Cyber security, a long-ignored subject, is getting its due importance in this virtually digital world. Right from birth certificates to travel history, everything is maintained in digital form. A digital profile of any individual can be built easily by stitching together bits and pieces of information that tech companies record for business purposes.
Today individuals and businesses have far more critical digital assets than before. These digital assets are nothing less than gold for any cybercriminal. With the increase in digital assets, risks around loss and theft of such assets have also increased manifold. This has brought forth the importance of effective security to protect digital assets and the information systems that hold them. This blog is an attempt to take you through activities involved in cyber security. It focuses on one unique activity called parsing, useful in detecting threats by going through various logs event trackers. But before that, a brief introduction to cyber security.
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security has been a field that has been shown the cold shoulder for a long time, and it is only now that it is getting its due. The rapid pace with which the internet and valuable assets on the cloud are growing has necessitated more attention towards the security of such digital assets.
Cyber security is thus a practice of protecting computing resources like servers, storage, and networks from malicious attacks that compromise the data or digital assets residing on such infrastructure.
Cyber security is a niche skill and needs a practicing cyber security professional to be proficient in multiple skills validated by relevant qualifications and certifications. Some businesses even employ ethical hackers, capable of hacking and exposing any existing vulnerabilities, so they can be plugged before any other hacker with malintent gets to it.
With advanced tools now in the hands of hackers, cyber security professionals today need to be one step ahead. Cyber security professionals need automated tools to be able to keep a constant watch on network anomalies.
Some of the methodologies that are in use in cyber security are:
Vulnerability scanning involves the detection of outdated software versions, identifying applicable security patches and system updates. It ensures compliance with security policies.
Network scanning is the process of identifying all connected hosts with essential attributes that include the operating system and all network services active on the hosts.
Password cracking is a way to ensure that users on the system are using sufficiently strong passwords in line with the password policy.
File integrity checking
File integrity is a process of calculating and storing a checksum for every guarded file on every creation or update of a file. This checksum is used to check the integrity of files.
Log review and analysis
This involves auditing system logs with the intent of finding deviations that might point to malicious activity.
This is a more pointed effort to search for malware installed on the network. Search is carried out to detect worms, viruses, trojans, keystroke loggers, spyware, or rootkits across the network.
Penetration testing is a proactive effort to breach the security perimeter of any information system by any means possible. Typically, ethical hackers perform penetration testing to identify and plug gaps in the security setup.
In the sections below, we shall focus our attention on log review and analysis.
Parsing of incidents and event logs
Traditionally, log review and analysis involved scripts in scanning through a mountain of incident or event logs. These scripts were designed to parse through text in the log file to detect any malicious activity. While these scripting jobs were effective in those times, the ever-changing cyber security scene implied that these local scripting jobs are constantly updated to ensure they are in sync with trends in cybercrime.
What is Parsing? How can Parsing help in Cyber Security?
While cyber security professionals constantly monitor the network for intrusions, some activities go under the radar. Parsing can catch these malicious activities by going through server and network logs. Logs are records of events and incidents automatically captured into a text file. Log files are also the source of cyber forensics, using which cyber security personnel attempt to trace back to the source of the cyber security incident and collect evidence. Using logs, it is also possible to determine the extent of intrusion or damage.
This obviously cannot be done manually, with server logs taking up thousands of lines in a day. This necessitated scripting and programming tools to scour through the logs for any evidence of mal intent. This activity of scouring through the server and network logs for keywords that might indicate a malicious activity is parsing in cyber security.
There is a multitude of tools available to scan and parse through log files. Some of the most popular are,
- Sematext Logs
- SolarWinds Loggly
- Sumo Logic
- SolarWinds Log & Event Manager
These tools not only parse the log files but also generate visualizations based on the keywords and hostnames.
Advantages that Parsing tools offer
Open source and free
Most of the parsing tools available today are open source and free to use. You also get to enjoy community support for these tools. If you have the right skills, you can even customize the parsing tool to your needs.
Simple and quick setup
The installation and setup of these tools are a breeze. They come with a wide range of integrations with popular cloud service providers, log aggregators, and forwarders.
Analysis at scale
With flexibility in segmenting log data, as per your requirements, and response times in seconds for any volume of data, these tools provide analysis at an enterprise scale.
Pattern and outlier detection
Many tools today offer Artificial Intelligence-based log parsing and analysis. These tools can detect patterns and anomalies using machine learning algorithms. They can even correlate these patterns and events with outliers and present evidence of intrusion or malicious activity.
These tools are also capable of visualizations based on patterns, keyword frequency, and much more.
Suppose cyber security interests you, or you want to pick up some advanced and industry-relevant skills in cyber security. In that case, Great Learning has the best cyber security courses, which are relevant for you. Parsing in cyber security is a highly automated process that now involves artificial intelligence based on machine learning algorithms, capable of detecting patterns and anomalies just like any experienced cyber security professional. Cyber security professionals use these tools to keep the digital assets secure, up and running all the time.