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Why is Active Directory auditing essential?

Active Directory (AD) resources are susceptible to attacks both from external threats and malicious insiders. If an attacker is successful in accessing sensitive data through underhanded methods, it could jeopardize your entire business. Auditing your AD environment establishes accountability and allows visibility into information such as who modified what, when, and from where. This lets you spot and respond to unauthorized actions in your AD and secure your business-critical data. Follow these best practices to effectively audit AD and run your IT operations seamlessly.

Top 7 AD auditing best practices


Identify your audit goals

Map your AD environment and perform a detailed assessment of servers, workstations, Group Policy Objects (GPOs), and other AD objects to determine your organization's auditing goals. Identify the most critical events that need to be audited and strike the right balance between the activities, resources, and objects you want to track and the event volume they can generate based on your audit settings.


Enable essential audit policies

Make sure that all domain controllers have advanced audit policy settings enabled to audit logon activity, account management, access to objects, policy changes, privilege use, process tracking, etc. Once this data is logged, you will have an audit trail of all the critical activities taking place in your AD. This data can be used for further analysis to strengthen your organization's security.


Monitor AD object modifications

Changes made to critical users, computers, groups, organizational units, GPOs, schema, and Flexible Single Master Operations roles must be monitored since these objects could be misused by intruders to gain access to sensitive resources in the organization. In addition to audit policies, configure System Access Control Lists to ensure object level auditing is enabled.


Look for signs of compromise

Keep a look out for indicators of compromise to spot attackers when they perform unauthorized actions. This can help mitigate the damage inflicted with a quick, automated response. A few examples include anomalous logons, unauthorized file and folder activity, and privilege escalations.


Audit password changes

A strong password policy goes a long way towards warding off external threats. Enabling password complexity, enforcing regular password changes, and storing passwords with non-reversible encryption will strengthen your AD security. In addition, audit and track all password changes and resets to spot suspicious activities by malicious insiders.


Leverage account lockout policy

Thoughtfully define the account lockout policy settings to minimize account lockouts in your organization. Frequently locked out users might indicate bad actors trying to gain access to your resources. Auditing enables you to scrutinize excessive account lockouts and identify intruders trying to brute-force their way into your network.


Allocate enough space for log data

Configure event log size and retention settings in your domain to prevent the loss of important audit data due to insufficient storage and overwrites. The security log data is vital for identifying performance trends and making informed security decisions. Archiving the audit log data helps satisfy multiple compliance regulations, including the GDPR and HIPAA.

Simplify AD auditing with
ADAudit Plus

Using native tools to analyze the huge volume of audit logs generated everyday can be overwhelming for any security team. ManageEngine's ADAudit Plus is a UBA-driven change auditing tool that offers complete visibility into your AD environment. ADAudit Plus provides comprehensive change audit reports to help ensure that your AD, Windows servers, file servers, and workstations are secure and compliant.

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