Linux audit: Log files in /var/log/audit

By default the Linux audit framework logs all data in the /var/log/audit directory. Usually the related file is named audit.log and contains audit related information such as events.


This file is the default log file for the Linux audit daemon. It has all related audit events and is configured using the configuration file of auditd (auditd.conf).

# cat /etc/audit/auditd.conf  
log_file = /var/log/audit/audit.log

Usually there is no reason to alter this location, unless a different storage location is preferred. For safeguarding of the data, it’s also wise to monitor this file and duplicate data to a locate storage location (e.g. with remote syslog).


Although the log file is logged in plain ASCII format, it is better suited for parsing with specific tools in the audit framework. Two commands that come to mind are ausearch and aureport. Let’s have a look at both of them and how they work.


This utility helps with searching specific events, for example during the last day and with a specific type. Another possibility is filtering on a defined column, like a file name. In this case the file name should match the requested name.


While searching for data has its purpose, reporting is a second useful goal. The aureport utility comes in handy and extracts all data from the file. It will then present the system administrator or auditor with the related information. This information varies from configuration changes (to the audit daemon) up to the amount of failed system calls (syscalls).

Summary Report

Range of time in logs: 12/07/2013 03:30:01.190 - 04/18/2014 15:00:01.378
Selected time for report: 12/07/2013 03:30:01 - 04/18/2014 15:00:01.378
Number of changes in configuration: 425
Number of changes to accounts, groups, or roles: 0
Number of logins: 0
Number of failed logins: 0
Number of authentications: 0
Number of failed authentications: 0
Number of users: 5
Number of terminals: 10
Number of host names: 0
Number of executables: 32
Number of files: 223
Number of AVC’s: 0
Number of MAC events: 0
Number of failed syscalls: 4190
Number of anomaly events: 3
Number of responses to anomaly events: 0
Number of crypto events: 0
Number of keys: 3
Number of process IDs: 31405
Number of events: 116468

The example above shows clearly how broad the events can be to be monitored. Proper configuration and safeguarding of the audit.log file will be necessary to protect this valuable information!

Take the next step!

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