Sysinternals Sysmon for Windows: Monitor Windows System Health

Microsoft offers a plethora of useful tool for end users that can be used to tweak, play, troubleshoot, diagnose, secure or do anything with the Windows operating system. Sysinternals System Monitor (Sysmon), is one such newly released tool designed for Windows based computer which collects all system log files. These log files are very important and crucial to understand issues pertaining to Windows. Sysmon once installed keeps running in the background as dormant and can be brought back to life when required.

Sysmon System Monitor for Windows

The basic workflow behind System Monitor, is that it stores information from Windows Event Collection (Event Viewer) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) agents like process IDs, GUIDs, SHA1, MD5 (SHA256) hash logs. It stores all these files under Applications and Services\logs\Microsoft\Windows\Sysmon\operational folder in Windows Vista and higher operating systems like Windows 8 and Windows 7, and under System event log in older Windows operating systems like Windows XP.

Sysmon System Monitor for Windows

How to install System Monitor

  • Download Sysmon [download link provided below]
  • Downloaded file will be in zip format. Unzip the file using windows default file extractor or try Winrar, 7zip etc
  • Once the file is unzipped, run “Sysmon” accept the EULA and hit next.
  • Wait for System, Monitor to complete installation, that’s all !

How to use Sysmon

The command line in sysmon can be used to install, uninstall, check and to tweak System Monitor’s configuration:

Install:    Sysmon.exe -i [-h [sha1|md5|sha256]] [-n]

Configure:  Sysmon.exe -c [[-h [sha1|md5|sha256]] [-n]|–]

Uninstall:  Sysmon.exe –u

Few commands that user need to understand are:

i: install service and driver programs

-n: stores network connection logs

-u: uninstall service and driver programs

-c: it updates installed sysmon driver on the computer or helps to dump current configuration  settings available

-h: It specifies algorithm applied to the program [by default SHA1 is applied]

Examples:

  • To install application with default settings:sysmon -i accepteulawithout quotes [SHA1 default]
  • To install application with MD5 [SHA256] settings:sysmon -i accepteula –h md5 -n”  
  • To uninstallsysmon -u

System Monitor stores events like Event IDs as,

  • Event ID 1: Used for Process Creation,
  • Event ID 2: A Process changed a file creation time with timestamp and
  • Event ID 3: For Network Connection.

The tool will keep running in the background and will write all event logs into a folder. After install or uninstall a system reboot is not all required.

It is a must have tool for all computers running on Windows. Go grab System Monitor tool from here!

UPDATE: Microsoft Sysinternals Sysmon now also records process activity to the Windows event log for use by incident detection and forensic analysis, includes driver load and image load events with signature information, configurable hashing algorithm reporting, flexible filters for including and excluding events, and support for supplying configuration via a configuration file instead of the command line.

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Abhishek Shukla is a computer graduate by education, a complete tech freak and music addict. Playing with software and mobile phones are part of his hobby. He is currently employed with a multinational company in India.