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Organizations that have to comply with regulatory mandates must retain this security log data for several years. In large IT environments, log management becomes difficult, as each workstation logs thousands of events and accumulates terabytes of data. Here are five security log retention best practices:
Security logs serve as evidence when you want to conduct forensic analysis. For this reason, archiving all the logs centrally and ensuring their integrity is vital for complying with regulatory mandates. Ensure that you encrypt these logs while archiving, and also implement time stamping, hashing, and other techniques to secure the data.
Depending on your organization's audit requirement, set the maximum security log size to scale as more data is added to the network. This will prevent information loss due to insufficient storage, ensuring your compliance-readiness.
Security logs should be retained for longer periods when compared to other log types such as application log data, as they serve as evidence against data breaches and attacks. However, you can't store them forever. Setting up log retention policies is essential to retain the necessary log data, and delete the older data. The maximum security log size and retention policy configuration can be done on a local machine through Microsoft Event Viewer, or on all target computers through Group Policy.
Logging too many events makes it difficult to find the important ones during retention. This increases the probability of critical information being overlooked, so carefully configure your audit policy to log critical events such as logon failures, account lockouts, and file access to comply with regulations and ensure network security.
For security log entries to have accurate time stamps during retention, the clocks on all systems should be synchronized. Even a small discrepancy in time can make it much harder to reconstruct the chain of events leading to a security lapse. Monitoring your system clocks weekly to check and correct any significant variations can bring down the chances of security incidents going undetected.