Enterprise log managers: an unsexy, but vital, tool.

Author:Zanella, Robert

Ultimately, the goal of Enterprise Log Management (ELM) is to get your most critical events escalated to your operations staff to react and respond with the appropriate actions. In today's enterprise, you would be culling through millions of events if you were not relying on ELM to correlate that information and point to what is most critical. You may be asking, "Isn't this Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?" It's not. Well, not entirely. ELM and SIEM are interrelated. SIEM is more concerned with the larger view of your overall security landscape, whereas ELM is focused on a specific element of security: "What is happening where?" SIEM correlates data across varying data sources and environments--a more holistic view. Therefore, ELM is a subset and critical component of a SIEM program. Not all companies require a SIEM program. However, most companies would benefit from an ELM solution. For the purposes of this article, we'll stick to ELM. For more information on SIEM, I encourage you to download ISACA's free SIEM white paper (www.isaca.org/siem).

Corporate policies are put forth, as are the related controls, in an effort to deter or prevent undesirable activities. Translating the corporate policies into the solution and configuring the relationship between the policy, the controls, and the data feeds from systems and applications that need to be monitored are foundational steps to build an ELM. A measure of the quality of an ELM technology is how easy it is to interface with your critical systems. "How many different components does it understand?" so to speak. "How much technical expertise is required in order to make it deliver value?"

Use Cases and Setup

Privileged access monitoring is a classic example in which an ELM gathers logs from various systems and creates a direct workflow to the operations staff, enabling them to take an action against items considered inappropriate. For example, a domain admin logged in after an allowed change window and failed to authenticate several times in a row--an example of a potential brute force attack. The system must correlate those events and initiate the appropriate workflow, whatever that may be. The processes established around the solution are just as important. The log management solution is only as good as the processes and teams that support it. Typically, this requires an engineering staff and an operations staff. The engineers build and configure the ELM so the right alerts...

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