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Definition: Audit Trail
Audit Trail is a record of the operations performed by a user on a system for the purpose of detecting security violations, performance problems and flaws in applications. It is a documented log of computer events, about an operating system, an application, or user activities. There can be several audit trails each for a particular activity. Auditing is a process of reviewing and analyzing operational and technical controls. These trails are used to support regular system operations so that administrators can ensure that the security of the system is not harmed. They help accomplish several security-related objectives including individual accountability, intrusion detection and problem analysis.
Example: Audit Trails can be used to record the ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the records so that actual changes by a user can be compared with the expected changes and the user can be made accountable of his actions in case of any discrepancies.
A practical use can be in accounting, where the documentation of the detailed transactions can be corresponding to ledger entries. This will ensure proper error-free accounting.
Such trails are highly permission intensive and strictly controlled by the administrators and cannot be accessed by other users.