Logging should always be handled by the application and should not rely on server configuration.

All logging should be implemented by a master routine on a trusted system, and the developers should also ensure no sensitive data is included in the logs (e.g. passwords, session information, system details, etc.), nor is there any debugging or stack trace information. Additionally, logging should cover both successful and unsuccessful security events, with an emphasis on important log event data.

Important event data most commonly refers to:

  • All input validation failures.
  • All authentication attempts, especially failures.
  • All access control failures.
  • All apparent tampering events, including unexpected changes to state data.
  • All attempts to connect with invalid or expired session tokens.
  • All system exceptions.
  • All administrative functions, including changes to security configuration settings.
  • All backend TLS connection failures and cryptographic module failures.

A simple log example which illustrates this:

func main() {
    var buf bytes.Buffer
    var RoleLevel int

    logger := log.New(&buf, "logger: ", log.Lshortfile)

    fmt.Println("Please enter your user level.")
    fmt.Scanf("%d", &RoleLevel) //<--- example

    switch RoleLevel {
    case 1:
        // Log successful login
        logger.Printf("Login successfull.")
    case 2:
        // Log unsuccessful Login
        logger.Printf("Login unsuccessful - Insufficient access level.")
        // Unspecified error
        logger.Print("Login error.")

It's also good practice to implement generic error messages or custom error pages as a way to make sure that no information is leaked when an error occurs.

Go's log package, as per the documentation, "implements a simple logging" and some common and important features are missing, such as leveled logging (e.g. debug, info, warn, error, fatal, panic) and formatters support (e.g. logstash): these are two important features to make logs usable (e.g. for integration with a Security Information and Event Management system).

Most, if not all, third-party logging packages offer these and other features. The ones below are some of the post popular third-party logging packages:

An important note regarding Go's log package: both Fatal and Panic functions do much more than logging. Panic functions call panic after writing the log message what is not generally accepted for libraries and Fatal functions call os.Exit(1) after writing the log message what may terminate the program preventing deferred statements to run, buffers to be flushed and/or temporary data to be removed.

From the log access perspective, only authorized individuals should have access to the logs. Developers should also make sure that a mechanism that allows for log analysis is set in place, as well as guarantee that no untrusted data will be executed as code in the intended log viewing software or interface.

Regarding allocated memory cleanup, Go has an built-in Garbage Collector for this very purpose.

As a final step to guarantee log validity and integrity, a cryptographic hash function should be used as an additional step to ensure no log tampering has taken place.

// Get our known Log checksum from checksum file.
logChecksum, err := ioutil.ReadFile("log/checksum")
str := string(logChecksum) // convert content to a 'string'

// Compute our current log's MD5
b, err := ComputeMd5("log/log")
if err != nil {
  fmt.Printf("Err: %v", err)
} else {
  md5Result := hex.EncodeToString(b)
  // Compare our calculated hash with our stored hash
  if str == md5Result {
    // Ok the checksums match.
    fmt.Println("Log integrity OK.")
  } else {
    // The file integrity has been compromised...
    fmt.Println("File Tampering detected.")

Note: The ComputeMD5() function calculates a file's MD5. It's also important to note that the log-file hashes must be stored in a safe place, and compared with the current log hash to verify integrity before any updates to the log. Full source is included in the document.

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