In the realm of cybersecurity, organizations must prioritize safeguarding their critical systems and sensitive data. Active Directory (AD), a vital component of IT infrastructure, often becomes a primary target for threat actors seeking unauthorized access. It’s also an easy target most of the time, because in a lot of companies the AD has been installed with Windows Server NT4.0 somewhere in the late 1990’s and migrated to newer Windows Server versions ever since, but never properly reinstalled or reconfigured. Basically most AD’s are roughly 25 years old, thus date from another era in IT, one during which cyber security wasn’t a big concern yet.
In this blog post, we will explore some proactive measures to fortify Active Directory security.
Threat actors frequently compromise AD Domain Administrator accounts, enabling them to swiftly gain control over an organization’s network. Common entry points for threat actors include exploiting vulnerabilities in internet-facing devices, compromised credentials through theft or guessing, and malware delivered via phishing emails or drive-by downloads. This highlights the importance of implementing least privilege access and reinforcing AD security controls to counter potential attacks.
To defend against attacks and enhance AD security, organizations should adopt proactive measures that create obstacles for threat actors. Following actions are considered best practices:
- Conduct an AD Security Assessment: An AD Security Assessment evaluates an organization’s AD implementation, identifying configuration weaknesses and potential attack vectors. By leveraging configuration review tool sets and interviews with internal personnel, organizations gain valuable insights into their AD environment, enabling them to address vulnerabilities and enhance their security posture.
- Reduce Privileged Accounts: Organizations often overlook the presence of numerous privileged accounts within their network, creating an exploitable attack surface. Reviewing and reducing the number of privileged accounts minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and helps manage privileges more effectively.
- Review Service Principal Names (SPNs): Service principal names (SPNs) play a critical role in AD authentication. Securing SPNs involves identifying accounts with attached SPNs, reviewing their password status, and ensuring they are not members of privileged groups. By minimizing the number of accounts with SPNs, organizations reduce the potential attack surface and mitigate the risk of impersonation attacks.
- Utilize Group-Managed Service Accounts: Group-managed service accounts offer efficient management of service account passwords, including Kerberos, administrator, service, and user accounts. Resetting passwords on all accounts, including service accounts, after evicting threat actors from a compromised environment enhances security without risking application functionality.
By investing time and resources in securing Active Directory, organizations can significantly enhance their resilience against cyber intrusions. At Dilaco we partner with Secureworks® to help our customers fortify their AD by implementing the recommended measures. Moreover, our partnership with Secureworks enables us to provide proactive incident response services and offer emergency assistance to customers who need urgent support during an incident. Together we strengthen AD security and help organizations stay one step ahead of evolving cyber threats.
Would you like to know more? Take a look at our infographic.