Overview of change tracking and inventory using Azure Monitoring Agent (Preview)

Applies to: ✔️ Windows VMs ✔️ Linux VMs ✔️ Windows Registry ✔️ Windows Files ✔️ Linux Files ✔️ Windows Software

Important

Currently, Change tracking and inventory uses Log Analytics Agent and this is scheduled to retire by 31.August.2024. We recommend that you use Azure Monitoring Agent as the new supporting agent.

This article explains on the latest version of change tracking support using Azure Monitoring Agent (Preview) as a singular agent for data collection.

Key benefits

  • Compatibility with the unified monitoring agent - Compatible with the Azure Monitor Agent (Preview) that enhances security, reliability, and facilitates multi-homing experience to store data.
  • Compatibility with tracking tool- Compatible with the Change tracking (CT) extension deployed through the Azure Policy on the client's virtual machine. You can switch to Azure Monitor Agent (AMA), and then the CT extension pushes the software, files, and registry to AMA.
  • Multi-homing experience – Provides standardization of management from one central workspace. You can transition from Log Analytics (LA) to AMA so that all VMs point to a single workspace for data collection and maintenance.
  • Rules management – Uses Data Collection Rules to configure or customize various aspects of data collection. For example, you can change the frequency of file collection.

Current limitations

Change Tracking and Inventory using Azure Monitoring Agent (Preview) doesn't support or has the following limitations:

  • Recursion for Windows registry tracking
  • Network file systems
  • Different installation methods
  • *.exe files stored on Windows
  • The Max File Size column and values are unused in the current implementation.
  • If you are tracking file changes, it is limited to a file size of 5 MB or less.
  • If the file size appears >1.25MB, then FileContentChecksum is incorrect due to memory constraints in the checksum calculation.
  • If you try to collect more than 2500 files in a 30-minute collection cycle, Change Tracking and Inventory performance might be degraded.
  • If network traffic is high, change records can take up to six hours to display.
  • If you modify a configuration while a machine or server is shut down, it might post changes belonging to the previous configuration.
  • Collecting Hotfix updates on Windows Server 2016 Core RS3 machines.

Limits

The following table shows the tracked item limits per machine for change tracking and inventory.

Resource Limit Notes
File 500
File size 5 MB
Registry 250
Windows software 250 Doesn't include software updates.
Linux packages 1,250

Supported operating systems

Change Tracking and Inventory is supported on all operating systems that meet Log Analytics agent requirements. See supported operating systems for a list of the Windows and Linux operating system versions that are currently supported by the Log Analytics agent.

To understand client requirements for TLS 1.2, see TLS 1.2 for Azure Automation.

Enable Change Tracking and Inventory

You can enable Change Tracking and Inventory in the following ways:

  • Manually for non-Azure Arc-enabled machines, Refer to the Initiative Enable Change Tracking and Inventory for Arc-enabled virtual machines in Policy > Definitions > Select Category = ChangeTrackingAndInventory. To enable Change Tracking and Inventory at scale, use the DINE Policy based solution. For more information, see Enable Change Tracking and Inventory using Azure Monitoring Agent (Preview).

  • For a single Azure VM from the Virtual machine page in the Azure portal. This scenario is available for Linux and Windows VMs.

  • For multiple Azure VMs by selecting them from the Virtual machines page in the Azure portal.

Tracking file changes

For tracking changes in files on both Windows and Linux, Change Tracking and Inventory uses SHA256 hashes of the files. The feature uses the hashes to detect if changes have been made since the last inventory.

Tracking of registry keys

Change Tracking and Inventory allows monitoring of changes to Windows registry keys. Monitoring allows you to pinpoint extensibility points where third-party code and malware can activate. The following table lists preconfigured (but not enabled) registry keys. To track these keys, you must enable each one.

Registry Key Purpose
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Group Policy\Scripts\Startup Monitors scripts that run at startup.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Group Policy\Scripts\Shutdown Monitors scripts that run at shutdown.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run Monitors keys that are loaded before the user signs in to the Windows account. The key is used for 32-bit applications running on 64-bit computers.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components Monitors changes to application settings.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes\Directory\ShellEx\ContextMenuHandlers Monitors context menu handlers that hook directly into Windows Explorer and usually run in-process with explorer.exe.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes\Directory\Shellex\CopyHookHandlers Monitors copy hook handlers that hook directly into Windows Explorer and usually run in-process with explorer.exe.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers Monitors for icon overlay handler registration.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers Monitors for icon overlay handler registration for 32-bit applications running on 64-bit computers.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Browser Helper Objects Monitors for new browser helper object plugins for Internet Explorer. Used to access the Document Object Model (DOM) of the current page and to control navigation.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Browser Helper Objects Monitors for new browser helper object plugins for Internet Explorer. Used to access the Document Object Model (DOM) of the current page and to control navigation for 32-bit applications running on 64-bit computers.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Extensions Monitors for new Internet Explorer extensions, such as custom tool menus and custom toolbar buttons.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Extensions Monitors for new Internet Explorer extensions, such as custom tool menus and custom toolbar buttons for 32-bit applications running on 64-bit computers.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Drivers32 Monitors 32-bit drivers associated with wavemapper, wave1 and wave2, msacm.imaadpcm, .msadpcm, .msgsm610, and vidc. Similar to the [drivers] section in the system.ini file.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Drivers32 Monitors 32-bit drivers associated with wavemapper, wave1 and wave2, msacm.imaadpcm, .msadpcm, .msgsm610, and vidc for 32-bit applications running on 64-bit computers. Similar to the [drivers] section in the system.ini file.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\KnownDlls Monitors the list of known or commonly used system DLLs. Monitoring prevents people from exploiting weak application directory permissions by dropping in Trojan horse versions of system DLLs.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Notify Monitors the list of packages that can receive event notifications from winlogon.exe, the interactive logon support model for Windows.

Recursion support

Change Tracking and Inventory supports recursion, which allows you to specify wildcards to simplify tracking across directories. Recursion also provides environment variables to allow you to track files across environments with multiple or dynamic drive names. The following list includes common information you should know when configuring recursion:

  • Wildcards are required for tracking multiple files.

  • You can use wildcards only in the last segment of a file path, for example, c:\folder\file* or /etc/*.conf.

  • If an environment variable has an invalid path, validation succeeds but the path fails during execution.

  • You should avoid general path names when setting the path, as this type of setting can cause too many folders to be traversed.

Change Tracking and Inventory data collection

The next table shows the data collection frequency for the types of changes supported by Change Tracking and Inventory. For every type, the data snapshot of the current state is also refreshed at least every 24 hours.

Change Type Frequency
Windows registry 50 minutes
Windows file 30 to 40 minutes
Linux file 15 minutes
Windows services 10 seconds to 30 minutes
Default: 30 minutes
Windows software 30 minutes
Linux software 5 minutes

The following table shows the tracked item limits per machine for Change Tracking and Inventory.

Resource Limit
File 500
Registry 250
Windows software (not including hotfixes) 250
Linux packages 1250

Note

Change Tracking with Support Windows Services & Daemons will be supported by GA.

Support for alerts on configuration state

A key capability of Change Tracking and Inventory is alerting on changes to the configuration state of your hybrid environment. Many useful actions are available to trigger in response to alerts. For example, actions on Azure functions, Automation runbooks, webhooks, and the like. Alerting on changes to the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file for a machine is one good application of alerts for Change Tracking and Inventory data. There are many more scenarios for alerting as well, including the query scenarios defined in the next table.

Query Description
ConfigurationChange
| where ConfigChangeType == "Files" and FileSystemPath contains " c:\windows\system32\drivers\"
Useful for tracking changes to system-critical files.
ConfigurationChange
| where FieldsChanged contains "FileContentChecksum" and FileSystemPath == "c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts"
Useful for tracking modifications to key configuration files.
ConfigurationChange
| where ConfigChangeType == "WindowsServices" and SvcName contains "w3svc" and SvcState == "Stopped"
Useful for tracking changes to system-critical services.
ConfigurationChange
| where ConfigChangeType == "Daemons" and SvcName contains "ssh" and SvcState!= "Running"
Useful for tracking changes to system-critical services.
ConfigurationChange
| where ConfigChangeType == "Software" and ChangeCategory == "Added"
Useful for environments that need locked-down software configurations.
ConfigurationData
| where SoftwareName contains "Monitoring Agent" and CurrentVersion!= "8.0.11081.0"
Useful for seeing which machines have outdated or noncompliant software version installed. This query reports the last reported configuration state, but doesn't report changes.
ConfigurationChange
| where RegistryKey == @"HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\QualityCompat"
Useful for tracking changes to crucial antivirus keys.
ConfigurationChange
| where RegistryKey contains @"HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Services\\SharedAccess\\Parameters\\FirewallPolicy"
Useful for tracking changes to firewall settings.

Next steps