Security Monitoring: New Account Lockout Report

This was a customer request. There’s not much to it, but I had a customer ask if they could get an account lockout report displaying locked out accounts. I’ve added a collection rule and a report that does this for them. That is straight forward. There’s also a report that will list the accounts that locked out, the source of the lockout, and the date the account was locked out. This will be in the 1.8.x release of the MP. As always, any questions, feedback, or feature requests, feel free to reach out to me on linked in and I will gladly do what I can to improve this product.

It looks like this:


Security Monitoring 1.7.x is up

There isn’t much to this year’s update. I didn’t get a ton of feature requests, but I did get a couple and built them in. This is the change log.

  • Updated Local Admin Change rule to account for GPO enforced Local Admin Settings.
  • Fixed a couple of alert replacement bugs.
  • Added more overrides options for some powershell rules.
  • Updated Log Clearing alerts to allow for a user account override.
  • Added an exclusion to PowerShell logging for an Azure path as well as SCOM 2019 default path.
  • Fixed a bug with the alert description for the PowerShell running in memory rule.
  • Added rule for suspicious user logons.
  • Added an exclusion for WindowsAzureNetAgent on the service creation on DC rule.

Also worth noting that I’ve moved all content off of technet galleries and on to github. I’m not a github expert by any means, so I’m still figuring out the pull requests and fun stuff associated with that, but this could eventually become a community project with the right volunteers. Here is a link to both the previous and current content.

Security Monitoring: Using SCOM to capture Suspicious User Activity

This is an extension of a previous rule that I wrote to use SCOM to track executables being run in user writeable locations. The concept behind this is similar, and it tracks another behavior of an attacker. Once they’ve compromised an account, they are going to execute a bunch of code. I wrote rules tracking specific places in the OS where they are looking to do their thing. They can also do that thing from a user profile of a compromised account. Really any place within that profile is a potential target, so it makes it hard to track. As such, I’ve written a new rule for Suspicious User Activity. Much like the other 4688 events SCOM is tracking, this will generate an alert any time a .ps1, .psm1, .exe is run from a user context…

Now there’s a downside to this one. It has the potential to be noisy. I know personally that I have never had a problem running PowerShell scripts off of my desktop or some location in my user share. A more organized person might do that differently, but I’m kind of lazy like that, and I’m not alone either I suspect. What that means is some admins doing normal activity will likely trigger it. I’ve made it overridable for that reason, and it’s matching the command line parameter, so really anything in the path can be overridden. I’d be careful with this obviously, as you can exclude by say a user name, entire script path, or script name. Doing something such as a user name would effectively mean that if Joe Admin’s account is compromised, you’d never know… so some planning might be wise. You could potentially exclude the path that a user uses, or just turn it off for a specific server if that’s the issue at hand. Where you should be concerned is if you see an alert from say a service account or something like that… since those accounts shouldn’t be executing anything out of their user profile.

Security Monitoring: Updating Local Account Monitoring for GPO Enforced Settings

It was brought to my attention that the local admin group monitoring rule that I’ve written becomes incredibly noisy if GPO enforcement is used on local admin groups. Essentially what happens in that situation is that every time a machine applies the GPO, it fires off the 4732 and 4733 events that are being monitored. This can lead to thousands of alerts in this scenario. As such, I’ve re-written the rule, but I’d note that it gets a bit tricky. The main issue revolves around how SCOM processes events. It’s worth noting that SCOM only processes the XML, so using the friendly names won’t work. I’ve attached a couple of examples from my lab to show the difference.

This first screenshot is the friendly view. As you can see, it’s pretty straight forward. I used my admin account in this case to add a test account to the local administrator group on my SCOM server.


The XML view shows something completely different.


As you can see from the screenshots, for whatever reason, the SID is recorded in the XML view. I looked into a couple different ways to reduce noise for this; but unfortunately, the only workable solution would be to filter the rule based on the user IDs being recorded in the event, and since these are SIDS, we will need to obtain the SIDs from either ADSI Edit or from the Attribute Editor in Active Directory Users and Computers. I’ve baked 5 SID based overrides into this rule, which should hopefully be enough. It looks like this if you need to override it:


The easiest method to obtain the SID of the account(s) in question is to use the Attribute Editor in Active Directory Users and Computers. This requires advanced features to be turned on (this is in the view menu, and there should be a check box next to advanced features if it’s enabled).

It will look like this:


Please note for any bugs and/or feature requests, please reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Security Monitoring Partnering with Easy Tune

Tune the Security MP in a fraction of the time

Good news! I have written a Tuning Pack for my Security Management Pack which means you can tune the pack in a fraction of the time with Easy Tune from Cookdown. My Tuning Pack is live today on the Easy Tune Community Store

What is Easy tune?

Easy Tune is a new (and free) way of setting overrides to tune SCOM alerting. Traditionally, tuning a management pack is painful – its about 10 clicks to set a single override and some management packs contain thousands of workflows you may want to tune, multiply this problem by multiple groups and you can see how days can be spent tuning.

Easy Tune takes the head ache out of setting up overrides by allowing you to set them quickly with Tuning Packs (which are essentially CSV files)


To get you started there is a Community Store (a GitHub repro) containing community curated Tuning Packs which you can tune directly from, and if you think the Tuning Packs available could be improved or added to, you can submit a PR to change overrides or simply create your own Tuning Packs. This can be done by copying a Tuning Pack from the Community Store, creating one from management packs installed in your SCOM environment.

Tuning packs contain “levels” which you can tune to. A level is basically a list of overrides stored in a column of a tuning packs CSV. All Tuning Packs, including ones you create yourself automatically get levels “Discovery Only” and “MP Defaults” (as Easy Tune can work these out from the source MPs automatically), as well as being able to specify your own overrides – these are great for understanding what the MP author intended the value to be or for turning off all workflows which aren’t discoveries (which will reduce SCOMs workload and allow you to tune up on a per group basis as needed)


One of the great things about Tuning Packs is their simplicity – they are just CSV files which is great when it comes to reviewing overrides with other teams or updating override values. The can easily be reviewed with domain experts to agree desired tuning without looking at SCOM at all (lets face it, the SCOM console it not a thing of beauty).

Once you have reached alert nirvana with Easy Tune, there are is a config drift tool built in to shine a light on where your effective overrides have drifted from those you set, allowing you to keep your tuning in tip top shape.

The folk at cookdown give all of this away for free. I think it is an awesome tool that is a must for all SCOM admins

Easy Tune PRO

Cookdown sell a PRO version of Easy Tune too – it adds some excellent additional features:

· Time of day alert tuning – allows you to specify different override values for specific times/days. Very useful for ramping up monitoring for the 9am Monday morning logon storm where you want to make sure everything is working as it should or for disabling monitoring during the nightly backup job.

· Automation capabilities via PowerShell – allows you to script tuning and solve any unique issues you have with tuning which aren’t supported out of the box

· Rich override config drift detection – config drift is shown along side each Tuning Pack where the effective monitoring is not what you have set with Easy Tune and gives you tooling to see where the effective monitoring is set to help you resolve conflicts.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the PRO features but they look really cool (especially time of day alert tuning!) but you can read more about it here.

Security Monitoring Future Plans (May 2019)

The good news about this project is that we’ve been able to knock out a lot of low hanging fruit that can be used to detect some of the bread crumbs that an attacker leaves behind as well as identifying where legacy protocols are being used. The bad news is that most of the low hanging fruit has been picked clean. This space will be used to help identify and track future plans.

I’m going to stick with a 1 year cadence. This has been developed mostly by me on my own time, and as such there’s only so many hours to go around. My current plans are as follows:

  • I would like to develop an administrative account monitoring component targeting admin accounts. I’m not sure how easily this will be able to be accomplished. Enumerating these against a DC is not that hard to do, but in order to alert on these, these objects would need to be created on each and every DC. This isn’t realistic from a performance standpoint. There’s currently an unhosted class and disabled discovery in this MP, but nothing is targeted against it. The hope would be to come up with a way to start tracking admin accounts in general, logons outside of business hours, etc.
  • I’m hoping to delve more into WMI monitoring with the next release.
  • There are a few rules that I could see re-writing to add overridable parameters.
  • Likely going to write some detection mechanisms around this SCOM vulnerability.

This is not a big list presently, but as time permits I hope to grow it. Any suggestions are always appreciated.

Security Monitoring Change Log May 2019

  • Updated Task Scheduler Creation Rule
  • Updated Service Creation on DC Rule
  • Disabled alert rule for Batch Logon. There is a report that is capturing this. The rule is still present and can be enabled.
  • Created override for Local Account Creation rules for domain controllers. While this didn’t appear in any testing, I was told that some security software can generate false positives for this one on domain controllers. Since DCs don’t have local accounts to begin with, I simply turned this off for domain controllers.
  • Fixed a bug with regsvr32 remote registration of DLL rule.
  • Added rules/discoveries associated with writeable locations in the OS. Note that there are three parts to this series.
  • Added rule to detect attempt to kill windows defender.
  • Added collection rule and report for TLS usage.
  • Added rules for suspicious PowerShell Usage.  For instructions on overrides, please see the addendum.
  • Removed dependency on SQL MP.
  • Added rule for WMI Persistence.
  • Added rules for WMI Remoting.
  • Distributed application
  • Added a timeout as an overridable parameter to the SMB1 collection rule. The specified timeout of 60 seconds was causing failures in my lab. I upped this value to 300 seconds as the default setting.
  • Turned off registry monitor for WDigest settings. This was not needed in Server 2012/2016. With Server 2008 going out of support, I’ve disabled the monitor. It is still present if someone desires to use it. 

Security Monitoring Distributed Application: Monitoring Audit Settings

One of the drawbacks to the current design of the Security Monitoring Management Pack that I felt needed to be improved the reliance on some pre-canned GPOs that I provided for documentation. The main issue at hand is that I have a lot more turned on in these GPOs for auditing purposes than what is actually being monitored by the management pack. This was in large part due to needing to turn on auditing settings to see what types of events are generated and mining them for useful information that is worth generating alerts. This leads to a bit of a documentation mess in that I’ll reference in my documentation for individual rules/monitors if something needs to be turned on, but that also requires a lot of reading/surfing for the management pack users, especially if they do not want to simply use the GPOs I provide… until now.

The first step was creating an audit policy monitor type to look at a server’s individual audit settings. I’ve documented that here.

With the help of Ian Smith and Kevin Justin, we were able to build out a distributed application that will allow users to see which required audit settings are set. We will also be incorporating some new views into the MP to make it easy for users to see which settings needs to be adjusted. I’ll address the new views in a future post. For now, we will cover the distributed application.

The DA will be broken down by domain (there will be a distributed application for each domain in your forest). Each domain is further broken into two separate groups: Domain Controllers and Member Servers. The reason is fairly straight forward. Domain controllers, by default, are isolated in their own OU and typically have different auditing settings configured. Member Servers are a bit more complicated, as in theory they can have different audit settings. I’ll cover this in a bit more detail in a bit.

For now, let’s look at DCs. As you can see from the screen shot below, new monitors have been created for each audit configuration setting. For domain controllers, these are on by default. It’s also worth noting that these monitors do not generate alerts. This was done to avoid unnecessary alerting. If too much state change is an issue in your environment, you may want to consider turning off any that you have no plans of fixing. The individual monitors roll up to a dependency monitor (which uses a worst of algorithm), so if any audit setting is not configured correctly on one domain controller, the dependency monitor should be yellow (see screenshot below). Since DCs are all in the same OU, I would expect to see all of your DCs either yellow or green, though I suppose if there’s an issue with GPO application, it’s possible for this not to be the case.  In the screen shot below, you’ll see that the command line process auditing setting is not set correctly on my DC, and as such, the MP is not fully monitoring domain controllers on this lab. This particular monitor, for the record, looks at a registry key, though most of these will look at auditpol.exe results.


Member servers function in a similar capacity, though there are a few caveats. Member server monitoring is OFF by default. This is because these monitors would effectively be targeted against every server in the environment. This could potentially generate a lot of state change related items in your production environment and potentially cause performance issues with SCOM, not to mention clouding up Health Explorer with a whole bunch of servers where one audit setting is not set correctly. There is one exception to this. Member server auditing is enabled by default for your management servers. This is done via override within the Security Monitoring MP. As such, when you look your member server monitoring, you’ll see data from the management servers. If your have one audit policy per domain, as most environments typically do, then you’re done. You really don’t need to configure anything else. However, if by chance you have audit settings set at the OU level and have multiple OUs per monitored servers, you may want to consider turning on these monitors for one server in each OU that has a different audit policy.  You’ll have to do this on a monitor by monitor basis, so I’d recommend creating a SCOM group containing the Windows Computer Object for a single server from each OU and enabling the monitor for that group. In a smaller environment, you could consider simply turning this on for all Windows Computer Objects, but I don’t recommend that.  Member server monitoring will look something like this out of the box:


You will see an enabled monitor for your management server, and everything else will be not monitored. If your audit policies are determined at the domain level, you’re done. This view will show you if your audit settings are set correctly for DCs and member servers. A DA will also enumerate for each domain that you are monitoring. However, if you have customized your audit settings and set them by OU, then you may want to consider additional configuration. You should ignore the not monitored domain controllers, since they are covered under the domain controllers audit settings discussed above. Unfortunately, that is present due more to how targeted classes roll up in SCOM. With that said, if you are setting audit policies at the OU level, you may find it necessary to turn on these monitors for additional servers. In the example below, I turned on one of the monitors for my SQL server:


This can be done via override. Now it’s worth noting that you should really do this for each audit setting. That can be a bit tedious, and you may find the need to add more servers as new OUs are created. My recommendation would be to create a SCOM group in your unsealed overrides MP and simply do a one time override for the group for each of these monitors. At that point, you can simply add servers to the group.

Now to the downside. The biggest issue that I see with this is the need for Agent Proxy to be turned on. I’ve mentioned in previous articles that this is some sort of security feature, though I’ve yet to see any documentation as to what it’s mitigating against. My best guess would be a compromised agent potentially being used to submit bogus discovery data, though I’m not aware of any such threats associated with this or what an attacker would gain by utilizing this. Most of my customers simply turn this on for every agent by default.  As it is, you most likely have this on for domain controllers if you use the AD Management Pack along with a number of member servers as it’s required in the SQL and SharePoint Management Packs. If this is a big deal for you, then you probably don’t want to turn on the discoveries, as that will trigger an agent proxy alert for whatever you turn on.

One other slight caveat is that I may choose to rewrite this to target Windows OS instead of Windows Computer. That’s not that big a deal, and I’ll update this article accordingly.

Security Monitoring: Audit Policy Monitoring for a SCOM Environment

One of the new features that will be added to the next release of Security Monitoring is a new Audit Policy Monitor Type. I don’t know if this is something that will beneficial to the average IT administrator, but I did make this a public monitor type so that people who do their own MP Authoring will have access to this type to create monitors for their own audit settings if they so choose. The Security Monitoring MP will use this to set a monitor state for audit settings that it requires in order to properly monitor your environment. My goal for this is to move you away from needing the specific GPO that I’ve written to capture it. This was done for a couple reasons. The first being that the generic GPO has more auditing turned on that what was needed. It was simply a best guess as to what this MP currently tracks and could potentially track down the road. The second means that it now shows you exactly what setting needs to be set.

The architecture is relatively simple. It is a PowerShell script that uses auditpol.exe to get the audit results of the server being targeted. Auditpol’s documentation can be found here. The script is relatively straight forward, taking the desired audit subcommand and parsing out the current setting (Success, Failure, Success and Failure, and No Auditing). It returns that value in a property bag that is used by the Monitor Type. On top of typical values used by the monitor type (Interval and Sync) the type adds the following input: Result. The Result input will allow you to write a monitor using this monitor type comparing the result from the property bag to what you want it to be. Here is some sample code from a monitor that uses this monitor type:

<UnitMonitor ID=”Security.Monitoring.SecurityAudit.ProcessCreationDC” Accessibility=”Public” Enabled=”true” Target=”Windows!Microsoft.Windows.Server.DC.Computer” ParentMonitorID=”Health!System.Health.ConfigurationState” Remotable=”true” Priority=”Normal” TypeID=”ALIAS!Security.Monitoring.AuditPolMonitorType” ConfirmDelivery=”false”>
          <OperationalState ID=”ResultBad” MonitorTypeStateID=”ResultBad” HealthState=”Warning” />
          <OperationalState ID=”ResultGood” MonitorTypeStateID=”ResultGood” HealthState=”Success” />

          <SubCommandAuditSetting>Process Creation</SubCommandAuditSetting>
          <Result>Success and Failure</Result>


The items in blue are the ones that relate to this monitor type. The items in red are items that Auditpol.exe will need to get the correct results. In the case of this sample the Process Creation setting (which generates 4688 events) needs to have a “Success and Failure” setting. I didn’t put a ton of logic into this, so to be fair, you’ll need to match the exact value (meaning that a value of Success only would in this case generate a state change).

As with any custom MP authoring, it goes without saying that you would need to know the Alias of the Security Monitoring MP in order to properly fill in the type ID.