Why Audit Logs Are Important In Saas Applications

Audit logs are the centralized stream of all user activity within a team. Part of the security and compliance program of any large enterprise is designed to control and monitor the access of information within the organization. This drives the need for enterprise buyers to ask for a detailed audit trail of all activity that happens within their accounts. An audit trail can be used to prevent suspicious activity when it starts (if actively monitored), or to playback account activity during an incident review.

Picture by Stephen Dawson, courtesy of unsplash.com

What are audit logs?

SaaS audit logs are one of the most commonly used tools for monitoring user activity within a SaaS application. These logs contain everything from transaction data (transactions between users), information on the creation of accounts, and information on data that was edited or deleted. Audit logs can be segmented to include different user segments that need different levels of monitoring. The primary use of SaaS audit logs is to automatically capture log and transaction details that help to establish cause and effect between different users or tasks. When watching for unusual activity, audit logs are the most ideal tool for quick detection of anomalies. Audit logs are most often used to monitor where user activity takes place within a SaaS application.

Why are audit logs important?

With the rise of agile, DevOps and cloud, every organization is focused on their application performance and availability. The further integration of the applications inside a private cloud environment increases the number of operational issues that can arise for security and scalability. To keep the critical enterprise apps up and running, the need for a central source of truth and visibility of all activity within the application. This is where the need for audit logs arises. Identifying and preventing anomalous activities should be the primary concern.

Why do enterprises need audit logs?

Security: Every enterprise needs to be able to track their environment, which includes account activities, user activity, actions on their apps and databases, etc. Any suspicious activity within the account or even a user who gets involved in a suspicious activity can get the same audit log checked.

What are the benefits of audit logs?

The ability to capture all activity, even if you have to search. Audit logs keep an active record of every user, login attempt, file activity, etc., within your system The ability to reverse any activity, even when it is done maliciously. A healthy audit trail (documented in a single database) can help you keep your data safe from a variety of threats, including malicious actors. You can now keep a complete record of all user behaviour with just a few keystrokes. With audit log reports, you can also automate user reporting. How to get started: In our case, our third-party provider uses AWS Config, which provides a logical store for all the states of the system.

How do audit logs help enterprises?

Endpoint visibility plays a crucial role in a company's security solution set. It lets an enterprise understand the activity taking place on the application and helps it know what data is accessed or written on it. Without audit logs, endpoint visibility would be difficult to achieve. The following questions need to be answered to get all the endpoints properly configured. What activity is being performed? Is it sensitive data? Does the activity in question look like a sophisticated attack, perhaps a spear-phishing attempt or a virus? Are any external parties in direct or indirect relation with your organization accessing the endpoints? Does the activity match the pattern of other activities on the endpoint?

An example of implementing in practice

Thankfully, we don't have to work too hard to implement audit logs in Django. There are a few libraries to choose from, we use Django-audit log from Jazzband. It makes implementing audit logs a breeze.

Conclusion

While data loss and risk are known for being critical for the success of organizations, they also can be mitigated and remediated with advanced security and audit technologies. These technologies provide real-time and historical visibility into a customer's account, allow IT to perform automated rule-based security solutions and provide advanced tools to support security response through proper communication between security teams. These tools reduce the need to rely on often costly security staff time and solutions that have a high chance of failure.

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Last Updated 25 Sep 2022