Auditing DML changes in Oracle

auditing sql in oracleWe are often faced with a situation when every DML change (Inserts/Updates/Deletes) made in Oracle/SQL tables must be audited. Banking Softwares and other similar applications have a strict requirement to maintain the audit trail of every single change made to the database.

The DML changes must be audited irrespective of whether it was made from the Front End, during a release, or directly by a production support person while serving a production ticket. Ever wondered how an audit trail of such large numbers tables in your database can be created. Especially when your application is ever-changing with new columns getting added, dropped or modified often.

Triggers in oracle often come handy when fulfilling audit requirements for your database. An audit trigger can be created on the table which will compare the old and new values of all the columns and in case of a difference will log the old record into an audit table. The audit table will have a similar structure to the main table with 3 additional columns AUDIT_BY, AUDIT_AT and AUDIT_ACTION.

Triggers will ensure that the audit trail is maintained irrespective of from where the database change was initiated. However creating such large number of audit tables and triggers manually can be a huge effort. In this article I will demonstrate how easily we can create audit tables and triggers in oracle for database of any size very easily and with very less effort.

Step 1 – Create some tables

Create some sample tables for which you would like to maintain the audit trail.

CREATE TABLE EMPLOYEE
(
   EID     NUMBER,
   ENAME   VARCHAR2 (40)
);

CREATE TABLE DEPARTMENT
(
   DID     NUMBER,
   DNAME   VARCHAR2 (40)
);

CREATE TABLE SALARY
(
   EID   	NUMBER,
   SALARY	NUMBER
);

Step 2 – Create an exclude table

There will be always some tables which we would like to exclude from the audit. For example if the table is very huge, contains blob or images, or if the table is rarely modified we might not want to audit it. The exclude table will contain a list of such table which we would like to exclude from the audit.

CREATE TABLE EXAUDIT
(
   TNAME VARCHAR2 (30) NOT NULL
);

In our example let us assume that we want to exclude the department table from the audit. We simply make an entry of this table in our exclude table.

INSERT INTO EXAUDIT (TNAME)
     VALUES ('DEPARTMENT');

Step 3 – Create audit tables

Now comes the interesting part. We want to create audit tables that will hold the audit trail of all the tables in our database. This can be achieved with a simple procedure like below.

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE create_audit_tables (table_owner VARCHAR2)
IS
   CURSOR c_tables (
      table_owner VARCHAR2)
   IS
SELECT ot.owner AS owner, ot.table_name AS table_name
        FROM all_tables ot
       WHERE     ot.owner = table_owner
             AND ot.table_name NOT LIKE 'AUDIT_%'
             AND ot.table_name <> 'EXAUDIT'
             AND NOT EXISTS
                    (SELECT 1
                       FROM EXAUDIT efa
                      WHERE ot.table_name = efa.tname)
             AND NOT EXISTS
                        (SELECT 1
                           FROM all_tables at
                          WHERE at.table_name = 'AUDIT_'||ot.table_name);

   v_sql     VARCHAR2 (8000);
   v_count   NUMBER := 0;
   v_aud     VARCHAR2 (30);
BEGIN
   FOR r_table IN c_tables (table_owner)
   LOOP
      BEGIN
         v_aud := 'AUDIT_'||r_table.table_name;
         v_sql :=
               'create table '
            || v_aud
            || ' as select * from '
            || r_table.owner
            || '.'
            || r_table.table_name
            || ' where 0 = 1';

         DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line ('Info: ' || v_sql);

         EXECUTE IMMEDIATE v_sql;

         v_sql :=
               'alter table '
            || v_aud
            || ' add ( AUDIT_ACTION char(1), AUDIT_BY varchar2(50), AUDIT_AT TIMESTAMP)';

         EXECUTE IMMEDIATE v_sql;

         v_count := c_tables%ROWCOUNT;
      EXCEPTION
         WHEN OTHERS
         THEN
            DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (
                  'Failed to create table '
               || v_aud
               || ' due to '
               || SQLERRM);
      END;
   END LOOP;

   IF v_count = 0
   THEN
      DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line ('No audit tables created');
   ELSE
      DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (v_count || ' audit tables created.');
   END IF;
END;
/

After the above procedure is created execute it by passing the schema name (owner) of the schema where your main tables were created.

execute create_audit_tables('SCHEMANAME');

This will create audit tables corresponding to all main tables and with the additional columns like audit_on,audit_by and audit_action. The tables in the exclude table will be excluded.

Step 4 – Create audit triggers

I will first create a small helper function that will give me a comma separated list of columns of a given table (with a prefix if required)

create or replace FUNCTION get_columns_for_table (
     table_owner   VARCHAR2,
     t_name   VARCHAR2,
     prefix  VARCHAR2
  ) RETURN  CLOB
  IS
     v_text CLOB;
  BEGIN
     FOR getrec IN (SELECT column_name
                      FROM all_tab_columns
                     WHERE table_name = t_name
        AND owner = table_owner
        AND data_type<>'BLOB')
     LOOP
       v_text := v_text
          || ','
          || prefix
          || getrec.column_name
          || CHR (10)
          || '                             ';
     END LOOP;

     RETURN ltrim(v_text,',');
  END;

Next create a helper function that will give us a comparison between the columns in case of table updates

create or replace function get_column_comparasion (
     table_owner   VARCHAR2,
     t_name   VARCHAR2
  ) RETURN CLOB
  IS
    v_text CLOB;
  BEGIN
    FOR getrec IN (SELECT column_name
                     FROM all_tab_columns
                    WHERE table_name = t_name
                      AND owner = table_owner
                      AND data_type<>'BLOB')
   LOOP
      v_text := v_text
         || ' or( (:old.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ' <> :new.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ') or (:old.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ' IS NULL and  :new.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ' IS NOT NULL)  or (:old.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ' IS NOT NULL and  :new.'
         || getrec.column_name
         || ' IS NULL))'
         || CHR (10)
         || '                ';
   END LOOP;

   v_text := LTRIM (v_text, ' or');
   RETURN v_text;
  END;

Next create the procedure that will create our audit triggers

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE create_audit_triggers (table_owner VARCHAR2)
IS
   CURSOR c_tab_inc (
      table_owner VARCHAR2)
   IS
      SELECT ot.owner AS owner, ot.table_name AS table_name
        FROM all_tables ot
       WHERE     ot.owner = table_owner
             AND ot.table_name NOT LIKE 'AUDIT_%'
             AND ot.table_name <> 'EXAUDIT'
             AND ot.table_name NOT IN (SELECT tname FROM EXAUDIT);

   v_query   VARCHAR2 (32767);
   v_count   NUMBER := 0;
BEGIN
   FOR r_tab_inc IN c_tab_inc (table_owner)
   LOOP
      BEGIN

         v_query :=
               'CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER TRIGGER_'
            || r_tab_inc.table_name
            || ' AFTER INSERT OR UPDATE OR DELETE ON '
            || r_tab_inc.owner
            || '.'
            || r_tab_inc.table_name
            || ' FOR EACH ROW'
            || CHR (10)
            || 'DECLARE '
            || CHR (10)
            || ' v_user varchar2(30):=null;'
            || CHR (10)
            || ' v_action varchar2(15);'
            || CHR (10)
            || 'BEGIN'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   SELECT SYS_CONTEXT (''USERENV'', ''session_user'') session_user'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   INTO v_user'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   FROM DUAL;'
            || CHR (10)
            || ' if inserting then '
            || CHR (10)
            || ' v_action:=''INSERT'';'
            || CHR (10)
            || '      insert into AUDIT_'
            || r_tab_inc.table_name
            || '('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      NULL)
            || '      ,AUDIT_ACTION,AUDIT_BY,AUDIT_AT)'
            || CHR (10)
            || '      values ('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      ':new.')
            || '      ,''I'',v_user,SYSDATE);'
            || CHR (10)
            || ' elsif updating then '
            || CHR (10)
            || ' v_action:=''UPDATE'';'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   if '
            || get_column_comparasion (r_tab_inc.owner, r_tab_inc.table_name)
            || ' then '
            || CHR (10)
            || '      insert into AUDIT_'
            || r_tab_inc.table_name
            || '('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      NULL)
            || '      ,AUDIT_ACTION,AUDIT_BY,AUDIT_AT)'
            || CHR (10)
            || '      values ('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      ':new.')
            || '      ,''U'',v_user,SYSDATE);'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   end if;'
            || ' elsif deleting then'
            || CHR (10)
            || ' v_action:=''DELETING'';'
            || CHR (10)
            || '      insert into AUDIT_'
            || r_tab_inc.table_name
            || '('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      NULL)
            || '      ,AUDIT_ACTION,AUDIT_BY,AUDIT_AT)'
            || CHR (10)
            || '      values ('
            || get_columns_for_table (r_tab_inc.owner,
                                      r_tab_inc.table_name,
                                      ':old.')
            || '      ,''D'',v_user,SYSDATE);'
            || CHR (10)
            || '   end if;'
            || CHR (10)
            || 'END;';

         DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (
               'CREATE TRIGGER '
            || REPLACE (r_tab_inc.table_name, 'TABLE_', 'TRIGGER_'));

         EXECUTE IMMEDIATE v_query;

         DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (
               'Audit trigger '
            || REPLACE (r_tab_inc.table_name, 'TABLE_', 'TRIGGER_')
            || ' created.');

         v_count := c_tab_inc%ROWCOUNT;
      EXCEPTION
         WHEN OTHERS
         THEN
            DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line (
                  'Failed to create audit trigger for '
               || r_tab_inc.owner
               || '.'
               || r_tab_inc.table_name
               || ' due to '
               || SQLERRM);
      END;
   END LOOP;

   IF v_count = 0
   THEN
      DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line ('No audit triggers created');
   END IF;
END;

Finally execute the procedure. This will create all the audit triggers.

EXECUTE CREATE_AUDIT_TRIGGERS('SCHEMANAME');

Step 5 – Test the auditing

Now execute a few DML scripts and notice that all changes made to our main tables get audited with appropriate action in the audit tables. Changes to department table will not be audited as we have excluded it.

insert into employee values(1,'John');

insert into employee values(2,'Smith');

insert into department values(1,'Sales');

insert into department values(2,'Purchase');

insert into salary values(1,5000);

insert into salary values(2,10000);

delete from employee where eid = 1;

update employee set ename = 'Raj' where eid = 2;

All tables will have a primary key which never changes. Using the primary key we can query our audit tables and get the entire audit trail when required. Instead of session user we can also set the user from the middle tier in the SYS_CONTEXT.

Here I demonstrated how with few simple procedures you can fulfil the audit requirement of your application. The concepts and scripts here are very small but quite powerful and can be used to create audit trail for any number of tables in your database.

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14 Comments

  1. APEX Dev says:

    Great code. Works like a charm.

  2. Dinesh Mishra says:

    when i run execute create_audit_tables(‘SCHEMANAME’); command in oracle 11g SQL command prompt with schemaname. generated error is ORA-00900: invalid SQL statement.
    plz help me. where and how run it in ORACLE 11 g.

    • Pintu Dattani says:

      Dinesh, You are suppose to replace SCHEMANAME with the oracle schema in which you have kept your main tables. looks like you have not done that.

  3. Mini Mini says:

    Hi Viral,

    I am using this procedures as base line for auditing. Now when I am updating a row I just want to put updated values only and dont want other values in the table. Which function and value needs to be modified?

    Regards,
    Mini

  4. Brian Zou says:

    great simple codes.thanks
    I have the same question as ‘Mini’. any more tips?

  5. Mayur says:

    What is the table name to view the auditing details?

  6. GreenDBA says:

    Fantastic.
    Thanks for this post it is extremely useful… Beats hand coding custom triggers for every table in a schema. If you created all of this yourself… good for you… if this was inspired by someone else’s code please source it. :)

  7. ramu says:

    Good artcile

  8. augusto says:

    where I see the audited tables

  9. Rohit says:

    Hi Viral,

    I have used these codes in different schema than schema where my tables are whom I want to be audited. I found whenever I do DML operation on the targeted table, I got each created triggers are executing twice and my audit table is updated twice for each DML. Kindly help me to avoid this situation.

    This article is very useful.. Thanks.. :)

  10. Luis says:

    where I see the audited tables

  11. vicky says:

    Hi Viral

    When i run
    EXECUTE CREATE_AUDIT_TRIGGERS(‘SCHEMANAME’); Getting the below Error:
    Failed to create audit trigger for SCOTT.EMP due to ORA-01031: insufficient privileges

  12. Akshaya Agarwal says:

    I have Executed all the steps Above mentioned however Not able to find the location where I can actually check the DML Changes. Please Help

  13. anonymous says:

    Good article

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