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  Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Auditing by Database Triggers 

Enabling auditing options may not always be sufficient to evaluate suspicious activity within your database. When you enable auditing, Oracle places records in the SYS.AUD$ table in accordance with the auditing options that you have specified. One limitation to this type of auditing is that SYS.AUD$ does not provide you with value-based information. You need to write triggers to record the before and after values on a per-row basis.      

Auditing with Oracle supports DML and DDL statements on objects and structures. Triggers support DML statements issued against objects, and can be used to record the actual values before and after the statement.      

In some facilities, audit commands are considered security audit utilities, while triggers are referred to as financial auditing. This is because triggers can provide a method to track actual changes to values in a table. Although, similar to the AUDIT command, you can use triggers to record information,  you should customize your auditing by using triggers only when you need more detailed audit information.     

AFTER triggers are normally used to avoid unnecessary statement generation for actions that fail due to integrity constraints. AFTER triggers are executed only after all integrity constraints have been checked. AFTER ROW triggers provide value-based auditing for each row of the tables and support the use of "reason codes." A reason for the statement or transaction, along with the user, sysdate, and old and new values, can be inserted into another table for auditing purposes.      

Oracle auditing can be used for successful and unsuccessful actions, as well as connections, disconnections, and session I/O activities. With auditing, you can decide if the actions should be BY ACCESS or BY SESSION. Triggers can only audit successful actions against the table on which they are created. If auditing is being performed using a trigger, any rollback or unsuccessful action will not be recorded.       

Auditing provides an easy, error-free method to tracking, with all the audit records stored in one place. Triggers are more difficult to create and maintain.

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