Executive View

Balabit syslog-ng

The Balabit syslog-ng product family provides technologies that allow collecting, processing, and analyzing log events from a variety of different sources, going well beyond the standard syslog component. The products are relevant both as a complement to and a replacement for standard SIEM solutions.

Martin Kuppinger


Alexei Balaganski


1 Introduction

Balabit IT Security is an international information security vendor headquartered in Luxembourg. Founded in 2000 in Hungary, the company still maintains their research and development centers there; however, with multiple sales offices in Europe, US and Russia and a large partner network it has a strong global market presence. Balabit’s product portfolio is based on three major areas of information security: log management, privileged activity monitoring and user behavior analytics. Together they comprise the Contextual Security Intelligence (CSI) Suite. Among these solutions, the company’s oldest and undeniably most well-known is syslog-ng, the de-facto standard log management tool for Unix-like platforms, which is used in over a million installations around the world.

In today’s environment of ever-increasing attacks on systems and ever-increasing regulatory compliance requirements, organizations must improve their capabilities to analyze events and incidents in networks and to react to them. Fortunately, there is a range of offerings for doing so.

Starting with system-level event logs, there are two major directions. One focuses on domain-specific analysis of information, such as around Identity and Access Management, Privileged Account Monitoring, or specific types of Network Analytics.

The other direction comprises tools that focus on generic collection and analysis of logs across a variety of systems. In this area, we find log collection, SIEM (Security Information and Event Monitoring), and what KuppingerCole names RTSI (Real Time Security Intelligence), capable of adding advanced analytical capabilities.

Most of these tools are not exclusive but, at least to a certain extent, complementary. Domain-specific solutions commonly coexist with generic solutions such as SIEM. Log collection and filtering can be used as sort of a pre-processor to SIEM, while SIEM again can sit in front of more advanced analytical solutions that are part of the emerging RTSI market.

For users, it is particularly important to understand their specific requirements and the capabilities of the various solutions. While some packages, particularly domain-specific approaches and, increasingly, RTSI, are focused on solution approaches, others, such as SIEM, are more technical tools that require adaptation to specific use cases. Both can fit the requirements of customers, depending on whether it is more of a domain-specific use case such as analyzing identity-related events or SAP-related events or whether it is more about having a tool that allows custom analysis for a variety of use cases.

Balabit syslog-ng is a product that can either be used for custom log analysis or as a tool sitting in front of SIEM solutions for collection, analysis and filtering of events before these are delivered to the SIEM tool. As the name implies, syslog-ng is a new-generation replacement for the standard syslogd (syslog daemon), a standard feature in Linux and Unix environments.

Although syslog-ng’s history goes back nearly two decades, Balabit continues to actively develop the product. Since we previously reviewed the product back in August 2015, the company has delivered several new releases, focusing primarily on integration with their latest product, Blindspotter, and various third party solutions, as well as on new management and configuration capabilities and performance improvements. 

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