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Randy's Blog on Infosec and Other Stuff

SolarWinds Makes It Easy to Detect SharePoint Breaches with Integration to LOGbinder SP

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:40:59 GMT

SolarWinds Log and Event Manager provides connectors for common log sources that understand how to translate raw events from a specific log source into their equivalent normalized event type.  I love event normalization like SolarWind’s LEM because it makes it so much easier to correlate events from multiple sources and to configure more generalized alerts, filters and reports.  For instance you can just ask for all logon failures without having to configure criteria for every example of logon failure logged by Windows, Linux, firewalls, etc.  That’s the power of normalization. 

SharePoint security is getting more and more attention because of the amount of sensitive unstructured data found there.  And with SharePoint’s self-service features sensitive data just keeps growing as end-users create more and more content.  In this age of Snowden-like information grabs it’s really important to detect unusual activity in SharePoint. 

But getting SharePoint logs into any SIEM is not a simple matter.  SharePoint audit logs are trapped inside SharePoint itself; there’s no log file or event log that a SIEM can consume through normal means.  Happily SolarWinds partnered with LOGbinder and has done an awesome job integrating with LOGbinder SP.  LOGbinder SP is an easy-to-deploy middleware purpose built to pull raw audit events out of SharePoint, translate all the cryptic codes and ID numbers and then export understandable audit logs which can be easily consumed by SIEMs through normal log collection means. 

Not only did SolarWinds create the necessary connector to consume SharePoint audit events from LOGbinder.  But as a SIEM Synergy Partner, SolarWinds took my recommended reports and alert specs for SharePoint and implemented them in a set of Filters, Rules and Reports for Log and Event Manager.  All you have to do is point Log and Event Manager at LOGbinder SP’s event log and you’ve got real-time monitoring and historical analysis of the Share Point security activity.  

Check out the screen print below showing SharePoint permission changes in Log and Event Manager.

And below is an example report showing document deletions in a SharePoint Document Library.

Here’s a list of some of the things in SharePoint you can automatically monitor or detect with Log and Event Manager:

  • Access control changes on documents and lists

  • Administrator changes

  • Group membership changes

  • Audit policy changes

  • Audit log tampering

  • Import/Export of Data

  • Item deletions

  • Who’s been viewing sensitive documents

SolarWinds did a great job implementing our monitoring and reporting recommendations, but thanks to Log and Event Manager’s (LEM) event normalization you can also correlate SharePoint audit events with similar audit activity from other log sources.  For instance you can search on a given user and see their activity as reported by SharePoint, Active Directory and any other log sources managed by LEM.  To learn more about LEM’s normalization and other features check out this blog or download Log and Event Manager here  You can download a trial of LOGbinder SP from and the integration pack for LEM and LOGbinder SP here  Try them out!

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Audit Myth Busters: SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange

Wed, 02 Oct 2013 08:44:19 GMT

Had many, many valuable conversations with colleagues in DC a couple weeks ago at HP Protect 2013 about auditing and monitoring SharePoint, SQL Server and Exchange.  This is a tough subject because there are so many details.  You can’t just answer "Are you currently monitoring SharePoint/SQL/Exchange: Yes/No?"

This is because each of those applications have multiple logs with widely ranging security value and content.  Also, there are some existing connectors from HP for these apps but their capabilities, caveats vary greatly - as well as exactly which logs and versions of SharePoint/SQL/Exchange they apply to.  Many folks are making decisions and/or belaboring under one or more misconceptions. 

In this post I'm going to try to quickly bust a few of those and myths and provide links to where you can get more details.  It’s kind of specific to ArcSight users but has value to anyone with a SIEM and Microsoft apps.

1. We are already monitoring SharePoint. 

OK, but what are you actually monitoring in SharePoint?  SharePoint has about 4 different logs.  Only one of them is the actual SharePoint Audit Log with security activity.  And that log is not available through normal log collection means.  Just recently HP released a SmartConnector for SharePoint.  But this SmartConnector simply uses JDBC to pull the raw audit log from the SharePoint DB.  Take a look at the raw audit log in SharePoint ( Getting the raw SharePoint audit log into ArcSight allows you to say you are collecting the SharePoint Audit log but try understanding and responding to the events.  Things like user 17 and role 42 are not translated, so you don’t know who or what you are dealing with.  Check here for more non-commercial information on the SharePoint audit log.  Learn how we solve the problem with LOGbinder SP here.

2. We are already monitoring Exchange.

Again, what are you actually getting from Exchange?  Exchange has 3 different logs that are valuable to security.  The message tracking log tracks message flow and is available through a connector for Exchange Message tracking.  While it’s incredibly voluminous, it does allow you to track all inbound and outbound emails, but it doesn’t track:

-          Non-owner access to other mailboxes

-          Mailbox copies and exports

-          Privileged user operations

-          Administrative changes

-          Security policy and configuration changes

For non-owner mailbox access auditing, you need the mailbox audit log.  As of Exchange 2010 that log is not a log file nor is it sent to the Windows event log.  Each mailbox has a hidden folder where it stores audit records for that mailbox.  There is a SmartConnector for the Exchange mailbox audit log and it is practical if you need to audit a handful of mailboxes and do not require full audit log integrity.  See my comparison here between that SmartConnector and LOGbinder EX. Check here for more non-commercial information on the mailbox audit log. 

The 3rd log in Exchange, admin audit log, is extremely important because it gives a full fidelity audit trail of all privileged user activity in Exchange including:

-          Exports and copies of mailboxes

-          Changes to security policies

-          and about 600 other operations

This log is also completely inaccessible to SIEMs because it’s stored in a hidden mailbox of all places in Exchange.  There is no connector at all, but we do handle it beautifully with LOGbinder EX.  Check here for more non-commercial information on the admin audit log. 

What about SQL Server auditing? 

SQL Server 2008 added a new and beautiful, true, honest-to-goodness audit capability.  It blows the old SQL Trace out of the water.  No comparison.  SQL Audit can send events directly to the Windows event log which you could then pick up with the WUC or Snare, etc.  But if your DB admin has anything to do with it you may run into trouble because of the performance load of both logging and retrieving those events through the heavy Windows event API.  Microsoft recommends using the other output option which is to a binary log file on some other server on the network.  This is the most efficient high speed low overhead method of getting audit events off of a busy production SQL Server.  If you need that option, LOGbinder SQL is there to help.  The other issue with collecting SQL audit events from the Windows event log is that SQL Server logs every possible operation (we’re talking 100s of them) as just one generic event ID with the same static text and fields.  Can you say cryptic?  We can help with that too.  More, non-commercial, information on SQL Server Audit here. 

Some other educational resources right here on 724 are: for Exchange and for SharePoint.

I hope this helps and feel free to reach out to me anytime…

Randy Franklin Smith

Security Log Nerd

Designer of LOGbinder

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New Whitepaper by Randy Franklin Smith "Comparing SharePoint's 4 Audit Logs for Security and SIEM Integration"

Sat, 24 Nov 2012 18:30:31 GMT

This whitepaper by Randy Franklin Smith, provides an overview of the 4 different logs in SharePoint and discusses their relative merits in terms of security value and how to integrate with your SIEM.

Click here to download it now.

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New Whitepaper: SharePoint Audit Logging with HP ArcSight and LOGbinder SP

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 17:19:28 GMT

Over at LOGbinder we've released a new whitepaper explaining how LOGbinder SP is the only recognized solution for providing reliable audit information about the security events of SharePoint via HP ArcSight and how it works with many other SIEMs.

Did you know that SharePoint generates several different logs ranging from true audit logs to diagnostic trace logs and usage analysis? This brief will identify what (if any) security intelligence can be learned from each log. It will then explain which logs are readily available to SIEMs, and which logs are not readily available.

Click here to download the whitepaper.

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Audit Myth Busters: SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange 2.0: New Coverage for SQL Server and SharePoint audit logging

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 16:38:43 GMT

I know from the emails I receive and site stats that hundreds of thousands of people over the years have made use of the information at  I’m excited to announce that we have made some major updates.

1.    I’ve added all of the event ID’s for both SharePoint audit logging and SQL Server 2008’s totally new audit log in to my Security Log Encyclopedia. 

2.    I’ve added two new sections to the site itself: SharePoint and SQL Server audit logging.

SharePoint Audit Logging

With SharePoint being used these days to store more and more sensitive data, it’s imperative that you control and know who is accessing what.  In this new area, I explain:

·        How to enable and control SharePoint Audit Logging for end-users and admins

·        How the SharePoint audit log is stored

·        Explain the SharePoint audit policy

·        How to get reporting and alerting from the SharePoint audit log

·        How to get your SharePoint audit log in to a SIEM solution

·        Introduce you to LOGbinder SP and how it fills the gaps in SharePoint audit logging

SQL Server Audit Logging

SQL Server 2008 introduced a totally new audit logging facility which is critical to enterprises storing sensitive information and/or processing important transactions in today’s demanding compliance environment.

In my new SQL Server section at I explore:

·        The SQL Server audit policy

·        Sift through the granules of SQL Server auditing and break down Server and Database audit specifications

·        Deep dive in to each audit action group, what it does, and each event ID it contains

·         Provide you with access to my free “Audit Policy Wizard”

Click any of the links above or visit for more information.

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Recommended Alerts and Reports for SharePoint (LOGbinder SP) Updated

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 12:15:00 GMT

I'm happy to let you know that with the recent release of LOGbinder SP 3.0 I've updated our Recommended Alerts and Reports for SharePoint (LOGbinder SP) which you can find at

Updates include

  • coverage of new events and features in LOGbinder SP 3.0.
  • new recommended alert rules
  • important notes and explanations regarding "insertion strings", how date/time works in LOGbinder SP and information about the 2 possible "event log sources" that LOGbinder SP events can bear.

This free resource is valuable for anyone looking for tips and recommendations on creating reports or alert rules for SharePoint audit events.

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How to Audit an Individual Library or List in SharePoint

Wed, 22 Jun 2011 18:24:46 GMT

SharePoint audit policy is widely regarded as a site collection level setting leading many to believe you must apply one audit policy to all objects in the entire site collection.  If that were the case you would run into some real granularity problems leading to either not being able to get the events you need for important lists or libraries or else enabling too much auditing and getting way to many events.

Thankfully though you can enable auditing on specific document libraries or lists but you have to know where to look which I will explain in a moment.

First though what audit policies would you likely want to enable for an entire site collection and what would you want to activate only on specific lists and libraries?  The one audit policy I always suggest enabling "Editing users and permissions" (aka Security Change in LOGbinder SP) which will provide an audit trail of all auditable security related changes for the site collection including permission changes, changes to users and groups and change to audit policy itself.

At the list and library level you have a variety of activities you that you can audit including:

  • Viewing
  • Editing
  • Deletion
  • Check in /Check out

List/library level audit policy is extremely important when it comes to auditing who is viewing confidential information.  If you enable View auditing at the site collection level you end up generating events for every page click by every user througout the entire site collection which will create a load on resources and storage. 

To enable auditing for a certain library access the library’s (or list’s) settings page and click the “Information management policy settings” link under Permissions and Management.

In the next page you’ll see entries for the content types allowed for that list or library. For instance a normal document library will have 2 content types: Document and Folder. Click on a content type and configure auditing. In the example below I’ve enabled auditing of any type of view and download access since this is a library contains confidential information.

Now SharePoint will obediently begin auditing those actions on that particular list or library and if you have my LOGbinder SP software you'll be able to report or alert on those events with LOGbinder SP SIEM Edition or if you have your own log management / SIEM solution you can use LOGbinder SP Agent Edition to get SharePoint audit events out of the content database where they don't belong and into your log management solution where they do!  Click here for more information on LOGbinder SP.

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Making the SharePoint Audit Log Usable

Tue, 09 Feb 2010 10:53:22 GMT

As more and more information and processes move to SharePoint, it becomes critical for compliance and security requirements to monitor and audit SharePoint activity.

I was very excited when I first learned about the SharePoint audit log but I quickly determined that in its unimproved state the SharePoint audit log is essentially unusable due to 4 key issues:

  1. SharePoint's audit log does not provide the names of users or objects.
    The SharePoint audit log fails to translate record IDs, meaning you have no idea what object or user to which a given event refers! Click here for an example of an audit event from SharePoint and then what LOGbinder does with it.
  2. SharePoint's audit log is buried in SharePoint's SQL server content database.
    To ensure the integrity of audit trails, logs must be moved from the system where they are generated to separate and security log archive. However in SharePoint, the audit log isn't really a log - it's a table in the SharePoint database. This makes it inaccessible for most log management solutions. Without the ability to collect the SharePoint audit log into a separate, secure log archive its value as a high integrity audit trail is compromised.
  3. SharePoint's audit log has no reporting.
    In Windows Sharepoint Services the log is totally inaccessible and in Office Sharepoint Services it's exposed through through a few rudimentary, impractical reports in Excel.
  4. Windows SharePoint Services provides no interface for enabling auditing at all.
    The audit log is there but without custom programming there's no way to turn it on; much less access the logs.

I'm still a software developer at heart and the problems with the SharePoint audit log finally pushed me over the edge. The result is LOGbinder SP.

LOGbinder SP is a small, efficient Windows service that monitors the internal SharePoint audit log without making any changes to your SharePoint installation.

For each event LOGbinder SP resolves the user and object IDs and other cryptic codes, producing an easy to understand, plain-English translation of the SharePoint audit event. LOGbinder SP then sends these events to the Windows event log (either the Security log or a custom log) which in turn allows you to leverage any log management solution to collect, monitor, alert, analyze, report and archive SharePoint audit logs.

Here's an example event from the SharePoint audit log pictured as delivered via Excel compared to what the event looks like after LOGbinder SP translates it.

LOGbinder SP turns this: 

SharePoint Audit Log Example

LOGbinder SP is now out of beta and ready for prime-time. You can download an evaluation copy, watch a webinar on the SharePoint audit log, get your questions answered and more at:

Please try it out and tell me what you think!

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New Software that Unlocks the SharePoint Audit Log

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 10:08:14 GMT

I am very excited today to announce the beta release of LOGbinder SP - my first software solution aimed at expanding the reach of log management.

LOGbinder SP allows you to audit security events in SharePoint with the Windows Security Log.

Why do I need LOGbinder SP? Doesn't SharePoint already have an audit log?

LOGBinder SP is a small, efficient .NET service that monitors the internal SharePoint audit log.  For each event LOGbinder SP resolves the user and object IDs and other cryptic codes, producing an easy to understand, plain-English translation of the SharePoint security event.  (Click here for a list of events.)  Then LOGbinder SP forwards the event to one or more output formats:

  • local Windows security event log
  • custom Windows event log
  • syslog server*
  • text file*
  • XML file*
  • SQL server reporting database*

This variety of output formats allows you to extend any log management solution to now support SharePoint audit trails and security events.

Alternatively, or in addition to integrating with your log management solution, you configure LOGbinder SP to send events to a SQL Server reporting databse and use our pre-built reports (implemented in SQL Reporting Services) to review and analyze the security activity of your SharePoint sites. 

LOGbinder SP is currently in beta and available as a free download. Please help us build LOGbinder SP into a great solution!

Please visit to learn more about the SharePoint audit log and it's woeful limitations and how we fix them with LOGbinder SP. 

Please download and put LOGBinderSP to work for you, securing SharePoint data.

* not yet implemented in the current beta

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Live with Dell at RSA 2015
5 Indicators of Endpoint Evil
Understanding the Difference between “Account Logon” and “Logon/Logoff” Events in the Windows Security Log
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