HOW TO: Use Group Policy to Audit Registry Keys in Windows 2000

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Article ID: 315416 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

This article describes how to use Group Policy to configure auditing of Windows registry keys.

How to Create a Group Policy Object

To create a Group Policy object (GPO) that you can use to enable auditing in a domain, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, and then click New.
  4. Type the name that you want to use for this policy (for example, Enable auditing policy), and then press ENTER.
  5. Click Properties, and then click the Security tab.
  6. Click to clear the Apply Group Policy check box for the security groups that you want to prevent from having this policy applied.
  7. Click the select the Apply Group Policy check box for the groups to which you want to apply this policy, and then click OK.

How to Enable Auditing in Group Policy

If auditing is not already enabled, you must enable it. In a domain, enable auditing in a GPO that is linked to the domain. On either a server or a workstation that is not a member of the domain, enable auditing in a local GPO.

How to Enable Auditing on a Computer That Is a Member of a Domain

  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, click the group policy object that you want to use, and then click Edit.
  4. Under Computer Configuration, click to expand Windows Settings, click to expand Security Settings, click to expand Local Policies, and then click Audit Policy.
  5. Double-click Audit object access.
  6. Click to select the Define these policy settings check box, click to select the Success check box, click to select the Failure check box, and then click OK.

    NOTE: The Audit object access policy setting is sufficient to enable auditing for the Windows registry.
  7. Quit the Group Policy snap-in, and then click Close.

How to Enable Auditing on a Computer That Is Not a Member of a Domain

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type gpedit.msc, and then click OK.
  3. Under Computer Configuration, click to expand Windows Settings, click to expand Security Settings, click to expand Local Policies, and then click Audit Policy.
  4. Double-click Audit object access.
  5. Click to select the Define these policy settings check box, click to select the Success check box, click to select the Failure check box, and then click OK.

    NOTE: The Audit object access policy is sufficient to enable auditing for the Windows registry.
  6. Quit the Group Policy snap-in.

How to Audit a Registry Key

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedt32, and then click OK.
  3. Locate and click the registry key that you want to audit, for example:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  4. On the Security menu, click Permissions.
  5. Click Advanced, click the Auditing tab, and then click Add.
  6. Click the account whose access to this registry key you want to audit, for example, Authenticated Users, and then click OK.
  7. Click to select the following check boxes under both Successful and Failed:
    Set Value
    Create Subkey
  8. Click OK, and then click OK.

    You may receive the following message:
    The current Audit Policy for this computer does not have auditing turned on. If this computer gets audit policy from the domain, please ask a domain administrator to turn on auditing using Group Policy Editor. Otherwise, use the Local Computer Policy Editor to configure the audit policy locally on this computer.
    If auditing is not enabled, you must enable it by following the steps in the How to Enable Auditing in Group Policy section of this article.
  9. Click OK, and then click OK.
  10. Quit Registry Editor.
Audit events are displayed in the Security log of Event Viewer.

How to Use a Security Template to Audit Registry Keys

You can also use a security template to audit registry keys. To configure the audit policy, either create a custom security template or modify an existing template, and then use Group Policy to apply this template to multiple computers in a domain or an organizational unit.

How to Create a Security Template

To create a new security template or to modify an existing template, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type mmc, and then click OK.
  3. On the Console menu, click Add/Remove Snap-in.
  4. Click Add, and then click Security Template.
  5. Click Add, click Close, and then click OK.
  6. Under the Console root folder, click to expand Security Templates.
  7. Click to expand drive:\WINNT\Security\Templates, where drive is the drive on which Windows is installed.
  8. Do one of the following steps:
    • If you want to modify an existing template, click to expand the template that you want to use, for example, hisecws (high-security workstation template).

      -or-
    • If you want to create a new security template, follow these steps:
      1. Right-click drive:\WINNT\Security\Templates, and then click New Template.
      2. Type a name for the template in the Template name box, and then click OK.
      3. Click to expand the new template that you created.
  9. Right-click Registry, and then click Add Key.
  10. In the Registry list, click to expand the registry key that you want to use, for example:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  11. Click Advanced, click the Auditing tab, and then click Add.
  12. Click the account whose access to this registry key you want to audit, for example, Authenticated Users, and then click OK.
  13. In the Access list, click to select the check boxes under Successful and under Failed for the type of access that you want to audit for either the selected user or the selected security group, and then click OK.

    For example, click to select the Set Value check boxes under both Successful and Failed.
  14. Click OK.

    If you receive the following message, click OK:
    The current Audit Policy for this computer does not have auditing turned on. If this computer gets audit policy from the domain, please ask a domain administrator to turn on auditing using Group Policy Editor. Otherwise, use the Local Computer Policy Editor to configure the audit policy locally on this computer.
  15. Click OK, and then click OK.
  16. Click to expand Local Policies, and then click Audit Policy.
  17. In the Policy list, double-click Audit object access.
  18. Click to select the Define these policy settings check box, click to select the Success check box, click to select the Failure check box, and then click OK.

    NOTE: The Audit object access policy setting is sufficient to enable auditing for the Windows registry.
  19. Quit the Security Templates snap-in.
  20. If a Save Security Templates dialog box is displayed, click Yes to save the custom security template that you have created.

How to Apply the Security Template

Use Group Policy to apply the security template that contains the audit policy that you configured. To do so, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Do one of the following steps:
    • If you want to apply the security template to the entire domain, right-click the domain, and then click Properties.

      -or-
    • If you want to apply the security templates to an organizational unit, click to expand the domain, right-click the organizational unit, and then click Properties.
  3. Create a GPO to use to apply the security template. To do so:
    1. Click New.
    2. Type a name for the GPO in the New Group Policy Object box (for example, Apply Audit Policy Security Template), and then press ENTER.
  4. In the Group Policy Object Links list, click the GPO that you want, and then click Edit.
  5. Under Computer Configuration, click to expand Windows Settings, right-click Security Settings, and then click Import Policy.
  6. Click the security template that you created, click to select the Clear this database before importing check box, and then click Open.

    NOTE: When the Clear this database before importing check box is selected, all of the security settings in the GPO are replaced with those of the security template that you import.
  7. Quit the Group Policy snap-in, and then click Close.
  8. Quit Active Directory Users and Computers.

Troubleshooting

After you configure auditing, the service may not work. This behavior can occur for any of the following reasons:
  • A site, a domain, or an organizational unit policy setting overrides the audit policy that you configured. To troubleshoot this issue, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, and then click Run.
    2. In the Open box, type gpedit.msc, and then click OK.
    3. Under Computer Configuration, click to expand Windows Settings, click to expand Security Settings, click to expand Local Policies, and then click Audit Policy.
    4. In the Policy pane, view the item in the Effective Setting column of the policy that you want to use.

      If the effective setting of the policy is No auditing, a higher-level GPO may be overriding the audit policy setting that you configured. To confirm this behavior, view the higher-level GPO items that are linked to either the organizational unit or to the domain for possible conflicts.
    5. Click to select the Define these policy settings check box, click to select the Success check box, click to select the Failure check box, and then click OK.

      NOTE: The Audit object access policy setting is sufficient to enable auditing for the Windows registry.
    6. Quit the Group Policy snap-in.
  • A GPO that overrides the audit policy setting has a higher priority. To troubleshoot this issue, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
    2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
    3. Click the Group Policy tab.

      View the Group Policy Objects Links list. Items that are higher in the list override other lower-level items.
    4. If the GPO that contains your audit policy setting is listed below a higher-priority GPO item that turns off auditing, do one of the following steps:
      • Click the GPO that contains the audit policy setting that you want to use, and then click Up to move it above the higher-priority item in the list.

        WARNING: Ensure that other settings in your GPO do not conflict with the settings in the GPO items that are listed below it.

        -or-
      • Edit the GPO items that are listed above the GPO that contains the audit policy setting to remove conflicting policy settings.

        NOTE: You may want to combine the audit settings from one GPO with those of a higher-level GPO to resolve the audit policy conflict and to reduce the number of GPO items.
    5. When you are finished, click OK, and then click Exit on the Console menu.
  • The site, the domain, or the organizational unit policy setting that contains the audit policy setting has not replicated to other computers. To resolve this issue, use the Secedit.exe command-line utility to force Group Policy to be refreshed. For additional information about using Secedit, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    227302 Using SECEDIT to Force a Group Policy Refresh Immediately



REFERENCES

For additional information about using Group Policy, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
214752 How to Add Custom Registry Settings to Security Configuration Editor
220862 Local Group Policy Settings Do Not Take Effect
227448 Using Secedit.exe to Force Group Policy to Be Applied Again
For additional information about auditing, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
248260 How to Enable Local Security Auditing in Windows 2000
234926 Windows 2000 Security Templates Are Incremental
299475 Windows 2000 Security Event Descriptions (Part 1 of 2)
301677 Windows 2000 Security Event Descriptions (Part 2 of 2)
300549 HOW TO: Enable and Apply Windows Security Auditing

Properties

Article ID: 315416 - Last Review: October 30, 2006 - Revision: 3.1
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
Keywords: 
kbhowtomaster KB315416

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