Best Practices for Cloud Logging, Security, & Data Protection

When we first founded Logentries in 2010 a lot of people thought Viliam Holub (co-founder, CTO, and the brain behind processing billions and billions of log events in real time) and I were crazy. The common response was:

“People are not going to send their logs to the cloud… logs might contain very sensitive data…”

Like typical stubborn founders we persevered in spite of this, and today we have more than 35,000 users across 100 countries. Our customers also range from fortune 100 companies to individual developers across almost all verticals from SaaS companies, to healthcare, financial services, commerce and a bunch of others.

So, why do companies now trust sending log data to a cloud based service?  Id like to share some of the reasons we have found our customers are using secure, cloud-based logging.

  • Many workloads are already in the cloud: Most organizations today run at least some workloads in the cloud. For newer organizations, they will often run ALL of their workloads in the cloud. For cloud-based workloads, sending log data to a cloud-based logging provider is not quite as big a leap of faith as for those on prem. In fact it generally aligns quite closely to their requirements as there may be no outbound network costs, their logs may actually be in the same physical data center or geographical region, and they can be billed monthly – same as with their infrastructure costs.
  • For on-prem workloads: Your logs may be a lot safer in the cloud than they are on-premise. Cloud vendors like AWS, Google, Microsoft invest heavily in security and have hardcore security teams looking out for you. For example the level of security provided in Amazon’s cloud platform is described in more detail here. Furthermore your logging provider should be looking out for you by making sure data is encrypted on the wire, sensitive data is stripped out before it leaves your network, and encrypting data at rest. It’s unlikely that your homegrown logging solution will have your data locked down quite so securely, at least not without significant investment.
  • Sending logs to a remote location can be a MORE secure option: With cloud-based logging your logs are stored remotely from your running systems. This is recommended as a security best practice; if your system is compromised, a hacker will often delete the logs on your local system to remove any evidence of his/her activity. By storing your logs remotely this cannot be performed as you will have a redundant copy of the log data at Logentries.

As you consider moving your log management and analytics to the cloud, here are our five best practices you should look for from log management service to assure security:

  1. Website Integrity: A good indicator of how serious a company takes it’s security is how it deals with website integrity. For cloud services this is often the gateway to your data. For example at Logentries we we redirect all web HTTP requests to our website to HTTPS. This ensures the integrity of the Logentries website by using SSL authentication between the Customer and the Logentries web interface. The Logentries service must show a valid SSL certificate to each Customer to initiate this link. Perfect Forward Secrecy is also used on our web servers for HTTPS. In addition to the usual confidentiality and integrity properties of HTTPS, forward secrecy adds a new property. If an adversary is currently recording all a users’ encrypted traffic, and they later crack or steal Logentries private keys, by using perfect forward secrecy they should not be able to use those keys to decrypt the recorded traffic at a point in the future.
  2. What if I have sensitive data in my logs: While it’s usually a not a good idea to write PII or sensitive data to your logs, it is not always unavoidable and in some cases it can occur inadvertently or as a result of an oversight. Having the ability to search for and filter out/redact/obfuscate sensitive data from your logs is a key requirement for many organizations. The Logentries Datahub has been designed with this in mind so that you can easily filter out and redact any sensitive data before it leaves your network. It has been designed in conjunction with a number of our customers who have data protection and security requirements and in particular for those who require PCI, HIPPA or similar audits.
  3.  Is your data encrypted on the wire: Sending your logs is the clear is rarely a good idea. Data sent to a cloud logging service should be done so via SSL so that it is encrypted on the wire. You should check if your log forwarding agent/collector or syslog setup is configured to support this.
  4. Is your data encrypted at rest: Data at rest should also be encrypted. I.e any data you send to a cloud service should be encrypted when it sits on disk in the cloud environment. Ask your logging provider if this is the case and what encryption they are using for this.
  5. Where does your data reside: Check where your logs actually reside. Are they in a SOC 2 compliant data center? How is it protected? What jurisdiction is it in and what are the data protection policies in that jurisdiction.

Want to learn more or chat with a cloud logging expert? Get started with a free 30-day trial here, or contact us at sales@logentries.com 

Posted in Cloud, Log Management, Security, Tips & Tricks

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