Compliance Auditing with PowerShell
Microsoft's PowerShell framework has been part of their product line for quite some time. In recent years, it has played a major role in new operating system versions (such as Window 7 and Windows Server 2008) thanks to its inclusion in common engineering criteria. All future Microsoft server products will have PowerShell support integrated in them by default. This means Microsoft products will benefit from a single management interface, rather than a mixed usage of the registry, WMI, or other system files/utilities.
For those unfamiliar with PowerShell, it's a command-line shell meant to perform administrative tasks using cmdlets. Cmdlets are purpose-built commands designed to accomplish specific tasks for reading registry keys, files, wmi-objects, starting and stopping Windows services, and a host of other tasks. A wide range of cmdlets and their usage are documented on Microsoft's website.
The ability to run PowerShell cmdlets remotely opens up interesting possibilities from a compliance perspective. For example, it's now possible to read a file, apply several different filters, and determine compliance. You can also run a cmdlet and let the user review the output, then tailor the output as needed. Tenable recently added an AUDIT_POWERSHELL check to Windows compliance checks which allows users to do just that, right from an .audit file. Below is the basic syntax: