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Present on all Linux distributions, logger is a useful command-line tool to test your logging configuration. Listing 5-34 demonstrates logger.
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CHAPTER 5 s UNDERSTANDING LOGGING AND LOG MONITORING
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Listing 5-34. Running the logger Command puppy# logger -p mail.info "This is a test message for facility mail and priority info" Listing 5-34 would write the message This is a test message for facility mail and priority info to your syslog or syslog-NG daemon and into whatever destination you have configured for messages with a facility of mail and a priority of info. As you can see, the -p parameter allows you specify a facility and priority combination and then the test message contained in quotation marks. I often use logger inside bash scripts to generate multiple messages for testing purposes. The script in Listing 5-35 generates a syslog message for every facility and priority combination. Listing 5-35. Log Testing bash Script #!/bin/bash for f in {auth,authpriv,cron,daemon,kern,lpr,mail,mark,news,syslog,user,uucp,local0, local1,local2,local3,local4,local5,local6,local7} do for p in {debug,info,notice,warning,err,crit,alert,emerg} do logger -p $f.$p "Test syslog messages from facility $f with priority $p" done done You can also use logger to pipe a growing file into syslog or syslog-NG. Try the simple script shown in Listing 5-36. Listing 5-36. Piping a Growing File into syslog #!/bin/bash tail -f logfile | logger -p facility.priority This script simply runs tail -f on logfile (replace this with the name of the file you want to pipe into your choice of syslog daemon) and pipes the result into logger using a facility and priority of your choice. Of course, this script could obviously be greatly expanded in complexity and purpose, but it should give you a start. Logger works for both syslog and syslog-NG.
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Many people think log analysis and correlation are black arts log voodoo. This is not entirely true. It can be a tricky art to master, and you need to be constantly refining that art; however, inherently once you implement a systematic approach to it, then it becomes a simple part of your daily systems monitoring routine. The first thing to remember is that analysis and correlation are two very different things. Analysis is the study of constituent parts and their interrelationships in making up a whole. It
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CHAPTER 5 s UNDERSTANDING LOGGING AND LOG MONITORING
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must be said that the best analysis tool available is yourself. System administrators learn the patterns of their machines operations and can often detect a problem far sooner than automated monitoring or alerting systems have done on the same problem. I have two problems with this model. The first problem is that you cannot be everywhere at once. The second problem is that the growing volume of the data collected by the systems can become overwhelming. This is where correlation comes in. Correlation is best defined as the act of detecting relationships between data. You set up tools to collect your data, filter the wheat from the chaff, and then correlate that remaining data to put the right pieces of information in front of you so you can provide an accurate analysis. Properly setup and managed tools can sort through the constant stream of data that the daily operations of your systems and any attacks on those systems generate. They can detect the relationships between that data and either put those pieces together into a coherent whole or provide you with the right pieces to allow you to put that analysis together for yourself. But you have to ensure those tools are the right tools and are configured to look for the right things so you can rely on them to tell you that something is wrong and that you need to intervene. As a result of the importance of those tools to your environment, building and implementing them should be a carefully staged process. I will now cover those stages in brief. The first stage of building such an automated log monitoring system is to make sure you are collecting the right things and putting them in the right place. Make lists of all your applications, devices, and systems and where they log to. Read carefully through the sections in this chapter discussing syslog and syslog-NG, and make sure whatever you set up covers your entire environment. Make sure your logging infrastructure encompasses every piece of data generated that may be vital to protecting your systems. The second stage is bringing together all that information and working out what you really want to know. Make lists of the critical messages that are important to you and your systems. Throw test attacks and systems failures at your test systems, and record the resulting message traffic; also, port scan your systems and firewalls, even unplugging hardware or deliberately breaking applications in a test environment to record the results. Group those lists into priority listings; some messages you may want to be paged for, others can go via e-mail, and some may trigger automated processes or generate attempts at self-recovery such as restarting a process. The third stage is implementing your log correlation and analysis, including configuring your correlation tools and designing the required responses. Make sure you carefully document each message, the response to the message, and any special information that relates to this message. Then test them. And test them again. And keep testing them. Your logging environment should not be and almost certainly will never be static. You will always discover something new you want to watch for and respond to. Attackers are constantly finding new ways to penetrate systems that generate different data for your logging systems. Attacks are much like viruses you need to constantly update your definitions to keep up with them. So where do you go from here I will now introduce you to a powerful tool that will help you achieve your logging goals. That tool is called SEC.
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