Cloud computing intensely focuses enterprise attention on data security. Data encryption, user access management, and log maintenance are some of the Cloud offerings on the altar of data security. While encryption ensures that data remains unintelligible to outsiders, user access management ensures that unauthorized personnel do not gain access to enterprise information. Logs record all user activity on enterprise systems and generate alerts on unusual activity. In this article, we shall focus on maintenance and management of user logs.

All users leave a digital fingerprint of their activity in the user log. In traditional systems, the administrator had the option of keeping the log “always on” or “always off” and more often than not, administrators choose to switch off the log to avert any performance issues in data delivery.  The log is “always on” by default in most Cloud backup services.

Log maintenance and management in the Cloud have delivered tangible benefits to users. User logs are used for streamlining IT operations and understanding user requirements with reference to frequently used applications, accessed servers and other enterprise infrastructure.  The forensic analysis of the log can help the organization in application development, fault analysis, code exceptions, error detection and handling any connectivity issues that may be faced by employees. From the security perspective, user logs are invaluable in identifying upfront and preventing cybercrime or triggering alerts on unusual insider activities. Legally, user logs help the organization in demonstrating compliance to governmental regulations regarding privacy, and security of customer information.

Unfortunately, there is no single automated, universal log maintenance and management solution that can meet the needs of the enterprise.  Very few Cloud backup services provide for automated and instant analysis of logs and generation of alerts on unusual user activity.  With the increase in data volumes and transactions and cybercrime the task becomes all the more cumbersome. Post facto analysis of user logs may not serve the purpose for which the log is maintained. Enterprises may end up closing the stable door after the horse has bolted!  Effective log management solutions must be user centric and include activity indexing, automated fault identification and alert generation.  The log must have the capacity to capture user activity across the infrastructure and report on the problems noted instantly.  The system must eliminate any trade off between log maintenance and speed of data delivery or storage efficiency. The log system must be scalable on demand and log configurations must be flexible enough to be used by individual teams or by the enterprise as a whole.