Paessler PRTG

Monitor the integrity of your files efficiently with PRTG


  • Helps to analyze file integrity
  • Monitor individual files with PRTG
  • Be notified of changes to files in real time

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What is file integrity monitoring (FIM)?

File integrity monitoring (FIM) identifies anomalous changes in your file automatically. It informs you when there’s suspicious activity regarding the most critical files. You can take appropriate action as soon as you get the notification so that you stay compliant.

FIM works as a supporting tool in a security response and prevention infrastructure and can help safeguard your system from unwanted threats, breaches, and data modifications.

Numerous industry compliance standards also recognize how important FIM security is. Many compliance organizations require you to have a comprehensive mechanism in place to secure sensitive data and demonstrate how you can maintain a secure environment.


Why file integrity monitoring is important

Insiders and malicious actors can easily cause mayhem and wreak havoc within your network. They can:

  • change configuration files,
  • modify critical application and system files,
  • or alter data.

And what’s worse, they can even delete event logs in an attempt to cover up their tracks.

So you need to constantly be on the lookout for what’s going on in your network.

Knowing who has access to all your critical files and when and what changes were made to them is important to meet regulatory laws and standards like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.

It’s also essential to monitor your file integrity if you want to keep your company’s critical data and assets safe and to be able to detect a breach. This is where file integrity monitoring tools can help.


What are the use cases of the PRTG file integrity monitoring software?

FIM software can analyze, scan, and report unexpected modifications made to critical files in your environment. So it not only provides application, data, and file security, but it also helps speed up incident response.

The primary use cases for file integrity monitoring tools include the following.

Detect illegal and illicit activity

If a cybercriminal attacks your IT environment, it’s important to know if they’ve altered any files that are important for your applications or operating systems. In fact, one of the first things they do in a complex cyberattack is to alter crucial files related to the applications or OS.

And even if the attacker ends up altering or avoiding log files and detection systems to cover their activity, it’s still possible for FIM software to detect changes to crucial parts of the IT ecosystem.

FIM tools can detect modifications since they review and compare the current file against a defined baseline instead of just reviewing the file logs. So, with FIM, you can protect and monitor the security of your data, operating systems, files, and applications.

Identify unintended changes

It often happens that the admin or other employees end up changing some files accidentally. While sometimes the consequences of these changes are insignificant and are often overlooked, others can accidentally create security backdoors.

File integrity monitoring helps you pinpoint the changes so that you can take remedial actions or even roll back the changes before adversaries take advantage of them.


Expedit threat response

Detecting threats early on can give your organization a greater chance of stopping the security breach before costly or significant damage occurs.

With FIM, your organization has a better chance of detecting a security-relevant attack that other security measures might have missed.


Stay compliant

Today, organizations face a complex regulatory landscape. They are required to monitor their IT infrastructure or environment and report certain activities to stay compliant with regulatory mandates like PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, GLBA, and SOX.


Verify updates

FIM can also use a post-patch checksum to scan files across different machines and locations to make sure they’re updated to the latest version.



A sneak peek at file integrity monitoring with PRTG


PRTG: The only file monitoring tool you need

File sensors & FIM

When an application is faulty, a log file with the error information is generated. As a sysadmin, you might wonder how you can monitor changes to the log files, how you can read their contents, and which files you should keep an eye on. This is where Paessler PRTG comes in.

All applications create a stream of log files but with the File sensor of PRTG, you can

  • see if a file is available
  • view the last time the file was changed
  • get information about the last time the file was accessed
  • see the size of the file
  • know if the contents of the file were modified

You can even perform a more in-depth analysis by verifying the file integrity in detail: just combine PRTG with other relevant software.

Instant alarms

If you’re a sysadmin, we understand your worry about the software or hardware malfunctioning and crashing the network. But with PRTG, you no longer have anything to worry about.

Even if there’s a small but critical problem, PRTG will instantly send you an alert. And if you don’t get any alerts, then you can rest easy knowing that nothing’s wrong.

Make work easier

Say goodbye to bush-league monitoring tools and say hello to PRTG – a centralized monitoring tool that can serve your whole network and make daily work easier.

Support you need

PRTG is backed by the technical expertise of a hardworking and dedicated team. The team works around the clock on weekdays to answer all your questions. Plus, our extensive Knowledge Base can help answer all your questions.


PRTG is compatible with all major vendors and manufacturers

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IT experts agree: Paessler PRTG is a great solution for IT infrastructure monitoring


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Start file integrity monitoring with PRTG and see how it can make your network more reliable and your job easier.



Features of a good file integrity monitoring solution

Your organization’s security shouldn’t be taken lightly, and to make sure your FIM tool is as efficient as possible, here some features that it should definitely offer.

Total control over the policy

Your FIM solution should provide complete control of the FIM policy and incorporate management, granularity, and editing. It should provide built-in policy customization and be able to support different policies depending on the kind of devices that are part of the enterprise’s FIM program. In addition to that, organizations should be able to revise the FIM policy as their security requirements evolve.

Basic management, alerting, and reporting features

FIM software should monitor different components of an IT environment, including servers and network devices, cloud-based services, workstations, middleware, OS, directories, and databases. At the very least, it should provide features like change management, alerts, centralized reporting, and real-time logging. 

Additional functions

One of the most important functionalities of FIM is that it should include an option to toggle on and off additional functions if and when needed. Other features include:

  • Integration with an access rights management system to identify users
  • Logging file access activities
  • Security policy management for better file access
  • Option for version rollback
  • Ability to encrypt files that have sensitive data to control access fully

PRTG is the complete monitoring tool that can meet all your enterprise needs and make sure your IT environment is protected from cyberattacks.

Security requirements

As mentioned, FIM is needed for NERC CIP and PCI DSS and is considered great practice for GLBA, HIPAA, SOX, and FISMA. So if you’re implementing any of these standards, you’ll need to be sure that your FIM also complies with the standard requirements.


3 advantages of PRTG file integrity monitoring

A successful FIM program can provide a number of different advantages. Let’s take a look.

It protects IT infrastructure

It protects IT infrastructure

File integrity monitor programs, like the PRTG file integrity monitoring software, monitor for file changes made on virtual images, cloud environments, applications, directory services, network devices, databases, and servers to inform you of unauthorized changes.


instant alarms

It reduces noise

PRTG file integrity monitoring uses change intelligence to inform you only when needed instead of flooding you with changes. This way, you can know all the important things at a glance and take quick remedial action.


Make work easier

It helps you stay compliant

 As mentioned earlier, FIM can help you meet regulatory compliance standards like HIPAA, SOX, NIST, FISMA, PCI DSS, and NERC CIP. It also makes sure you follow the best practice frameworks like CIS security benchmarks.


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“For us, PRTG Network Monitor is the most effective tool for monitoring our IT infrastructure in the long run.”

Oliver Jähn, IT Manager at the University of Bonn


Create innovative solutions with Paessler’s partners

Partnering with innovative vendors, Paessler unleashes synergies to create
new and additional benefits for joined customers.

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Paessler and Plixer provide a complete solution adding flow and metadata analysis to a powerful network monitoring tool.

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Start file integrity monitoring with PRTG and see how it can make your network more reliable and your job easier.




FAQ: File integrity monitoring


1. What is file integrity monitoring (FIM)?

Private and sensitive data such as credit card information, confidential customer information, and system credentials, is a desirable target for cybercriminals. 

FIM, or change monitoring, is a security practice that involves checking for and verifying the integrity of application files and operating systems by comparing them to a baseline to determine if fraud or tampering has occurred. It detects threats and monitors changes made to a file that could hint at a cyberattack. 

The practice includes examining files to check for any changes, how changes were made, who made the changes, and how the files can be restored if the changes were not authorized. Organizations can use this control to monitor static files for dubious changes like adjustments to the email client configuration and the IP stack. To put it simply, FIM can help detect malware and achieve compliance with different regulations.

An file integrity monitoring tool usually integrates with the company’s server to help safeguard the system from threats that want to access sensitive data. But it’s also important to note that FIM software is not a standalone solution; it is designed to work with other security measures to provide an effective defense system against different threats.

2. How does file integrity monitoring work?

FIM examines different aspects of a file and creates a digital fingerprint, which is then compared with the fingerprint of a known baseline fingerprint.

Even though you can find many native auditing tools on the market, all of them have some shortcomings like decentralized storage of security logs from numerous domain controllers, not being able to recover the configuration or object from audit logs, or insufficient information about the old settings in the log entry. This is why organizations with complex IT environments turn to enterprise solutions.

FIM software looks at numerous aspects of the file including its credentials, contents, configuration values, permissions and settings, security, size, core attributes, and hash values. The monitoring can be done on a regular, snapshot, or continual basis and can either happen randomly or according to other rules set up by the security team.

3. What are the different file integrity monitoring steps?

File integrity monitoring essentially involves five steps.

Step #1: Set a policy

The first step in FIM is for the organization to define a relevant policy. In this step, the organization needs to identify the files that it needs to monitor and which computers hold those files.

Step #2: Establish a baseline

Before an organization can go ahead and actively monitor different files for any change, they first need to define a reference point that can be used to detect any modifications. This is why companies should document a known good state (or baseline) of all the files that’ll be monitored by FIM.

Here, it’s important to take data like the modification date, creation date, and the version into account to help assure IT professionals that the file is legitimate.

Step #3: Monitor changes

Once organizations have a detailed baseline, they can go ahead and start to monitor all the files that are part of the FIM solution for any changes. They can even go a step ahead and auto-promote expected changes to minimize the chances of false positives.

Step #4: Send an alert

Whenever the FIM solution detects unauthorized changes, individuals responsible for the process must send an alert to relevant personnel so that they can fix the issue quickly.

Step #5: Report results

In some cases, organizations use FIM to ensure PCI DSS compliance. In cases like these, the organization might have to generate reports for audits to support the deployment of their FIM.

4. How do file integrity monitoring systems work?

There are typically two ways of protecting files. Either a checksum can be calculated on the file’s properties when it is written by an authorized process, or a copy of the file can be made and the live file can then be compared with the backup.

Some systems only send an alert in the case of an unauthorized change, which means you’ll need a separate restore and backup procedure in place. Thus, you’ll get a heads-up that there’s something fishy going on when the cybercriminal tries to hide.

Meanwhile, other systems help to restore files to the original state and are preferable to those that only detect unauthorized changes. Being able to see the records that were changed by an intruder makes it easy to know the compromised accounts, which speeds up the remediation process. 

5. Should I go for a full-featured file integrity monitoring system?

While a comprehensive system does sound like a great option, it has its drawbacks. For instance, if all the log files on the system are copied, you’ll need lots of disk space. Keep in mind that log files already need lots of room and simply doubling the volume will make things worse.

And even though small networks don’t have that much log traffic, the same is not true for larger systems, and processing a greater volume of logs requires a good amount of processing power. So, the ideal, fully-featured system with a live FIM would need more file space and processing power as compared to the original system. This means that your organization will have to spend more on log file management as compared to the core operations. Keeping all of this in mind, it’s clear that the best FIM system must be somewhat of a compromise.

So, if you want to keep your security services manageable, it’s important that you have a smart file integrity monitoring system that can keep your files safe without taking over the whole IT system. One of the most important compromises you’ll have to make is whether FIM actions are performed periodically or in real time.

You should also look out for a log management system that can help identify the most important and least important messages for security purposes. By cutting down the volume of logs or records that must be protected, FIM becomes more manageable.

6. Unix and Linux vs Windows file integrity monitoring

FIM is important for both Unix and Linux systems and Windows-based environments. In Windows, the registry is used for most of the configuration, along with the Win32 API, so it’s a more restricted and tightly-controlled area.

However, in Unix and Linux, the configurations are exposed as a part of the whole file system, making them highly vulnerable to hacked binary executables and attacks. Plus, replacing and updating core files means that attackers can inject malicious code easily.

This is why FIM should be able to track the changes to the operating system, critical business files, application, directory, and database and inform you of suspicious or potentially sensitive changes.

Some important areas for change control are Exchange SQL, Active Directory, OS, password, and bootup in Windows and hosts, bootloader, profiles, cron jobs, run comments, kernel parameters, and services and daemons in Linux or Unix.


PRTG the multi-tool

PRTG: The multi-tool for sysadmins

Adapt PRTG individually and dynamically to your needs and rely on a strong API:

  • HTTP API: Access monitoring data and manipulate monitoring objects via HTTP requests
  • Custom sensors: Create your own PRTG sensors for customized monitoring
  • Custom notifications: Create your own notifications and send action triggers to external systems
  • REST Custom sensor: Monitor almost everything that provides data in XML or JSON format


PRTG makes your job easier

Our monitoring software frees you to focus on other tasks by promptly notifying you of potential issues.


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Save effort

PRTG gives you one central monitoring tool for your servers and entire network. Enjoy a quick overview of your whole infrastructure via our dashboard and app.

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Save time

Getting started with PRTG is a breeze. Setting up or switching from another network monitoring tool is easy thanks to the auto-discovery and pre-configured device templates.

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Save money

80% of our customers report substantial cost savings with network monitoring. Your costs of licenses will likely pay for themselves within weeks.



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Start file integrity monitoring with PRTG and see how it can make your network more reliable and your job easier.




Network Monitoring Software - Version (February 14th, 2024)


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