Logging and Debugging in Java

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Facilitate changes, such as moving logging to another machine, switching from logging to a le to logging to a database, or updating validation or privacy measures Whatever your choice, make sure you consistently use the same logging mechanism throughout your code Avoid ad hoc logging through Systemout and Systemerr, which can make veri cation of correct behavior or updates to logging conventions dif cult In the rest of this section, we discuss a few basic requirements for good logging: time-stamped log entries, consistent logging of all important actions, and controlled access to log data
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Keep calls to Systemout and Systemerr out of your code The following rule checks for use of Systemout or Systemerr
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FunctionCall: instance is [FieldAccess: field is [enclosingClassname == "javalangSystem" and (name == "out" or name == "err")]]
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The trick to successfully instituting such a policy is get your codebase into pristine condition and then set up an early warning system that prevents bogus calls from slipping back in Checking for calls to Systemout and Systemerr is quick and easy, so it s exactly the kind of static analysis check you can have the revision-control system perform before it accepts a submission
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Time-Stamp Log Entries The default output formats for both log4j and the javautillogging package include time stamps, but if you de ne your own logging format, be sure to explicitly include a time stamp The forensic value of log entries arises from the capability to re-create a sequence of events that has taken place In a multithreaded or distributed system, time stamps make it possible to form a clear timeline of events
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Log Every Important Action Make sure there will always be a log entry when one of these actions occurs Important actions generally include administration commands, network communication, authentication attempts, or an attempt to modify the ownership of an object Log account creation, password reset requests, purchases, sales, paid downloads, and any other application event in which something of value changes hands Include the signi cant details about the event in the log entry for these actions But, be careful not to leak sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or passwords, which are often logged unintentionally when they occur in the midst of other data Without infringing on your users privacy, ensure that a log entry will allow you to answer important questions, such as Who initiated the event or Who bene ted from it In de ning a logging convention for such events, failure is often at least as interesting as success because patterns of failure can help identify an attacker s game plan The method in Example 819 creates a new user It does a ne job of creating an initial log entry, but if a runtime exception occurs in provisionUid(), the log won t re ect the failed operation Example 820 revises the method to create a log entry upon both success and failure
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Example 819 This code logs a successful operation but ignores failure
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public int createUser(String admin, String usrName, String passwd) { loggerlog(LevelINFO, admin + "initiated createUser() with name '" + usrName + "'"); int uid = provisionUid(usrName, passwd); loggerlog(LevelINFO, "finished createUser(), '" + usrName + "' now has uid " + uid); return uid; }
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Example 820 Use a nally block to create a log le entry for both success and failure
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public int createUser(String admin, String usrName, String passwd) { loggerlog(LevelINFO, admin + "initiated createUser() with name '" + usrName + "'"); int uid = -1;
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try { uid = provisionUid(usrName, passwd); return uid; } finally { if (uid != -1) { loggerlog(LevelINFO, "finished createUser(), '" + usrName + "' now has uid " + uid); } else { loggerlog(LevelINFO, "createUser() failed for '" + usrName + "'"); } } }
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Protect the Logs Most logging systems are set up to write directly into log les, but more sophisticated systems might use a database to record log data Regardless of where the logs end up, you should prevent attackers from gaining access to important details about the system or manipulating log entries in their own favor For example, Web applications should store log les in a directory that is inaccessible to Web users Keep Debugging Aids and Back-Door Access Code out of Production Carefully segregate debugging code within the system so that you can ensure that it never appears in a production deployment Everyone adds code to coax additional information out of a system Knuth writes:
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The most effective debugging techniques seem to be those which are designed and built into the program itself many of today s best programmers will devote nearly half of their programs to facilitating the debugging process on the other half; the rst half will eventually be thrown away, but the net result is a surprising gain in productivity [Knuth, 1998]
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The problem is that if this extended behavior leaves the debugging environment and goes to production, it has a potentially deleterious effect on the security of the system Debugging code does not receive the same level of review and testing as the rest of the program and is rarely written with stability, performance, or security in mind
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