Help! My Audit Journal Is Flooding My System!

IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

While auditing every possible action and object access is great from a security perspective, reality says that's not going to happen. Carol discusses how to lessen the impact of auditing on your system.

Don't get me wrong. Speaking from a security professional's perspective, the more you audit, the better. Information in the audit journal is invaluable when performing forensics and extremely helpful to the system and security administrators to debug daily issues. But here's where the ideal must meet the practical. The fact of the matter is, the storage capacity on most systems doesn't allow you to turn on every auditing feature and log every object access. So what do you do when you find that your system is filling up with audit journal receivers? This article discusses some options.

What's Your Audit Journal Receiver Retention Period?

One of your first considerations is how long you're keeping audit journal receivers on your system. While regulations such as PCI require that you retain one year of audit information, that doesn't mean your audit journal receivers have to be resident on the system. So how many days' worth do you keep? The answer is, as many as is practical. We have some clients whose systems are so busy that the activity generates 20 - 30 receivers a day. In their case, they can keep only 24 hours' worth of receivers on their systems. We have other clients with two years' worth of audit journal receivers! The average is 1 - 2 weeks. If storage permits, we encourage our clients to retain - at a minimum - four days of audit journal receivers. The idea is that, if something happens on Friday and there's a three-day weekend, you have a chance of having the audit journal receivers on the system, thereby avoiding the need to restore them from backup to research the issue. (While restoring audit journal receivers is possible, it's not what you call a pleasant experience.)

When determining your retention period for audit journal receivers, consider how far back you typically have to go to investigate an issue. I'm not talking about performing a full-on forensic investigation. In this case, I'm referring to a system or security administrator looking through the audit journal for problem determination, such as determining when a profile was created, authority was changed, or a file was deleted. Take that average and add a few days. If you have the space, then that's probably a reasonable retention period. Regardless of your retention period, the key is to ensure you save the receivers using a method that ensures you have a full year's worth of audit journal information (as in 365 days of audit journal receivers) saved.

What Actions Are Being Audited?

Again, from my perspective, I'd prefer that all actions be audited. But again, for many organizations, that's not practical. If you're running out of space due to the proliferation of audit journal receivers, check the actions being audited by running DSPSYSVAL QAUDLVL. If this list includes the value *AUDLVL2, you'll also need to look in the QAUDLVL2 system value. The absolute minimum set of values we recommend for this system value is *AUTFAIL, *CREATE, *DELETE, *SAVRST, *SECCFG, *SECRUN, *SERVICE, and *PTFOPR (new in V7R2.) If that's your current set and you're running out of room, I'd look at saving your journal receivers more often and reducing your retention period.

If either of these system values includes the values of *PRTDTA or *SPLFDTA, which are very useful in debugging issues with printing and spooled files (such as determining who deleted a spooled file), weigh how valuable this type of information is to you. These two values tend to generate a lot of entries.

Another entry that is very helpful but generates tons of entries is the value of *JOBDTA or *JOBBAS (which generates a subset of the entries generated by *JOBDTA). This logs the start/stop/release/hold of every job on the system. On busy systems, this value alone can flood the audit journal. That said, it is important to log the activity of some profiles - QSECOFR, for example. If you're flooding your audit journal, one option you have is to remove *JOBDTA (or *JOBBAS) and, instead, configure this audit action for individual profiles. Use the Change User Auditing (CHGUSRAUD) command to configure actions to audit above and beyond what is specified in the QAUDLVL system value.

Finally, if you're running an application that uses adopted authority to allow users to access application data, adding *PGMADP is generating a lot of entries that are for "normal" activity. Typically, when adding this value, you're trying to detect the abnormal use of adopted authority. If you're depending on adopted authority, detecting what's abnormal is going to be difficult. You may, instead, want to include this value at the user level rather than the system level, adding it to profiles that shouldn't normally be running programs that adopt (developers' profiles, for example).

For a more detailed explanation of the entries each value of QAUDLVL generates, see Chapter 9 of the IBM i Security Reference manual. (Be sure to use the version of the manual that corresponds to your system's OS level.)

What Object Auditing Is Enabled?

The next area to investigate is object auditing. You can configure, on an individual object, that either updates are audited or both reads and updates are audited. Configuring object auditing on selected objects is not usually what's going to flood your audit journal. Some of the High Availability (HA) vendors require that changes to objects be audited. To ensure changes are audited on all objects - even objects that are created after the initial configuration - the QCRTOBJAUD system value is set to *CHANGE. (The default is *NONE.)

Note: This system value sets the object auditing value of newly created objects. While the value of *CHANGE generates a lot of entries, if that's a requirement of your vendor, don't change QCRTOBJAUD unless you consult with them first!

But typically, even setting QCRTOBJAUD to *CHANGE doesn't put systems over the top. What does is setting QCRTOBJAUD to *ALL, which means that all objects - and I do mean all objects - are audited whenever they are updated or read. This means all *USRSPC, *USRIDX, and *DTAARA objects as well as *FILE objects are audited whenever they're read or written to! Auditing the reads of all objects on the system often causes massive numbers of audit journal entries. If your system is running out of room, check the value of QCRTOBJAUD. You may be able to reduce this value to *CHANGE or perhaps *NONE, depending on your vendor or compliance requirements. If you only need to audit a subset of objects, such as objects in a specific library, consider setting the Create Object Auditing value at the library level so that objects created into that specific library inherit its object auditing value. This allows you to set the system value to either *CHANGE or *NONE.


If your system is nearly out of storage, you need to quickly save your audit journal receivers and then delete some. But once the crisis is averted and before you make any changes, I encourage you to examine your security policy, the laws and regulations with which your organization must comply, reports and processes that use information in the audit journal, and any other influences on what needs to be audited as well as how long audit journal receivers need to remain resident on the system.

Carol Woodbury

Carol Woodbury is President and CTO of DXR Security and has over 30 years’ experience with IBM i Security. She started her career as Security Team Leader and Chief Engineering Manager for iSeries Security at IBM in Rochester, MN. Since leaving IBM, she has co-founded two companies – SkyView Partners and DXR Security - both focused on helping organizations achieve their IBM i Security goals. Her practical experience together with her intimate knowledge of the system combine for a unique viewpoint and experience level that cannot be matched.

Carol is known world-wide as an author and award-winning speaker on security technology, specializing in IBM i Security topics. She has written seven books on IBM i Security. Carol has been named an IBM Champion since 2018 and holds her CISSP, CRISC and PCIP security certifications.

MC Press books written by Carol Woodbury available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Third Edition IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Third Edition
Don't miss the newest edition by the industry’s #1 IBM i security expert.
List Price $71.95

Now On Sale

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Second Edition IBM i Security Administration and Compliance: Second Edition
Get the must-have guide by the industry’s #1 security authority.
List Price $71.95

Now On Sale

IBM i Security Administration and Compliance IBM i Security Administration and Compliance
For beginners to veterans, this is the definitive security resource.
List Price $69.95

Now On Sale

More Articles By This Author
Related Articles


Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.