Live Workshop icon

July 16: Financial Services Roundtable

7 Best Practices For Log Management Software

Accelerating security, business analytics, and application monitoring

June 24th, 2020

Log management solutions are on the rise as a means for security and production teams to uncover the root cause of problems and as a way of analyzing the performance of a complex system.

When configured correctly, log management provides far-reaching business insights that can be shared throughout a company, strengthen security with live data streams, and improve user experience by detecting errors before customers do. Due to the high volume of logs involved, there is a temptation to sacrifice completeness of logs to gain processing speed. However, modern log management tools can log everything and provide real-time access to data. To help achieve these results, follow these 7 best practices for log management software.

1. Start with clear goals and be prepared to expand them

What are the security use cases? Are developers monitoring applications? Is log management being deployed as a compliance measure?

Start with clear goals in mind and a path to achieve them through ingesting certain logs, but also don’t be afraid to expand upon the initial scope. Creating a complete set of searchable data about the system through log management is a powerful tool that can answer any number of performance, security, and operational questions.

Study the stories about how other organizations have adapted log management and see if any relate to your own. Some users have compiled a collection of saved searches and alerts to develop a security platform and also used it as an engine that feeds data into advanced business analytics. Consider augmenting completeness of observability by shipping logs from network monitoring and (application performance monitoring) APM tools into log management.

2. Log everything

Traditionally, security information event management (SIEM) tools involved with log management have encouraged users to selectively collect logs in order to save on CPU usage. This practice results in an incomplete data set that may make it impossible to find root causes when an incident happens and modern. More efficient log management tools make this practice unnecessary.

Log more than just the traditional Windows or Linux system event logs and get a complete understanding of the system. Include all metrics from infrastructure both self-hosted and in the cloud. Collect data from application layers and client endpoints to be able to revisit events in the maximum detail and determine root causes. Having a complete set of log data allows developers to understand not only the holistic performance of a system, but also how system performance might be affecting end-user experience.

A complete database of log data improves security use cases by revealing malicious events that may be hiding in overlooked traffic. It can decrease the time to resolution by removing the guesswork from determining root causes. When logging everything, alerts direct the computer security incident response team to the exact relevant logs in seconds.

3. Separate and centralize log data

Removing logs from a production environment and putting them in a read-only central location preserves a high-fidelity and cardinality-historical source of information about the system. In ephemeral cloud settings or auto-scaling environments, log data can easily be lost if it is not separated and stored.

Putting all logs in one location enables system-wide analysis and helps identify correlated events across distributed systems that would otherwise go undetected.

4. Compress log data

Compressing log data saves on hardware costs not only for storage, but also for network transfer fees of data and processing hardware requirements. Modern log management tools are able to search compressed log data and keep it in active memory, greatly reducing the processing load of searching all the data in the system.

5. Evaluate total cost of operations

Log management costs are represented by maintenance, hardware, and license costs. Take all of these into account when choosing or configuring a log management tool. In cloud-hosted environments, optimizing the endpoints to avoid additional fees from the cloud service provider. Open source tools may have no license costs, but often their maintenance requirements become too much to bear for teams with limited time resources.

6. Perform real-time monitoring

By providing live alerts, log management tools give security teams and development teams the ability to detect disruptive incidents in real time and decrease their mean time to recovery (MTTR). This has knock-on effects of improving customer experiences, reducing support request loads, and saving organizations money by reducing lost sales.

Modern log management provides live alerts and well as live search results. As an incident is unfolding, security teams and developers are able to see in real-time what is happening, ask questions of the system with searches, and investigate root causes with live-tail visibility. They can see what is happening while users interact with applications or systems.

7. Share insights with team

Because log management provides powerful detection of root-causes of issues, it is most popular among security teams, developers, and support staff. It also presents business value for other departments, for its ability to aggregate all data from an organizations’ system.

Logs can be filtered and translated into helpful graphs and charts that update with live incoming data and reveal trends. Operations, sales, and marketing teams can see usage statistics. Finance can track sales information. Who sees what data can be controlled through authorization. There are even use cases such as security operations center (SOC) providers where log data is shared with customers to show the current status of security protections.

Observe best practices with the best tool

Following all seven recommended best practices can easily be accomplished by using the Humio modern log management tool. Humio flexibly integrates into any use case by accepting any form of structured or unstructured data. Optimized for real-time search results and longer retention, it compresses data by 10-20x, reducing storage cost and speeding up live alerts.

Humio dashboards provide easy-to-share live data to inform all departments within an organization and provide observability insights that can improve how well a business runs. With low maintenance, hardware, and license costs, it encourages users to make the most of their data and log everything.

See more about logging everything by visiting our Why Unlimited page.

See how Humio provides the best total cost by getting a TCO Price Estimate.

Learn more about best practices by reading the Top 12 Log Management Security Tips.

Experience an introduction to log management and best practices by checking out the Log Management 101 Workshop Recap.

Start your free trial now, available Self-hosted and SaaS, or request a demo.