RE: [fw-wiz] Firewall Log Analysis - Computer vs. Human

From: Paul Melson (
Date: 07/11/05

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    To: "'Adrian Grigorof'" <>, <>
    Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 11:52:54 -0400

    Only a human can be pissed when his or her pager goes off at 3am. :-) The
    rest of the "analysis" of any specific conditions or cases can be done with
    software because it's based on static or logical conditions. For that
    matter, it should be done with software.

    Log analysis is a loathesome job if you slog through the same junk day in
    and day out. It's also pretty easy to get blinded to subtle anomalies when
    you are drowning in logs. Therefore, it makes the most sense to me to use
    software to reduce the 'noise' or at least convert it into useful
    information (like event counts, event count deltas, event count averages
    over time, etc.). The end result should be that any human performing log
    analysis should only be looking at individual events that are specifically
    identified as significant or are not identified as being insignificant - the
    former requiring some sort of action, and the latter requiring at least some
    form of additional investigation.


    -----Original Message-----
    We are trying to develop a log analyzer that would "replicate" a human's
    approach to log analysis - by that I mean the fact that a human can
    correlate information in the log with other factors (like - "hmm, the log
    says that the firewall was restarted at 12:03 PM"... oh, yeah, it was that
    UPS failure yesterday around noon). For this particular example, the log
    analyzer could say in the report: "12:03 PM - Firewall restarted - Possible
    power failure, power disconnection or manual restart" - a bit vague I agree
    but it is better than nothing - and in fact, this is what the firewall
    admin would go through, right? Thinking, "Why would there be a restart? I
    did not restart it.. anything happened at noon? The UPS failure!". Or for
    example, instead of saying IP was denied for protocol
    TCP/8543 and let the firewall admin worry about it maybe the analyzer should
    do a bit of analysis, check the "history", see that this protocol is not
    something commonly used, it's not one of the common worms and decide to
    report that it is in fact a stray TCP packet caused by Internet latency (TCP
    port higher than 1024, not a "known protocol", coming from an IP address
    that is typically accessed by internal IPs via HTTP - all this information
    is should be obtainable from the logs).

    Now, the question is, what are the things (in your opinion) that only a
    human can do?

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