Event logs

The Windows Event Logs are not text files that can be viewed using a text editor. The raw data can be translated into XML using the Windows API. The events in these log files are stored in a proprietary binary format with a .evt or .evtx extension. The log files with the .evtx file extension typically reside in C:\Windows\System32\winevt\Logs.


  • System Logs: Records events associated with the Operating System segments. They may include information about hardware changes, device drivers, system changes, and other activities related to the device.

  • Security Logs: Records events connected to logon and logoff activities on a device. The system’s audit policy specifies the events. The logs are an excellent source for analysts to investigate attempted or successful unauthorized activity.

  • Application Logs: Records events related to applications installed on a system. The main pieces of information include application errors, events, and warnings.

  • Directory Service Events: Active Directory changes and activities are recorded in these logs, mainly on domain controllers.

  • File Replication Service Events:

  • DNS Event Logs: DNS servers use these logs to record domain events and to map out

  • Custom Logs: Events are logged by applications that require custom data storage. This allows applications to control the log size or attach other parameters, such as ACLs, for security purposes.

There are three main ways of accessing these event logs within a Windows system:

  • Event Viewer (GUI-based application)

  • Wevtutil.exe (command-line tool)

  • Get-WinEvent (PowerShell cmdlet)

Using the GUI method

  1. Right-click on Start and select Event Viewer.

  2. Select the proper log: Applications and Services Logs -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Powershell -> Operational

  3. What is the Event ID for the first event?

Scroll all the way down:

Event Viewer ID's
Answer: 40961
  1. Filter on Event ID 4104. What was the 2nd command executed in the PowerShell session?

Event Viewer Filtering
Filter on Event ID 4104 and scroll all the way down.
Event Viewer Filtering
Answer: whoami
  1. What is the Task Category for Event ID 4104?

Event Viewer Task category
Answer: Execute a Remote Command
  1. Analyse the Windows PowerShell log. What is the Task Category for Event ID 800?

On the left-hand side, navigate to Applications and Service Logs -> Windows PowerShell (standalone log). Clicking on the log entry to see the events listed with Event ID 800.

Answer: Pipeline Execution Details

Using Wevtutil.exe

Per Microsoft, the wevtutil.exe tool “enables you to retrieve information about event logs and publishers. You can also use this command to install and uninstall event manifests, to run queries, and to export, archive, and clear logs.”

  1. How many log names are in the machine?

PS C:\Users\Administrator> wevtutil.exe el | Measure-Object

Answer: 1071

  1. What event files would be read when using the query-events command?

PS C:\Users\Administrator> wevtutil.exe qe /?

Answer: event log,log file,structured query.

  1. What option would you use to provide a path to a log file?

Answer: /lf:true

  1. What is the VALUE for /q?

Answer: XPATH query

The questions below are based on this command: wevtutil qe Application /c:3 /rd:true /f:text

  1. What is the log name?

PS C:\Users\Administrator> wevtutil qe Application /c:3 /rd:true /f:text

Answer: Application

  1. What is the /rd option for?

Answer: Event read direction

  1. What is the /c option for?

Answer: Maximum number of events to read

Using Get-WinEvent

What are the names of the logs related to OpenSSH?

Get-WinEvent -ListLog *

Answer: OpenSSH/Admin,OpenSSH/Operational

Search for PowerShell. What is the name of the 3rd log provider?

Get-WinEvent -ListProvider *PowerShell*

Answer: Microsoft-Windows-PowerShell-DesiredStateConfiguration-FileDownloadManager

Use Microsoft-Windows-PowerShell as the log provider. How many event ids are displayed for this event provider?

(Get-WinEvent -ListProvider Microsoft-Windows-PowerShell).Events | Format-Table Id, Description

Answer: 192

How do you specify the number of events to display?

Answer: -MaxEvents

When using the FilterHashtable parameter and filtering by level, what is the value for Informational?

Answer: 4