Showing that you have instituted adequate security measures in your business is not just about setting monitoring programs and security controls. Instead, you will need to construct an audit log for the auditors to ascertain the safety of your data. The number of data breach cases is in the rise and you should thus ensure that you establish an audit trail to show that your security stance through documentation.

Logging and auditing: What are they?

When you call in an auditor, they will require a proof of the control monitoring, controls, and event info. To achieve this, you will need a document that has the records of all resources accessed such as the timestamps, destination address, login information, and source address called an audit log.

Information in the audit log

An audit log is crucial since it will help you to track access details. As such, the log should include the following:

  • User identity
  • Terminal ID
  • Records of time and date when every user logged in and out
  • All the files accessed
  • All the data, systems, and applications access (whether successful or not)
  • Networks access
  • Systems configuration changes
  • Exemptions
  • System utility use
  • Protection systems notifications (including the anti-malware and intrusion detection)
  • Events related to security including alarms

The use of an audit log

The audit log is crucial since it helps in tracking all the activities that affect the environment. It also traces the location where specific activities took place thus guaranteeing security to your data.


An audit log/trail will offer chronological records of all the events which you’ll give to the auditor to show compliance with all the security requirements for certification purposes. The audit log will show any abnormalities that may suggest non-compliance. If an intrusion is due to reluctance to update the systems, then the auditor will conclude that you are non-compliant.

Business continuity and general debugging

The audit trails will ensure that your security group can join the dots to determine the cause of a security problem. The information provided allow the administrator to recover quickly after an intrusion.

Forensic evidence

In a case of lawsuits associated with the data breach, the audit log provides evidence that shows adequate event management.

Detecting threats

Checking audit logs periodically, you will easily identify weird occurrences when connected to real-time tracking devices.

SOC reporting

If you are a vendor, then the audit logs will offer an assurance of your security accountability which helps you to easily comply with the corporate vendor management requirements.

Challenges of log management

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there are several challenges associated with log management. The issues may arise from inconsistencies in timestamps, formats as well as having too many logins.

Institutions have trouble protecting their logs during the process of meeting their data retention requirements. Also, the process of analyzing the logs is time-consuming and thus less prioritized in many businesses.

Audit logging: Best practices

1. Protect logs with fail-safe configuration

Logs have sensitive data that is legally protected, and you should ensure that malicious people do not access them. When setting the configuration for your audit log system, you should use a “fail-safe” and not “fail open”. While the latter may appear safe due to less hassle during operation, it is not safe for your data. On the other hand, a “fail-safe” will protect your data including external bypass switch device. The IT team can activate or deactivate the switch!

2. Ensure integrity

When you make it your priority, log management will enable data integrity across your organization. You should establish objectives that match all the applicable laws and regulations and setup internal policies that significantly reduce the risk. Also, your digital records should be tampering-proof to protect your data from external aggression. You can use security features such as firewalls and ensure that all your internal individuals cannot change your logs. To protect the integrity of your data, use complete replicas and read-only files.

3. Audit logging program: Find a dual-purpose

It is necessary that you establish policies and procedures for logging to boost your data security. These standards and guidelines will play a crucial role when integrating log monitoring in all your organization’s devices. The logs will allow you to keep track of any access to your system as well as ensure that you continuously monitor the system to ensure continued compliance thus reducing the time required to prove compliance.

4. Providing resources to manage responsibilities

If your organization uses multiple systems to manage processes, then you have lots of information that the log management team will have to review. As such, you should hire the proper number of people as well as providing them with the necessary tools to carry out a productive process.