Access logs are a record of all requests made by people or scripts from a website for individual files – such as Hypertext Markup Language documents, the graphics embedded in them, and any other associated files that may have been transmitted – that those people or scripts have requested. The digital footprints made by Internet-based users can be viewed through access logs on web servers, which collect data about web usage and are used to identify individuals.
When viewed through the access log, other programs can also analyze and summarize this information, sometimes referred to as raw data. Raw log files may also be called audit records, trails, logs, or events, depending on the terminology used.
What is the importance of access logs?
As a valuable business tool, access logs provide a detailed evaluation of the traffic on a website, providing an understanding of how end users interact with the websites they are visiting. To better understand what customers need from a website, it is crucial to figure out when they see a website and where they go on it. It is common to use data from access logs in marketing, for example, as an insight into user behavior and to help businesses use their websites more efficiently and help them meet the needs of their customers.
Using access logs for monitoring is the same as using other computer logs; using them helps us find out where errors occurred, what strategies are working, and what methods are not working. In addition to gaining a better understanding of web use over time, access logs can also provide information about what files were recently accessed, what the company’s response to a web request looked like, as well as if any unusual requests or anomalies were noted that might suggest a security flaw or security vulnerability.
Types of access logs
Access logs are classified into different types according to the data they collect. There are several types of access logs that provide security control, including antivirus logs, firewall logs, and web filter logs:
In an antivirus log, you will find information on the objects that have been scanned, the settings used for each task, and a history of the actions performed on each file.
A firewall log can analyze an attack by providing information about the source and destination IP addresses and port numbers.
A web filter log might show how the system responded when users attempted to access restricted URLs.
What is the purpose of capturing access logs?
It is highly beneficial for system administrators to capture and analyze the access logs from their web servers.
Firstly, it provides an overview of the web application’s health and availability, allowing you to troubleshoot errors more quickly. In this case, if there is an influx of HTTP errors 404 in the access log, it suggests that users are attempting to access a non-existent page or the URL you are using on the site is incorrect.
Organizations can gain valuable insights into application performance and security by centrally collecting, comparing, and analyzing access logs. However, a large server fleet often produces terabytes of records daily, challenging organizations with large server fleets. Such glossaries and other resources can be found on the Seahawk Media website.