Log management is a critical aspect of modern IT operations. It involves collecting, analyzing, and storing logs generated by applications, systems, and devices to gain insight into their behavior and troubleshoot issues. However, traditional log management solutions face several challenges, including security, scalability, and transparency. Blockchain technology has the potential to address these challenges and provide significant benefits to log management. In this blog post, we will explore how blockchain can benefit log management.
First, let's understand what blockchain technology is. A blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger that records transactions in a secure and transparent manner. Each transaction or record in a blockchain is called a block, and once added to the chain, it cannot be altered or deleted. This makes blockchain ideal for applications that require immutable and secure record-keeping.
Now, let's look at some of the benefits blockchain can provide to log management.
- Immutable Records: As mentioned earlier, blockchain provides immutable records that cannot be altered or deleted once added to the chain. In the context of log management, this means that logs generated by applications, systems, and devices can be securely and transparently stored in a blockchain. This ensures that logs are tamper-proof and can be trusted for compliance, auditing, and legal purposes.
- Enhanced Security: Blockchain provides enhanced security through the use of cryptographic algorithms and consensus mechanisms. Cryptographic algorithms ensure that logs are encrypted and decrypted securely, while consensus mechanisms ensure that logs are validated and verified by a network of nodes before being added to the chain. This makes it difficult for malicious actors to tamper with logs or launch attacks on log management systems.
- Transparency: Blockchain provides transparency by enabling all participants in a network to view and verify logs. This means that logs can be shared securely and transparently among different stakeholders, such as IT teams, auditors, and regulators. This ensures that logs are accessible to all stakeholders and can be used for real-time monitoring, analysis, and troubleshooting.
- Scalability: Blockchain provides scalability by enabling logs to be stored and processed in a distributed and decentralized manner. This means that logs can be processed in parallel by multiple nodes in a network, leading to faster processing times and increased scalability. This is especially important for large-scale log management applications that generate a massive volume of logs.
- Cost-Effective: Blockchain provides a cost-effective solution for log management by eliminating the need for third-party intermediaries and reducing the cost of infrastructure and maintenance. This means that log management can be implemented in a cost-effective and efficient manner, leading to significant cost savings for organizations.
Most, if not all compliance and best practices stipulate that securing data and logs are mandatory. Some of these may be familiar but there are many others:
- Homeland Security CDM
- PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
- NIAP (National Information Assurance Partnership)
- Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation
- NIST SP 800-92
- FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act)
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
Traditional logging tools can be hacked, tampered with, or corrupted. For example DNC Server hackers in 2016 covered their tracks by modifying logs
Current Logging Tools are centralized in a series of identically documented servers/DBs. Logs are often encrypted, but lack provenance and immutability. Therefore, finding and/or modifying the same record in a centralized system is relatively easy.
Decentralizing data logs on a blockchain eliminates the possibility of a single source being hacked or becoming corrupt. No central source of “truth” means no central point of failure. Once a record is documented on the chain, the centralized failure point is eliminated, and the security of the entire system is increased.
Corruption or hacking attempts to individual records on the chain would appear as outliers to the chain (not matching the majority of the chain) and therefore would be discarded as erroneous.
PROVENANCE & IMMUTABILITY
With Blockchain-stored logs, it is virtually impossible to delete or manipulate the logs because they are immutable and have provenance. As each new block is added, we are creating not just a unique record, but a unique record with a unique history, whereby any attempt to falsify a single record would mean having to falsify the entire chain in the majority of blockchain node instances - not just one entry.
Provenance: Provenance is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object.
Immutability: An immutable object is an object whose state cannot be modified after it is created.
Any change in a record is documented on the chain, and only after enough (majority) nodes in the chain agree with the change, will that change become “truth”. If the change cannot be verified across the chain(s), then it will become an outlier and not recognized as the truth.
Each block in the chain is informed by the block before it, resulting in a dependent algorithmic relationship & thus attempting to change a block “mid-stream” would result in an incorrect HASH calculation and splitting the chain into a new series of HASHES (more outliers).
What are HASHES/HASHING?
In simple terms, hashing means taking an input string of any length and giving out an output of a fixed length. For example: bitcoin uses SHA-256 which gives an output of a fixed length of 256 bits.
Even a tiny change to a log would result in a new HASH which would be mathematically incompatible with the existing chain, thus creating outlier records.
Incoming events are hashed using LogZilla's deduplication algorithm, then stored on a blockchain (a REST API is also available).
By using the already-integrated algorithm from our deduplication, the blockchain doesn’t have to be integrated directly, rather, it lives in parallel to it. This ensures that the unparalleled speed and efficiency you have come to expect from LogZilla remains the same, now augmented by the security and provenance of a blockchain.
Configuration ability of the blockchain component is wide and diverse. Here are a few examples:
- Logzilla server on prem, and fully private blockchain on prem
- Logzilla server on prem, fully private blockchain both on prem and in the cloud
- Logzilla server on prem, private blockchain on prem, and a periodic post to a public blockchain, such as the Ethereum mainnet
- Logzilla server on prem, fully private blockchain in the cloud (single cloud provider or multiple cloud providers)
- Logzilla server in the cloud, private blockchain in the cloud (single cloud provider or multiple cloud providers)
All of the above options are interchangeable.
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize log management by providing immutable records, enhanced security, transparency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. This can lead to significant benefits for organizations in terms of compliance, auditing, troubleshooting, and cost savings. As blockchain technology continues to mature, we can expect to see more innovative applications of blockchain in log management and other areas of IT operations.