Kernel-supported cost-effective audit logging for causality tracking

Shiqing Ma, Juan Zhai, Yonghwi Kwon, Kyu Hyung Lee, Xiangyu Zhang, Gabriela Ciocarlie, Ashish Gehani, Vinod Yegneswaran, Dongyan Xu, Somesh Jha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

24 Scopus citations


The Linux Audit system is widely used as a causality tracking system in real-world deployments for problem diagnosis and forensic analysis. However, it has poor performance. We perform a comprehensive analysis on the Linux Audit system and find that it suffers from high runtime and storage overheads due to the large volume of redundant events. To address these shortcomings, we propose an in-kernel cache-based online log-reduction system to enable high-performance audit logging. It features a multi-layer caching scheme distributed in various kernel data structures, and uses the caches to detect and suppress redundant events. Our technique is designed to reduce the runtime overhead caused by transferring, processing, and writing logs, as well as the space overhead caused by storing them on disk. Compared to existing log reduction techniques that first generate the huge raw logs before reduction, our technique avoids generating redundant events at the first place. Our experimental results of the prototype KCAL (Kernel-supported Cost-effective Audit Logging) on one-month real-world workloads show that KCAL can reduce the runtime overhead from 40+% to 15-%, and reduce space consumption by 90% on average. KCAL achieves such a large reduction with 4% CPU consumption on average, whereas a state-of-the-art user space log-reduction technique has to occupy a processor with 95+% CPU consumption all the time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2018 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, USENIX ATC 2018
PublisherUSENIX Association
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781939133021
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Event2018 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, USENIX ATC 2018 - Boston, United States
Duration: Jul 11 2018Jul 13 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2018 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, USENIX ATC 2018


Conference2018 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, USENIX ATC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)


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