Best Practices Series: Windows Log Management

Best Practices Series: Windows Log Management

How much time have you spent on Windows log management and analysis lately? Not much? No time for it? Allow me to help. Log management and analysis doesn’t take as much time as you think, and you can solve network problems and boost security and compliance while you're at it.

Why Do Windows Logs Matter?

Considering there are 1.5 billion Windows users around the globe, chances are you’re a Microsoft shop. All versions of Windows record a log of the system’s activities on a daily basis. These logs contain information about the health of the operating system. Some of these messages contain data which isn’t critical.

However, there will be times when Windows isn’t running the way it’s supposed to. Conveniently enough, Windows logs will hold the information that helps administrators what went wrong and how to fix it.

Related Article: Best Practices Series - Network Discovery

Windows logs also help track all sorts of things that your users may be doing that inadvertently can put you at risk.

Is Jack from accounting using a USB stick to transfer confidential files? Your Windows logs will tell you.

Windows logs generate a great deal of data. Reviewing all of it manually is going to take way more have than you have to spare. A log and event management tool will take the complexity out of what can become manual labor. Tools like these automate the entire process and import information from several logs simultaneously.  They can scan mountains of log data to help sysadmins troubleshoot, track forensic information, or perform security audits.

Automated Log Management Improves Security and Compliance

Automation is key to Windows log analysis. A tool should be able to analyze logs to quickly detect and alert on unauthorized activity and security threats. You can track, get alerts and report on commonly audited event types like access and permission changes to files, folders and objects. With the right tool you should be able to collect the most common log types such as Syslog, Microsoft event or W3C/IIS log to help you identify potential threat incidents.

And if you’re not convinced you should give it a try, log management can help you comply with regulations including HIPAA, SOX, FISMA, PCI, MiFID, and Basel II. Having a log analysis in hand can get you ready for regulatory submissions by converting archived raw log data into actionable intelligence for managers, security and compliance officers.

And if there happens to be an employee attempting to commit fraud or engaging in another illegal activity, you can see that too.

Just in case Jack isn’t so innocently moving data onto that USB stick.

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