Centralized Log Management and Cloud Environments
Even before new hybrid workforce models, many companies already moved a lot of services to the cloud. COVID-19 digital transformation strategies instantly increased the number of access points and endpoints. This led to a rapid increase in event log data followed by all kinds of other issues -- performance, availability, security, and ultimately increased IT costs amongst other things.
A centralized log management solution for your cloud environment can help you manage the above and more. Below, we look at 5 key benefits that come from using log management to manage log data in cloud environments.
1. Visibility into Hidden Costs
Cloud resource usage changes for a lot of reasons, including:
- Workloads: store and process data
- Applications: enable continued business operations
- Multiple environments: meet different business needs
- Forgotten assets: continue to use processing power after having served their purposes
Centralized log management solutions have infrastructure monitoring so you can understand services, optimize performance, and minimize spending. This helps identify underutilized resources while monitoring autoscaling and rightsizing.
2. Storage Cost Reductions
Many companies use log files for their forensic analysis after a data incident happens. Historical log data is another reason to invest in a centralized log management solution.
A lot of companies have a hard time balancing the need for available historical log data with storage size. You want to consider the following when looking to collect, store, and analyze historical log information:
- Solving issues: researching a data event’s root cause can require looking at months or years of data
- Collecting valuable data: storing only the useful data and dropping unwanted details streamlines storage and research
- Configuring storage: using your ingestion rate and current storage space when setting message counts, index sizes, index time, and index retention
A small environment might generate an average event size of 500k. If you assume 125 events every second, that can be 5GB. You can get a sense of the storage needed when looking at how Google Cloud Suite limits logging data:
- 256 kb: the size of a log entry
- 60,000 per minute, per project: number of entries.write API calls
- 1 per second, per project: number of entries.list API calls
- 1,024 bytes: length of the label value
- 800 bytes: length of label description
- 8,000 bytes: length of the metric description
A centralized log management solution for cloud environments gives you more ways to store logs’ messages. An on-premise centralized log management solution can track your storage use so that you have visibility into your ingest rate. Using a cloud centralized log management solution lets you see how much storage you have and whether you need more. This way, you can save what you need, when you need it, for the length of time you need it.
3. Web Application Analysis
When you bring in more Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, your employees can work together better. They also can put a drain on performance and increase the need for tighter security.
According to OWASP, best practices for web application monitoring should include:
- Collecting data consistently within the application,
- Collecting data consistency across your application portfolio
- Using relevant industry standards when necessary.
They list the following event logs that can provide visibility into application usage:
- Client software
- Embedded instrumentation code
- Network firewalls
- Network and host intrusion detection systems
- Closely-related application
- Application firewalls
- Database applications
- Reputation monitoring services
- Operating systems
Detect security incidents more rapidly and optimize performance with a centralized log management solution. This way, you can aggregate, correlate, and analyze log data more easily.
Your security analysts can see all system logs with a centralized log management solution. This collects logs in whatever format the application uses then standardizes them. With everything in the same format, you can do a log analysis faster and detect anomalies better. You can also get aggregation charts and other visualizations for at-a-glance security insights.
You can use web application log data as part of your IT operations analytics (ITOA). This can help pinpoint performance issues. Managing log data helps you:
- Pinpoint what caused an issue
- Address the problem rapidly
- Reduce downtime
- Make informed, data-driven decisions
Maximizing your cloud IT stack for greater productivity only works when web applications run consistently. As you add more SaaS applications, you want to have one place for monitoring their security and performance.
4. Event Log Data Security
Event log data often contains sensitive information. You need to protect this information so that you don’t break any laws. When you use a bunch of vendor-supplied log monitoring tools, you end up with a lot of risks. These risks can lead to penalties and fines if you’re not compliant.
Some of the non-public personal information that event log data collects includes:
- Customer emails
- Payment information
- Social security numbers
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-92, organizations need to address the following:
- User authorization
When using disconnected vendor-supplied tools, managing security and privacy becomes more difficult. You need to limit access based on the principle of least privilege. When doing this across more than one location, it’s easy to end up with some people having too much access. You also need to make sure that each location protects event log data.
Centralized log management makes this easier by giving you a single location to collect and secure all event logs. You can use your organization’s Identity, and Access Management controls. This makes sure that you limit everyone’s access the right way. In the end, you spend less time monitoring and make your security stronger. Aggregating all event log data in a single location encrypts and protects data-at-rest and in-transit more efficiently.
5. Audit Cost Reduction
Most companies view audits as a necessary evil. No matter what industry you’re in, you probably need to meet security and compliance requirements. Some of the most important ones are:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
- Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA)
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Collecting documentation is one of the biggest problems people have when they go through an audit. Auditors use event log data to prove that your controls work and stay working. You need to provide event data for systems, networks, network devices, applications, and users. More than one dashboard or tool can mean losing track of what system collects which data and whether it really did.
Then, your staff scrambles when the auditor asks for documentation. They need to get reports from all systems and applications. This takes more time when you have documentation stored in different log management tools. It also leaves your staff falling behind on other duties.
For example, for every cloud-based solution integrated into your stack, you need to collect the following:
- User login
- User logout
- Attempted login
- Failed login
- Terminal identity
- Files accessed
- Networks accessed
- Database accessed
- System configuration changes
- Alerts signaling threat
According to a 2019 report, the average enterprise used 1,295 cloud services. This doesn’t even include all the new technologies added during the pandemic. Managing the volume of generated logs from more than 1,295 cloud services can be a burden.
A centralized log management solution makes it easier to get all the documentation together in one fell swoop. Also, it saves your staff the hassle of answering a lot of auditor questions.
Centralized log management solutions bring all data together in one place for log aggregation in one dashboard. You can answer initial audit requests faster. You also reduce the number of follow-up requests. Your auditors end up less frustrated, and staff spends less time answering questions. At the end of the day, you spend money on the audit.
Graylog Centralized Log Management for Cloud IT Stacks
Graylog’s centralized log management solution solves a lot of the problems that make managing event log data difficult in cloud environments. We offer an Open Source and a scalable enterprise solution so you can store all event log data in a single location, making it easier to explore log data.
For example, with our web-based query builder, users can quickly search the log files. Search Workflow comes in handy when you need to combine multiple searches. Parameterized searches make it easy to streamline common searches that you need to perform on a regular basis. You can save these and create a search template library for sharing. Our dashboards make it easy to visualize your aggregated logs, monitor systems and applications, do log analysis, and more.
Graylog’s archiving capabilities make it easier to store older data, which you can easily re-import when you need it. You free up disk space and have access to your data if you need it.
We also help secure sensitive event log data. With Graylog, you can set access controls easily. Our platform synchronizes with your authoritative identity source. It also encrypts at-rest and in-transit data. Finally, it supports several hash functions to obfuscate data.
In sum, one place for collecting, aggregating and analyzing your cloud environment’s log data.