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Audit Log: Feature Guide for Security and Compliance

September 10, 2019

In computing, an audit log is a record of an event. An event is any significant action that impacts the hardware or software of a computer – anything from a mouse click to a program error. Besides documenting which resources were accessed and what for, an audit file system will also include the source and destination addresses, the timestamp, and the user ID information.

This means that every second of every day, millions upon millions of audit logs are generated across digital systems all around the world. Their sheer number and complexity means that log management has become a staple of IT, since log management is important for many indispensable tech roles.

Vital to the proper functioning of all of these, compliance auditing is a critical, but often poorly understood component of log management. Every company has to make sure that they are compliant to strict industry regulatory guidelines, and log management tools help them do this in a precise, controlled way.

Many different types of standards exist today: Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, Basel II, FISMA, NISPOM, Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLBA), PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), and others. Audit log data has to be properly collected, archived, and analyzed in order to meet the requirements of all these regulatory compliance standards.

Internal Audits

Internal event log auditing is routinely done by the employees of a company in order to see if they meet all the necessary regulations, and to check if there are any risks to company security and compliance.

 

  • These can be done at any time and as many times as needed, but usually take place at least once per fiscal year.
  • They are analyzed by upper management, to determine which areas can be improved, and to perform a thorough risk-assessment of weak points.
  • The reports are also compared to internal guidelines, to see if the company is following them as it should.

 

External Audits

External audits are performed by independent third parties that test and evaluate a company to see if everything is in order, or if there is a need for any fines or other penalties and sanctions for noncompliance.

 

  • They follow the strictest industry regulations and a very specific format.
  • They assess if the company is compliant with various local, state, federal, international, and corporate laws and standards.
  • Good log management software and its assorted must-have features will make the entire process a lot faster and easier on everyone involved.

 

Centralize All Audit Logs

Most companies use a mix of different software, operating systems, and hardware in their computers and servers. That is why having a log management solution that keeps all the file server and file system audit logs in one place, and in one easy-to-read viewing format, is crucial to any commercial business.

 

  • There are some compliance standards that require historical log data to be kept for more than 7 years. This can lead to some serious data storage issues, so compressing these files, which significantly reduces their size, is the right way to store them.
  • Archiving and backing them up on cloud services ensures they won’t be lost even in the events of unforeseen critical system failures.
  • Custom and advanced search options to quickly sort out relevant data from the rest.

 

Event Log Monitoring For Security

Security is essentially all about timely prevention, and your log management tool of choice can be set up to monitor your systems and report back as soon as they catch anything that’s out of place.

 

  • You can create custom rules and exceptions, so only those issues you flag as important will pop-up and alert you.
  • Humans, unlike computers, have to sleep sometimes, so enabling real-time monitoring will make sure that your systems are analyzed and protected 24/7.
  • Set-up emailing and notifications – important people (system administrators, management teams, IT security professionals, etc.) will always be kept in the loop and know exactly what’s going on.
  • The option to create a wide array of reports – not just as text, but also in graph and pie chart form.

 

Taking Advantage of Log Management Tools to Stay Compliant & Safe

Using all of the capabilities of your log management software will ensure that you don’t have to worry about failing compliance auditing. By doing preemptive internal audits, centralizing and monitoring your data, you will pinpoint all possible compliance and security issues and be ready when the time comes for the real thing.


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