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Administering Security with Group Policy
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Lesson 3: Implementing an Audit Policy
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Audit policies allow you to track user activities and system-wide events in the security log in the Event Viewer console. In this lesson, you learn how to plan and set up an audit policy.
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After this lesson, you will be able to
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Describe the purpose of auditing Plan an audit strategy and determine which events to audit Set up an audit policy Set up auditing on files, folders, and printers Set up auditing on Active Directory objects
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Estimated lesson time: 45 minutes
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Understanding Auditing
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Auditing in Windows Server 2003 is the process of tracking both user activities and sys
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tem activities, called events, on a computer. You can specify that information about an
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event be written to the security log in the Event Viewer console whenever certain
actions are performed. Windows Server 2003 writes an event to the security log on the
computer where the event occurs. For example, any time someone tries to log on to
the domain using a domain user account and the logon attempt fails, Windows Server
2003 writes an event to the security log on the domain controller. The event is recorded
on the domain controller rather than on the computer at which the logon attempt was
made because it is the domain controller that attempted to authenticate the logon
attempt and failed. The information about an event in the security log includes
The type of event, such as error, warning, information, success audit, or failure audit
The date the event was generated
The time the event was logged
The software that logged the event
The event ID number
The user who performed the action that generated the event
The name of the computer on which the event occurred
A description of the event
You can audit both successful and failed attempts at actions, so the audit can show
who performed actions on the network and who tried to perform actions that are not
permitted. Viewing security logs is discussed in Lesson 5.
Lesson 3
Implementing an Audit Policy
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Understanding Audit Policies
You determine the events you want to audit by setting up an audit policy in a GPO. An audit policy defines the categories of events recorded in the security log on each com puter. You set the Audit Policy settings in the Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/ Security Settings/Local Policies/Audit Policy extension in a GPO. You can set up an audit policy for a computer to track the success and failure of the event categories described in Table 13-2.
Table 13-2
Event Categories in the Audit Policy Extension
Description A domain controller received a request to validate a user account. An administrator created, changed, or deleted a user account or group. A user account was renamed, dis abled, or enabled, or a password was set or changed. A user gained access to an Active Directory object. You must configure specific Active Directory objects for auditing to log this type of event, as described in the section Configuring Objects for Auditing later in this lesson. A user logged on or logged off, or a user made or can celed a network connection to the computer. A user gained access to a file, folder, or printer. You must configure specific files, folders, or printers for auditing, as described in the section Configuring Objects for Auditing later in this lesson. A change was made to the user security options, user rights, or audit policies. A user exercised a right, such as changing the system time (this does not include rights that are related to logging on and logging off). A program performed an action. This information is generally useful only for programmers who want to track details of program execution. Be aware that pro cess tracking can generate a large number of events. A user restarted or shut down the computer, or an event occurred that affects system security or the secu rity log (for example, the audit log is full and the sys tem discards entries).
Event Category Account logon Account management
Directory service access
Logon events Object access
Policy change Privilege use
Process tracking
System events
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Administering Security with Group Policy
Off the Record Audit Object Access, Audit Privilege Use, and Audit Process Tracking are specifically turned off in the Default Domain Controllers Policy. Although you probably won t use the latter two types of auditing, you should keep in mind that if you want to audit a file or folder that sits on a domain controller, you ll have to enable Audit Object Access in the Default Domain Controllers Policy, instead of simply enabling it in the Local Security Policy of the domain controller. Otherwise, the setting in the Default Domain Controllers Policy will prevent any type of auditing on the domain controller.
Audit Policy Guidelines
When you plan an audit policy, you must determine the computers on which you want to set up auditing. Auditing is turned off by default. As you are determining which computers to audit, you must also plan the events to audit on each computer. Windows Server 2003 records audited events on each computer separately. After you have determined the events to audit, you must determine whether to audit the success of events, failure of events, or both. Tracking successful events can tell you how often Windows Server 2003 or users gain access to specific files, printers, or other objects. You can use this information for resource planning. Tracking failed events can alert you to possible security breaches. For example, if you notice several failed logon attempts by a certain user account, especially if these attempts are occurring outside normal business hours, you can assume that an unauthorized person is attempting to break into your system. Other guidelines in determining your audit policy include the following:
Define an audit policy that is useful and manageable. Always audit sensitive and confidential data. Audit only those events that provide you with meaningful infor mation about your network environment. This minimizes the usage of server resources and makes essential information easier to locate. Auditing too many types of events can create excess overhead for Windows Server 2003 and make it more difficult for administrators to find useful information. If security breaches are an issue for your organization, set up auditing for files and folders on NTFS file system partitions by specifying the Audit Object Access event category for audit. Most printers should not be audited because the Event Log might fill up with useless information. It is best to limit printer auditing to select printers that are used for printing sensitive documents or are expensive to operate. Audit resource access by the Everyone group instead of the Users group. This ensures that you audit anyone who can connect to the network, not just the users for whom you create user accounts in the domain. Also audit resource access fail ures by the Everyone group.
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