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How to Audit Successful Logon/Logoff and Failed Logons in Active Directory

Danny Murphy
| Read Time 6 min read| Updated On - November 7, 2022

Audit Failed logins in Active Directory

Auditing successful and failed logon and logoff attempts in the Active Directory is a vital element of identity security and robust data security strategy. Being able to identify whether users are attempting to, or even successfully logging on outside of business hours, for example, will help you spot threats.

In this blog, we will go through the process of auditing login and logoff events using the Event Viewer in Active Directory. We will also talk briefly about the challenges of this method and suggest a better way.

“Audit Logon Events” and “Audit Account Logon Events”, meant for monitoring the logon/logoff events, are disabled by default. It is required to enable these policies manually. Before going to learn how to enable these policies, it is important to know in brief about them.

Audit Logon Events policy defines the auditing of every user attempt to log on to or log off from a computer. The account logon events on the domain controllers are generated for domain account activities, whereas these events on the local computers are generated for the local user account activities.

Audit Account Logon Events policy defines the auditing of every event generated on a computer, which is used to validate the user’s attempts to log on to or log off from another computer. Such account logon events are generated and stored on the domain controller when a domain user account is authenticated on that domain controller. For local user accounts, these events are generated and stored on the local computer when a local user is authenticated on that computer.

Steps to track logon/logoff events in Active Directory:

  • Step 1 – Enable ‘Audit Logon Events’
  • Step 2 – Enable ‘Audit Account Logon Events’
  • Step 3 – Search Related Event Logs in Event Viewer

Step 1 – Enable ‘Audit Logon Events’

    • Run gpmc.msc command to open Group Policy Management Console

    • If you want to apply this on the whole domain then Right-click on the Domain Object and click on Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here….

Note- If you do not want to apply this on the whole domain then you can select any OU rather selecting a domain.

    • Write a new GPO name as shown in below image

    • A new GPO “Logon Logoff Reports” created. Right click on this and click on Edit option

    • A new window of Group Policy Management Editor (GPME) will open.
    • Now under Computer Configuration go to Policies node and expand it as
      Policies -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Audit Policy
    • In the right hand panel of GPME, either Double click on “Audit logon events” or Right Click -> Properties on “Audit logon events”
    • A new window of “Audit logon events” properties will open. Check “Success” and “Failure” boxes and click “Ok”

  • Now, run gpupdate /force to update GPO

Now, we have successfully enabled “Audit Logon Events”

Step 2 – Enable ‘Audit Account Logon Events’

    • Run gpmc.msc command to open Group Policy Management Console.

    • Now, expand Domain Controllers node, Right-click on the “Default Domain Controllers Policy” and click “Edit”.

Note- You can also create your own GPO as we did for “Audit Logon Events” in case you do not want to edit Default Domain Controllers Policy.

    • A new window of Group Policy Management Editor (GPME) will open.
    • In GPME windows, expand Computer Configuration, go to “Policies” node and expand it as Policies -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Audit Policy
    • In the right hand panel of GPME, either Double click on “Audit account logon events” or Right Click -> Properties on “Audit account logon events”
    • A new window of “Audit account logon events” properties will open. Check “Success” and “Failure” boxes and Click on “OK”

  • Now, run gpupdate /force to update GPO

Now, we have successfully enabled “Audit account logon events”

Step 3 – Search Related Event Logs in Event Viewer

The event ids for “Audit logon events” and “Audit account logon events” are given below. You have to check these event ids in security logs to track successful logon / logoff and failed login attempts.

Audit Logon Events

Event ID Description
4624 An account was successfully logged on
4625 An account failed to log on
4648 A logon was attempted using explicit credentials
4634 An account was logged off
4647 User initiated logoff
4672 Special privileges assigned to new logon
4778 A session was reconnected to a Window Station

Audit Account Logon Events

Event ID Description
4768 A Kerberos authentication ticket (TGT) was requested
4769 A Kerberos service ticket was requested
4770 A Kerberos service ticket was renewed
4771 Kerberos pre-authentication failed
4774 An account was mapped for logon
4776 The domain controller attempted to validate the credentials for an account

*Operating System for above ids – Windows Server 2008 or higher

Test Case – Here, we will search Event ID 4648 to get the particular record.

  1. Go to “Start Menu” ➔ ”All Programs” ➔ ”Administrative Tools” ➔ “Event Viewer”
  2. In the left panel, go to Windows Logs” ➔ “Security” to view the security logs → Click on ‘Filter Current Log..’
  3. Enter Event ID 4648 to search for it
  4. Double-click on event to see its details
  5. A dialog box appears confirming that “a logon was attempted using explicit credentials”.

Issues with Native Auditing

The native auditing of Active Directory has numerous drawbacks. Multiple events are generated for a single event and it is very difficult to search for a particular event in the large pool of events. Event Viewer also consumes a lot of disk space to store the events for the long term.

All the above-mentioned procedure to audit successful and failed Logon / Logoff in Active Directory can be simplified with the help of Lepide Active Directory Auditor. With this, you can make the entire auditing process simple and thus helps to maintain a secure AD environment.

How Lepide Active Directory Auditor tracks Logon/Logoff in Active Directory

Lepide’s Active Directory audit solution (part of Lepide Data Security Platform) overcomes the limitations of native auditing and provides an easiest way to track all the logon/logoff activities of Active Directory users. See below for an example of both successful logon/logoff activity and failed logins.

Figure 1: Successful User Logon Logoff report

Figure 2: Failed Logon Report

Lepide also makes it easy to spot potentially unwanted user behavior by reporting on when you Active Directory users are logging into Active Directory outside of business hours.

Failed LoginsFigure 3: Failed Logon Report Outside Business Hours

Lepide is incredibly simple to install and configure and provides instant value through hundreds of pre-set reports. Use the below form to start your free trial and give it go!

Audit user logon logoff activities with Lepide Active Directory Auditor

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Danny Murphy
Danny Murphy

Danny brings over 10 years’ experience in the IT industry to our Leadership team. With award winning success in leading global Pre-Sales and Support teams, coupled with his knowledge and enthusiasm for IT Security solutions, he is here to ensure we deliver market leading products and support to our extensively growing customer base

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