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Enterprise networks are at risk of digital threats now more than ever. To remain competitive in the digital age, organizations frequently introduce new hardware devices and software installations to their IT environments. But these assets might suffer from vulnerabilities that, if left open, attackers could abuse to change a device’s configuration or make unauthorized modifications to some of the organization’s important files.

Either of these scenarios could help the bad actors establish an initial foothold on the network, access which they could then leverage to move laterally to other systems, exfiltrate important data, and overall cause additional harm.

Companies can leverage security configuration management (SCM) and file integrity monitoring (FIM) to address some of these risks and reduce their attack surface. However, organizations cannot hope to adequately secure their infrastructure unless they have an accurate idea of what is happening and what happened in their environment.

To achieve that level of visibility, they must turn to log management. Log management is a security control which addresses all system and network logs.

Here’s a high-level overview of how logs work: each event in a network generates data, and that information then makes its way into the logs, records which are produced by operating systems, applications and other devices. Logs are crucial to security visibility. If organizations fail to collect, store, and analyze those records, they could open themselves to digital attacks.

The Center for Internet Security agrees, which is why the non-profit energy made log management a one of its Critical Security Controls (CSC). Here it puts the threat of insufficient log management in context:

Deficiencies in security logging and analysis allow attackers to hide their location, malicious software, and activities on victim machines. Even if the victims know that their systems have been compromised, without protected and complete logging records they are blind to the details of the attack and to subsequent actions taken by the attackers. Without solid audit logs, an attack may go unnoticed indefinitely and the particular damages done may be irreversible.

There are five parameters to a complete log management process. These are as follows:

1. Collection

Businesses need to collect logs over encrypted channels. Their log management solution should ideally come equipped with multiple means to collect logs, but it should recommend the most reliable means of doing so. In general, organizations should use agent-based collection whenever possible, as this method is generally more secure and reliable than its agentless counterparts.

2. Storage

Once they have collected them, organizations need to preserve, compress, encrypt, store, and archive their logs. Companies can look for additional functionality in their log management solution such as the ability to specify where they can store their logs geographically. This type of feature can help meet their compliance requirements and ensure scalability.

3. Search

Organizations need to make sure they can find their logs once they’ve stored them, so they should index their records in such a way that they are discoverable via plaintext, REGEX, and API queries. A comprehensive log management solution should enable companies to optimize each log search with filters and classification tags. It should also allow them to view raw logs, conduct broad and detailed queries, and compare multiple queries at once.

4. Correlation

Organizations need to create rules that they can use to detect interesting events and perform automated actions. Of course, most events don’t occur on a single host in a single log. For that reason, companies should look for a log management solution that lets them create correlation rules according to the unique threats and requirements their environments face. They should also seek out a tool that allows them to import other data sources such as vulnerability scans and asset inventories.

5. Output

Finally, companies need to be able to distribute log information to different users and groups using dashboards, reports and email. Their log management solution should facilitate that exchange of data with other systems and the security team.

Tripwire Log Center takes all five of those parameters to heart. Among other things, it enables companies to create customized log rules, collect and store all data, customize dashboards according to noteworthy events on the network, and reduce noise by filtering out data.

To learn more about Tripwire’s log management solution, click here.

Log management is just one of five security controls with which organizations should concern themselves when purchasing a new security solution. To learn more, download this whitepaper.