Facebook Google Plus Twitter LinkedIn YouTube RSS Menu Search Resource - BlogResource - WebinarResource - ReportResource - Eventicons_066 icons_067icons_068icons_069icons_070

Tenable Blog

Subscribe
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

8 Active Directory Best Practices to Minimize Cybersecurity Risk

8 Active Directory Best Practices to Minimize Cybersecurity Risk

Follow these best practices to harden your Active Directory security against cyberattacks and stop attack paths.

Active Directory (AD) equips businesses using Windows devices to organize IT management at the enterprise level. This centralized, standard Windows system equips IT administrators with increased control over access and security within their operations, elevating management of all network devices, domains and account users. AD delivers several mission-critical manageability, security and interoperability functions for businesses of every size and scope, including: 

  • Organizing and consolidating data 

  • Supporting communication between domains 

  • Generating and implementing certificates

Most importantly, Active Directory grants systems administrators increased visibility of and control over passwords, permissions and access authority within their network. AD allows IT leaders to fine-tune their governance capabilities to better oversee and manage system groups. Additionally, the system streamlines internal processes, helping users access the resources they need quickly and efficiently. 

Active Directory (in)security plays a vital role in cyberattacks 

Failing to prioritize a proactive, dynamic AD security strategy can have significant consequences. Active Directory centralizes user access and authorization across every level of an organization, making it a prime target for cybersecurity hackers. Once inside the system, cyberattackers can often escalate privileges, gaining access to multiple network resources. A single AD security breach can compromise a company’s entire digital infrastructure, enabling hackers to steal private system information from all user accounts, databases and applications in the system. 

8 Active Directory best practices to protect your systems 

Establishing and maintaining Active Directory best practices can help companies counter phishing, malware and other cyberattacks as well as protect users, resources and network. Here is a list of AD best practices to implement now to fortify cybersecurity throughout your systems. 

  • Take inventory. To put it simply: You can’t protect what you don't know you have. The most effective way to maintain the highest AD cybersecurity standards is to take a careful, thorough inventory of your entire system. Some essential to-dos should include identifying all of the computers, devices, users, domains and name conventions for your organizational units (OU). 

  • Evaluate current security settings. Active Directory offers standardized security settings after installation. These default settings may be the right ones for your organization — or they may not provide the protection your system needs. After installation, always review the existing security configuration to customize the settings based on your specific business requirements. 

  • Establish "least privilege" models. "Least privilege" strategies limit users' access to resources in the system based on what is essential to perform the intended role or function. The least privilege model helps minimize overall exposure and the risk of data theft in the event of system compromise. Systematically review all current permissions to determine any necessary least privilege modifications needed. You will also want to create a separation of privileges to ensure there's an added layer of security around various users, tasks and accounts. 

  • Limit AD administrator privileges. It's not enough to restrict individual user privileges; it's also critical to evaluate overall IT staff and AD administrator access as well. Only offer administrative and superuser privileges to those in your organization who require this level of access to properly perform their jobs. 

  • Develop a security approach for domain controller. A compromised domain controller can undermine the integrity of the entire AD system. If a hacker gains access to a domain controller, they can instantly connect to everything within the infrastructure. The first step is to physically separate domain controllers from other servers. Many businesses use a locked room that has no access from unauthorized users. This added security layer can help prevent an outside intrusion on your domain controllers for increased peace of mind. 

  • Use multi-factor authentication. Remote users can be easily compromised, often without even realizing it. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers one of the best ways to secure remote devices against an online attack. An MFA solution requires a user to successfully present two or more pieces of evidence before being granted access to the system. Should hackers obtain a user’s Active Directory credentials, the MFA process would prevent them from escalating privileges within the system. 

  • Develop monitoring and auditing standards. Consistent, real-time Active Directory monitoring can prove an invaluable resource for businesses committed to protecting their networks. Develop a process that allows authorized personnel to monitor and audit the entire system for any unauthorized or unsafe activity that could put the network at risk. Implementing a solution that evaluates user changes and network behavior can help detect unusual system engagement as quickly as possible to circumvent a potential cyberattack.  

  • Educate your team. Employees can pose a significant security risk to companies using AD. Even the most well-intentioned staff member can inadvertently click a phishing link or get scammed by an email designed to trick them into giving away private company information. Training and educating your workforce on the genuine threats and dangers of a cybersecurity attack will equip them with the tools they need to avoid a system compromise. Some basic strategies for both your onsite and remote users include: 

    • Training them to recognize phishing scams and malware attacks 

    • Educating them to understand risk level with various user behaviors 

    • Ensuring no one user has full access to the entire system 

    • Establishing and enforcing a strategic password policy 


Implement a customized Active Directory cybersecurity solution in your business 

Many IT administrators lack the resources and technology needed to implement a cohesive Active Directory security solution in their organizations. Tenable, a leading provider of cybersecurity services, can help. Tenable partners with enterprise businesses across multiple verticals and on a global scale to develop Active Directory solutions that deliver real-time network visibility to detect and prevent cyberattacks. Contact us to schedule your free demo today. 

Learn more:

Related Articles

Are You Vulnerable to the Latest Exploits?

Enter your email to receive the latest cyber exposure alerts in your inbox.

Try for Free Buy Now
Tenable.io FREE FOR 30 DAYS

Enjoy full access to a modern, cloud-based vulnerability management platform that enables you to see and track all of your assets with unmatched accuracy. Sign up now.

Tenable.io BUY

Enjoy full access to a modern, cloud-based vulnerability management platform that enables you to see and track all of your assets with unmatched accuracy. Purchase your annual subscription today.

65 assets

Choose Your Subscription Option:

Buy Now
Try for Free Buy Now

Try Nessus Professional Free

FREE FOR 7 DAYS

Nessus® is the most comprehensive vulnerability scanner on the market today. Nessus Professional will help automate the vulnerability scanning process, save time in your compliance cycles and allow you to engage your IT team.

Buy Nessus Professional

Nessus® is the most comprehensive vulnerability scanner on the market today. Nessus Professional will help automate the vulnerability scanning process, save time in your compliance cycles and allow you to engage your IT team.

Buy a multi-year license and save. Add Advanced Support for access to phone, community and chat support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Full details here.

Try for Free Buy Now

Try Tenable.io Web Application Scanning

FREE FOR 30 DAYS

Enjoy full access to our latest web application scanning offering designed for modern applications as part of the Tenable.io platform. Safely scan your entire online portfolio for vulnerabilities with a high degree of accuracy without heavy manual effort or disruption to critical web applications. Sign up now.

Buy Tenable.io Web Application Scanning

Enjoy full access to a modern, cloud-based vulnerability management platform that enables you to see and track all of your assets with unmatched accuracy. Purchase your annual subscription today.

5 FQDNs

$3,578

Buy Now

Try for Free Contact Sales

Try Tenable.io Container Security

FREE FOR 30 DAYS

Enjoy full access to the only container security offering integrated into a vulnerability management platform. Monitor container images for vulnerabilities, malware and policy violations. Integrate with continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) systems to support DevOps practices, strengthen security and support enterprise policy compliance.

Buy Tenable.io Container Security

Tenable.io Container Security seamlessly and securely enables DevOps processes by providing visibility into the security of container images – including vulnerabilities, malware and policy violations – through integration with the build process.

Get a Demo

Get a Demo of Tenable.sc

Please fill out the form below with your contact information and a sales representative will contact you shortly to schedule a demo. You may also include a short comment (limited to 255 characters). Please note that fields with asterisks (*) are mandatory.

Try for Free Contact Sales

Try Tenable Lumin

FREE FOR 30 DAYS

Visualize and explore your Cyber Exposure, track risk reduction over time and benchmark against your peers with Tenable Lumin.

Buy Tenable Lumin

Contact a Sales Representative to see how Lumin can help you gain insight across your entire organization and manage cyber risk.

Request a Demo

Request a demo of Tenable.ot

Get the Operational Technology Security You Need.
Reduce the Risk You Don’t.

Request a Demo

Tenable.ad

Continuously detect and respond to Active Directory attacks. No agents. No privileges. On-prem and in the cloud.