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Microsoft Windows Security

Security Auditing

The object manager can generate audit events as a result of an access check, and Windows functions available to user applications can generate them directly. Kernel-mode code is always allowed to generate an audit event. Two privileges, SeSecurityPrivilege and SeAuditPrivilege, relate to auditing. A process must have the SeSecurityPrivilege privilege to manage the security Event Log and to view or set an object’s SACL. Processes that call audit system services, however, must have the SeAuditPrivilege privilege to successfully generate an audit record.

The audit policy of the local system controls the decision to audit a particular type of security event. The audit policy, also called the local security policy, is one part of the security policy LSASS maintains on the local system, and it is configured with the Local Security Policy Editor as shown in Figure 6-10.

The audit policy configuration (both the basic settings under Local Policies and the Advanced Audit Policy Configuration to be described later) is stored in the registry as a bitmapped value in the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Policy\PolAdtEv.

Figure 6-10

Figure 6-10 Local Security Policy Editor audit policy configuration

LSASS sends messages to the SRM to inform it of the auditing policy at system initialization time and when the policy changes. LSASS is responsible for receiving audit records generated based on the audit events from the SRM, editing the records, and sending them to the Event Logger. LSASS (instead of the SRM) sends these records because it adds pertinent details, such as the information needed to more completely identify the process that is being audited.

The SRM sends audit records via its ALPC connection to LSASS. The Event Logger then writes the audit record to the security Event Log. In addition to audit records the SRM passes, both LSASS and the SAM generate audit records that LSASS sends directly to the Event Logger, and the AuthZ APIs allow for applications to generate application-defined audits. Figure 6-11 depicts this overall flow.

Figure 6-11

Figure 6-11 Flow of security audit records

Audit records are put on a queue to be sent to the LSA as they are received—they are not submitted in batches. The audit records are moved from the SRM to the security subsystem in one of two ways. If the audit record is small (less than the maximum ALPC message size), it is sent as an ALPC message. The audit records are copied from the address space of the SRM to the address space of the LSASS process. If the audit record is large, the SRM uses shared memory to make the message available to LSASS and simply passes a pointer in an ALPC message.

Object Access Auditing

An important use of the auditing mechanism in many environments is to maintain a log of accesses to secured objects, files in particular. To do this, the Audit Object Access policy must be enabled, and there must be audit ACEs in System Access Control Lists that enable auditing for the objects in question.

When an accessor attempts to open a handle to an object, the security reference monitor first determines whether the attempt is allowed or denied. If object access auditing is enabled, the SRM then scans the System ACL of the object. There are two types of audit ACEs, access allowed and access denied. An audit ACE must match any of the security IDs held by the accessor, it must match any of the access methods requested, and its type (access allowed or access denied) must match the result of the access check in order to generate an object access audit record.

Object access audit records include not just the fact of access allowed or denied, but also the reason for the success or failure. This “reason for access” reporting generally takes the form of an access control entry, specified in SDDL (Security Descriptor Definition Language), in the audit record. This allows for a diagnosis of scenarios in which an object to which you believe access should be denied is being permitted, or vice versa, by identifying the specific access control entry that caused the attempted access to succeed or fail.

As can be seen in Figure 6-10, object access auditing is disabled by default (as are all other auditing policies).

Global Audit Policy

In addition to object-access ACEs on individual objects, a global audit policy can be defined for the system that enables object access auditing for all file system objects, for all registry keys, or for both. A security auditor can therefore be certain that the desired auditing will be performed, without having to set or examine SACLs on all of the individual objects of interest.

An administrator can set or query the global audit policy via the AuditPol command with the /resourceSACL option. This can also be done with a program calling the AuditSetGlobalSacl and AuditQueryGlobalSacl APIs. As with changes to objects’ SACLs, changing these global SACLs requires SeSecurityPrivilege.

The global audit policy is stored in the registry as a pair of system access control lists in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Policy\GlobalSaclNameFile and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Policy\GlobalSaclNameKey. These keys can be examined by running Regedit.exe under the System account, as described earlier in the “Security System Components” section. These keys will not exist until the corresponding global SACLs have been set at least once.

The global audit policy cannot be overridden by SACLs on objects, but object-specific SACLs can allow for additional auditing. For example, global audit policy could require auditing of read access by all users to all files, but SACLs on individual files could add auditing of write access to those files by specific users or by more specific user groups.

Global audit policy can also be configured via the Local Security Policy Editor in the Advanced Audit Policy settings, described in the next subsection.

Advanced Audit Policy Settings

In addition to the Audit Policy settings described previously, the Local Security Policy Editor offers a much more fine-grained set of audit controls under the Advanced Audit Policy Configuration heading, as shown in Figure 6-12.

Figure 6-12

Figure 6-12 Local Security Policy Editor Advanced Audit Policy Configuration settings

Each of the nine audit policy settings under Local Policies, as illustrated previously in Figure 6-10, maps to a group of settings here that provide more detailed control. For example, while the Audit Object Access settings under Local Policies allow access to all objects to be audited, the settings here allow auditing of access to various types of objects to be controlled individually. Enabling one of the audit policy settings under Local Policies implicitly enables all of the corresponding advanced audit policy events, but if finer control over the contents of the audit log is desired, the advanced settings can be set individually. The standard settings then become a product of the advanced settings; however, this is not visible in the Local Security Policy Editor. Attempts to specify audit settings by using both the basic and the advanced options can cause unexpected results.

The Global Object Access Auditing option under the Advanced Audit Policy Configuration item can be used to configure the Global SACLs described in the previous section, using a graphical interface identical to that seen in Explorer or the Registry Editor for security descriptors in the file system or the registry.