What is Log Correlation?

26.06.2019 Read
What is Log Correlation?

Log data collection and management in IT have proved their importance in the past. Log collection and log correlation have become essential for security, internal control or compliance purposes. The average IT environment, though, consists of numerous components like software and hardware, and the logs can easily grow into hundreds of thousands in a blink of an eye. Logs contain essential pieces of network and device intelligence: What are user up to? What data is being viewed? By whom? What the radars of our system have detected? Could these detections point to a threat or an attack in progress? Yet all those logs are not relevant or useful, and it is an incredibly dreadful task to separate useful data from the rest. That is why the need for log management software rose. Such software can process the log data to make it meaningful, useful. During the processing, the logs of an event are collected, integrated, analysed and correlated. Log correlation can be useful for many tasks such as:

  • Making informed security decisions
  • Measuring compliance with standards such as PCI, SOX…
  • Detecting policy violations
  • Identifying and creating a response to security threads

Why is it important?

Logs are generated by different sources and the input of such sources vary greatly.  Some logs cannot be read by humans since they are in some code language. Also some logs are created in excel format and some are created in pdf, moreover they can be in a whole different format as well. Without a centralized log collection tool, such logs cannot be put side by side and analysed. Also most logs are useless in isolation since they only make sense in context, through a connection established with other logs. At this point log correlation helps security analyst to make sense of the incidents, understand their nature and generate an appropriate answer. In other words, log correlation is the essential tool to convert raw data into actionable insights that guide IT teams through vast seas of security incidents and threats.

Log correlation tools connect the dots on related yet disparate data and help IT teams make better and more informed decisions. Thus it is safe to say that log correlation is not a trend but it is a useful tool that is looked for in various scenarios. At first glance intrusion detection and network forensics may appear like the only high points of log correlation, it proves its necessity in recurrence of a security event or in the context of subsequent events.