Buyer's Guideby Pritam Tamang,
Last Updated: October 3, 2018
Even a small instance of negligence regarding IT security can be disastrous and will haunt your organization for years to come. Lax security measures lead to data breaches, which snowball into full-fledged customer management nightmares.
This is why small and midsize businesses (SMBs) should use a diverse range of IT security tools, including log management software. It protects you from hackers and cybercriminals by preventing the theft of confidential data. It provides insights to SMBs that help them resolve IT issues and meet compliance regulations.
There are many log management solutions on the market, from best-of-breed solutions to integrated suites. When choosing a solution, look for one that fits your budget as well as your IT needs and infrastructure.
This Buyer's Guide offers an overview of the key features, uses and other considerations that you should look into during the log management software purchase process.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Log Management Software?
Log management software helps small businesses monitor, record and analyze what's going on in their various IT systems such as servers, operating systems, and even mobile applications.
Log management solutions serve as a single location to view records of different devices, databases, applications, routers etc.
Each record is called a log entry, which could be details of customers browsing a website or the IP address of devices used by remotely working employees who are trying to access a file in the database.
Log management tools can quickly sift through tons of log entries and send alerts about abnormal events or errors. For instance, you can set rules to receive alerts when customers face website browsing issues, such as a 404 Page Not Found or 500 Internal Server Error. You can also set alerts for when employees try to download unauthorized applications to their computers.
Common Features of Log Management Software
Log management solutions are ideal tools for troubleshooting, managing compliance and improving IT security. Here are some of the most common features of these tools.
|Searchable repository||Store and search logs of different devices and systems, such as network IP address and device locations, in a single database.|
|Log monitoring||Monitor logs of systems, networks and devices, including firewalls, web/email gateways and printers.|
|Forensic analysis||Investigate log entries to analyze system performance, data trends, potential threats, server outages and other issues.|
|Alerts||Create rule-based alerts to be notified about new devices, servers and network logs, as well as potential cyberattacks or system errors.|
|Dashboards||Visualize data as charts and graphs on customizable dashboards.|
|User management||Assign your employees access rights and role-based permissions to ensure that the right employee, IT expert or administrator is alerted to issues they can resolve.|
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Businesses that deal with sensitive information, such as financial statements and medical records, need to actively monitor log entries for potential threats.
However, a large wealth management firm may have different expectations from log management software than a small medical practice. The complexities of the software and pricing will differ for both buyers. That's why each buyer should understand their needs and find a solution that fits their budget and available IT resources.
Below are the two most common buyer groups and their specific concerns.
A feature-rich IT security solution is desirable, but could be a overkill for SMBs that have a small internal IT team.
Gartner's report, "Taking a Pragmatic Approach to Infrastructure Security for Midsize Enterprises" (content available to clients only) notes that 24/7 security control monitoring is an unrealistic objective for midsize businesses (100-999 employees) that have tight IT security budgets and lack dedicated security analysts (at least 8-12).
If it's unrealistic for midsize businesses, imagine what a nightmare it would be for a small business with a handful of staff—and sometimes, just one IT administrator. That's why SMBs should opt for a plug-and-play log management tool that offers just enough functionality to set up the basic, but essential, security measures.
Large organizations need extensive IT security management as they're often prime targets of data breaches. Therefore, it's necessary for them to meet many compliance regulations.
If you're a large wealth management firm, you should be prepared for compliance audits such as the annual SEC examinations. Log management tools let you track security risks and improve your company's readiness for compliance audits from regulatory bodies.
But not all large organizations are the same. Some businesses need to look further than basic log management solutions and opt for security information and event management (SIEM) systems. These are robust security tools that let you monitor proprietary log data and offer advanced threat detection with forensic analysis of incidents, real-time log monitoring, user monitoring, detailed analytics and more.
Another option is Managed Security Services (MSS), which offers similar capabilities to SIEM. However, MSS is a managed solution, where you outsource security event log management, monitoring and investigation to a third-party security service provider.
Outsourcing security can be financially beneficial to businesses that lack a competent internal IT team, as well as to businesses that are implementing a threat detection and response solution for the very first time.
After understanding whether your needs align with those of an SMB or enterprise buyer, you should analyze the features, pricing and use cases of the available products. Here are some of the top considerations for small businesses looking to invest in log management software:
Functionality requirements. The core functionality of log management solutions is collection and storage of event data in a centralized location. This might suffice for small businesses whose primary concern is log auditing to meet compliance requirements (such as PCI, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley Act).
But SMBs that need active threat detection and response tools should request additional functionalities such as event correlation, rule-based alerts and advanced reporting capabilities from vendors.
Pricing considerations. SMBs typically consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) before buying software. The TCO includes software configuration fees, maintenance costs, support fee and other expenses.
The budget constraints of most small businesses has resulted in subscription-based solutions hosted on the cloud being more popular than on-premise solutions. SMBs don't usually have to pay upfront for cloud-hosted solutions as they usually have subscription-based (monthly/annual) pricing models.
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