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Active Directory and Exchange are tightly integrated with each other, so much so that Exchange administrators usually have to become Active Directory administrators as well.
As powerful as AD can be, it lacks a number of features that are usually filled in by third-party products. One such feature is auditing changes -- the ability to collect information about who changed what and when in an AD store.
It's been found that the majority of sabotage to computer systems is done internally disgruntled employees, so this kind of feature will become extremely important over time -- if it isn't already. Having a mechanism in place to track changes can help prevent inside attacks.
One product that does this is ChangeAuditor for Active Directory. This tool captures all changes to AD as they happen in real time, including changes applied by group policy objects (GPOs), schema changes, domain- and forest-level changes, and so on.
You can configure ChangeAuditor to trigger alerts if certain changes occur, or proactively block certain revisions from taking place unless specified conditions are met. ChangeAuditor integrates with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) for enhanced troubleshooting and diagnostics as well.
ChangeAuditor's most commonly used feature is its logging and reporting. By default, the program contains a number of built-in log reports, such as all AD events detected in the past 24 hours. You can add custom event searches or alerts, track additional changes -- such as modifications to the domain controller's registry -- and examine both old and new values of whatever has been changed to allow for easy rollback, if needed.
A free 30-day trial version of the program is available. Price quotes are not provided on the site, so you'll have to contact the vendor directly for more purchasing information.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter and a regular contributor to SearchExchange.com.
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This was first published in June 2005