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Learn log analysis with online courses and programs

Log analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing log data from various sources. Learn about log analysis with online courses delivered through edX.

What is log analysis?

Log analysis, otherwise known as log monitoring, is the process of interpreting computer-generated records, known as log files. Each log contains information about how a digital product or service is used. These logs can be generated by networks, operating systems, and applications, among other hardware and software components. 

In large corporate settings with many moving parts, it can be tedious and inefficient to navigate numerous documents from multiple locations to find one piece of information. A log can give you insight into how infrastructure and applications are performing. Log analysis can help you preempt potential issues like security breaches and hardware failure, or diagnose current problems. 

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Why learn log analysis?

By doing a log analysis, you can help your organization benefit from greater:Footnote 1

  • Compliance: Logs provide a granular level of detail, which can help your organization comply with laws and regulations like HIPAA and GDPR.

  • Security: You can analyze a log to get up-to-the-minute information on where and how a security breach occurred — and work to prevent future ones.

  • Efficiency: Logs can be centralized to a single location shared across multiple departments. Each can contain information that helps the entire organization quickly find and address recurring issues.

There are also six core log types you can analyze:Footnote 2

  • Perimeter device logs monitor all network traffic.

  • Windows event logs record Windows operating system activity. 

  • Endpoint logs display network device activity.

  • Application logs unpack an application’s activity and resource usage. 

  • Proxy logs give information on web activity passing through a proxy server.

  • Internet of things (IoT) logs surface data from devices connected to the internet.

Log analysis course curriculum

Log analysis tutorials and courses may cover topics like:

  • Log analysis foundations: Discover how to analyze programmatically generated logs, and why doing so can be beneficial. You could also learn to search for information while keeping abreast of unanticipated issues the log depicts.

  • Vulnerability assessment: By conducting a log file analysis, you may identify existing computer system and network vulnerabilities (such as improper security credentialing) that leave the company exposed to cyberattacks.

  • Intrusion detection: Logs can provide a detailed breakdown of every device and IP address that accesses a network. Gaining knowledge about this can help you reveal past and ongoing unauthorized network intrusions.

  • Case building: Learn how to build a business case for addressing an organization’s security, efficiency, and compliance issues.

Log monitoring and analysis can be a beneficial skill for anyone working in IT, from system administrators to software developers. With the right training in log analysis you can help monitor system performance and security, identify malicious activity, and help ensure compliance with industry regulations. 

Explore jobs that use log analysis

Log analysis is used in many different industries and job roles. System administrators, security analysts, software developers, and incident responders use log analysis to monitor systems. Data scientists and business analysts also use log analysis to gain valuable insights into customer behavior and usage trends.

Some log analysis jobs that are worth exploring include:

  • Information security analysts: analyze logs to craft security protocols that help protect their organization against security vulnerabilities and intrusions.Footnote 3

  • Software engineers: can develop software that uses organizational data to create programmatically generated logs, which cybersecurity experts can then analyze.

  • Cybersecurity consultants: identify and advise on an organization’s security vulnerabilities, and can do log analysis as part of their assessment process.Footnote 4

  • Penetration testers: perform ethical hacking, where they assume the role of a cyberattacker and break into their organization’s network and computer systems to reveal existing security vulnerabilities. They can hack into their organization’s logs to get information that further fuels their hacking process.Footnote 5

  • DevOps engineers: can do log analysis to develop and deploy software that more closely adheres to key DevOps methodologies.

Note that learning about log analysis on its own does not mean you have the skills required for the jobs listed above. Some companies may seek candidates with other technical skills that can be developed through specialized learning in an individual course or a boot camp. And some employers may seek candidates with a bachelor's degree or even a master’s degree. Consider the career you hope to pursue before deciding on the learning path that will align with your professional aspirations.

How to use log analysis in your career

Knowledge of how to perform a log analysis can be applied to a number of fields and functions, including:

  • Project management. Log analysis experts need sharp project management skills to know where to position logs and who should be granted access. This knowledge can optimize the visibility and utility of logs across an organization.

  • Programming. Programming languages like Java and Python are the tools that software engineers use to build software. A firm understanding of at least one programming language is useful to develop robust log generation software.

  • Computer forensics. Computer forensics techniques are used to investigate and prevent cybercrime. Log file analysis is one such technique.

  • Text parsing. One of the foremost functionalities of modern software is the reading and usage of text information. Knowing how to use or develop software that accurately parses a log is invaluable.Footnote 6

If you’re ready to start learning, explore the educational opportunities available through edX. From earning a bachelor of computer science or pursuing a master or data science degree, to developing technical skills with a coding boot camp, there are many options that can help you build the skills you need to advance your career. Begin your learning journey today.