Sending Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs to IBM QRadar

Collecting logs from Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert and sending them to IBM QRadar could be a complex task due to this rather unique combination of log source and SIEM. In this post, we will take a look at how you can forward log data from Process Expert to IBM QRadar using NXLog.

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert

Process Expert is a scalable multi-engineering environment and distributed control system (DCS) from Schneider Electric. It is based on a client-server architecture that can easily adapt to the needs and scope of your plant. Process Expert provides numerous advantages, substantially reducing maintenance and engineering costs by centralizing its hardware and software configuration. It does not only reduce human error but also increases plant efficiency by simplifying installation and system design. Due to its unique model and multiuser environment, collaborating on projects is more concurrent, giving engineers the power to work on various tasks simultaneously.

The main components of Process Expert work together seamlessly to play an integral role in monitoring plant operation. The system server manages system data and client requests. The operation clients provide a user-friendly interface for monitoring system components during runtime, while the Engineering clients provide a user interface to access specific software resources. Virtual machines offer software participant services, and the database stores and manages user data.

Process Expert is used in the oil and gas, power generation, chemicals, water, and mining industries.

Collecting Process Expert logs

Process Expert provides valuable information about its operation from the logs it generates. Some of these logs are available through Windows Event Log and network monitoring, but most of them are in the format of flat files.

Due to the critical nature and scope of the systems Process Expert controls, there is no room for error. Its stable, uninterrupted operation is crucial for plant safety. However, this valuable information can sometimes remain hidden in the logs it collects due to excessive log noise. Another challenge is the lack of consistent log formats. The ability to parse data from various log formats is an absolute necessity.

NXLog Enterprise Edition is a lightweight, modular log collection tool capable of tackling the most complex cases log collection may pose. Due to its rich features, it can read almost any log format and parse fields to produce structured data for further processing. It is the perfect tool for monitoring and collecting Process Expert logs for these reasons.

Collecting Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs from Windows Event Log

Windows Event Log is the logging subsystem on the Windows platform. The logs generated by Process Expert include the Data Access log, sysInfo log, Servertrace log, and Communication log. NXLog can easily read and collect these events by specifying a Process Expert source name or event ID from the Application channel of Windows Event Log. A special, lightweight module that can natively read data from WEL provides this functionality.

Collecting Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs from file

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert file-based logs include Server log, ServerTrace log, Engineering client log, and Operation log. These logs are stored in the C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Schneider Electric\Process Expert 2020 R2\Logs directory but do not follow a consistent formatting scheme. NXLog’s rich set of features can efficiently read and parse such file-based logs and reliably forward them to your preferred SIEM solution.

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert network monitoring

NXLog can passively monitor network traffic and generate logs for most network protocols. This ability to log network communication from Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert, and integrated devices, can provide another valuable log source.

NXLog can also normalize and aggregate Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs. With its ability to collect logs from literally any file, in any format, NXLog is ideally suited for integrating with Process Expert’s wide variety of log types and file formats.

For more information on integrating NXLog with Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert, see the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert integration guide.

Both the log sources mentioned above, as well as the features NXLog provides, play an important role in successfully normalizing logs that QRadar will readily accept.

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.

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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.