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A Comprehensive Guide to Track User Activities in Microsoft 365

Published On - April 4, 2023 by Nasir Khan |

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Microsoft 365 is a powerful suite of cloud-based productivity tools used by millions of individuals and businesses worldwide. With such widespread use, it’s essential to track user activities in Microsoft 365 to ensure security, compliance, and productivity. By enabling activity tracking, viewing audit logs, understanding audit log entries, and following best practices, you can identify potential security threats, monitor user behavior, and improve productivity.

In this comprehensive guide, we will learn into the details of tracking user activities in Microsoft 365, including the benefits of activity tracking, how to track users activities in Microsoft 365, how to view audit logs, how to understand audit log entries, and best practices for user activity tracking.

Benefits of Activity Tracking in Microsoft 365

Activity tracking in Microsoft 365 is essential for several reasons, including:

  • Security: Tracking user activities allows you to identify potential security threats, such as unauthorized access attempts or unusual activity patterns. This information can help you prevent security breaches and mitigate their impact if they occur.
  • Compliance: Many industries have specific regulatory requirements for data privacy and security. Tracking user activities helps you comply with these regulations by providing evidence of compliance.
  • Productivity: Tracking user activities can also help you improve productivity by identifying inefficiencies, such as frequent help desk requests, and addressing them proactively.

How to Track Users Activities in Microsoft 365

To track user activities in Microsoft 365, you must first enable activity tracking by configuring audit log settings in the Security & Compliance Center. Here’s how:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft 365 admin center.
  • In the left navigation pane, select Compliance > Security & Compliance.
  • In the Security & Compliance Center, select Search > Audit log search.
  • On the Audit log search page, select Start recording user and admin activities.
  • On the Start recording user and admin activities page, select the activities you want to audit.
  • You can audit activities for specific services, such as Exchange or SharePoint, or for all services.
  • Choose how long you want to retain audit log data. Microsoft recommends retaining audit logs for at least 90 days.
  • Select Save to enable activity tracking.

Viewing Audit Logs in Microsoft 365

After enabling activity tracking, you can view audit logs on the Audit Log Search page in the Security & Compliance Center. Here’s how:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft 365 admin center.
  • In the left navigation pane, select Compliance > Security & Compliance.
  • In the Security & Compliance Center, select Search > Audit log search.
  • On the Audit log search page, you can filter and search for specific events using the search bar, filter controls, and date range picker.
  • You can also export audit logs for further analysis using tools like Microsoft Power BI or Excel.

Understanding Audit Log Entries in Microsoft 365

Audit logs in Microsoft 365 contain a wealth of information about user activities, but interpreting them can be challenging. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the different types of audit log entries and how to interpret them.

Types of Audit Log Entries

There are several types of audit log entries in Microsoft 365, including:

  • Mailbox audit logs: These logs track activities related to Exchange mailboxes, such as when a user reads, moves, or deletes a message.
  • SharePoint audit logs: These logs track activities related to SharePoint sites and content, such as when a user accesses, modifies, or shares a file.
  • Azure Active Directory audit logs: These logs track activities related to Azure Active Directory, such as when a user signs in or changes their password.

Interpreting Audit Log Entries

To interpret audit log entries, you must understand the format and content of each entry.

Here’s a breakdown of the key components of a typical audit log entry in Microsoft 365:

  • Date and time: This indicates when the event occurred.
  • User: This indicates the user who performed the action.
  • Activity: This indicates the type of activity, such as “File accessed” or “Mail sent.”
  • Object: This indicates the object that was affected by the activity, such as the file or mailbox.
  • Result: This indicates the result of the activity, such as success or failure.
  • Client IP: This indicates the IP address of the client that was used to perform the activity.
  • User agent: This indicates the client application or browser that was used to perform the activity.
  • Source: This indicates the source of the event, such as the service or application that generated the event.

Best Practices for User Activity Tracking in Microsoft 365

To get the most out of activity tracking in Microsoft 365, it’s essential to follow best practices. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Define audit policies: Define clear audit policies that specify which activities to audit, how long to retain audit logs, and who has access to audit logs.
  • Educate users: Educate users on the importance of activity tracking and how it benefits the organization. Encourage users to report any suspicious activity promptly.
  • Review audit logs regularly: Regularly review audit logs to identify potential security threats or areas for improvement.
  • Implement access controls: Implement access controls to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data and applications.
  • Automate monitoring: Automate monitoring to reduce the burden on IT staff and ensure timely detection and response to security incidents.

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Conclusion

Tracking user activities in Microsoft 365 is essential for maintaining security, compliance, and productivity. By enabling activity tracking, viewing audit logs, understanding audit log entries, and following best practices, you can identify potential security threats, monitor user behavior, and improve productivity. With these tools and techniques, you can take control of your organization’s data and applications and ensure they are being used safely and effectively.

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Author: Nasir Khan

I am Nasir Khan from India, working as a Content Developer in Regain Software. Here I am writing about our products and their updates. And writing some free solutions from converting emails or Cloud Migration process. We have tools like Email Converter, Emails backup and Cloud migration.

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