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A CISO's Guide to Log Managment for Cybersecurity

In today’s highly interconnected worlds, CISOs face a dual challenge: protecting data and reporting to the Board of Directors. Log management has long been a tool in the CISO’s back pocket, helping gain insight into potential security issues. However, the rise of cloud-based infrastructures changes this, making log management increasingly difficult. For CISOs that want to get the best of both worlds - visibility and reportability - a purpose built centralized log management solution can be the life raft in a sea of alerts. 

Turbulence in the Cloud

When a plane needs to fly through clouds, the turbulence can nearly throw you out of your seat. Even with the seatbelt fastened as tightly as possible, you might find yourself gripping the armrest with a slightly sinking feeling in your stomach. 

Cloud security can feel pretty similar. You know you have controls in place, just like you’re wearing a seatbelt in a plane. At the same time, you’re also gripping the armrest, getting that sinking feeling that you might be missing something important. 

Information overload

The cloud’s speed and scalability is great for business operations. People can work from home. They can collaborate in real-time through shared documents or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. 

However, these cloud infrastructures generate a lot of security event data. On any given day, even a small cloud environment can generate up to 5 GB. For a larger organization, that number can end up in the terabyte or, even, petabyte category. The sheer volume of data becomes nearly overwhelming. 

This creates a security challenge. With so much data, you lack the visibility you need to detect changes effectively. 

Out of control

The distributed nature of cloud infrastructures and remote workforces can make you feel like you have no control over what’s happening. It’s a lot like sitting in the middle seat on an airplane, scrunched between two strangers who keep knocking into you during the turbulence. 

You’re stuck in the middle of your infrastructure and the company’s employees. You can’t control how external forces impact them or your security posture. You can’t control whether employees use their own devices, which may not comply with your security policies. You can’t control whether applications have vulnerabilities. You may not even know what applications people have downloaded. 

Ultimately, you need a way to gain control over what’s happening and be able to detect abnormal activity. 

Speaking different languages

As if the lack of visibility and control weren’t bad enough, you might also be struggling to communicate effectively with the rest of the senior leadership team or the Board of Directors. You know the technical problems, but translating them in a way that non-technical business stakeholders understand can feel stressful. 

Writing reports gives them too many details. You need a way to show them what you’re doing, so that the organization can prove governance as part of its compliance program. 

Centralized Log Management: Clear Skies on the Horizon

A centralized log management solution purpose built for your needs can give you the tools to secure the organization, gain control, and communicate effectively. 

Bringing Everything Together in the Cloud

Your centralized log management solution needs to meet your data where it lives - in the cloud. You need something that lets you collect all the data from across your on-premises, cloud, and hybrid ecosystem in a way that can scale as you need it.

If you have a cloud-based centralized log management solution, you have the ability to collect, aggregate, and correlate data more effectively, including information from:

  • Machines
  • Users
  • Devices
  • Networks
  • Applications

A cloud-based centralized log management solution gives a powerful, flexible, and seamless experience while reducing infrastructure and operational costs. 

In other words, your log management solution should give you the security visibility you need while providing the same operational benefits that you get from the rest of your cloud infrastructure. 

Turning down the volume

Cloud logs are noisy. They send a lot of data which can lead to a lot of false positive alerts. Recent research found that 70% of security analysts investigate more than ten alerts every day, and they spend more than ten minutes on each alert. Of these alerts, the report found that 50% are false positives. This means that security analysts spend at least an hour a day investigating alerts that don’t mean anything. 

High fidelity alerting can detect security vulnerabilities more effectively. A centralized log management solution built purposefully can reduce the number of false positives, saving security analysts from being overwhelmed. Your security analysts can focus on real risks to your organization. 

Empowering your team

While a first-class seat on the plane is nice to have, you don’t need it to get from one place to another. The same is true with your centralized log management solution. 

Your security team - or if you’re a smaller organization, your IT team - may consist of various skill levels. Some people have a stronger background while others may be new to the security space. 

When you’re evaluating a centralized log management solution, you want something that empowers everyone. For example, if your tool uses a specialized language, then you need people who have the experience. A centralized log management tool that lets your team write queries easily and do research from a single location empowers the less experienced team members. 

It also allows your more experienced security professionals to engage in proactive threat hunting for a more proactive, resilient approach to security. 

Creating and scheduling reports

Finally, you should be looking for a solution that helps you do the business of cybersecurity. You need to provide reports regularly, and they need to be meaningful to your audience. 

The right log management solution provides the same collaboration, communication, and automation capabilities that your business tools give you. Security is a business function, and your log management solution should help you manage those duties as well. 

This means having the right types of visualizations that help you detect anomalous behavior across your systems. Providing easy-to-understand visual representations helps you explain security to the rest of the stakeholders across the organization. They don’t need to know that a  device from an abnormal IP address tried to log into a server, they need to see whether an outlier exists when compared to everything else. 

Scheduling reports on a regular basis also reduces the amount of time spent on the administrative business of security. You send daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly reviews of log data and trends to the people who need them. This reduces the time spent on meeting compliance mandates, ensures appropriate governance, and gives you more time to focus on managing security activities. 

Graylog: Reducing Turbulence for a Smooth Landing

Sure, you’ll always have a few small pockets of turbulence along the way to securing the cloud. However, you don’t need to be in “seatbelt fastened” mode for the entire duration. 

Graylog’s centralized log management solution makes it easier for CISOs to gain the visibility they need so that they can protect data. Our purpose-built solution gives you all the technical capabilities necessary for collecting, aggregating, correlating, and analyzing event data from across your on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments. 

Graylog cloud meets your data where it lives with the flexibility and scalability to improve key metrics, like mean time to detect (MTTD), mean time to investigate (MTTI), and mean time to respond (MTTR). Your analysts don’t need to feel under attack from false positives by creating high fidelity alerts that help them focus on the real risks. 

It might not always be a smooth flight, but Graylog can give you a softer landing for a better security experience.

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