective log monitoring program.

#2 Centralize logs for correlation

If your logs from firewalls are not monitored in the same portal as your server logs, O365 logs, endpoint solution logs, etc. you are missing the ability to correlate the logs to look for patterns that can identify a suspicious event that any one single log source would not indicate. This is why it’s crucial to normalize the logs from disparate technologies.  Converting the common elements from the various types of logs or various device manufacturer’s standards into a common format in a unified platform, like ProVision, will allow you to easy identify these correlational events. 

#3 Customize your business rules

Starting with a standard template of rules to alert on is great, but knowing where your biggest areas of risk are – where the most sensitive data is, which users have access to critical data, and typical hours of operations allows you to create rules specific to your particular organization. This allows you to create custom business rules to be alerted for creation of a new admin account, an escalation of account privileges, a connection into your network at a time of day that is highly unusual in your business, and more.  By tuning the rules, you can be alerted to what is most critical and also tune out events that you don’t need to be alerted on to avoid even fatigue.

#4 Enrich your log data with outside threat intelligence

There are feeds that you can subscribe to from device manufacturers, outside agencies, and some very specific to a particular sector, such as banking.  Foresite’s Threat Intelligence solution gives us comprehensive view of the web and mobile frontiers, monitoring 9M+ websites and 141+ mobile app stores daily, adding more site and app store crawls continually.

#5 Analyze log data in real time

While log data is still valuable for forensics investigation of a cyber incident, ideally you want to be able to detect suspicious events and take immediate action through active cyber monitoring and alerting to prevent the incident from ever occurring.

Get the most out of your log data

Sorting, normalizing, analyzing, and storing your log data can be a heavy burden on your IT team and resources. Foresite Cybersecurity lightens the load with ProVision, our proprietary, cloud-based SIEM solution. ProVision ingests log data from a variety of sources with 400+ datasets accepted and more being added. ProVision makes it easy to see which alerts require immediate attention and reduces false positives by 80%. Contact us today to learn more and see a demo of ProVision in action. 

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