Windows Server 2016WindowsServer2012R2

6 Steps to Secure your Active Directory Environment

6 Steps to Secure your Active Directory Environment

In this article, we’ll learn six steps to secure your Active Directory environment. In the old post, we have talked about eights important Group policies to secure your environment. With security breaches and attacks becoming a more common occurrence in the IT infrastructure, it is more important than ever that organizations secure the most important part of their network – the Active Directory. In this article we will go through a few issues that must be looked at when securing the Active Directory.

1. Unsecured Domain Controllers
Domain controllers (steps to promote Domain Controller) play a critical role in controlling and managing the resource accesses in domains (Active Directory User Management). When left in an unsecured state, they can be easy targets for attackers who try to access, copy and manipulate the security database. To ensure the security of domain controllers, install them on dedicated servers or host them on dedicated physical machines and restrict access exclusively to authorized users (steps to delegate permissions). To make use of the newest security features, always run them on the latest Windows Server OS and block internet access from them.

2. Unmanaged Privileged Accounts
Attackers can make use of unmanaged privileged accounts or accounts that have membership in privileged groups to manipulate network resources and cause serious damage to the organization (Steps to disable Windows Firewall). Privileged accounts can only be secured by limiting their use and level of exposure to vulnerabilities. Keep the number of privileged accounts to a minimum, use them only from secured hosts and use them solely for administrative tasks. While delegating rights to normal user accounts, make sure that they are given the least level of privileges that is required for them to perform their job effectively.

3. Password Vulnerabilities
The easiest way for attackers to take control of privileged accounts, computer or user accounts is to steal, hack or guess passwords. Help mitigate these risks by implementing strict account lockout and password policies and by nurturing good password habits amongst employees.

4. Stale Active Directory Accounts
Computer and user accounts staying that have remained inactive for long periods of time could become the initial target for attackers. They should be disabled, moved to a separate OU (Steps to create Organizational Unit) and removed in line with the policies of the organization. It is always a good precaution to enable the Active Directory recycle bin before deleting the accounts or ensure proper System State backup is configured.

5. Outdated Operating Systems & Applications
Newer OS versions provide better security features. The same is true with software applications and malwares. Updating your servers and workstations with newest versions of operating system and applications will help to protect your network. Moreover you can also deploy Group Policies to restrict Software in your environment.

6. Active Directory Environment Eevoid of Auditing
Organizations rarely use the auditing features of Windows Server – either due to lack of awareness or diligence. Serious security breaches in the Active Directory generally go unnoticed until the repercussions are observed. Continuous monitoring and auditing of the Active Directory helps to identify vulnerabilities and address them before they become a significant issue.

Blog Summary
If your organization has pro-active and continuous policies for auditing and monitoring the Active Directory you can help to prevent the issues mentioned in this article. Achieving this through native auditing practices alone can be time consuming and difficult – which is why many organizations fail to adequately monitor their Active Directory. However, there are some third-party solutions, such as Lepide Active Directory Auditor, that automate the tracking and alerting of changes made within the Active Directory and monitors current permissions and permission changes.

Article Courtsey: Satyendra Tiwari from Lepide