Weighing up your tools to prevent Active Directory attacks

Category: News
Published: 22nd January 2024

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What is Active Directory?

Active Directory (AD) technology provides centralised authentication and authorisation to network resources. It gives specific users and computers permissions to access certain company data. It offers simplified user management, by controlling access to data and enforcing company security policies. In cyber security, AD is often used as an umbrella term for various identity-related services. The number and complexity of these attacks is on the rise, threatening businesses globally. In this article, we delve into the strategies and tools you can employ to keep your company safe.


How to prevent Active Directory attacks.

Fortunately, we know how stop these attacks and eradicate this emerging problem. By adopting common practices in your business, you can ensure that you maintain a healthy level of protection.

It is important to regularly monitor Active Directory logs, this ensures that if a threat is detected, it is done quickly, and proper remediation can be deployed. Enforcing strong password policies for your employees is another good practise, as common methods such as password spraying, and brute force attacks rely on employee’s naivety in password choice. A 2023 Gartner report found that 52% of employees reused the same password for some of their accounts. Education on the dangers of weak passwords and the common red flags may be a strong preventative method in this instance.

Using a Multi-Factor Authentication system is an important mechanism so that suspicious activity can be quickly identified and removed. This can be done via regular security assessments and penetration testing. This is especially important on legacy systems and applications, where they cannot be patched for vulnerabilities.

Methods to prevent the impact of Active Directory attacks include implementing user-level privileges. This reduces the impact of an attack if they do occur and minimises the attack surface within the AD environment. Real-time vulnerability assessments and visibility into a company’s security is necessary to prevent AD attacks. Visibility provides insights into identities and account risk of certain users’ credentials, and privileged accounts to see how they may be attacked.


Available tools.

There are a variety tools to look at vulnerabilities in your active directory environment, these range from manual scripts, to employing consultants. The table below lists what these tools are, and the limitations they may hold.

Manual scriptsLimited coverage which does not provide much visibility information. Periodic monitoring but this is typically initiated manually and does not provide periodic updates. Cannot be continued when engineer leaves the company.
Open-sourceLimited coverage. Difficult to use. No support if there are issues. Not much visibility. Manual assessments. No real-time attack indicator detections.
Vulnerability managersLimited assessment of AD specific vulnerabilities. No real-time assessment of AD vulnerabilities. Does not support AD real-time attacks.
ConsultantLimited coverage. Assessments are infrequent (opens opportunities for cyber criminals to attack). Ad hoc availability, not integrated into the business. No real time attack indicator detections.

The Red Helix solution.

The increase in AD attacks teaches us the importance of protecting your infrastructure and organisational networks. This can be built via a multi-layered approach to cyber security. We suggest proactive measures to defend against attacks, educating your workforce on the dangers of phishing emails, implementing a monitoring and remediation solution, and common red flags to ensure spoofing protection.

At Red Helix, we offer identity protection and AD vulnerability assessments to help you combat the increasing threat of AD and identity-based attacks. By being aware of your current infrastructure and alerted to potential vulnerabilities you can rest assured your systems, data and brand are being protected.

Get in touch.