Map Your Environment: First scan and map your entire AD environment so you know the details of existing accounts and permissions.
From there you can begin triage. Focus on What Matters: Without an Active Directory permissions audit tool, it’s practically impossible to keep track of all the Active Directory changes that can be monitored.
Instead, you should prioritize the areas that could pose the most danger.
Organizations often focus on Privileged AD Access, Privileged User Access, and Large Group Remediation. Review Memberships and Remediate Problems: Now you can begin reviewing group memberships and remediating problematic Active Directory folder permissions and conditions you uncovered.
Review members to ensure that only the appropriate individuals and groups have access to sensitive data. Following the principle of least privilege helps ensure security.
Create a Continuous Cycle: The AD auditing process should occur regularly, which is why it’s important you make this process repeatable.
After you have gone through your top priorities, repeat the third step with the next highest priority, and so on.
When it comes to Active Directory monitoring, there are a plethora of tools— from free and open-source, to end-to-end enterprise solutions.
Solutions range from full network monitoring to data security auditors, to AD management and automation, etc. Although these tools work differently and were designed for different purposes, they can all help you monitor your Active Directory environment and keep it healthy and safe.
Here’s our list of the Best Tools for Active Directory Monitoring:. SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor – FREE TRIAL All-in-one monitoring solution for apps and servers.
What Should Active Directory Audits Report On?
It can be used to monitor ActiveDirectory. ManageEngine ADAudit Plus – FREE TRIAL A real-time Active Directory monitoring, auditing, and reporting software.
Netwrix Auditor for AD A visibility platform for risk mitigation and user behavior analytics. It can help detect and report on all the changes made on Active Directory.
Quest Active Administrator A robust Active Directory monitoring and management solution. Lepide Active Directory Auditor Intelligent threat detection platform that provides end-to-end visibility into Active Directory and Group Policy.
Softerra Adaxes A management and automation solution for Active Directory, Exchange, and Microsoft 365.
PRTG Network Monitor Full monitoring solution for servers, applications, networks, and much more.
Graylog An open-source log management platform, which can be expanded to monitor and audit Active Directory. Varonis A data security and threat detection platform, which lets you monitor and audit AD.
Anturis Active Directory Monitor A cloud-based monitoring platform for networks, servers, applications, cloud resources, and websites. Splunk A platform designed to sort through, keep track, and analyze machine-generated data.
MS PowerShell Microsoft’s automation task utility can be used to monitor AD.
Best Practices for Active Directory Auditing
Active Directory Monitoring (AD monitoring) is the process of keeping track of the performance, health, functionality, and operations of an AD environment.
Monitoring technologies collect metrics from various sources, perform analysis, and output via visualizations, alarms, or reports. To monitor Active Directory, keep track of the following parameters:. Domain Controllers Monitoring Keep track of directory replications, monitor authentication, and DCs performance and status.
Monitor and audit changes in configuration Keep track of changes made to AD or group policies.
Find out what, when, and who. Keep track of the user's activity Identify user failed/successful logons, abnormal activity, locked accounts, deactivated users, their applied policies, etc.
Monitoring health and performance bottlenecks Some metrics in the network and servers can help identify potential AD bottlenecks. Keeping track of parameters like these, need to be accompanied by reporting, dashboards, visualization, and alarms.
For instance, reporting is a vital element in monitoring, it can help keep track of difficult problems, identify solutions, and even help ensure compliance.
Alarm systems are also essential, as they can provide real-time alerts on critical events. Windows already comes with some AD monitoring, auditing, and reporting capabilities.
If you prefer to stay within the Windows ecosystem, below are some of the most useful native Windows tools that you can use to monitor AD.
Windows Event Logs The event logs give you extra information for diagnostics and audits. The Events Logs viewer can be accessed via the Server Manager console.
Performance Monitor (perfmon) A tool that can be used to view various Windows performance counters.
This GUI-based tool can be used to view real-time data from DNS, DFS, LDAP, Kerberos Authentication, SAM, DirectoryServices, and more.
What Is an Active Directory Security Audit?
Repadmin This is a very useful CLI-based utility that can help monitor the Active Directory replication status and troubleshoot problems.
SCOM is Microsoft’s commercial management and monitoring offering. It uses management packs to deploy, configure, maintain and monitor an Active Directory environment (and other MS services and subsystems.) With SCOM, all systems can be monitored centrally through a single-pane-of-glass. SCOM collects a massive amount of metrics and provides early warnings and error messages.
Unfortunately, SCOM is only supported by Windows environments, and it is known to be complex to install and run.
Other monitoring application vendors can help address some weaknesses from Windows native tools.
Active Directory & AD Management FAQs
Some of these tools use underlying MS technologies (such as Event logs) to collect metrics and aggregate and present data in different ways, via dashboards, graphs, and reports.
Other tools are completely independent and can log directly into Active Directory and gather more specific data. Some of these Active Directory monitoring tools may even introduce advanced analytics on the collected data to provide insights, recommendations, and even detect threats.
SolarWinds's Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is an end-to-end monitoring solution for applications and servers. It can be used with AppInsight to monitor, diagnose, and troubleshoot physical or virtual Active Directory environments.
With SAM, you can also keep track of the state of domain controllers, review their FSMO roles, and monitor replication status between domain controllers. SAM can also collect data from Windows Events and logons and summarize the information with detailed reports to help you audit and monitor Active Directory.
Site Details to view detailed information on all remote sites.
Replication Summary view to keep track of replications between DCs.
Domain Controller Detail view for full status and role of DCs.
Window Events and logon view to audit logon events. The price for SAM perpetual license starts at $2,700 and offers a fully functional 30-day free trial. License: Please click on the following link to request a quote https://www.solarwinds.com/onlinequotes/#/addLicense.
Download: https://www.solarwinds.com/server-application-monitor/registration. ADAudit Plus from ManageEngine is an Active Directory monitoring and reporting solution.
It can audit, monitor, and generate reports on AD objects (and their attributes) including, users, computers, groups, GPOs, OUs, DNS, AD Schema, and configuration changes.
The tool comes with more than 200 comprehensive GUI-based reports and alerts.
How to perform Active Directory cleanup?
ADAuditPlus shows you critical configuration changes in your AD environment, such as deletion, creation, permission, or any change made to your AD objects. Additionally, you can also monitor any changes made to Group Policy Objects (GPOs), including passwords, account lockouts, etc.
200+ audit reports and email alerts. Monitor user’s login and logoff data. Track login data of specific groups or OUs. Advanced built-in threat intelligence. Compliance-based reports. License: ManageEngine ADAudit Plus comes in three editions.
Free, Standard ($595), and Professional ($945). Download: Try ADAudit 30-day free trial or download their Free Edition (25 Workstations).
Netwrix Auditor is an advanced visibility platform designed for risk mitigation and user behavior analytics. It provides a wide degree of control over access, configurations, and changes for a variety of IT systems, including Active Directory environments.
For Active Directory monitoring, Netwrix can help detect and report on all the changes made to an Active Directory domain along with its AD objects, Group Policy configurations, and more.
It can also audit logon activity to reduce the risk of privilege abuse.
How does Active Directory management work in Access Rights Manager?
Netwrix generates reports on current configurations, their changes, logons, activities, and more. Identify insider threats (cloud or on-prem).
Detect abnormal behaviors and failed logons. Take daily snapshots. Detect and manage inactive users and expiring passwords.
Standalone Network Auditor Object Restore.
Audits to prove IT compliance. Quest's Active Administrator is a comprehensive Active Directory monitoring and management solution.
How to Monitor Active Directory?
It provides a toolset to monitor Active Directory Domains and Domain Controllers. The solution ensures the AD's health, availability, and performance. Quest's Active Administrator monitors and reports on configuration changes.
It generates reports based on event type, user and date, user logon, lockout activity, and more. With the report's data, you can also set alerts and trigger actions to improve AD’s performance.
Dashboard views of AD configuration, replication, and alerts. Full reports of Domain Controllers. Domain Controller Management Module. Alerts on AD configuration changes.
Manage and monitor DNS health. License: Quest’s Active Administrator perpetual license starts at $24.99/unit (min. Download a fully functional 30-days free trial of Active Administrator.
Lapide Auditor is an intelligent threat detection platform designed for data protection. It provides end-to-end visibility into Active Directory, Group Policy, and other subsystems. The platform can find and classify data in real-time and discover changes, events, actions, and anomalies.
With the Lapide Auditor platform, you can monitor changes being made in real-time to configurations and permissions in Active Directory or Group Policy.
It also provides high-level detailed dashboards so that you can identify and analyze risks on AD, including changes in user behaviors, unauthorized logins, privilege abuse, and more.
Best Tools for Active Directory Auditing
Comprehensive change audits. Failed logins and lockout monitoring. Permissions monitoring. Meet compliance requirements. Get real-time alerts. Price:Request a quote. Download a 15-days free Lepide Auditor trial.
Adaxes is a server management and automation platform for Active Directory, Exchange, and Microsoft 365. The tool is popular for its automation capabilities, approval-based workflows, and role-based permissions. It can be used for Active Directory monitoring, maintenance, management, automation, and security.
For monitoring AD, Adaxes provides robust reporting. It comes with more than 200 built-in reports, and also lets you customize and schedule your reports.
Rule-based Active Directory Automation. Increased security with approval-based workflow. Role-based delegation. Automated user provisioning and de-provisioning.
Service logs to monitor operations.
License: The price for an Adaxes license starts at $1,600.00 (up to 100 user accounts).
Why Use Active Directory Reports Software for Your Auditing Needs?
Download a 30-day free trial of Adaxes. PRTG Network Monitor is an end-to-end network monitoring tool. It can keep track of systems, servers, applications, devices, traffic, Active Directory, and a lot more. PRTG uses monitoring sensors to monitor different elements within a single device or network.
For monitoring AD, PRTG provides a replication error sensor that helps you keep track of replications between domain controllers.
The PRTG Network Monitor can also help identify logged-out and deactivated users and group memberships. The tool also comes with the Windows Event Log sensor, which can be configured to generate alerts for any critical AD audit events. Monitor the entire domain forest. Detect replication errors. Identify logged-out and deactivated users.
Audit group membership changes. Generate and send intelligent alerts. License: The software license is priced based on the number of sensors. The price starts at $1,360, for PRTG500 (for 500 monitoring sensors). Download a full 30-days free trial of PRTG Network Monitor.
Graylog is an open-source log management platform. It collects log data, stores it, and provides analytics capabilities, such as data aggregation, combination, correlation, and visualization— all in a central place. Graylog can be extended for Active Directory monitoring with community-built add-ons.
For instance, the free Auditing Content Pack for Graylog 3 add-on provides multiple dashboards for auditing and monitoring Active Directory. View DNS object summary. View Group Object Summary. View User and Computer Object Summary.
The add-on “Active Directory – Change Monitoring and Alerting – Beats” is another example. This add-on is designed for auditing changes in Active Directory and monitoring certain Windows Security issues.
License: Open-source and free.
Download from the Github Repository. Varonis is a data security and threat detection platform.
How so I create a desktop shortcut for Active Directory?
It uses Machine Learning (ML) to identify abnormal user behavior, spot vulnerable data, and reduce the risk of data breaches. Varonis comes with Directory Services dashboards to visualize vulnerabilities of your on-prem or cloud-based (Azure) Active Directory structure.
You can use Varonis to monitor AD activity including, logons, user and group changes, GPO events, etc. The platform can also be used to spot unauthorized privilege escalations and access to Active Directory file servers and systems.
Spot critical misconfigurations on AD objects, groups, GPOs, and OUs. Audit AD changes and logons. Use behavior threat models to stop attacks. Detect attacks like Kerberoasting and pass-the-hash.
Audit inconsistent permissions and access control.
Price:Request a quote. Download: Register for a quick demo.