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Auditing ESXi Shell logins and commands in ESXi 5.x

Purpose

ESXi maintains a history of all commands entered in the ESXi Shell. This shell command history is maintained in the shell.logfile. Within the transcription of commands, the command issuer is identified only by the process or world ID, rather than by username or client address. This article describes how to correlate authentication information from the auth.log file with the history of commands executed in the ESXi Shell.

For more information on the locations of the log files described, see Location of ESXi 5.0 log files (2004201) and Location of log files for VMware products (1021806).

Resolution

To determine the commands executed in the ESXi Shell, and which user and client issued the request:

  1. Obtain access to the auth.log and shell.log log files.
    • Log in to the ESXi Shell, and open each log using the less command.
    • Use a web browser to access https://ESXiHostnameOrIP/host/auth.log andhttps://ESXiHostnameOrIP/host/shell.log.
    • Use the vifs command line utility in the vCLI to copy the logs to a client, and review them there.
    • Read the files from within a vm-support log bundle.

  2. Open the log file /var/log/auth.log in a text viewer.

  3. Identify the authentication record, including the Username, Timestamp, and World ID for the session:

    • ESXi Shell login at the console appears similar to:

      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z login[64386]: root login on 'char/tty/1'

    • ESXi Shell login via interactive SSH appears similar to:

      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Connection from 10.11.12.13 port 2605
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Accepted keyboard-interactive/pam for root from10.11.12.13 port 2605 ssh2
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[64386]: Session opened for 'root' on /dev/char/pty/t0
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Session closed for 'root' on /dev/char/pty/t0
      ...
      2011-08-29T18:35:05Z sshd[
      12345]: Session closed for 'root' 2

    • ESXi Shell login via SSH with public key appears similar to:

      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Connection from 10.11.12.13 port 2605
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Accepted publickey for root from 10.11.12.13 port 2605ssh2
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[64386]: Session opened for 'root' on /dev/char/pty/t0
      2011-08-29T18:01:00Z sshd[12345]: Session closed for 'root' on /dev/char/pty/t0
      ...
      2011-08-29T18:35:05Z sshd[
      12345]: Session closed for 'root' 2

    Each of these authentication records indicate a successful authentication for the user root on August 29th at 18:01 GMT. The SSH methods also include the IP address tha the connection was initated from. The shell session is being handled by world 64386.

  4. Close the log file /var/log/auth.log.

  5. Open the log file /var/log/shell.log in a text editor or viewer.

  6. Identify commands entered which contain the same World ID as identified in Step 3, appearing similar to:

    2011-08-29T18:01:01Z shell[64386]: Interactive shell session started
    2011-08-29T18:05:02Z shell[64386]: cd /var/log
    2011-08-29T18:05:03Z shell[64386]: ls
    2011-08-29T18:13:04Z shell[64386]: vmware -v
    2011-08-29T18:35:05Z shell[64386]: exit

    Since the commands were entered in the console session handled by world ID 64386, we know that they correspond to the authentication session established by user root as described in Step 3.
Based on VMware KB 2004810

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