Syslog and How It Can Help You Defend Your Network Against Attacks

With the rise of modern information technology and the proliferation of cybersecurity breaches happening, being able to detect attacks in your network has become quite the necessity. Cybercriminals certainly aren’t slacking. Every day, they come up with all manner of new strategies that they can use to infiltrate a vulnerable network. In such an environment, your top priority should be to take preventative measures rather than reactive ones. You should be able to sniff out an attack long before it happens.

However, that’s easier said than done because, as it turns out, one of the most difficult and expensive endeavors to embark on is monitoring your system’s activity to prevent network attacks. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. You need to have a good idea of the best ways to handle it.

Ultimately, the main thing that matters to stopping network attacks before they get out of hand is transparency. You need to increase visibility in your network so that you can see more of and consequently stop more often. That’s what we’re going to be looking at today: tips on how to increase visibility in your network with Syslog.

1. Always Be Vigilant :

At its very core, Syslog is no more than a standard whose job is to log system messages. It is much more useful than that in practice, however, as it gives us a way to abstract the system messages in such a way that we can separate the systems that store and analyze source software from the source software itself. This makes it possible for us to be very flexible and control the kind of low-level detailed communication that takes place in our networks.

One of the reasons why it makes sense to get syslog services from a cloud provider, rather than do it yourself, is that you can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages coming from the different devices on a network when you’re monitoring your infrastructure. You’ve got network appliances, storage appliances, servers, desktops, printers and so on. All these devices are pumping out logs, most of them rather cryptic and you’re probably wondering where you should start.

The answer to that question becomes simple once you remember the whole purpose of syslog in the first place, which is to increase visibility. If you want to maximize the visibility you are getting out of your logging environment, then you should have at least one centralized log repository and deploy it. This is what infrastructure monitoring services do. The log repositories act as dynamic organizers and managers of the messages flowing out of your system. With this highly organized aggregation and analysis of your system logs, you will be able to solve your problems in real time, but you will also be able to collect vital information that will help you to prevent future attacks.

We can’t get into the specifics associated with setting up a remote logging server, but that doesn’t mean the process isn’t straightforward. You need to find the -/etc/syslog.conf- file on your most critical devices once you initialize the server and then get the file to point to the repository you have just created. That way all messages are funneled through to that repository. All these messages come in as plain text files, so it’s a good idea if you tunnel them through SSH port 514.

2. Catching the Threats :

So, you have a central place where you are collecting system messages. You should now have a way to analyze these messages that is automated. The messages are usually tagged with the facility and severity, which means it’s very easy to sort them. This is where a third-party logging system helps since it can filter out logs from various devices, such as network appliances, for such things as internet protocols (IPs) you do not recognize, dropped packets, port scanners and lots of other things that hint at malicious behavior.

Now all you need to do is configure any messages that report suspicious IPs or dropped packet floods to trigger notifications automatically and the resolutions that follow. A third party log analyzer will have these triggers already integrated and probably connected to your email or text messaging. The resolution measures, such as port switching, IP blocking and alterations to the firewall can also be set up to respond in a times manner to deal with attacks.

Try to configure each solution effectively. You should figure out the usefulness of the information you are getting from each device that you make a priority. The highest priority devices should be the most visible.

Ultimately, most of the information you need to protect your network is already being generated by your network. All you need to do is organize it and make it visible.

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