SunSHIELD Basic Security Module Guide

Audit Classes and Events

Security-relevant actions can be audited. The system actions that are auditable are defined as audit events in the /etc/security/audit_event file. Each auditable event is defined in the file by a symbolic name, an event number, a set of preselection classes, and a short description (see the audit_event(4) man page).

Most events are attributable to an individual user. However, some events are nonattributable because they occur at the kernel-interrupt level or before a user is identified and authenticated. Nonattributable events are auditable as well.

Each audit event is also defined as belonging to an audit class or classes. By assigning events to classes, an administrator can more easily deal with large numbers of events. When naming a class, you simultaneously addresses all of the events in that class. The mapping of audit events to classes is configurable and the classes themselves are configurable. These configuration changes can be made in the audit_event file.

Whether or not an auditable event is recorded in the audit trail depends on whether the administrator preselects a class for auditing that includes the specific event. Out of 32 possible audit classes, 18 are defined. The 18 classes include the two global classes: all and no.

Kernel Events

Events generated by the kernel (system calls) have event numbers between 1 and 2047. The event names for kernel events begin with AUE_, followed by an uppercase mnemonic for the event. For example, the event number for the creat() system call is 4 and the event name is AUE_CREAT.

User-Level Events

Events generated by application software outside the kernel range from 2048 to 65535. The event names begin with AUE_, followed by a lowercase mnemonic for the event. Check the file, /etc/security/audit_event, for exact numbers of individual events. Table 2-1 shows general categories of user-related events.

Table 2-1 Audit Event Categories

Number Range 

Type of Event 


User-level audit events 


Reserved for SunOS user-level programs 


Available for third-party applications

Audit Records

Each audit record describes the occurrence of a single audited event and includes such information as who did the action, which files were affected, what action was attempted, and where and when it occurred.

The type of information saved for each audit event is defined as a set of audit tokens. Each time an audit record is created for an event, the record contains some or all of the tokens defined for it, depending on the nature of the event. The audit record descriptions in Appendix A list all the audit tokens defined for each event and what each token means.

Audit records are collected in a trail (see the audit.log(4) man page) and can be converted to a human readable format by praudit (see the praudit(1M) man page). See Chapter 3, Audit Trail Analysis for details.