Thursday, June 6, 2013

Your log capacity

In this post I want to talk about log capacity. The reason why I want to talk about this is because we noticed that quite a lot of people understand that logs are pretty handy in incident response to figure out what happend but not always have an idea how and what.

A lot of information is produced in your computer system. During an incident response situation, the analyst needs to sift through these log to figure out what happend. Since we live in networked times, this means you got to get these logs from multiple nodes in the network. These can be anything if you want to. To handle this it is important to create a central log server. This makes the attacker his or her life more difficult because now the logs need to be changed at two places.

When setting up a log server one has to take into account that this is traffic over a network, thus you need to make sure that that the protocol used for that log shipping is secure.

A question I sometimes get is what to log, and there the answer is the classic "that depends". Depending on the operating system and the running services and applications the answer depends. The internet is your friend (try log analysis + your subject), but usually is default setting not enough.

Once you are getting a nice amount of data on your log server you might run into storage capacity. One of the important things to know about this is that it used to take more than one year before an organization would discover they got compromised and nowadays it is a bit less than a year.

When you look at an attack campaign like a supply chain model, things have to happen in certain order. Let's say you discover that data is being stolen from your organization, this means that the attacker is at the end of the campaign and if you want to learn about how the bad person got in you got to find it in your logs. When you have only the log capacity of 1 week or 1 month chances are that most information is already gone.

I know disks for things like SANs are not the cheapest things in the world, this means choices have to be made. Depending on your situation a cheaper solution like a NAS or a couple of terabytes of USB/firewire to store offline might be a solution. In this case it is better to have something, than to have nothing because an incident handler can't magically make logs appear.