Active Directory is the door to your IT castle. All applications, users, databases, and sensitive files are managed within the AD and the access rights are also configured within this security setting.
The security of Active Directory is a critical aspect, as it helps protect your software applications and confidential data from unauthorized access. If a user gets access to Microsoft’s AD, they can tamper with the data, access sensitive files, and steal the login credentials of privileged users’ accounts.
AD is like a gatekeeper that controls keys to different elements of your IT function. It determines which key unlocks what features and who has access to which files.
Since your business is a dynamic place and the roles keep changing with new users added and the existing ones removed, AD security is not a one-time job. It’s a continuous process. Active Directory must be monitored at all stages to ensure that only authorized users that are allowed access to the setting can run it.
Let’s check out 7 critical reasons why Active Directory’s security is a must.
1. Unauthorized System Access
The most important role of Active Directory in the organization’s security is system access. If you don’t follow the necessary security measures for AD’s security, any malicious user can get access to confidential data, secure files, and other applications.
Usually, an attacker conducts a phishing or social engineering attack where they pretend to be an authentic user seeking access to a user’s account. Once they get into the Active Directory, they will escalate their privileges and move laterally through the system to corrupt the entire network.
Once they get access to privileged accounts, they can steal sensitive data and conduct ransomware attacks. Strengthening the security of Active Directory and monitoring the user activity regularly are the only ways to detect any unusual activity before serious damage occurs.
2. Stealing Confidential Data
Active Directory is associated with regulatory compliance. You don’t just need to secure your AD because of your network security, but you are mandated to protect users’ confidential information.
If an outsider gets access to your Active Directory, they can easily escalate their privilege and find confidential information. In addition to destroying your business’ reputation, this security breach can shut your business for good.
3. It’s Difficult to Identify a Breach
Another reason why AD’s security should be every organization’s priority is that recovery from these attacks is challenging. These three things, in particular, are hard to deal with.
- Identifying the source of the attack
- Determining the level of damage
- Developing a safe environment to avoid such risks in the future
According to this Data Breach Investigation Report, 85% of the security breaches in organizations took several weeks to be identified. Think about the damage the breach could have caused during this period.
It’s hard to discover malicious activity going on in the Active Directory until the attacker causes serious damage to the network.
4. Password Policy can Lead to Security Breach
Following a stringent password policy where you use a combination of letters, digits, and special characters to secure AD might seem like the best way to secure privileged user accounts. But, it’s not convenient.
A user might not remember the password and save it in insecure places, increasing the risk of a security breach. Likewise, using weak passwords can allow hackers to easily access your Active Directory. It’s important to find a balance between security and convenience when setting a password policy.
5. Patching Vulnerabilities is Tricky
Patching vulnerabilities becomes difficult when the attacker is left undetected within AD. The longer they remain in your system, the more damage they can cause. To deal with these security breaches, an organization must have a disaster recovery plan in place. They must be equipped to take action should a breach occur.
Most importantly, you should have monitoring tools that alert you when an unauthorized user gets access to your AD. Monitoring your system regularly and watching out for any unusual activity is your only chance at stopping an attack before it causes damage to your network security.
Using a firewall protection program, access control system, two-factor authentication, and encryption technology are a few ways to mitigate the risk of AD security breaches in the first place.
6. Compromised Domain
AD has powerful control over your IT infrastructure. It’s used for giving access rights to the user and defining their roles in your organization. Not configuring the rights properly can increase the risk of unauthorized users getting access to the features they are not supposed and authorized to use. If they somehow get to the administrator’s account, they can compromise the entire domain and shut down your network permanently.
There’s also a risk of these users encrypting confidential data and asking for a ransom to give it back. The best way to prevent the risk of a compromised domain is by restricting privileged user accounts. Follow the least privileged security system where only users who absolutely need domain access are given rights to access that.
7. Poor Customer Experience
When an attacker is successful at gaining access to your Active Directory, they can leak data, steal private information, disrupt your workflow, and cause other similar breaches. An organization that can’t manage its assets and sensitive database can’t deliver a good user experience.
Problems like network downtime for prolonged periods, can drive your customers away and ruin your reputation in the industry. So, active directory security is not just important for your organization’s security, but it plays a key role in ensuring that your customers get the best experience shopping from your website or accessing your resources.
Active Directory security is an important component because this one setting controls the entire IT kingdom and handles user privileges. It determines which user should have what level of access to your IT infrastructure. Using security and automation tools to increase AD’s protection is highly advisable. Some security measures like the least-privileged setting and a strong password policy can enhance the layer of protection for Active Directory.