Insufficient logging- A Security Risk

Cyber-Security

Logging and Monitoring of application and its data make it secure and in the events of a breach, it helps us act fast to protect it. There are monitoring mechanisms for both external and internal monitoring. In the case of software application, we can monitor by using logging and system alerts.

If a system lacks a logging and the alerting mechanism then sometimes it becomes hard to even know that someone broke into the application.
On the other hand, a Robust security logging and monitoring can help to secure application when an application is attacked by hackers, then the incident gets detected and contained swiftly. In simple words, the faster you detect it, the more chances you have to protect your data. If you detect it slower the more damage, it will cause. So an application always must have sufficient logging and monitoring in place. If it is not there, then this becomes a vulnerability and risk for the application data.

How to add monitoring and sufficient logging?

  1. Ensure Efficient logging

When we are setting up logging and alerting mechanisms then it becomes important to decide what to log. Logging helps in tracing the incidence while alerting helps us stopping the incident. Both logging and alerting mechanisms are important.
We should ensure we are logging the areas of sensitive data and the user context. This helps us make sure what area got impacted and who was
the impacted user. Logs captured by the application should be monitored and reviewed by the security team experts to make sure there are no traces
of the attack.
The most important thing to keep in mind while doing the logging is that we are not logging any sensitive pieces of information. If we are logging sensitive information then we are creating more trouble instead of reducing.
Let us understand this with a simple example, Logs are human-readable text and if we are logging payment-related sensitive data like credit card numbers this is a huge risk. So we need to make sure we do log only the required information.

2. Take Action on alerts

When you see an issue in your logs then it is your first and topmost priority to take immediate action.
If you will not take action then hackers will continue taking advantage of your system. There should be continuous monitoring of logs and alerts raised by the system. Always check the logs and take action.
If there is no incidence in the logs the reset the logs to avoid logging burden on your system. The logging itself can be optimized and only incidence logs should be captures so it helps in the analysis. Security personal will need to investigate and review the logs on a continuous basis so lesser the logs faster will be analyzed.

3. Incident response plan

Once an issue is detected in the system with the help of logs or with any other medium. Then you should be ready with your response plane.
The response plans should be in place even before the incident takes place.
If the attack is on a particular user then blocking that account temporarily, notifying the user or some other action should be taken.
If the problem is found in the software module level then as a developer there should be a response plan in place.
A lot of security standards are available for “Incident handling plans guides” or “Incidence management plans”. Those plans should be used in applications and response plans should be made robust and active.