Cardiff County Council – LogRhythm Combines GCSX and CoCo Compliance with Improved Reporting and Enhanced Network Performance Analysis
The introduction of the Government Connect Secure Extranet (GCSX) and Code of Connection (CoCo) Cardiff initiatives in the U.K. signaled the need for Cardiff County Council to reevaluate how it handled its log data. Since installing a log data management, analysis and event management solution from LogRhythm, Cardiff County Council has not only achieved GCSX and CoCo compliance, but has improved its reporting mechanisms and enhanced network performance analysis.
Council was urged to join the UK GCSX initiative aimed at creating a private wide area network for secure communications between connected government organisations. As part of this, local authorities must sign up to the Code of Connection (CoCo) which includes specific requirements on log data.
Comprehensive and flexible search capabilities
Cardiff County Council evaluated offerings from three players in the market before selecting LogRhythm. Andrew Horner- Seddon, principal IT consultant – Security, Cardiff County Council explains:
“Some of the solutions we looked at provided log data indexing but the data could only be searched on by using specific index codes. LogRhythm offers a much more comprehensive and flexible search capability which makes it significantly quicker and easier to find information and run reports. We also like the fact that LogRhythm provides an integrated hardware and software solution which gives a clear understanding of the total investment needed over time.”
LogRhythm’s log and event management solutions hone in on security threats and operational risks in a fraction of the time compared to conventional log search utilities. LogRhythm goes beyond simple indexing, enriching log entries with intuitive classifications, human understandable names, risk modelling and prioritization and a universal time stamp.
At Cardiff County Council, LogRhythm monitors, extracts and centrally stores log data from the council’s active directories, Microsoft Exchange server, Virtual Private Network (VPN), Citrix Active Gateway, Safeword two factor authentication solution and Check Point firewall.
Powerful reporting coupled with real-time alerts
LogRhythm’s primary use at Cardiff County Council is for reporting purposes. These reports – which, instead of taking days, can be produced within a matter of minutes or hours depending on their complexity – are used to report from both operational and technical perspectives.
Andrew Horner-Seddon continues: “LogRhythm has been invaluable in helping us identify issues across our domain controllers. We use it to automatically generate reports every week to give us an unprecedented insight into domain activity, for example, we are able to tell if accounts have been created or deleted or if users are violating their network privileges. We can even see if any areas of the network are under pressure so that we can take the necessary action to avoid a potential problem in the future. LogRhythm’s reports are straightforward, easy to read PDFs and the information they hold is extremely powerful. We can also automate them to save on our file server where they can be accessed by others if permitted and act as an additional layer of backup if required.”
As well as using LogRhythm for generating reports on historical activity, the IT department also relies on it to provide real-time alerts on unusual activity on the network. For example, if there has been irregular overuse of the system such as increased instances of attempted log-ins over a period of time which may signify a virus attack or attempted security breach.
Mike Selley, IT service delivery manager, Cardiff County Council concludes: “LogRhythm is easy and intuitive to use and has been imperative to Cardiff County Council achieving CoCo and GCSX compliance. The real-time alerting feature is useful and interesting in equal measure, while the various reporting mechanisms including dashboard monitoring give us easier access to a deeper and wider source of data. Legally, we have to keep six month’s worth of log data on the system. Now that we’ve almost hit this level, we’re starting to look at how we can extend LogRhythm to other aspects of our operation, for example helping the Council comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) or extending LogRhythm’s reach into the internet log data generated.”