Application Security
2/20/2017
12:00 PM
Derek Melber
Derek Melber
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Controlling Privileged Access To Prevent Rogue Users In Active Directory

Knowing which of your employees have which privileges is the first step to staying safe.

Often, a rogue user is an internal employee who has been granted privileges that he or she shouldn't have. Controlling privileges for your Windows servers, domain controllers, and Active Directory environment is key to limiting what your users can do. The problem is knowing who has privileges and how to restrict those privileges.

But there is a solution! First, you need to report on each area that grants privileged access to ensure the privileges are correct. If they are not correct, simply set the privileges to the appropriate level.

The following is a list of security controls that grant privileges within your Microsoft environment:

  • Group membership (domain admins, enterprise admins, Exchange admins, etc.)
  • User rights (backup files and folders, change system time, system shutdown, etc.)
  • File and folder permissions (access control lists for databases, IP files, etc.)
  • Delegation (Active Directory, Group Policy, etc.)
  • Service access control lists (stop, start, manage) 

To successfully secure your privileged access, have a process and stick to it. Following the steps illustrated in Figure 1 will allow you to get control of privileged access.

Privileged access security control process. (Source: the author.)
Privileged access security control process. (Source: the author.)

1. Report on what security settings are in place. This allows you to make corrections where needed.

2. Analyze the information in the reports that you obtain. Ideally, you should evaluate every area of privileged access to ensure that only the correct users have this level of access to your Windows Servers, domain controllers, and Active Directory.

3. Once you have decided on which security settings to implement, configure them. Usually, Group Policy will be the method to deploy your security controls, but you might also use other Active Directory tools such as Active Directory Users and Computers.

If you stop at just securing your environment, you will never know if anything changes. So, to ensure that a privileged access doesn't change without your knowledge, you need to monitor and alert on changes that occur.

4. Monitor and track all changes that occur to privileged access within your Microsoft environment. This will give you reporting and alerting capabilities.

5. For all of the security settings that can allow vulnerabilities, attacks, and malicious actors to enter your environment, have systems in place to alert you via email when changes to privileges occur.

Once you get control of privileged access for your Windows infrastructure, you will have reduced your attack surface and dramatically increased security for your organization.

Related Content:

Derek Melber is the technical evangelist for ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corporation. As one of only a handful of Microsoft Group Policy MVPs, Derek helps Active Directory administrators, auditors, and security professionals understand the finer points of how to manage, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
kuingul
50%
50%
kuingul,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2017 | 3:00:32 AM
Cure cause as well as symtopms
Just saying that alerts and reports on important security events that lead to overpriveleging users is a great thing to do and it definitely should be done, but it's a bit of taking care of the symptoms, not the causes.

IMO, it's equally (if not more) important to automate things like user lifecycle management, group membership management and other stuff like that. You can do that in a lot of different ways starting from a buch of PowerShell scripts to fully-featured 3rd party solutions like Adaxes or similar.

That is because most of the overprivileging happens because somebody makes a mistake and adds a user to a wrong group. Automation eliminates such things. It's also cool to add approvals that practically send an alert to an admin or another authority before overprivileging happens rather than after like an alert does.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "I've seen worse.  Last week Tim had a dragon."
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.