How to Track User Logon Session Time in Active Directory
Understanding what your users are doing in your critical systems is a crucial part to identify potential security breaches/suspicious behavior. In this article, we’ll discuss two methods for tracking user logon sessions; the native auditing method (Event Log) and an automated solution Lepide Active Directory Auditor (part of Lepide Data Security Platform).
Step 1: Configure the Audit Policies
- Go to “Start” ➔ “All Programs” ➔ “Administrative Tools”. Double-click “Group Policy Management” to open its window.
- In the “Group Policy Management” console navigate to “Forest” ➔ “Domains” ➔ “www.domain.com”.
- Under “Domain Controllers” node, right-click any customized policy. Click “Edit” to access the “Group Policy Management Editor”.
Note: We recommend that you create a new GPO, link it to the domain and edit it.
- Go to “Computer configuration” ➔ “Policies” ➔ “Windows Settings” ➔ “Security Settings” ➔ “Advanced Audit Policy Configuration” ➔ “Audit Policies” ➔ “Logon/Logoff”.
- You have to configure the following policies:
- Audit Logon
- Audit Logoff
- Audit Other Logon/Logoff
- Double-click “Audit Logon” to access its properties.
- Click to select “Configure the following audit events”.
- To audit successful and failed events, click both “Successful” and “Failure” checkboxes.
- Click “Apply” and “Ok”. Repeat the steps for “Audit Logoff” and “Audit Other Logon/Logoff” policies.
- Close “Group Policy Management Editor”.
- In “Group Policy Management Console”, select the GPO that you have modified. In “Security Filtering” section in the right pane, click “Add” to add “Everyone” for applying this policy to all Active Directory objects.
- Close “Group Policy Management Console”.
- At the “Run” prompt or in “Command Prompt”, run the following command to update the group policies.
Step 2: Track logon session using Event logs
Perform the following steps in the Event Viewer to track session time:
- Go to “Windows Logs” ➔ “Security”.
- Open “Filter Current Log” on the rightmost pane and set filters for the following Event IDs. You can also search for these event IDs.
- 4624 – Logon (Whenever an account is successfully logged on)
- 4647 – Logoff (When an account is successfully logged off)
- 4634 – Logon session end time
- 4800 – System was locked
- 4801 – System was unlocked
- Double-click the event ID 4648 to access “Event Properties”. The session start time is displayed as “Logged”.
Let’s use an example to get a better understanding. In the “Event Properties” given above, a user with the account name “TestUser1” had logged in on 11/24/2017 at 2:41 PM. The session end time (can be obtained using the Event ID 4647) is 11/24/2017 at 03:02 PM.
You can obtain the user’s logon session time using these details.
This process becomes quite complicated and time-consuming when you have to the track logon session time for multiple users. In the majority of cases, it simply isn’t practical to rely on event logs for this information. To get the exact session time; you need to consider the very first logon and logoff time displayed in the event properties.
Lepide Active Directory Auditor – Simplifying your auditing needs
With a cutting-edge auditing solution, like Lepide Active Directory Auditor (part of Lepide Data Security Platform), monitoring and controlling the network activities of your organization is simple. We offer real-time reports with granular details of all the event activities. The Logon/Logoff reports generated by Lepide Active Directory Auditor mean that tracking user logon session time for single or multiple users is essentially an automated process.
The screenshot given below shows a report generated for Logon/Logoff activities:
In this article, the steps to audit the user logon and logoff events through native auditing are explained. However, much noise is generated for the logon or logoff events that make it complicated for the IT administrators to have a real-time view. The easiest and more efficient way to audit the same with Lepide Active Directory Auditor has also been explained. To try Lepide Active Directory Auditor for yourself, download the free trial version today.