Poor Audit Logging

Severity: High

ServiceNow has revolutionized the landscape of IT service management, providing robust capabilities that streamline operations and enhance productivity. However, to effectively manage the platform and maintain a strong security posture, it's crucial to keep an eye on all activities taking place within the system. This is where audit logging comes in. Inadequate audit logging can lead to substantial security risks. This article will explain why poor audit logging in ServiceNow is a concern, how it can unintentionally occur, and how to rectify it.

Understanding the Role of Audit Logging in ServiceNow

Audit logging is the practice of recording activities within a system for review and examination. In ServiceNow, audit logs capture key details such as who performed an action, what the action was, when it occurred, and from where it was initiated. This information is crucial for troubleshooting, understanding user behavior, and most importantly, for detecting and investigating potential security incidents.

The Consequences of Poor Audit Logging

A suboptimal audit logging strategy can result in a variety of security issues:

  1. Difficulty in Detecting Breaches: If auditing is not set up properly, it can be challenging to trace unauthorized access or changes, making it difficult to detect and respond to breaches.
  2. Inadequate Forensics Capability: Without detailed logs, the ability to perform a forensic investigation after a security incident is greatly hindered.
  3. Non-Compliance: Many industries require comprehensive audit logs to comply with regulatory standards. Failure to meet these requirements could result in penalties.

Common Mistakes Leading to Poor Audit Logging

Poor audit logging can result from a variety of oversights:

  1. Insufficient Coverage: If only certain activities are logged, you may miss important events. An effective audit log captures all significant activities.
  2. Inadequate Retention Policies: Logs that are stored for insufficient lengths of time may not be available when needed for investigations or compliance checks.
  3. Lack of Log Review and Analysis: Even the best logs are of little use if they aren't regularly reviewed and analyzed for unusual or suspicious activity.

Solutions for Improving Audit Logging

Here are some key strategies to enhance your ServiceNow audit logging:

  1. Comprehensive Coverage: Ensure your audit logging is capturing all significant activities, including logins, changes to configurations, access to sensitive data, and system errors.
  2. Establish Robust Retention Policies: Determine how long logs should be retained based on your organization's needs for troubleshooting, forensics, and regulatory compliance.
  3. Regular Log Reviews and Analysis: Implement regular reviews of your logs and utilize automated log analysis tools to alert you to suspicious activities.
  4. Secure Your Logs: Logs themselves can be a target for attackers. Ensure your audit logs are protected from unauthorized access and tampering.


Robust audit logging is a critical component of effective ServiceNow security management. By understanding the risks of poor audit logging, learning from common mistakes, and implementing comprehensive logging practices, security engineers can significantly enhance their organization's ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Audit logs are not just a passive record; they're an active tool for security management and should be treated as such in your ServiceNow environment.

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