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Log Management

The Importance of Log Management for Your Home Network

Deepa Ramachandra
Deepa Ramachandra

The team at observIQ are avid programmers, gamers, traders, thinkers, and innovators who build elaborate home networks for fun, work, and simply because we enjoy technology. We believe in it as a medium for improving life. Everyone is constantly growing the size and footprint of their home networks and labs – adding custom apps, devices, and servers, making it challenging to gauge our technical footprint. With rising risks, monitoring performance and any potential security threats is essential to protect yourself, even in your home.

Enter log management, just as you would do with your financial health; keeping a paper trail of all your technical transactions is considered best practice. Log management solutions, such as observIQ, make your home-lab activities visible to you at a glance so you are always aware of what breadcrumbs you leave online and can confidently maintain your home network.

With a log management solution, we can:

  • Track and monitor login behavior – know who is accessing our network and devices.
  • More effectively use our network’s assets; declutter hardware/ software usage with valuable insights from logs.
  • Gain insights into the operational health of our labs – apps, servers, networks.
  • You can make your log data in dashboards to quickly understand trends.
  • React faster to incidents in our networks.

Please follow along as we implement log management in a typical home lab with a Ubiquiti access point and switch, a pfSense firewall, a Fedora workstation, and a Mac as a daily driver.

The Setup (A Simple Diagram)
The Setup (A Simple Diagram)

Setup in 3 Simple Steps

While other tools make gathering logs from disparate sources and devices a long, technical, drawn-out process, observIQ simplifies and completes this in minutes. With observIQ, we can use the Syslog Source to make the observIQ log agent function as a Syslog server with just a few clicks, allowing you to gather logs from any network device. We can also use that same agent to grab system logs directly from the Fedora workstation using observIQ’s journal source.

Prerequisites: Configure Your Network Devices to Output to Syslog

As a prerequisite, we must first configure our network devices to output events over a TCP/UDP to a Syslog server (in this case, observIQ log agent). Below is a quick snippet of the configuration for our pfSense firewall and Ubiquiti access point to send logs to a Syslog server.

Step 1: Install the observIQ Log Agent

We then install the observIQ log agent on the Fedora workstation by copying and running the one-line agent installation command. Installation typically takes less than 15 seconds.

Step 2: Add Syslog and pfSense Log Sources to the observIQ Log Agent

Next, we’ll add two Sources to our agent. First, we’ll add a journal source that will allow us to gather system logs from our Fedora machine in just a few clicks. After that, we’ll also add a Syslog source to our agent – which turns the observIQ agent into a functioning Syslog server. Both Sources require next-to-no configuration.

Step 3: Complete Setup and Begin Exploring the Logs

After the sources are added to the agent, we will start seeing logs from all our sources accessible within observIQ, allowing us to sort, search, and visualize all our logs in a single place.

Using Your Logs Effectively

Now that you have all your logs collated, how can you use them to your advantage?

Identify Incidents

With the additional visibility, we can search for and identify:

  • Errors in your network’s devices
  • Login attempts and failures from both authorized and unauthorized users
  • New devices accessing your network
  • Malware attacks and service attacks that are denied
  • Password and access credentials changes
  • Event logs for shared access folders and files
  • Service installations and configurations
  • The process runs, and unwarranted pauses in processes

Create Saved Searches

observIQ lets you save time by allowing you to save search queries. So, the next time you need a search query, you can just pull it up from the dropdown menu. Could you try searching for errors with a specific application or host? Are you looking to track system reboots or unusual traffic? A saved search allows you to get those results quickly by delivering a quick list of queries.

Create Alerts Definitions

Some events in your network might need immediate attention; ideally, you’d be notified proactively. For such events, observIQ allows you to create threshold-based alert definitions. When there’s a logon attempt, network failure, app, or system failure, observIQ creates an alert in-app and can notify you via email, Slack, or Pagerduty.

Create Dashboards

Lastly, I would like to point out that you should be visualizing your log data. Using built-in Dashboards or creating custom dashboards is a simple and effective way to understand what’s happening in your environment at a glance.

Best Practices in Log Management for Homelabs

As with every software routine, some tried and tested actions are essential when implementing effective log management. Like a fingerprint, every home lab is unique, and it is your call to pick and choose the practices that would be a right fit for you.

Gather the Logs that Matter

Implementing effective log management means gathering all the logs that matter most and filtering through the noise to understand an incident or get to a root cause quickly. With observIQ, it’s straightforward to gather any log file.

Enriching Your Logs

To get the most out of your log data, it’s essential to enrich and tag your logs with helpful context. With observIQ, all your logs are enriched automatically and provide essential contexts like IP address, Hostname, Source Name, User ID, Event ID, Severity, and more, making it easy to trace issues back to their source.

Keep Your Logs Safe

Logs say a lot about your network; often, it is confidential information. Keeping your log access to a limited number of users within your home network is best. Sharing access for test runs or debugging network failures should be done with caution.

Why is observIQ the Obvious Choice for Your Network?

We allow you to get up and running in under 5 minutes. With observIQ’s simple yet powerful Sources like Syslog and Journald, you can gather logs from almost any device. With the observIQ Free Plan, you also gain access to the complete feature set of the platform as well, including pre-made Dashboards and Live Tail.

When you need help, our helpful support staff will assist you with your setup for free! Get started with a trial today!

Deepa Ramachandra
Deepa Ramachandra

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