Log Management at Zero Cost and One Hour per Week?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Anton Chuvakin


As I was drinking cognac on the upper deck of a 747, flying TPE-SFO back from a client meeting, the following idea crossed my mind: 

CAN one REALLY do a decent job with log management (including log review) if their budget is $0 AND their “time budget” is 1 hour/week?

I got asked that when I was teaching my SANS SEC434 class a few months ago and the idea stuck in my head – and now cognac, courtesy of China Airlines, helped  stimulate it into a full blog post.

So, $0 budget points to using open-source, free tools (duh!), but 1hr/week points in exactly the opposite direction: commercial or even outsourced model.

The only slightly plausible way that I came up with is:

  • Spend your 1st hour building a syslog server; it can be done, especially if starting from a old Linux box that you found in the basement (at $0); don’t forget logrotate or equivalent
  • Spend a few next weeks (i.e. hours) configuring various Unix, Linux and network devices (essentially, all syslog log sources) to log to it
  • Consider deploying Snare on a few Windows boxes (if needed); it would likely be easier to do than doing remote pull – too much tuning might be needed
  • Next, drop a default OSSEC install on your log server and – gasp! – enable all alerts
  • Spend the next  few hours (in the next few weeks) turning off the ones that are too numerous, irrelevant or don’t trigger any action in your environment
  • If you log volume fits within a free Splunk license size (500MB/day), also spend an hour deploying Splunk on your log server and have it index all gathered logs
  • Now you’d be spending your “one log hour each week” on reviewing alerts and (if installed) digging in Splunk for additional details
  • Congrats! $0 and 1hr/week gave you semblance of log management and even monitoring…

What do you think? It just might work for organizations with severe time AND money constraints.

Enjoy the pos … while it lasts.

Cross-posted from Security Warrior

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Post Rating I Like this!
f t congrats. we did this for years ago.
f t well, except for the ossec part, we added that recently. we were using samhain before that, which is still a great tool.
f t for=four; have a nice day
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