Logging and cyber security go hand in hand. In this day and age, you can’t afford not to log your data. Data truly is king, and your app should be built for our data-driven world. In simple terms, logging is when we record something to another interface in order to understand the app itself, errors, and real-time status.
When you log with Java, you need to go through a framework. All of the quality logging frameworks help you describe problems with terms like “Warn,” “Error,” and “Fatal.” however, we can even go more in-depth than this.
While Java provides a default framework for logging in its java.util.logging package, you can also choose a third-party framework like Log4j or Logback. Since your logging data can make the difference between solving errors early on and fatal problems, you need to pay close attention to your logging practices. Here are the top 5 tips on logging in Java.
1. Avoid Sensitive Information
One of the biggest mistakes when logging is to log too much information. While you want to include enough detail to solve problems quickly and actually understand the situation around the error, you also need to be careful.
There is a lot of information in your applications that should remain private. Things like user credentials, financial information, or other sensitive data should remain private. Including this information in a plain text log file is begging for a security breach.
In a world where 60% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack, it pays to protect your sensitive information. Always avoid logging user input data when possible, use validation before logging, and pay attention to your security.
2. Provide Clarity
That being said, while you should be concerned about data security, you also need to provide enough clarity to ensure your log files are actually valuable. Because most log files will be read by a variety of developers, you need to make sure they have enough information to understand exactly what’s happened.
To make sure you’re including enough information, create logs with the timestamp, thread level, log level, and the class name. This will help any developer keep track of exactly what happened without having to provide too much information.
3. Pay Attention to Performance
There’s a big challenge of logging that often gets overlooked. It can have a big impact on the application performance if you’re not careful. It’s expected that you might have a small drop in the overall application performance, but you need to track this to make sure you aren’t slowing down the entire system.
Using an application monitor like Loggly can help keep these problems to a minimum. You can visit the Loggly website here for more information on best logging practices using their monitoring system.
4. Create a Log Pattern
Creating a logging pattern will help you and your team identify logging threads. The more consistent you are, the better. One of the most common logging patterns include the current time, logging level, name of the thread, and the logging message.
Again, avoid putting too much information in your logging pattern that can bog down the system or compromise your security. You could also consider an advanced feature known as Mapped Diagnostic Context. This is a map managed on a thread-local basis that you can use to put in any key-value pain. Then, each logging statement issued through the thread will have a value for the pattern.
5. Be Careful with Exceptions
Finally, avoid logging exceptions. Your framework or your container should do it for you unless you’re throwing exceptions from a remote service that is the ability to serialize these exceptions. Otherwise, you’ll get an exception error.
Logging these exceptions is an important part of logging, but it shouldn’t be the default way to handle the exception. Returning default values and then pretending nothing happened or wrapping the exception and throwing it back will just print the same stack trace twice. If you want to log the exception, you’ll need to include the nature of the problem.
Making the Most of Your Logs
Logging is an important part of Java programming, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. While it’s a good thing the use of logging has become more and more common, it still needs to be considered carefully to ensure you’re actually ending up with useful data and insights.
In order to get the most from your log data, you need to develop a culture of logging with your team. The more you learn about operating this data, the better you’ll be at getting the right information when you need it. Log wisely if you want to ensure your application continues to be a success. Are you using these tips above?