NXLog vs IBM QRadar WinCollect - Let's get things straight

How does NXLog Enterprise Edition compare to the IBM QRadar WinCollect event forwarder?

IBM QRadar SIEM collects, processes, and aggregates log data to provide real-time monitoring and automated response to network threats. With its powerful correlation engine and specialized modules for risk and vulnerability management, it is no surprise that it is among the highest-rated tools on Gartner Peer Insights.

To get the best out of a platform like IBM QRadar, you need to ensure that you send the proper amount of data in a format that it can process efficiently. There are different methods of forwarding logs to IBM QRadar, including IBM’s WinCollect event forwarder for Windows operating systems. For other operating systems and devices, you must use separate tools. NXLog Enterprise Edition is an all-encompassing log collection solution that can collect logs from different sources and forward them to IBM QRadar in the format it requires. This post will highlight the benefits of using NXLog and why it can easily replace WinCollect.

Footprint and configuration

NXLog is a lightweight agent with a very small footprint. It is designed to operate using minimal resources and runs practically unnoticed in the background. Configuring it to collect logs from multiple sources is easy. The modular, text-based configuration system supports creating granular configurations that you can deploy to multiple systems, based on the log sources you intend to collect from them.

Compared to WinCollect, NXLog provides you the flexibility you need for tailoring your configuration and deployment according to your specific requirements across different log sources, rather than being at the mercy of a rigid configuration system dictated by a wizard.

Agent management

A managed WinCollect deployment can handle up to 500 agents per console and managed host. Unfortunately, when you have more agents, you need to use standalone WinCollect agents that must be managed separately. Once you add other standalone agents for non-Windows platforms, you quickly find yourself confronted with the daunting, error-prone task of managing an ever-increasing number of log collection agents.

With NXLog, you have several options to manage large deployments:

  • NXLog Manager is a web-based management system that you can use to deploy, configure, and monitor NXLog agents. It supports agent configuration templates, provides built-in PKI support for TLS encrypted communication, and can be deployed in a clustered setup.

  • NXLog Minder (in closed beta testing) is an API-first agent management system. It offers a scalable, automation-friendly solution for rapid deployment, as well as easy management and monitoring of your agents. This solution integrates seamlessly with your existing software deployment and management platform.

Clearly, when managing a large number of agents collecting logs from a wide variety of sources, NXLog enables you to establish a better, more streamlined process.

Multiple integrations

As we already mentioned, WinCollect is limited to Windows operating systems. For collecting logs from other platforms, you must use different tools depending on the operating system or device. So why not use an all-encompassing solution that you can configure and manage consistently across all of your log sources?

You can install NXLog on all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linx, macOS, BSD, and IBM AIX. In addition, an extensive list of input modules is available, making it possible to collect from the most common to the most exotic log sources. You can even extend log collection and processing capabilities with custom scripts or applications. Supported languages include Go, Java, Perl, Python, and Ruby.

Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) support

To collect logs from ETW channels, such as Windows DNS Analytical and Debug logs, WinCollect requires you to enable logging to file, and to refrain from automatically overwriting events. This means it will be your responsibility to establish a process for monitoring, rotating, and purging older logs, as well as possibily having to provision additonal disk storage since ETL files can become extremely large. Furthermore, if the log becomes full, WinCollect needs to be restarted.

On the other hand, NXLog Enterprise Edition comes with the Event Tracing for Windows (im_etw) input module, which reads event tracing data directly. As a result, it eliminates the need to save event data to intermediate files, making it a more efficient and less resource-intensive solution. No more worries about disk space and log rotation!

Log collection modes

When it comes to log collection, WinCollect can be installed on Windows hosts to collect events locally or remotely from another host. However, when it comes to log forwarding, IBM QRadar is the only destination allowed.

With NXLog, you have the same functionality plus another option: centralized log collection, which allows you to take advantage of agent-based log collection without increasing the load on your network. If you opt for centralized log collection, you can benefit from NXLog’s unique ability to send logs to a central agent in compressed batches. By doing so, you considerably reduce bandwidth consumption and stress on your network infrastructure. You can read more about Centralized log collection and Compression during transport in the NXLog User Guide.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we have looked at how you can improve your log collection strategy when forwarding data to IBM QRadar. With NXLog Enterprise Edition, you can tailor your log collection solution according to your requirements. Compared to WinCollect, it provides several benefits, especially if you need to collect logs from diverse sources or manage a large number of agents. If you would like to give NXLog a try, our IBM QRadar SIEM integration guide will get you started.

GET STARTED TODAY:

NXLog Ltd. develops multi-platform log collection tools that support many different log sources, formats, transports, and integrations. The tools help administrators collect, parse, and forward logs so they can more easily respond to security issues, investigate operational problems, and analyze event data. NXLog distributes the free and open source NXLog Community Edition and offers additional features and support with the NXLog Enterprise Edition.

This document is provided for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.

Download a fully functional trial of the Enterprise Edition for free