Although often relegated to the sidelines, the use of log files and the implementation of a strong log management strategy is vital for ensuring the performance and stability of business applications while also adding an additional layer of security through the in-depth data tracking and monitoring of key risk areas that are the main target of cyberattacks.
What is a log file?
A log file is a computer-generated time-stamped document that contains relevant information about user patterns, activities, and operations serviced by applications, decisions, and actions taken by an application according to a pre-established logic, and runtime characteristics of applications. In essence, application logs are files that contain information events that have occurred within a software application.
Data logging is the process of analyzing the data collected in log files in order to help companies comply with cybersecurity policies and regulations, enhance audit, discern system troubleshoots, anomalies or suspicious activities that may hint at a cybersecurity threat.
Logs are an excellent tool for discerning user behaviour patterns, preferences, while also acting as a mechanism for detecting common mistakes made by users. In this context, logs can provide an accurate context about what a user was doing when he or she encountered an error. Besides the obvious security and troubleshooting purposes, logs can stimulate business growth through the data they collect, as they offer an overview of the areas that a business can improve to deliver better performance and enhanced customer satisfaction.
Enhancing log files with blockchain enabled immutability
Depending on the log management mechanism and the internal requirements a company may have, log files are usually stored in SQL or NoSQL database systems. The downside of relying on traditional database engines is that they are susceptible to cybersecurity risks ranging from external tampering from malicious actors to internal modifications from a disgruntled employee.
Blockchain provides a viable alternative to existing log file storage mechanisms. By combining cryptography with hashing algorithms, blockchain ensures log immutability, a feature that brings unprecedented levels of trust to the data owned by enterprises. In turn, immutability provides data integrity which drastically simplifies audit processes, while providing proof to system owners and stakeholders that the information has not been altered.
Data integrity and data immutability are directly related to the readability and trustworthiness of database records. In RPA systems that rely on multiple software robots that constantly manipulate and exchange data with each other, ensuring data integrity entails constant maintenance and frequent backups to guarantee the accuracy and consistency of data during its life-cycle.
Modex has partnered with UiPath to provide an alternative to the traditional log file storage mechanisms. Modex Blockchain Database (BCDB) has been integrated into the UIPath Orchestrator through a series of connectors to streamline the security and enhance the auditability of the activity logs of software robots through the immutability provided by the Blockchain Database solution. As a middleware software that is agnostic from a database engine and blockchain perspective, Modex BCDB inserts itself as an additional layer over the database in which companies store logs. This way clientsthat implement UIPath Orchestrator can quickly configure the Modex BCDB solution to tap into the benefits of blockchain-enabled immutability, creating a tamper-resistant ecosystem for their logs files.
RPA activity log monitoring encompasses the mechanisms and policies that are used to observe, detect and alert in real-time, any fraudulent attempts on manipulating the data in a system, or other undesirable internal or external activities while determining the efficiency of security tools and data policies.
The benefit of immutable logs
In an RPA and cybersecurity context, log immutability significantly reduces overhead costs, streamlines operations and unlocks new value:
- Log integrity is assured by blockchain’s architecture and data storing mechanism. Once data has been introduced in a blockchain network, it cannot be altered without compromising the entire data chain. Any data discrepancies are automatically detected by the system, which allows companies to pinpoint in real-time any tampering attempts.
- Streamlined auditing – as an append-only structure, blockchain provides an indisputable record history of all the data that has been introduced in the system. As such, log files stored on a blockchain network cannot be deleted by a cybercriminal in an attempt to cover their tracks. Furthermore, a disgruntled sysadmin can’t tamper with the data without the system recording who made the changes, when where they made, and what was changed. Even if changes occur, blockchain provides complete data traceability as it records a complete history of each version of the data introduced in the system.
- Enhanced efficiency – log immutability enables information traceability and record history which can unlock new business momentum and new opportunities in analytics
- Ideal settlement ecosystem – data traceability, immutability, integrity, and a complete record history can reduce costly business-related disputes from months and even years, to a couple of days
As it is with technology in general, there is always room for improvement. In the context of log files and log management, the stronger the storage medium, the lower the risk of a cybercriminal stealing your data and deleting the log files to cover their tracks. Due to its inherent design choices and sum of beneficial characteristics, blockchain will usher in a new generation of immutable logs that will challenge our perception of audit processes, RPA monitoring, and cybersecurity.