Almost every company must evaluate its ability to comply with regulatory requirements at some stage. Keeping all network, system, and security data under control for an audit can be difficult for IT teams. This is mainly because most regulatory standards require the collection and storage of logs for compliance.
In the case of PCI DSS, the audit history should be kept for at least one year and at least three months immediately available for analysis, i.e., archived online or restored from backup.
Keeping log files for any length of time can become nearly impossible, given everything in an IT organization. Daily maintenance is not as easy as it seems. It includes the continuous archiving and storage, inspection, and cleaning process.
Typically the volume of logs collected from network devices, servers, and workstations is very high. Sometimes you need to filter the noise, not collect some logs, or only the important ones.
In addition to PCI compliance, you want to store and maintain logs for security analysis. You should be able to retrieve historical logs for further investigation of security breaches easily.
PCI DSS Requirement 10 requires you to know who uses management functions, when, and what they are doing with administrative access. You should see who has access to audit trails and who can turn audit trails on or off. You should even report invalid access attempts to your management pages.
Logs are different from the metrics you collect for business. Your server response time graphs, average shopping cart values, and the like all provide tremendous insight into your commerce site’s business performance but provide limited security value.
Why Do You Need to Collect Logs?
The main reason we worry about collecting and maintaining application logs is that when something goes wrong, you need to track what happened and when it happened so you can start resolving issues.
Your logs will help monitor how attackers exploited your platform when they were able to break in, what they accessed, and how to begin repairing the vulnerability in the event of an intrusion or data breach. The logs will also help researchers develop reports so you can start the process of correcting the commercial impact of the event.
How Can You Deal With The Logs?
It cannot be easy to get your correct enrollment level. If you keep too many logs, you will be lost in the noise. Too little, you might miss important data trends. Either way, you likely have too many messages for a person to manage on their own.
Fortunately, several resources are available to assist us in comprehending all of the data contained in the logs. By class, these tools are called “journal collection” tools. Log collection means that tools combine logs from different sources into a single logging system. These tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as a range of prices.
Tools such as ELK and Graylog are among the best free alternatives. These are excellent methods that will complete the task. Although the program is free, the time and server resources needed to run it are not. If you have the people and technical resources to run them, these tools can be configured to answer most of the previously asked questions and configured to meet PCI DSS requirements.
If you go the commercial route, you have many more options. Tools such as Splunk, Loggly, Datadog, Qradar, Arcsight, and others offer both on-premises and cloud-based log collection and analysis. These tools provide additional automated information on logs and provide a managed service. So you don’t need to allocate your resources to manage the logs. Trade terms for these tools often depend on the volume of logs you store and the automated analysis level you want to do with these logs.
After running and tuning your daily management solution, your daily PCI DSS log monitoring compliance efforts become less burdensome. All mentioned tools allow you to configure automatic alerts for known conditions and be configured to store logs according to the PCI DSS policy.
PCI DSS compliance is then a matter of ensuring that the log management solution is functioning properly and checking its study findings. Not only can you improve your PCI DSS compliance, but you can also generate value from the information gathered from logs and their analysis.
While SIEM is the best technology for log management, a Syslog server helps simplify log collection, archiving, and storage. The best part of a Syslog server is that it can be used in conjunction with a SIEM solution to filter out unwanted Syslog messages and send only what you want to monitor and store to SIEM.
A stand-alone log server is a powerful technology for logging, allowing you to compress and store logs for as long as you need them for compliance and an audit trail. You can also set log deletion programs to clean older log files. Automating logging allows you to solve more pressing IT problems, helping you save significant time.
Tips for PCI DSS Logging and Log Retention Requirements
1. Monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data, always keeping PCI DSS Requirement 10 in mind! If you’re wondering whether to log a network vector or any component of your point of sale (POS) system, it’s better not to log everything.
Whether your networks are on-premises, in the cloud, or hybrid, there are log analysis tools and SIEM systems with which you can route all of your logs to help make comprehensive logging manageable. Absolutely all actions on your network must be recorded and attributable to a specific user or process.
2. Protect access to your logs. Only administrators can view or make any changes to your logs and audit trails. Everything an administrator does on your POS systems and other networks should also be logged and attributable to them. If any non-admin user can view or change your logs, your POS data integrity will be unnecessarily at risk.
3. Every user on your network must have a unique username. Do not allow multiple people on your network to have a user account or a specific username. If any action someone takes on your network cannot be attributed to a specific person, PCI DSS compliance checks will likely fail.
4. Review your logs regularly. If you do not review your logs regularly, you cannot be sure of your diary recording’s integrity and reliability. This requirement can be met by making a specially qualified person manually review your logs. However, it will probably be more useful to use automated tools for log analysis and event tracking. Additionally, the company would be better able to prevent cyber-attacks until they cause harm to your POS networks and your entire retail operation.
5. Timing is everything and very important. You should make sure that the clock clocks that direct your systems and applications are set correctly. Timestamps in your logs will be made according to the time specified in your apps and devices. Correct system configuration can make automatic adjustments for events such as when daylight saving time starts and ends. Whether a customer makes a transaction or an unauthorized user attempts to access your sensitive POS data, you need to know exactly when it happens in order to keep logs that meet PCI DSS compliance requirements.
6. Keep your logs for at least a year. You can keep your logs even longer if you want, but at least one year is an absolute log retention period for PCI DSS compliance. When data is generated from your automated daily analysis tools, retain them for at least a year as well.
7. Note what critical events need to be logged. Critical events are as follows, and you should log all of these events:
- Anytime any user accesses cardholder data,
- All root or admin user actions,
- Access to audit trails,
- Invalid logical access attempts,
- Any use and change in authentication mechanisms,
- Deleting, pausing, or stopping logging,
- Creation and deletion of system-level objects.
8. Make sure all your logs contain the following information:
Event type, date and time, success or failure indicator, source of the event and affected data, identity or name of the system component or resource.
Achieving PCI DSS compliance will be much easier if you follow the tips above. At the same time, your organization will be more likely to undergo compliance audits, and it will be much easier to secure your sensitive financial data.
Having an audit trail is an essential part of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Audit logs, log management, logging are all essential parts of PCI DSS requirement 10.7. PCI DSS requirements require audit logs to be retained for a minimum of one year. Ninety days of PCI audit logs should also be available for immediate analysis.
A compromise can take several months to be realized, so there is a one-year requirement for PCI compliance. Log data is useful in active event response agreements, so you should have ninety days of log data at hand. Log data is useful when an organization is examining logs in real-time. The log files contain information about security events, network resources, event logs, system components, and suspicious activities.
Protection of cardholder data is one of the essential requirements of PCI DSS compliance. A mature information security program focusing on PCI DSS, complete with security information and incident management system (SIEM), integrates multiple cybersecurity disciplines such as file integrity monitoring, intrusion detection systems, user activity, Syslog collection data breach detection. It protects cardholder data by having a security policy.
SIEM uses log data from log servers and provides log analysis to create an audit trail history. A suitable SIEM has alerts configured to help information security professionals locate operating systems and user account compromises that could compromise credit card and card data.