If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Star Trek,” you’ve probably noticed that they frequently talk about checking the computer logs. Whenever something isn’t working right, or when events need to be reconstructed, they start talking about this. Although we are not yet as technologically advanced as these fictional explorers, we can definitely learn a thing or two here. In real life, logs are indeed one of the best ways to figure out what has happened and why it happened.
How Computer Logs Work
Basically, every significant event on your computer is recorded in a log file, which is usually a simple text file that can be opened with notepad. In the case of security logs, these are likely to be a bit more detailed. However, even the most mundane of programs will keep event logs that show any significant changes. The reason for this is simple: If someone changes something, you will be able to tell.
Virtually all programs create logs on a daily basis. When you remove “junk” from your computer with Scandisk or something like that, those logs are part of what you are deleting. You can’t really keep these logs permanently because they would eventually fill your hard drive. Of course, you can copy them to an external drive, but it probably isn’t worth the trouble of doing all those file transfers on a daily basis.
The Problems With “Checking The Logs”
When you want to take a look at security and network logs, there is one immediate problem: They are scattered throughout the hard drive in various folders, and these might be hard to locate. For example, let’s say you are looking for logs related to Photoshop. Those will probably be in the “Photoshop” folder, although you will have to find the correct subfolder. The same goes for any other program.
Another problem comes from the fact that computers keep a lot of different data logs. The vast majority of it is inconsequential, but it’s still a lot of information to sift. In the end, no one has time to do that every day. Both of these major problems can be solved through the use of log management software.
How Does Log Management/Monitoring Software Work?
There are numerous specialized software programs that are meant to aid log management. They do this by collecting all the relevant data and analyzing it for suspicious patterns. That way, you don’t have to navigate through tons of different folders as you search for a specific log. Because most of these programs can also analyze the data they collect, the obvious problems can be detected with no effort on your part. The more complex problems will still require human intervention, but this will be much easier when you have the right tools.
The best and most advanced log monitoring tools will make use of AI technology, at least to a certain extent. This is what allows them to analyze the contents of the logs rather than just aggregating them. These AIs are trained using specific examples and can recognize suspicious patterns right away. You might get a false alarm from time to time, but that’s a lot better than the alternative.
How Does This Translate Into Better Security?
Cybersecurity might be described as a war between criminals and those who seek to stop them. From this perspective, we would say that situational awareness is the best weapon that you have. All hacking attacks, no matter how sophisticated, require a lack of vigilance on the part of the victim. Thus, those who stay vigilant and aware will be far less likely to suffer a data intrusion incident.
Event logs are also very handy when it comes to event reconstruction. When someone gets hacked, they usually don’t know who did it, how they did it, or what their reasons were. That’s why an investigation has to be done, and the event logs will probably be the backbone of the investigation. Using these, researchers can reconstruct everything that was going on before the breach, and they can also reconstruct the events of the breach itself. This is a great way to figure out how the attacker got in, how they acquired the data, how they transferred it, and what their intentions were.
Log management software is probably more effective than traditional antivirus programs, although that isn’t saying a whole lot. Standard antivirus programs are generally not worth a lot these days, and it’s because they are using an outdated approach. Most of them identify malware by its software signature, but it only takes a tiny tweak of the program to change that signature. However, log monitoring provides a reliable way to detect all sorts of problems.
At PCH Technologies, we understand that you need effective ways to protect yourself and your business. There are many bad actors out there, and none of them deserve to profit from your hard work! As such, we would advise you to purchase some good log monitoring software, as even an IT team won’t usually have time to check them all manually. Hackers often count on their victims to be unaware and to never check the logs. We are happy to say that it’s easy to divest them of that misconception. If you have enjoyed this article and if you would like to learn more, please call (856) 754-7500.