14.12. Process Accounting

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

Process accounting is a security method in which an administrator may keep track of system resources used and their allocation among users, provide for system monitoring, and minimally track a user's commands.

Process accounting has both positive and negative points. One of the positives is that an intrusion may be narrowed down to the point of entry. A negative is the amount of logs generated by process accounting, and the disk space they may require. This section walks an administrator through the basics of process accounting.

Note:

If more fine-grained accounting is needed, refer to Chapter 17, Security Event Auditing.

14.12.1. Enabling and Utilizing Process Accounting

Before using process accounting, it must be enabled using the following commands:

# touch /var/account/acct
# chmod 600 /var/account/acct
# accton /var/account/acct
# echo 'accounting_enable="YES"' >> /etc/rc.conf

Once enabled, accounting will begin to track information such as CPU statistics and executed commands. All accounting logs are in a non-human readable format which can be viewed using sa. If issued without any options, sa prints information relating to the number of per-user calls, the total elapsed time in minutes, total CPU and user time in minutes, and the average number of I/O operations. Refer to sa(8) for the list of available options which control the output.

To display the commands issued by users, use lastcomm. For example, this command prints out all usage of ls by trhodes on the ttyp1 terminal:

# lastcomm ls trhodes ttyp1

Many other useful options exist and are explained in lastcomm(1), acct(5), and sa(8).

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