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By Stephen Caldwell, CISSP
As an MSSP, the way our security experts assist in the protection of our customer’s network is having the ability to aggregate event logs, create reports and alerts, and act on those alerts based on the collected data. Without proper logging and monitoring in place, it is virtually impossible to determine whether a network or system is under attack or has been compromised. However, after all the appropriate technologies and solutions have been properly deployed and configured for logging, monitoring, and alerting, there remains an important, yet, often neglected security purpose for all the collected log and event data: regularly scheduled reviews. Although real-time response to alerts is crucial, reviewing collected log data from over a longer period of time can provide valuable information for an organization that isn’t found through real-time alerts.
Determine your organization’s state of security
Routinely reviewing your security logs and alerts can provide an excellent overview of the state of information technology security your organization is in. While real-time response to alerts are imperative for information defense, an after-the-fact review of all the logs and alerts—including anything deemed to be a false positive—allows the information security team to piece together a bigger picture of what is happening in a given environment.
Become familiar with your network traffic
Security reviews also assist with building familiarity with the network baseline. Knowing what traffic is expected and normal versus anything out of the ordinary, allows security analysts and engineers to spot potential areas of concern more quickly. Attempting to pinpoint and isolate anomalies or changes in a system or network is futile unless normal, daily operational behavior is not known and documented.
Performing a security review monthly, bi-monthly, or at least quarterly aids your security team in spotting trends. The ability to pinpoint any increase or decrease in certain types of traffic over time can prove vital, revealing areas of concern that could affect an entire organization. In today’s threat landscape, the most catastrophic security breaches are typically executed as a long-term process, and the insidious actors orchestrating these events show a surprising degree of patience. The most substantial threats to your data security may be spotted more quickly while examining the logs and constructing a cohesive picture of events as they occur within a given system over time vs a single alert showing an obvious intrusion attempt.
Log files are a fantastic security resource only if you review them on a regular basis. The collected information must consistently be put to use with frequent expert analysis in order to add significant value to a security program. If you would like any assistance with strengthening your security posture by including formal traffic reviews, contact us and speak with one of our information security professionals today.