Factors to be considered while performing an active directory security audit

Umendra Singh by   02.20.2013   Auditing

Being central spot of network administration and security Active Directory is very much prone to security breach and fraudulent activities. For that reason, it becomes essential for IT administrators to put every possible thing into practice for protecting AD against security threats.

For some, active directory might be just like any other component of the organization infrastructure, but technically it plays a crucial role in managing the organization infrastructure. Any misuse of elevated access rights in Active Directory could result in devastating consequences on organizational security. Hence, the key question is how to conduct a comprehensive and successful active directory security audit to prevent occurrence of such instances. Well, definitely it might not be that easy but by taking care of few important points mentioned below you could protect active directory from risks:

Administrative Access Controls – Protect your core Windows environment from the threat of privilege escalation misuse and unintended security threats by controlling user access. It is important for you to reduce the number of users with complete administrative privileges. Be aware of all elevated access rights in Active Directory and any changes made to them through active directory security audit.

Deployment Information – It is also important that you verify and confirm that all servers acting as Active Directory are documented and authorized. Adding to that, it is also important you even examine that all Active Directory peers are replicating effectively and in addition replication schedule, if necessary, are appropriate.

Network Security Examination – In Active Directory though the forest offers a security boundary, all its components are present on network and make use of network infrastructure for communication. A properly-protected network can boost up AD security. Therefore, when it comes to perform active directory audit it is important that you ensure firewalls configured correctly for DC traffic. Verify the gateway controls in place are in the right places.

Review of Administrative Groups – Reviewing the administrative structure of the forest and domain is significant as it helps in fortifying or weakening your ability to secure AD. If we talk about schema then its modification must not be undertaken carelessly. It is vital that you care for schema from unintended modification. If you leave the Schema Admins group empty then you can prevent inadvertent changes. In fact, it can be successfully used as a reminder to carefully consider and plan schema changes.

Group Policy Details Examination – Group Policy settings secure Active Directory. It is a vital component that help in making your Active Directory secure. Precise information and correct implementation contributes to their success. It is important that you verify whether GPOs documented and backed up or not. GPOs exist in part as records in AD. Find out if there is any GPO inconsistency between the file system and AD. And all this, of course, cannot be done without Active Directory security audit.

Evaluation of Delegated Permissions on AD Objects – AD object permissions can be used to delegate administrative rights. It is important that you grant AD permission to group instead of users. New users can be given rights by adding them to a group. Moreover, it is important for you to verify whether AD object permissions meet the objectives of compliance with security policy. You must avoid giving unnecessary privileges.

Definitely, Active Directory is the most vital distributed system in your organization. You just cannot leave it unprotected. It covers essential aspects of IT security like domain user accounts and Domain computer accounts and many more. This makes it one of the major security concerns for system administrators. So, it gets important to implement right Active Directory security auditing measures.

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