Active Directory Risks: 5 Lesser Known Threats

Microsoft Active Directory (AD), is well-known in the business world for its many benefits, including tools and services. It is used by millions and billions of people every week, and it is unrivaled in managing large-scale authentication. However, Active Directory security is a top priority for organizations that use it. 

Active Directory Risks, Security and management of Active Directory risks can lead to concerns about having too many administrators or low password requirements. These are important risks to be aware of, but it is not enough. I’ll be addressing five lesser-known risks Active Directory faces and how to address them to ensure a safe and well-managed AD. 

1.) Keeping Active Directory system default settings untouched 

If default security settings for Active Directory Risks are not considered to be sufficiently secure, organizations run the risk of being exposed. The default Microsoft settings are designed to facilitate compatibility between Microsoft products, rather than providing the best security options. To improve Active Directory security and mitigate security risks, organizations will need to modify security settings and policies. 

2.) Unmanaged Active Directory Risks inheritance, group nesting 

Active Directory Risks offers many ways to organize users and manage their privileges. To grant access to specific resources, organizations often use custom groups such as administrator groups. You can further nest groups within one another on a parent-child basis to reduce the administrative burden of assigning memberships. If a group is nested within an administrative group, the new group will inherit all administrative privileges from its parent. Too many nested groups can create an environment with inherited privileges that is difficult to manage. 

Unmanaged nesting structures can allow unauthorized personnel to gain inadvertent access sensitive information. An attacker may be able to exploit this situation to gain privileged access, even if they are not detected. To ensure that group nesting is controlled and properly managed, proactive group membership auditing should be done. 

3.) Over-delegation of Active Directory tasks 

Active Directory Risks offers the benefit of being able to manage it by creating custom groups or delegating certain privileges to specific groups. An AD domain administrator can delegate privileges to a non-domain administrator, granting them specific control over Active Directory Risks. An example of this is when an individual within an organization might be granted access to account management tasks, such as resetting passwords for users. However, they would not have any other administrator privileges. 

This is an efficient and valid mechanism. However, delegation can become out of control if it’s not properly managed. Over-delegation can lead to accounts having access to more resources than was intended. This risk can be mitigated by enforcing least privilege models. In addition, proactive auditing of access and groups is necessary to ensure that access levels are appropriate and controlled. Temporary access should only be granted when it is necessary and should be tracked until it is removed. This allows tasks to be completed, while privileged access can be closely monitored. 

4.)  Ignoring old Active Directory users or devices 

External and internal attackers are attracted to inactive device and user accounts in Active Directory Risks. Because these accounts are enabled and valid, they can be used to gain access to resources. Inactive accounts are not owned by anyone so they may be ignored. It is important to conduct periodic access/account checks to identify and investigate inactive accounts to make sure they are not exploitable. 

5.)  Lack of proactive monitoring of domain controllers 

Domain Controllers (DC), are the servers that respond and manage security authentication events. They are therefore the core component of Active Directory Risks. Domain controllers should only be used by trusted personnel who need access to their job. It is difficult to protect sensitive information in AD by not knowing who has access to your domain controller or who is currently logging into your domain controllers. 

It is important to keep track of domain controller access and update them as necessary. Additional methods should be in place to constantly and proactively track DC logins and to quickly detect and respond to anomalies. The domain controller audit policies permit the configuration of logs for successful and unsuccessful logins. These settings are necessary for the capture and retention of events. However, if there is no other process in place to aggregate and analyze such events, then the risk is not adequately addressed. 

Windows Event Log must be configured properly to allow enough space for audit events to be retained so that they can later be pulled or analyzed. The best way to monitor and alert personnel to anomalies is to configure the log to forward them to a Security Information and Event Management solution (SIEM). 

Ossisto365 Could Help

If you need assistance understanding your Active Directory risks, reach out to Saksham Mangwana , Risk Advisory Services Consultant by Chat:

Share on social media: