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Sending Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 logs to IBM QRadar

Collecting logs from Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 and sending them to IBM QRadar could be a complex task because of the unique combination of the log source and the desired destination. This post seeks to explain how to forward log data from SIMATIC PCS 7 to IBM QRadar by incorporating the NXLog log collection tool.

Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7

Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 is a distributed control system (DCS) solution that uses many Siemens hardware components supported and configured by PCS 7 software tools. Deployments usually consist of Engineering stations (ES), Operating stations (OS), and Automation stations (AS). The PCS 7 AS features the Siemens SIMATIC S7-400 series central processing unit, designed to automate plants requiring many I/O signals and control loops. SIMATIC PCS 7 is commonly used for automation tasks in various industrial sectors such as chemicals, petrochemicals, water treatment, pharmaceuticals, and power generation.

SCADA systems and Siemens have a couple of things in common: they employ a variety of network protocols to facilitate communication between various types of nodes (physical computers, CPUs, distributed I/Os, and field devices) and SCADA for storing data. Consequently, both solutions are firmly integrated within corporate networks where such nodes are typically deployed.

Collecting SIMATIC PCS 7 logs

SIMATIC PCS 7 produces a wide variety of operational logs. Some are sent to Windows Event Log, but most are stored as flat files.

SIMATIC PCS 7 controls systems that are of significant financial and security importance. In mission-critical settings, the timely collection and processing of SIMATIC PCS 7 logs is crucial to the reliability and security of the systems it controls. However, the sheer diversity of log formats and data structures and the noise that some of these logs contain pose severe challenges to most logging software. A brief interruption of normal operations could result in catastrophic consequences.

NXLog Enterprise Edition is a lightweight, modular log collection tool capable of tackling the most demanding cases log collection may pose. Its features enable it to parse, filter, process, aggregate, and output logs in any structured data format that a SIEM might require. Given its perfect balance of functionality and performance, it is the best choice for collecting and processing SIMATIC PCS 7 logs.

Collecting SIMATIC PCS 7 logs from Windows Event Log

Many applications send their logs directly to Windows Event Log, the preferred logging facility on the Windows platform. SIMATIC PCS 7 sends its PC station, NET configuration, adapter operation-related information, and information about various other services to Windows Event Log.

Collecting SIMATIC PCS 7 logs from file

File-based PCS7 logs include WinCC system diagnostics logs, SQL Server logs of WinCC, OS project logs, AS project logs, Multi-project logs, and Batch logs coming from Automation, Engineering, and Operator stations.

The easiest way to collect and normalize Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 log data is by deploying NXLog. With its unique capabilities, logs can be collected from literally any file in any format. Given the wide variation in format and structure of such log files, its versatility is ideal for these systems.

For more information on integrating NXLog with SIMATIC PCS 7, see the Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 integration guide.

The above mentioned log sources, and the features NXLog provides all play an important role when normalizing logs in order to be accepted by QRadar.

Sending logs to IBM QRadar

IBM QRadar is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system, which accepts log data for further analysis, correlation, and threat intelligence. Its primary role is to identify known or potential threats, provide alerting and reports, as well as aid incident investigations.

For QRadar to accept logs from NXLog, appliances need to be configured with the appropriate log source in QRadar. This can be done by navigating from the menu to data sources, events, and then log sources. Here, a log source can be set that is either specific or generic.

Generic structured logs

Setting up a generic log source in IBM QRadar is essential for log sources that are not among QRadar’s set of predefined log source types. Once a generic log source is defined, logs can be sent to QRadar using LEEF (Log Event Extended Format).

Specific log types

IBM QRadar provides many log source types that are predefined, making it easier to collect and send a large number of log types to it natively, such as those in Windows Event Log, DHCP server logs, DNS debug logs, Microsoft Exchange Server logs, as well as Microsoft SQL logs.

Forwarding logs to IBM QRadar is straightforward with NXLog, and it can be accomplished with TCP or even TLS/SSL if security is a main concern.

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.