14.14. 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.

This indeed 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.

14.14.1. 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(8). If issued without any options, sa(8) 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.

To view information about commands being issued, use lastcomm(1). This command displays the commands issued by users on specific ttys(5). For example, this command prints out all known usage of ls(1) 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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