How much effort should be put toward encrypting security log transmissions to protect data confidentiality? We're concerned about the overhead that encryption may impose on our systems.

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Your question gets the honor of receiving my favorite answer to security questions: It depends! There really isn't a cut-and-dry answer to whether encryption should be used for log traffic (or any other traffic, for that matter). You need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What data is contained in the log files?
  • Do they contain confidential information?
  • Do they contain data that would assist someone attempting to compromise your system?
  • Where is the transmission taking place? Is it on a secured internal network, or are the logs being sent over a public network?
  • If you're dealing with extremely confidential logs or ones that traverse public networks, encryption is most likely worth the expense. Otherwise, it may not be necessary.

    More information:

  • Look before leaping into database encryption.
  • Take the pain out of log analysis.
  • This was first published in December 2006

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