Contributor:
Kris Zentek
December 4th, 2012

Privilege Guard Activity Viewer

The new Activity Viewer in Privilege Guard 3.6 (Edit: now Defendpoint) is an advanced diagnostics tool to help with refining Privilege Guard policies. It allows you to connect to any client, local or remote, and view all recent activity that the Privilege Guard Client has performed.

How It Works

Every application, task and script which is executed is evaluated by the Privilege Guard Client, to assess whether a policy has been assigned to manage that execution. The settings are scanned for matching rules, and if a match is found then the associated action (elevate, block, audit, etc) is applied. If no match is found, then the execution is allowed to continue unmanaged.

Occasionally you may experience an unexpected outcome to an execution; an application was blocked when it should have been allowed, an installation did not run with admin privileges when it should have, a script was not audited. Depending on the complexity of your Privilege Guard settings, or the scope of your implementation across multiple GPOs, it may not always be convenient or viable to follow perceived logic of the policy using the Privilege Guard Management Console.

This is where the Activity Viewer can help.

Using the Activity Viewer

To monitor the activity of a particular client, first you have to enable activity logging. This is achieved by opening the Activity Viewer and using the Control option to Enable Logging:

Enable Logging

Enable Logging

Once logging has been enabled, simply recreate the unexpected behavior (i.e. run the execution again), and the Privilege Guard Client will record every decision it makes to determine the outcome.

Next, connect the Activity Viewer to the client to retrieve the logs. You do this by creating a Snapshot:

Create Snapshot

Create Snapshot

A snapshot is an audit of activity up to the point that you collected it. Snapshots can be saved locally, and can be used to compare against other snapshots; ‘before’ and ‘after’, to see the effects of configuration tweaks, and test that you get the behavior you are expecting.

Once the logs have been collected, each request is displayed, in the order they were executed. The Activity Viewer lets you group, order and filter the request list to suit your requirements, and layouts can be saved for use in other snapshots.

Example

In the example below, a standard user attempted to download and install the Adobe Reader Installer, but instead of the installation being automatically elevated, it is being blocked by the ‘catch-all’ rule Local Group Policy.Block UAC. By using the Activity Viewer to monitor the user running the installation, you can see that the installation is failing to match the Local Group Policy.Elevate policy, due to a mismatch in the Product Version Min validation rule.

Snapshot 1

Snapshot 1

This may have been due to a requirement that the minimum version allowed by the IT Department was 3.4.0.0, but in this case it was misconfiguration in the policy. A simple change to the policy so that the Check Min Version value is set to 3.3.0.0 would then result in the installer matching the Elevate policy.

Application Rule

Application Rule

Once deployed, the Activity Viewer can be used again to ‘test’ the new policy, which confirms that the policy is now functioning as expected.

Snapshot 2

Snapshot 2

Summary

The Privilege Guard Activity Viewer simplifies the process of monitoring Privilege Guard activity, providing real-time diagnostics on how Application Rules, Policies and Filters are being evaluated on client computers.

Introducing Defendpoint

Edit: Privilege Guard has now evolved into the brand new security suite, Defendpoint, which encompasses Privilege Management, Application Control and Sandboxing. For more information, please visit www.avecto.com/defendpoint.

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