What Is File Integrity Monitoring and How Does It Work?
In this article, learn more about file integrity monitoring, and see how it works and the basic steps.
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With the world changing rapidly the data and the system that controls the data are also changing. At the beginning of the Internet and WWW, the data used to be stored on one’s personal machine, and it was accessed by only the person owning the device.
But now, with thousands of companies working with millions of employees and billions of terabytes of data, it is necessary to control and monitor who is going to access the data and who is going to made changes in it.
And this is where file integrity monitoring comes into play.
File integrity monitoring is simply the technique to keep the watch of the data, who is going to access the data, who has made changes in the data, and how the data has been changed.
To understand the process easily let us first break down the term. Here file means data. Keeping the integrity of the data means protecting the data from any foreign changes. And Monitoring means watching the data closely to know whether the integrity of data is maintained or not.
Let’s take one example.
You run a company that provides your user with cloud space for storing their files. The way your company work is you give your user access to some storage in your server and only that user can put their file in that space nobody else has access to that space.
But you found out that your server is been hit by a cyber-attack. Now you know that your system is hit but don’t know where exactly it has been attacked by hackers because you have thousands of users using thousands of gigabytes of space for storage on your server.
In this situation, if your system is installed with file integrity monitoring software you can easily find out where your system is hit and what changes have been made in your system.
Working on File Integrity Monitoring
It works similarly to the watchman guarding the gate. Wherever somebody tries to enter the gate, watchman tries to recognize it if it is a known person, he allows that person to pass. Similarly, when somebody tries to make changes in the system, it alerts the admin or the one having the access to changing into the system.
To make the file integrity monitoring for the system, we need file integrity monitoring software.
This software is manufacture by different companies and they work for both the system on the different devices and cloud servers.
Whenever this software gets installed on the system or the cloud server, they keep track of every change made into the system and report it to the administrator.
If you made any changes to the system, the file integrity monitoring software makes the note of it. Although it does not report that change as unauthorized access because you as the admin have been stored on that software so any changes made by you will be acceptable.
Also, there has been a set of rules that need to be given to the file integrity monitoring software that tells it the difference between authorized change and unauthorized change. For example, the size of the file so if any changes have been made to the file and if it is put as the unauthorized access, it will get reported to the admin.
Step of Working on File Integrity Monitoring
Setting Basic Rule
Whenever the software gets installed on the system, it first gets the basic rule of what is authorized access and changes with what is unauthorized access and changes.
Setting basic rule is the first and most important step for file integrity monitoring.
Setting Alert Messaging
In this step, if the system gets any unwanted changes or file that is not in basic rule the software is set in such a way that it will send the alert message to the person who is set to be admin of the system in the file integrity monitoring software.
File integrity monitoring software is made in such a way that they always send the report of what changes have been made into the system so far.
After reading about the file integrity monitoring you must be thinking how to select the best software, right?
So here are some base mark any file integrity monitoring software should follow
File integrity monitoring software should be flexible. Here flexible meaning should be working with every system type you have. And if there are changes made to the system, the software should be able to comply with it.
Economical When Comes to Price
The software which you are going to choose should be in your budget. This software comes with as low as a few hundred dollars to as high as thousands of dollars. So make sure to buy the software which comes with your price range.
The software should be flexible meaning if should allow it to make a change into its basic rule. In the future, if you want to make somebody else your admin instead of the current one the system should be able to give you that access.
So try to select that software only which will give to the flexibility of changing the basic set of rules.
The Disadvantage of File Integrity Monitoring
Even if the owner has set the basic rule of File integrity monitoring software sometimes it happen that software gives false-positive alert to the admin. So it becomes annoying to check the system every time it gives an alert.
The Need for File Integrity Monitoring
As we all know, data is the most valuable asset there is. And that’s why protecting the data is the most important thing. Sometimes, people’s lives depend on the data, for example, in the healthcare system. So if changes in data happen and it remains unaware, it is very dangerous, which is why such software is needed.
Published at DZone with permission of Crumb Peter. See the original article here.
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