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HomeCIS ControlsCIS Control 6: Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs
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CIS Control 6

Maintenance, Monitoring, and Analysis of Audit Logs

Key Principle:

Collect, manage, and analyze audit logs of events that could help detect, understand, or recover from an attack.

Why is this CIS Control critical?

Deficiencies in security logging and analysis allow attackers to hide their location, malicious software, and activities on victim machines. Even if the victims know that their systems have been compromised, without protected and complete logging records they are blind to the details of the attack and to subsequent actions taken by the attackers. Without solid audit logs, an attack may go unnoticed indefinitely and the particular damages done may be irreversible.

Sometimes logging records are the only evidence of a successful attack. Many organizations keep audit records for compliance purposes, but attackers rely on the fact that such organizations rarely look at the audit logs, so they do not know that their systems have been compromised. Because of poor or nonexistent log analysis processes, attackers sometimes control victim machines for months or years without anyone in the target organization knowing, even though the evidence of the attack has been recorded in unexamined log files.

Main Points:
  • Include at least two synchronized time sources from which all servers and network equipment retrieve time information on a regular basis so that timestamps in logs are consistent.
  • Validate audit log settings for each hardware device and the software installed on it, ensuring that logs include a date, timestamp, source addresses, destination addresses, and various other useful elements of each packet and/or transaction. Systems should record logs in a standardized format such as syslog entries or those outlined by the Common Event Expression initiative. If systems cannot generate logs in a standardized format, log normalization tools can be deployed to convert logs into such a format.

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