Auditing any of your critical IT infrastructure is a process that involves collecting information into readable reports, analyzing those reports and taking the required action to ensure the security and integrity of that system. Group Policy is no different.
For effective Group Policy Auditing, you need to be able to report on changes in such a way that enables you to take the right steps to ensure restrictions and controls are being correctly enforced. Windows does allow you to output audit information natively, however the process is not a simple one, as the information isn’t aggregated centrally. Instead, if you’re going to take the native route for Group Policy auditing, you’re likely going to have to collect the information you require from each domain controller locally.
Windows also does not allow you to report on the audit data, meaning that collecting and organizing this data into readable and actionable reports is both time consuming and complex. The audit data you are able to get is also likely to not be detailed enough to be of any real value (no before and after values for changes being made can leave you without the required context to understand the consequences of that change).
This simply wouldn’t translate to effective Group Policy auditing. For that, you’re likely going to need a specialized Group Policy auditing solution, like LepideAuditor for Group Policy. Below are four ways in which using LepideAuditor translates to more effective Group Policy auditing.
1. Automatic Data Collection
Many Group Policy auditing solutions remove the need to manually collect and organize raw log data into actionable reports. Collecting audit data automatically (either through a third-party tool or scripting) is a necessary part of ensuring that you are able to spot and react to changes in a timely manner. Larger organizations that don’t make use of scripting or third-party tools will likely struggle to keep up with the amount of raw data generated each day, which makes it more likely that a dangerous change to GPO can go unnoticed.
2. Actionable Reports
Once you have successfully automated data collection, you will need to be able to organize this data into readable, actionable reports. Reporting is essential to being able to spot Group Policy changes that may leave your data in a vulnerable state or may cause over-privileged users. Many third-party solutions come with pre-defined, customizable reports to help improve the efficiency and productivity of your Group Policy reporting efforts. Most of these third-party solutions have reports specifically designed for security and compliance requirements as well.
I assume that the ultimate goal of your organization is to grow in either size or revenue. If there are any drastic changes in the size or setup of your environment, your Group Policy auditing efforts will have to scale in accordance with those changes. You’ll know if you have an effective Group Policy auditing strategy if you can increase the volume of data generated drastically and still be able to organize the data, report on it and take action promptly.
4. Improve Reaction Times
Since the ultimate goal of Group Policy auditing is to be able to spot and react to changes before, they manifest in security issues, the time it takes you to do this is an important factor. You need to be confident that you will be able to spot an unwanted change to Group Policy and rectify that change proactively and continuously. The best way to do this is to make use of real time alerts found within most third-party solutions.