Advanced Log Processing

Friday, 2 August 2002, 10:46 AM EST

One of Murphy's laws advises to "only look for those problems that you know how to solve." In security, this means to only monitor for those attacks that you plan to respond to. It is well known that any intrusion detection system is only as good as the analyst watching its output. Thus, having nobody watching the IDS is equivalent to having no IDS at all. But what should an IDS administrator do if he or she is drowning in a flood of alerts, logs, messages and other attention grabbers?

Logs serve to assure that everything is working as it should be, and to help figure out what malfunctions or security incidents may have occurred. Having logs from multiple machines collected in one place simplifies both day-to-day maintenance and incident response. The advantages of a centralized log collection site include more effective auditing, secure storage of logs, and the increased opportunity for analysis across multiple platforms. In addition, secure and uniform log storage might be helpful in case a intruder is prosecuted based on log evidence, in which case, careful documentation of log handling procedure might be needed.

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