A couple weeks ago, Microsoft announced Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) at the Microsoft Ignite conference. LAPS is a feature that allows the randomization of local administrator accounts across the domain. Although it would seem that this capability overlaps with features in BeyondTrust’s Password Safe, the reality is it is more suited for simple use cases such as changing the local Windows admin account and not much more.
What does Microsoft LAPS do and not do?
LAPS provides the ability – via Group Policy – to randomize the password for a local admin account on a remote system joined to the domain. Policies control who can access the password. These passwords are then stored against the machine object in Active Directory and can be retrieved when access is needed to the account.
LAPS requires the system be on the domain, have a client-side extension loaded, and can ONLY manage the local admin account (even if it is renamed). Non-domain systems will not work. LAPS does have the benefit of not requiring a functional account, and it is integrated into Active Directory. It does require a Client-Side Extension (CSE) on the client in order to function. In a nutshell, MS LAPS:
- Does not support any other account/password changes besides the local admin
- Does not support UNIX, Linux or OS X Mac accounts – only Windows
- Does not offer any features for workflow, reporting, session monitoring, etc.
What is the difference between MS LAPS and BeyondTrust Password Safe?
Microsoft is known for focusing on basic functionality across their platforms. This leaves several voids that need filled when it comes to Privilege Account Management (PAM) and necessitates tools for Active Directory management, migration, identity management, security, auditing, etc. As soon as requirements expand beyond basic use cases, organizations will require other commercial solutions to meet their security needs. BeyondTrust and other vendors have therefore created more robust solutions to fill these voids.
For instance, here’s a simple chart comparing Microsoft Local Administrator Password Solution to BeyondTrust Password Safe:
The Bottom Line
More than anything else, LAPS validates the need for password rotation, like Microsoft validated antivirus by including free anti-virus with their desktop operating system versions. If you need the basics, Microsoft LAPS can do it. Most organizations, however, will need a lot more – and BeyondTrust can help with a simple solution.