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Securing Active Directory: Challenges, Solutions, and the Role of AuthMind

Updated: Oct 20


It is almost hard to believe, but Active Directory (AD) will celebrate its 25th anniversary in just two years! Microsoft previewed Active Directory in 1999, and it was first officially released with Windows 2000 Server edition. It maintains a hierarchical structure of all users, computers, and other objects within a network, enabling efficient management and control.


Fast forward to 2023, and Active Directory still plays a vital role in many organizations, even as organizations use non-Windows machines and move workloads to the cloud. In fact, according to 6Sense, Active Directory still has a commanding 48% market share, followed by AWS IAM, with a mere 3.87% market share. Note that this includes both classic Microsoft Active Directory and Azure Active Directory.


Active Directory stores essential data such as usernames, passwords, and permissions, making it a lucrative target for cybercriminals. Using credential stuffing, password spraying, brute force attacks, NTLM relay attacks, and other methods, these threat actors can then compromise Active Directory, allowing them to access, create, or modify main accounts. The presence of legacy code and processes, such as outdated hashing algorithms and authentication protocols, further increases the vulnerability of Active Directory. Understanding these risks and implementing proper security measures is crucial in protecting Active Directory from potential attacks.


Security teams have adopted various solutions to secure their Active Directory implementations. One approach is to invest in Active Directory-specific tools. Some of these tools offer audit-only capabilities, while others go further by remediating issues they find or providing Active Directory-specific capabilities to aid in incident response and investigation.


Another approach used on its own or combined with Active Directory-specific security tools is to leverage an organization’s investments in XDR (extended detection and response) and MDR (managed detection and response) solutions to detect and respond to threats targeting Active Directory.


However, these solutions fall short in securing Active Directory because they don’t provide complete coverage to improve an organization’s Active Directory security posture nor the full context to enable fast remediation of Active Directory incidents. Another limitation of these solutions is that they often require agents, which can be challenging to deploy. That is why organizations are increasingly turning to AuthMind, an identity security operations provider that arms cybersecurity teams with end-to-end, real-time identity security posture management (ISPM) and identity threat detection and response capabilities (ITDR) to secure Active Directory and their entire identity infrastructure.


For example, one of AuthMind’s customers was alerted by their MDR solution that their Active Directory was under attack, but their MDR could not pinpoint the source of the attack. With AuthMind, the customer quickly discovered the attacker's identity, hostname, and host IP and was able to halt the attack.


AuthMind leverages real-time monitoring and data enrichment from Active Directory, identity providers (IdPs), and flow logs to gain complete real-time visibility into all identities, assets, identity systems, and related access flows. As a result, AuthMind customers can reduce the mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to resolve (MTTR) security incidents involving Active Directory and other critical assets in their environment such as service accounts.


If you want to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out! AuthMind would love to discuss and help your Active Directory security challenges!