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Advanced Security Audit Policy Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: June 22, 2011

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

Security auditing enhancements in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 can help your organization audit compliance with important business-related and security-related rules by tracking precisely defined activities, such as:

  • A group administrator has modified settings or data on servers that contain finance information.

  • An employee within a defined group has accessed an important file.

  • The correct system access control list (SACL) is applied to every file and folder or registry key on a computer or file share as a verifiable safeguard against undetected access.

In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, the number of audit settings for which success and failure can be tracked has increased to 53. Previously, there were nine basic auditing settings under Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Audit Policy. These 53 new settings allow you to select only the behaviors that you want to monitor and exclude audit results for behaviors that are of little or no concern to you, or behaviors that create an excessive number of log entries. In addition, because Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 security audit policy can be applied by using domain Group Policy, audit policy settings can be modified, tested, and deployed to selected users and groups with relative simplicity.

This step-by-step guide demonstrates the process of setting up an advanced Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 security auditing policy infrastructure in a test environment. It also guides you through the process of configuring some representative advanced security audit policy settings. When you have completed these initial tasks, you are strongly encouraged to use the procedures in this guide to choose, configure, apply, and assess additional security audit policy settings.

During this process, you will create an Active Directory domain, install Windows Server 2008 R2 on a member server, install Windows 7 on a client computer, and configure new advanced security audit policy settings, including global object access auditing. In addition, this document will walk you through the examination of new "reason for access" data available by using a number of new audit policy settings.

Once complete, you can use this test environment to apply different sets of Windows Server 2008 R2 advanced security audit policy settings and assess how they might be used to enhance security in your organization.

As you complete the steps in this guide, you will be able to:

  • Create and apply advanced audit policy settings to a defined group of computers in your organization.

  • Verify that the audit policy settings are applied to a defined group of client computer in your organization.

  • Use new "reason for access" security event data to identify the permissions that were used to determine whether a particular security event was triggered.

  • Configure, apply, and analyze the impact of different audit policy settings to identify the settings that are important to your organization.

  • Manage per-user auditing in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

After completing this step-by-step guide, you will have a working advanced security auditing infrastructure. You can then test and learn about additional advanced security audit policy settings by logging on to CONTOSO-CLNT and ensuring that the correct audit policy is being applied on the computer.

ImportantImportant
We recommend that you first use the procedures in this guide in a test lab environment. Step-by-step guides are not meant to be used to deploy Windows features without additional deployment planning and documentation.

The test environment described in this guide includes three computers that are connected to a private network and use the following operating systems, applications, and services.

 

Computer name Operating system Applications and services

CONTOSO-DC

Windows Server 2008 R2

noteNote
Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) can also be used on the domain controller.

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) and Domain Name System (DNS)

CONTOSO-SRV

Windows Server 2008 R2

Group Policy Management Console (GPMC)

CONTOSO-CLNT

Windows 7

noteNote
Windows Server 2008 R2 can also be used as the client computer.

 
noteNote
For more information about operating system compatibility and requirements, see Which Versions of Windows Support Advanced Audit Policy Configuration?.

The computers form a private intranet and are connected through a common hub or Layer 2 switch. This configuration can be emulated in a virtual machine environment if desired. This step-by-step uses private addresses throughout the test lab configuration. The private network ID 10.0.0.0/24 is used for the intranet. The domain controller for the domain named contoso.com is named CONTOSO-DC. The following figure shows the configuration of the test environment.

Graunlar Audit Policies SxS Network Diagram

To prepare your test environment in the CONTOSO domain, you must complete the following tasks:

  • Configure the domain controller (CONTOSO-DC).

  • Configure the member server (CONTOSO-SRV).

  • Configure the client computer (CONTOSO-CLNT).

Use the following table as a reference when setting up the appropriate computer names, operating systems, and network settings that are required to complete the steps in this guide.

ImportantImportant
Before you configure your computers with static IP addresses, we recommend that you first complete two important tasks that require Internet connectivity: Complete Windows product activation and use Windows Update to obtain and install any available critical security updates.

 

Computer name Operating system requirement IP settings DNS settings

CONTOSO-DC

Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2)

IP address: 10.0.0.1

Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Configured by DNS server role

CONTOSO-SRV

Windows Server 2008 R2

IP address: 10.0.0.2

Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Preferred: 10.0.0.1

CONTOSO-CLNT

Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2

IP address: 10.0.0.3

Subnet mask: 255.255.255.0

Preferred: 10.0.0.1

Depending on your environment, you may evaluate advanced audit policy settings in a Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2003 domain. For this guide, we use a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain.

noteNote
For more information about operating system requirements, see What's New in Windows Security Auditing.

To configure the domain controller CONTOSO-DC running Windows Server 2008 R2, you must:

  • Install Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Configure TCP/IP properties.

  • Install AD DS.

  • Create a Finance organizational unit (OU).

First, install Windows Server 2008 R2 on a stand-alone server.

  1. Start your computer by using the Windows Server 2008 R2 product CD.

  2. When prompted for a computer name, type CONTOSO-DC.

  3. Follow the rest of the instructions that appear on your screen to finish the installation.

Next, configure TCP/IP properties so that CONTOSO-DC has an IPv4 static IP address of 10.0.0.1.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-DC with the CONTOSO-DC\Administrator account.

  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet, click Network and Sharing Center, click Change Adapter Settings, right-click Local Area Connection, and then click Properties.

  3. On the Networking tab, click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties.

  4. Click Use the following IP address. In the IP address box, type 10.0.0.1. In the Subnet mask box, type 255.255.255.0. In the Default gateway box, type 10.0.0.1.

  5. In the Preferred DNS server box, type 10.0.0.1, and then click OK.

  6. On the Networking tab, clear the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) check box, and then click Close.

Next, configure the computer as a domain controller running Windows Server 2008 R2.

  1. Click Start, and then click Run. In the Open box, type dcpromo, and then click OK.

  2. On the Welcome to the Active Directory Domain Services Installation Wizard page, click Next, and then click Next again.

  3. Click Create a new domain in a new forest, and then click Next.

  4. In the FQDN of the forest root domain box, type contoso.com, and then click Next.

  5. Leave the default value in the Domain NetBIOS name box, and then click Next.

  6. In the Forest functional level list, click Windows Server 2003, and then click Next.

  7. In the Domain functional level list, click Windows Server 2003, and then click Next.

  8. Ensure that the DNS server check box is selected, and then click Next.

  9. Click Yes, confirming that you want to create a delegation for this DNS server.

  10. On the Location for Database, Log Files, and SYSVOL page, click Next.

  11. In the Password and Confirm password boxes, type a strong password, and then click Next.

  12. On the Summary page, click Next to start the installation.

  13. When the installation is complete, click Finish, and then click Restart Now.

    noteNote
    You must restart the computer after you complete this procedure.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-DC with the CONTOSO-DC\Administrator account.

  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Active Directory Users and Computers.

  3. In the console tree, right-click contoso.com, point to New, and then click Organizational Unit.

  4. Type the name of the new OU, Finance, and then click OK.

To configure the member server, CONTOSO-SRV, you must:

  • Install Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Configure TCP/IP properties.

  • Join CONTOSO-SRV to the domain contoso.com.

  • Add CONTOSO-SRV to the Finance OU.

  • Install the GPMC.

First, install Windows Server 2008 R2 as a stand-alone server.

  1. Start your computer by using the Windows Server 2008 R2 product CD.

  2. When prompted for a computer name, type CONTOSO-SRV.

  3. Follow the rest of the instructions that appear on your screen to finish the installation.

Next, configure TCP/IP properties so that CONTOSO-SRV has a static IP address of 10.0.0.2. In addition, configure the DNS server by using the IP address of CONTOSO-DC (10.0.0.1).

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV with the CONTOSO-SRV\Administrator account or another user account in the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Network and Sharing Center, click Manage Network Connections, right-click Local Area Connection, and then click Properties.

  3. On the Networking tab, click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties.

  4. Click Use the following IP address. In the IP address box, type 10.0.0.2. In the Subnet mask box, type 255.255.255.0. In the Default gateway box, type 10.0.0.1.

  5. Click Use the following DNS server addresses. In Preferred DNS server, type 10.0.0.1.

  6. Click OK, and then click Close to close the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box.

Next, join CONTOSO-SRV to the contoso.com domain.

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.

  2. Click Change settings (on the right under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings), and then click Change.

  3. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, click Domain, and then type contoso.com.

  4. Click More, and in the Primary DNS suffix of this computer box, type contoso.com.

  5. Click OK, and then click OK again.

  6. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears prompting you for administrative credentials, provide the credentials for CONTOSO\Administrator, and then click OK.

  7. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears welcoming you to the contoso.com domain, click OK.

  8. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears telling you that the computer must be restarted, click OK, and then click Close.

  9. Click Restart Now.

After the computer has restarted, add CONTOSO-SRV to the Finance OU.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-DC with the CONTOSO-DC\Administrator account.

  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Active Directory Users and Computers.

  3. In the console tree, right-click contoso.com.

  4. In the console tree, right-click the Finance OU, point to New, and then click Group.

  5. Type the name of the new group, Computers, and then in Group scope, click Domain local, and in Group type, click Security group.

  6. Right-click Computers, and then click Properties. On the Members tab, click Add.

  7. In Enter the object names to select, type CONTOSO-SRV, and then click OK.

Finally, install the GPMC on CONTOSO-SRV by using Server Manager. This will be used to configure the advanced security audit policy settings.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Server Manager.

  3. Under Feature Summary, click Add Features.

  4. Select the Group Policy Management check box, and then click Install.

  5. Close Server Manager.

To configure CONTOSO-CLNT, you must:

  • Install Windows 7.

  • Configure TCP/IP properties.

  • Join CONTOSO-CLNT to the domain contoso.com.

  1. Start your computer by using the Windows 7 product CD.

  2. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen, and when prompted for a computer name, type CONTOSO-CLNT.

Next, configure TCP/IP properties so that CONTOSO-CLNT has a static IP address of 10.0.0.3. In addition, configure the DNS server of CONTOSO-DC (10.0.0.1).

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-CLNT with the CONTOSO-CLNT\Administrator account or another user account in the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Network and Internet, and then click Network and Sharing Center.

  3. Click Change adapter settings, right-click Local Area Connection, and then click Properties.

  4. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  5. On the Networking tab, click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties.

  6. Click Use the following IP address. In IP address, type 10.0.0.3. In Subnet mask, type 255.255.255.0.

  7. Click Use the following DNS server addresses. In Preferred DNS server, type 10.0.0.1.

  8. Click OK, and then click Close to close the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box.

Next, join CONTOSO-CLNT to the contoso.com domain.

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties.

  2. Under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings, click Change settings.

  3. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  4. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.

  5. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, click Domain, and then type contoso.com.

  6. Click More, and in the Primary DNS suffix of this computer box, type contoso.com.

  7. Click OK, and then click OK again.

  8. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears prompting you for administrative credentials, provide the credentials, and then click OK.

  9. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears welcoming you to the contoso.com domain, click OK.

  10. When a Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears telling you that the computer must be restarted, click OK, and then click Close.

  11. In the System Settings Change dialog box, click Yes to restart the computer.

The nine basic audit policies under Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Audit Policy allow you to configure security audit policy settings for broad sets of behaviors, some of which generate many more audit events than others. An administrator has to review all events that are generated, whether they are of interest or not.

In Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, administrators can audit more specific aspects of client behavior on the computer or network, thus making it easier to identify the behaviors that are of greatest interest. For example, in Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Audit Policy, there is only one policy setting for logon events, Audit logon events. In Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Advanced Audit Policy Configuration\System Audit Policies, you can instead choose from eight different policy settings in the Logon/Logoff category. This provides you with more detailed control of what aspects of logon and logoff you can track.

A default domain policy is automatically generated when a new domain is created. In this section, we will edit the default domain policy and add an advanced security audit policy setting that audits when a user either successfully or unsuccessfully logs on to a computer in the CONTOSO domain.

To configure, apply, and validate an advanced domain logon audit policy setting, you must:

  • Configure an advanced domain logon policy setting.

  • Ensure that Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings are not overwritten.

  • Update Group Policy settings.

  • Verify that the advanced logon security audit policy settings were applied correctly.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  3. In the console tree, double-click Forest: contoso.com, double-click Domains, and then double-click contoso.com.

  4. Right-click Default Domain Policy, and then click Edit.

  5. Double-click Computer Configuration, double-click Policies, and then double-click Windows Settings.

  6. Double-click Security Settings, double-click Advanced Audit Policy Configuration, and then double-click System Audit Policies.

  7. Double-click Logon/Logoff, and then double-click Logon.

  8. Select the Configure the following audit events check box, select the Success check box, select the Failure check box, and then click OK.

When you use Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings, you need to confirm that these settings are not overwritten by basic audit policy settings. The following procedure shows how to prevent conflicts by blocking the application of any basic audit policy settings.

  1. On CONTOSO-SRV, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  2. In the console tree, double-click Forest: contoso.com, double-click Domains, and then double-click contoso.com.

  3. Right-click Default Domain Policy, and then click Edit.

  4. Double-click Computer Configuration, double-click Policies, and then double-click Windows Settings.

  5. Double-click Security Settings, and then click Security Options.

  6. Double-click Audit: Force audit policy subcategory settings (Windows Vista or later) to override audit policy category settings, and then click Define this policy setting.

  7. Click Enabled, and then click OK.

Before you can verify the functionality of advanced security audit policy settings in the contoso.com domain, you will log on to CONTOSO-CLNT as the domain administrator of the contoso.com domain and ensure that the Group Policy settings have been applied.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-CLNT as CONTOSO\Administrator.

  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator.

  3. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  4. Type gpupdate, and then press ENTER.

After the Group Policy settings have been applied, you can verify that the audit policy settings were applied correctly.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-CLNT as CONTOSO\Administrator.

  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator.

  3. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  4. Type auditpol.exe /get /category:*, and then press ENTER.

  5. Verify that Success, Failure, or Success and Failure are shown to the right of Logon.

One of the most common auditing needs is to track access to a particular file or folder. For example, you might need to identify an activity such as a user writing to a file that he or she should not have had access to. By enabling "reason for access" auditing, not only will you be able to track this type of activity, but you will also be able to identify the exact access control entry that allowed the undesired access, which can significantly simplify the task of modifying access control settings to prevent similar undesired object access in the future.

To configure, apply, and validate a reason for object access policy, you must:

  • Configure the file system audit policy.

  • Enable auditing for a file or folder.

  • Enable the handle manipulation audit policy.

  • Ensure that Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings are not overwritten.

  • Update Group Policy settings.

  • Review and verify reason for access auditing data.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  3. In the console tree, double-click Forest: contoso.com, double-click Domains, and then double-click contoso.com.

  4. Right-click Default Domain Policy, and then click Edit.

  5. Double-click Computer Configuration, double-click Policies, and then double-click Windows Settings.

  6. Double-click Security Settings, double-click Advanced Audit Policy Configuration, and then double-click System Audit Policies.

  7. Double-click Object Access, and then double-click File System.

  8. Select the Configure the following events check box, and then select the Success, Failure, or both Success and Failure check boxes.

  9. Click OK.

The file system audit policy is only used to monitor objects for which auditing SACLs have been configured. The following procedure shows how to configure auditing for a file or folder.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-CLNT as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Create a new folder or .txt document.

  3. Right-click the new object, click Properties, and click the Security tab.

  4. Click Advanced, and then click the Auditing tab.

  5. If the User Account Control dialog box appears, confirm that the action it displays is what you want, and then click Yes.

  6. Click Add, type a user name or computer name in the format contoso\user1, and then click OK.

  7. In the Auditing Entries for dialog box, select the permissions that you want to audit, such as Full Control or Delete.

  8. Click OK four times to complete configuration of the object SACL.

In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, the reason why someone has been granted or denied access is added to the open handle event. This makes it possible for administrators to understand why someone was able to open a file, folder, or file share for a specific access. To enable this functionality, the handle manipulation audit policy also needs to be enabled so that success events record access attempts that were allowed and failure events record access attempts that were denied.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  3. In the console tree, double-click Forest: contoso.com, double-click Domains, and then double-click contoso.com.

  4. Double-click the Finance OU, right-click Finance Audit Policy, and click Edit.

  5. Double-click Computer Configuration, double-click Policies, and then double-click Windows Settings.

  6. Double-click Security Settings, double-click Advanced Audit Policy Configuration, and then double-click System Audit Policies.

  7. Double-click Object Access, right-click Handle Manipulation, and click Properties.

  8. Select the Configure the following audit events check box, select the Success and Failure check boxes, and then click OK.

After you have created this audit policy, confirm that these advanced audit policy settings cannot be overwritten. For more information, see the "To ensure that Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings are not overwritten" procedure in the Step 2: Creating and verifying an advanced audit policy section.

Then apply the Group Policy updates by using the "To update Group Policy settings" procedure in the Step 2: Creating and verifying an advanced audit policy section.

After the updated Group Policy settings have been applied, be sure to log on to and log off from CONTOSO-CLNT and complete some tasks that will generate reason for object access events. Once you have completed these steps, you can review the auditing data that provides the reason for access.

  1. On CONTOSO-CLNT, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Event Viewer.

  2. Click Windows Logs, and then click Security.

  3. In the Actions pane, click Clear Log.

  4. Find the file or folder that you configured in the domain-level object access procedure, and modify the file or folder by using the permissions that you configured for the user account.

  5. Go back to Event Viewer, and in the Actions pane, click Refresh.

  6. In the Event ID column, click the event or events titled 4656, scroll down to the Access Request Information section, and confirm the permissions that were used to perform the task.

A global object access audit policy can be used to enforce object access audit policy for a computer, file share, or registry without having to configure and propagate conventional SACLs. Configuring and propagating SACLs is a more complex administrative task and is difficult to verify, particularly if you need to verify to an auditor that security policy is being enforced. By using a global object access audit policy, you can enforce a security policy such as "Log all administrative Write activity on servers containing Finance information" and verify that critical assets are being protected.

In this case, you will be auditing any changes made to registry keys by members of a specified group rather than changes made to file system objects.

To configure, apply, and validate a global object access audit policy, you must:

  • Configure a domain global object access audit policy.

  • Ensure that Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings are not overwritten.

  • Update Group Policy settings.

  • Confirm that global object access auditing is taking place.

  1. Log on to CONTOSO-SRV as a member of the local Administrators group.

  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Group Policy Management.

  3. In the console tree, double-click Forest: contoso.com, double-click Domains, and then double-click contoso.com.

  4. Right-click Default Domain Policy, and then click Edit.

  5. Double-click Computer Configuration, double-click Policies, and then double-click Windows Settings.

  6. Double-click Security Settings, double-click Advanced Audit Policy Configuration, and then double-click System Audit Policies.

  7. Double-click Object Access, and then double-click Registry.

  8. Select the Configure the following events check box, select the Success and Failure check boxes, and then click OK.

  9. Double-click Global Object Access Policies, and then double-click Registry.

  10. Select the Define this policy setting check box, and click Configure.

  11. In the Advanced Security Settings for Registry SACL box, click Add.

  12. Type a user name or computer name in the format contoso\user1, user1@contoso.com, or CONTOSO-CLNT, and click OK.

  13. In the Auditing Entry for Global Registry SACL box, select the Successful or Failed activities for which you want to log audit entries—for example, Create Subkey, Delete, or Read.

  14. Click OK three times to complete the audit policy configuration.

After you have created the audit policy, confirm that these advanced audit policy settings cannot be overwritten. For more information, see the "To ensure that Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings are not overwritten" procedure in the Step 2: Creating and verifying an advanced audit policy section.

Then apply the Group Policy updates by using the "To update Group Policy settings" procedure in the Step 2: Creating and verifying an advanced audit policy section. After the updated Group Policy settings have been applied, log on to and log off from CONTOSO-CLNT.

  1. Open Registry Editor, and create and modify one or more registry settings.

  2. Delete one or more of the registry settings that you created.

  3. Open Event Viewer, and confirm that your activities resulted in audit events, even though you did not set explicit auditing SACLs on the registry settings that you created, modified, and deleted.

Now that you have created, applied, and validated the three basic types of advanced security audit policy settings, continue to identify and test additional advanced security audit policy settings by using the basic procedures outlined in the previous sections.

To identify additional settings of potential interest to your organization, review the information in What's New in Windows Security Auditing.

Additional information is available in Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Advanced Audit Policy Configuration\System Audit Policies by right-clicking individual settings, clicking Properties, and clicking the Explain tab.

As you apply and test additional settings, consider how the audit event data that is generated can help you create a more secure network. In particular, consider the following:

  • Is the information provided by these audit events useful?

  • Is sufficient information provided by the audit data?

  • Is too much information provided by the audit data?

  • How can I adjust these audit policy settings to get only the information that I need?

Security auditing is a critical and essential tool to help you ensure that your network assets are secure. You should spend as much time as necessary to explore and understand the new advanced security audit policy settings in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Security audit policy settings in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 can be configured and used only on a per-computer basis, not a per-user basis. However, there are several ways to apply audit settings to specific users:

  • Where available, configure the advanced security permissions on the object being audited so that the audit policy applies only to a specific group. For example, if you want the Object Access policy setting to apply to a file or folder, you can configure permissions on the file or folder so that object access is only tracked for the individuals or groups you specify. The procedure titled "To enable auditing for a file or folder" earlier in this document describes how to complete this task.

  • Define and deploy per-user audit settings by using an audit policy text file, a logon script, and the Auditpol.exe command-line tool.

    ImportantImportant
    Per-user auditing based on logon scripts can only be applied to individual users, not groups. You cannot use logon scripts to exclude subcategories or categories of audit policy settings for administrators.

The following procedure describes how to create an audit policy text file that can be deployed by using a logon script. For more information about using logon scripts to deploy an audit policy, see article 921469 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=82447).

  1. At a command prompt, type auditpol /set /user:securityprincipalname/category:"subcategoryname" /include /Success or Failure:enable to add a per-user audit setting. Repeat this step for each audit policy subcategory and user or group that you want to add to your audit policy text file.

    noteNote
    To obtain a list of possible audit settings in report format, open a Command Prompt window, type auditpol /list /subcategory:* /r, and press ENTER. For more information about using Auditpol, see Auditpol set and Auditpol list.

  2. At a command prompt, type auditpol /backup /file: auditpolicyfilename.txt to export the policy.

  3. Format your policy by opening auditpolicyfilename.txt and removing all lines except the first line of text and the per-user audit lines of text.

    noteNote
    Per-user audit policy text will be in the form: ComputerName,S-1-XXXX,SubcategoryName,GUID,TextIncludeSettings,TextExcludeSettings,#. System settings will be in the form: ComputerName,System,SubcategoryName,GUID,TextAuditSettings,#. Also, be sure to remove the last six lines, which contain audit option settings.

  4. When you have finished creating your file, on the File menu, click Save As, and confirm that ANSI is selected in the Encoding list. Click OK.

  5. At a command prompt, type auditpol /restore /file: auditpolicyfilename.txt, and press ENTER to confirm that the desired audit settings are configured. Type auditpol /list /user, and press ENTER to list any users with per-user audit settings.

  6. Copy the auditpolicyfilename.txt file to the Netlogon share of the domain controller that holds the primary domain controller (PDC) emulator role in the domain.

    ImportantImportant
    Do not import audit policies containing per-user auditing settings directly into a Group Policy object (GPO). When per-user audit settings are deployed through Group Policy and not through logon scripts as described in this procedure, this can cause unexpected levels of failure events to appear in your security audit logs.

Applying advanced audit policy settings replaces any comparable basic security audit policy settings. If you subsequently change the advanced audit policy setting to Not configured, you will need to complete the following steps to restore the original basic security audit policy settings:

  1. Set all Advanced Audit Policy sub-categories to Not configured.

  2. Delete all audit.csv files from the %SYSVOL% folder on the domain controller.

  3. Reconfigure and apply the basic audit policy settings.

Unless you complete all of these steps, the basic audit policy settings will not be restored.

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