With all of the recent attention on Marvel Comic characters, it got me thinking about one of my favorite DC Comic heroes – Superman. As everyone knows, Superman’s one weakness was kryptonite – a radioactive element made up of the remains Superman’s home planet. The term kryptonite has permeated the English language and is now used to describe something which is powerful and can pose a threat.

In the cybersecurity world, Active Directory (AD) is often the gateway to an organization’s most sensitive information infrastructure. With privileged access to domain controllers (DCs), malicious actors can hide their tracks, while they covertly infiltrate the deepest levels of a compromised IT infrastructure. Yet, instead of deploying a privileged access management solution, many IT organizations use privileged AD credentials to perform routine tasks, leaving an attack vector open for hackers to use in order to gain access and move throughout the network.

In his latest white paper, IT Security Expert and MCSE Russell Smith, outlines 8 best practices for securing Active Directory.

Want the full expert guide, "An 8-Step Guide to Administering Windows without Domain Admin Privileges"? Get it now

1) Enforce Least Privilege by Limiting Privileged Group Membership

Microsoft recommends that privileged groups should remain empty most of the time (i.e. they should only be populated when privileged access to a domain controller is required). As soon as any necessary changes have been made, the user should be removed from the privileged group.

2) Fine-Grained User/Privileged User Account Management

Privileged access to the domain isn’t required to manage Active Directory objects, such as users and groups. Access can be delegated to Organizational Units (OUs) so that users are able to manage objects.

3) Manage Administrative Access to End-User Devices

To provide support staff with the access they need to manage user devices, create a group in Active Directory and add it to the local Administrators group on users’ devices using Group Policy. Local groups can be managed using Restricted Groups policy or Group Policy Preferences.

4) Manage Privileged Access to Servers

No one should have permanent administrative access to a member server. To manage administrative access, create a group in AD for each server and add it to the BUILT-IN\Administrators group on the applicable server. You can then manage access to the server by populating the server’s group in Active Directory.

5) Leverage PowerShell Just Enough Administration

If you must give a user permanent access to a server, determine which privileged tasks must be regularly performed. Access can be granted using PowerShell Just Enough Administration (JEA), which is included in the Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5.0.

6) Use Privileged Access Management Across Domain Controllers

Windows Server 2016 Just-In-Time (JIT) access, with the help of a Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, can be used to automate the workflow of granting users temporary access to privileged AD groups, like Domain Admins.

7) Enable WSUS and Centralize Events

Some IT administration tasks can and should be automated. This can reduce the need to manually access servers using privileged credentials. Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is a built-in server role that can be used to keep Windows and Microsoft applications up-to-date.

8) Enforce Separation of Administration

Managing privileged access to domain controllers that run line-of-business applications, or Windows server roles and features, is more challenging than managing a server that is a dedicated domain controller. Microsoft recommends using a tiered administration model to separate high-risk end-user devices from valuable assets like DCs and business applications.

Want the full expert guide, "An 8-Step Guide to Administering Windows without Domain Admin Privileges"? Get it now