Article created 2003-05-14 by Rainer
If you have to create an archive of past events, this scenario is for you.
The main focus here is storage of event data. Potentially, data is
stored for a long time and eventually never being overwritten. It is
also highly likely that data will be written to a read-only media like
Event archive are created for a number of reasons, some samples are
- Corporate requirements
Your organization, as a general policy, requires you to log data for later review.
- ISO 9000 requirements
Depending on where logs are being generated, they might be needed to be long-term
archived to fulfil the ISO 9000 requirements.
- legal requirements
Depending on your country, some or all organizations might be required by law to
save log data for an extended period of time. For example, in many
countries internet service providers are required by law to archive
connection logs for at least some month so that criminal investigators
can use them to track down cyber-criminals.
Depending on the exact requirements you have, the event archive can be placed on a
server that performs other functions or it can not. If the log archive
is potentially used in court, we highly recommend to use a dedicated and
specifically configured machine.
Creating an "unsecured" Event Archive
By "unsecured", we mean an archive that is created without any specific
measures against tampering with the log data. This type of archive is
meant to be used for internal audits, only. This archive is not intended
to be used as evidence in court. As such, a less restrictive security
policy might be used.
This scenario is often found in organizations where event archiving is not
the topmost priority and funding thus is limited. The advantage of an
unsecured archive is that no dedicated machine or complex procedures are
needed. If that level of security is sufficient for your application,
the unsecured archive can be placed on event repository server that also
performs other actions. For example, the event data could be written to
a database which is also access by other tools.
However, as a general recommendation, we recommend to write archives as text
files, which can later easily be compressed and written to read only
media (if there is justification for this). This also allows to keep the
database clean of otherwise unneeded historical data.
Setting up a unsecured event archive is relatively trivial.
Creating a highly secure Event Archive
This type of archive is needed if log data is potentially to be used in
court. Please note that some countries require organizations to store
log data securely.
As law is very different in different countries and states, this guide here
can not provide a definite answer on how to set up an archive to comply
with local laws or to be used as evidence. You need to work with your
legal advisor on how to do that. However, Adiscon's scenario here
describes some steps that are typically required.
A secure event archive is one where event data can not be tampered (or at
least where it is highly unlikely). As such, special care must be taken
that the system the archive resides on is tamper-resistant as well as
the archived logs.
A typical configuration for a secure log host looks as follows:
As a general guideline, we recommend the following steps to create a highly secure event
- Firstly, check with your legal counsel and make sure you understand the legal
requirements and implications of your doing! This is an essential step.
If, for example, event log data is meant to be used in court and there
is even a slight failure in your procedures, the data can not be used as evidence!
- Make sure that the central log host is a dedicated, well-equipped machine.
- Ensure physical security of the central log host.
- Ensure that the log host is protected by a firewall and there is no other
system inside the log host's network. Remember: nowadays firewalls
have become quite inexpensive. If in doubt, look for a Cisco PIX 501,
which offer very much for very little money!
- Review "Creating a hardened
log host" for information on hardening your log host.
After mastering the initial steps, creating the log host itself is quite simple:
- Then, follow the "Creating a simple
Syslog Server" step-by-step guide.
- If you would like to receive Windows event log data or other non-syslog based
events, we recommend to set up a SETP server and use SETP for relaying
messages from the local Agents. This is described in
"Forwarding NT Event Logs to a SETP Server".
- Keep in mind that both the syslog server and the SETP server can run concurrently!
- Point all your log sources to the log host. Instructions for common syslog
devices can be found in "Sample
Syslog Device Configurations".
This concludes the creation of the log host.
Ensure that log data is written to offline media on a regular basis. It is
highly recommended to use read-only media like CD-R or DVD-R. Using
rewriteable made might make the archive questionable in court. As does
writing too infrequently to offline media. We recommend a daily
schedule. Be sure to make backup copies from this media and store it on
two physically different, secure places. Keep in mind that log data
contains very sensitive information: make sure no unauthorized person
has access to it. For example, it is not the best idea to send these CDs
via postal mail or regular courier.
- After you have finally set up your system and documented all procedure, be
sure to re-check with your legal counsel.
remember that security is not a one-shot! Neither is law. Be sure to
apply all hot-fixes to your server as they become available and change
your procedures as need arises. Be sure to check with your legal counsel
on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance with legal
As you have seen, when creating a secure log host, there are many things
beyond the scope of Adiscon's software to consider. The small
guidelines above are hopefully a good starting point. But it is strongly
advised to check with other security sites (like www.cert.org)
and consultants before implementing such a system. Your local government
might even run a dedicated site with recommendations.
Creating a log archive for Evidence in Court
This is more or less the same scenario as "Creating a highly secure Event Archive".
We are providing a separate section as many people have inquired about
some legal specifics. So we have tried to find some good sources, which
we list here.
Again, we can not and do not provide legal advise here – check with your
legal counsel before implementing any solution.
If you are based in the US, there are a number
of government papers and sites available, for example a DOJ
paper of the DOJ paper:
that URL becomes invalid, this is a strong indicator that the DOJ's
point of view has changed. In this case, please search the DOJ site for
current information (we are intentionally not mirroring this paper).
In the US, you might also want to visit www.cybercrime.gov.
To set up a log archive that should potentially be used as evidence in
court, please follow "Creating a highly
secure Event Archive".