Importance of Logging in Cybersecurity 

Publication date: Mar 28, 2024

Last Published: Apr 02, 2024

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Read Time : 6 minutes

One often-overlooked, yet incredibly powerful tool that you can include in your cybersecurity arsenal is logging. When implemented well, logging can be the difference between rapidly detecting a potential breach and a devastating security incident. This article explains what logging is and how it can help organizations like yours detect, respond to, and recover from cyber threats.

What Is Logging? 

Simply put, logging is the process of recording events that occur within your IT network. These events are captured and stored in files known as logs.  

Logs contain vital information such as the exact time and date an event happened, the device or application where the event originated, the user associated with the activity, what the user or process did (logging in, accessing a file, changing settings, etc.), and whether the action was successful or failed. 

There are several types of logs, and each type serves a specific purpose. Here are some common examples:  

  • System logs: These logs record events related to the operating system, hardware, and other system components. System logs can help identify issues with system performance, stability, and security. 
  • Application logs: Application logs record events related to the usage and performance of software applications (both local and cloud ones). They can help identify application errors, performance issues, and potential security threats. 
  • Security logs: Security logs record events related to security-related activities, such as user authentication, access control, and intrusion detection. They are essential for identifying and investigating potential security breaches. 
  • Network logs: Network logs record events related to network traffic, including data packets, connection attempts, and bandwidth usage. They can help identify network performance issues and potential security threats. 

Good to know: Logs are closely related to events, but there’s an important difference between these terms. An event is an action or occurrence within your IT network, while a log is the recorded documentation of that event. A single log may contain multiple events. 

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Why Is Logging Important? 

The importance of logging in the context of cybersecurity cannot be overstated because it provides valuable insights into system activities, helping you:  

  • Identify unauthorized access: Logs reveal login attempts, both successful and failed. By tracking logins from unusual locations, strange access times, or a series of unsuccessful attempts followed by a successful one, you can pinpoint signs of unauthorized access and potential account compromises. 
  • Detect data breaches: By analyzing logs, you can detect anomalous actions performed on sensitive files or data. Unexpected file changes, access from abnormal locations, or large data transfers out of your system could indicate a data breach in progress. 
  • Achieve compliance: Regulatory standards like HIPAA, PCI DSS, CMMC, and others often mandate robust logging and auditing practices. Maintaining proper logs demonstrates your commitment to security and compliance readiness. 
  • Troubleshoot issues: Logs are invaluable for diagnosing and resolving technical issues. By reviewing logs, you can identify the root cause of problems, such as application errors, hardware failures, or network connectivity issues. This information can help you optimize your IT infrastructure and minimize downtime. 
  • Perform forensic analysis: In the event of a security incident, logs can provide critical evidence for forensic investigations. They can help you understand how an attack occurred, who was responsible, and what actions were taken during the incident. This information can be used to improve your security measures and support legal proceedings if necessary. 

In summary, logging is a vital component of a robust cybersecurity strategy. By effectively monitoring and analyzing logs, you can protect your organization from cyber threats, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and maintain optimal system performance. 

Cybersecurity Logging Best Practices 

Many organizations collect massive amounts of log data, but that’s not enough. Poorly implemented logging can become counterproductive and result in missed security incidents, increased storage costs, and inefficient use of resources. To maximize the benefits of logging and avoid these pitfalls, it’s essential to follow logging best practices. 

Focus on What Matters 

Logging everything all the time might seem like a good idea, but it can quickly become inefficient and expensive. Instead, tailor your logging policies based on the severity of security threats your organization faces. Conduct regular cyber risk assessments to understand the risks your company is likely to experience and configure your logging policies accordingly. 

Centralize Your Logs 

By centralizing logs from all your systems, including servers, network devices, and applications into a single, unified platform simplifies monitoring and analysis and also enhances your ability to detect and respond to security incidents more swiftly and effectively. This is where Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems come into play, acting as a centralized hub for all your logging needs. 

Leverage Automation 

Security automation tools like those belonging to the Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) group of cybersecurity technologies can be used to collect alerts from a SIEM system and automatically respond to some incidents. The positive benefits of automation in logging include reduced burden on the security team and accelerated incident response times.  

Incorporate Cloud Logging 

As more businesses migrate to cloud-based services, it’s paramount to extend logging practices to the cloud. Cloud environments generate their own sets of logs, which can provide insights into access patterns, resource usage, and potential security threats unique to cloud infrastructure.  

Define Retention and Deletion Policies 

It’s important to define retention and deletion policies for two main reasons. First, regulatory standards and industry compliance requirements often dictate specific retention periods for audit logs. Second, it’s a bad idea to store logs indefinitely due to privacy concerns and security risks since excess data can become a liability if breached. 


Logging, while often overlooked, is a foundational element of any effective cybersecurity program. However, logs are only as useful as your ability to gather, analyze, and act on them. To maximize their value, consider partnering with a cybersecurity expert like OSIbeyond. We can help you design a tailored logging strategy, implement the right tools, and proactively monitor your environment for threats—giving you valuable peace of mind in an ever-evolving threat landscape. Contact us today to learn more.

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