How to prevent Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

OWASP A10: Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

Why was logging and monitoring added to the OWASP Top 10 list?

When is an application vulnerable?

  • Verifiable events such as logins, failed logins and high-value transactions are not logged.
  • Warnings and errors result in no, insufficient or unclear log messages. This includes obscure error logging without sufficient detail for forensics to understand.
  • Application and API logs are not monitored for suspicious activity.
  • Logs are only stored locally. Logs that are not backed up run the risk of being deleted by intruders accessing a system. In this way, the intruders conceal their traces, so that the source of the intrusion is not traceable.
  • Adequate alarm thresholds and reaction escalation processes are absent or ineffective.
  • Penetration tests and scans by DAST tools (e.g. OWASP ZAP) do not trigger any warnings.
  • The application cannot detect, escalate or warn against active attacks in real time.
  • Lack of a formal escalation plan after a violation.
  • Missing automated auditing and monitoring of security frameworks and/or lack of qualified security personnel to analyze log data.
  • Poor authentication management.
  • Insufficient training for logging and monitoring.

How can insufficient logging and monitoring be prevented?

  • All login, access control, and server-side input validation errors should be logged with sufficient user context to identify suspicious or malicious accounts. Logs should be retained for a period of time that allows delayed forensic analysis.
  • Ensure that logs are created in a format that can be easily used by central log management tools.
  • High-value transactions should have an audit trail with integrity controls to prevent manipulation or deletion.
  • Effective monitoring and alerting should be established so that suspicious activities can be detected and responded to in a timely manner.
  • A response and recovery plan shall be established for incidents, such as NIST 800–61 rev. 2.
  • A separate and dedicated, security hardened server platform to capture and store events in the audit log.
  • The use of network time synchronization technology to synchronize system clocks. This also enables automated monitoring tools to analyze event patterns that occur in real time.
  • Strong access control to logs.
  • The creation of a formal incident response plan.
  • Ensuring 24/7 monitoring by implementing a warning system for monitoring personnel.
  • Know your base traffic to determine what is not normal.
  • Identify the presence of unknown/unauthorized IP addresses in wireless networks.
  • Be careful with multiple failed login attempts for system authentication and event logs.
  • Track suspicious network activity after hours.
  • Investigate inexplicable system reboots or shutdowns.
  • Keep an eye on services and applications that are configured to start automatically without permission.

Further Reading (Part 2): How OWASP AppSensor leads to improved Logging and Monitoring





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Javan Rasokat

Javan Rasokat

IT security specialist with a passion for secure software development 🔐

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