Thursday, January 24, 2008

Evil Silos

Today I will speak about evil. Yes, evil! There is plenty of evil in the world of logs (e.g. ugly logs), but this is a "bigger, better" evil :-): siloed approach to logs!

There is little that I hate more than  siloed approach to logs. A situation when you have your security team "owning" network IDS logs, network team having firewall and router logs (as well as all SNMP traps) and, say, a sysadmins possessing  (or, rather, ignoring!) the logs from servers and desktop is not only sad, counterproductive, inefficient and wasteful, but also dangerous.

Where does such approach to logs (where they are divided by both technical and political chasms) breaks down most painfully? In case of an incident response, of course. This is where instead of one query across all logs and all log sources (or whatever needed subset of logs or log sources), you'd end up with having run around, beg, connect, wait, swear, wait, download logs, dig in many places at once, wait, grep, suffer with many UIs, swear more - and have a time of your life in general! :-) All of the above instead of connecting to your shiny new log management system and running a few reports, drilldowns and searches across the relevant logs.

Ideally, you'd fight the evil and break down the silo walls by deploying a log management platform across the entire organization and then letting every team that needs logs to get them from the system in a controlled fashion, via the interface or a web API (BTW, LogLogic has a web API to get logs!). Apart from being a trend (e.g. see recent ESG report on that), it will make your IT and security operations that much more efficient - and pleasant!

On the other hand, what is bizarre is that some newer vendors,  who claim to do log management, actually work to propagate, not combat, the siloed approach. For example, selling the tool for $5000 to each of the many separate teams within the organization IMHO must be made illegal :-) as it builds walls, not bridges; digs holes and overall "silo-izes" your operation...

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Dr Anton Chuvakin