How Do I Track and Monitor Data Access and Usage in the Cloud?

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How Do I Track and Monitor Data Access and Usage in the Cloud?

Monitoring is discussed in almost every domain of the CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing v4.0, but very few concrete examples of how to accomplish monitoring are provided. Also unstated is that logging capabilities are somewhat new for most public cloud vendors, and monitoring these logs for security related events or compliance reports is decidedly nascent. Cloud vendors are getting better at it, but the log files seldom represent a full picture of activity.

To be realistic, if you want to monitor in the cloud, you will need a blend of cloud and third party tools. The primary need is to collect a combination of the service logs and the identity logs provided by the cloud, in addition to log files from the servers, containers and applications you run. This means you will need to leverage all sources and possibly even use a data warehouse or logging tool to supplement event storage.

The good news is some of the clouds now provide the ability to filter and route the events they generate, and they offer the ability to create basic security policies that, in effect, monitor cloud events, and provide alerts when conditions are witnessed within the logs. Again, these are basic monitoring capabilities, and it is likely that you will either need to move a portion of the log data back on premises to monitor, alert and generate reports or create that infrastructure in the cloud.

It is common to see application logs, syslog and web gateway events all streamed to a Hadoop cluster, Elastic Stack, Splunk or even SIEM installations running in the cloud. These installations then leverage the same reporting and analytics capabilities used on premises and provide consistent reporting.

Note: This material is drawn from Thales eSecurity White Paper: “Best Practices for Secure Cloud Migration. Leveraging Cloud Security Alliance Security Guidelines.”

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