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Gain Control, Prevent Chaos: The Ultimate Guide to Proactive AD Monitoring

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The digital landscape of today is rapidly evolving, and so are cyberattacks. This means that it is more important than ever to strengthen the security posture of your Active Directory.  

AD can be considered as the central nervous system of your organization, granting access to everything from files and printers to critical applications. If compromised, a malicious actor could steal sensitive data, unleash ransomware attacks, or even bring your entire system to a grinding halt. 

But we have good news for you! You can take control. A proactive AD monitoring tool is your best defense against cybercrimes. This blog offers all the necessary knowledge to maintain the security of your AD in 2024.

By following the mentioned steps, you’ll: 

Let’s dive in and fortify your digital fortress!

Why Proactive AD Monitoring Matters?

In 2024, Active Directory (AD) security is and will face new challenges due to the constantly changing threat landscape. The following points explains why proactive monitoring an essential line of defense and is no longer optional:

Man in cybersecurity field on laptop
  • Ransomware Rampage: Attackers are targeting AD as they have understood its power and how attacking it can cripple an organization. Early detection is critical to prevent data encryption and the associated downtime, which translates into lost revenue and productivity. Proactive monitoring identifies suspicious activities before attackers lock down your data. 
  • Supply Chain Siege: Sophisticated supply chain attacks use vulnerabilities in third-party software to get access to your Active Directory. These attacks can be especially covert, necessitating ongoing monitoring. By monitoring your AD environment, you can detect activity inside the associated applications and prevent a potential attack. 
  • Remote Workforce Risks: The rise of remote work opens a larger attack surface for unscrupulous actors. Employees signing in from a variety of places and devices create additional vulnerabilities. Proactive monitoring of user behavior and access attempts is even more critical in this distributed work environment. You can detect abnormalities and suspicious logins, which may indicate a compromised device, or a stolen credential being used for unauthorized access. 
  • Evolving Threats & Zero-Day Exploits: Cybercriminals are continually devising new attack strategies. AD monitoring allows you to remain ahead of the curve by detecting anomalous activity patterns and potential zero-day vulnerabilities. By continuously monitoring, you may notice and respond to risks before they become big security incidents. 
  • Compliance Concerns: Many sectors have strict data security rules that require businesses to monitor and audit AD activities. Regular monitoring ensures that you have the essential data to comply with these requirements and prevent costly penalties or reputational damage.

Now that you know the importance of regular monitoring, let’s get down to brass tacks.

AD Monitoring Best Practices

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and implement a robust strategy. Here are the essential areas you should focus on to safeguard your AD environment:

User Activity Monitoring

This is the first line of defense against unauthorized access and suspicious activities. Here’s what you should pay close attention to: 

Login Attempts: Track successful logins, failed attempts, and unusual login times or places. An increase in failed login attempts from a single IP address or login attempts outside of usual business hours could suggest brute-force attacks or stolen credentials. 

Account lockouts: Keep track of accounts that are often locked due to failed login attempts. This could be an indication of compromised credentials or automated attacks. 

Privileged Users’ Activity: Pay strict attention to any activity by users with administrative privileges. Keep track of password resets, group membership changes, and access to critical data. Any odd activity from privileged accounts must be investigated quickly.

Group Policy Object (GPO) Changes

GPOs are used to define security configurations throughout your domain. Monitor any changes made to GPOs to verify that no unauthorized changes occur. Check for any odd changes to access rights, password policies, or security settings.

Active Directory Replication Health Check

Replication ensures that data is consistently replicated across all Domain Controllers (DCs) on your network. Monitor replication status for any discrepancies or problems. Unhealthy replication can result in data inconsistencies and security vulnerabilities. 

Domain Controller Monitoring

The health of your DCs directly impacts the performance and security of your Active Directory system. Monitor important indicators such as CPU use, memory consumption, and disk space. Performance constraints can slow down authentication operations and provide opportunities for attackers to exploit. 

Event Log Monitoring

Windows Event Viewer provides valuable insights into security incidents within AD. However, manually sorting through logs might be time-consuming. Consider deploying a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solution. SIEM collects logs from multiple sources, such as AD, firewalls, and endpoint devices, and provides a centralized view for faster threat detection and analysis. 

Here’s a checklist of the best practices with some additional points: 

By bringing these practices into play, you identify suspicious activity before it escalates into a major security incident and ensure the smooth operation of your Active Directory.

To make your AD security strategies impregnable go through our active directory hardening checklist and pick up on the pointers that fit perfectly with your plan

Fidelis Security: Your Partner in Proactive AD Monitoring

We understand the importance of Active Directory (AD) in your organization’s security posture. Fidelis Active Directory Intercept™ (ADI), an advanced security solution of ours, provides extensive AD monitoring capabilities. It offers features like: 

  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics 
  • Continuous Threat Detection 
  • Automated Incident Response 

Our solutions integrate easily with your existing security infrastructure, giving you a comprehensive view of your AD environment and allowing you to address threats preemptively. 

Proactive Monitoring: Your Key to a Secure Future

By implementing a proactive AD monitoring strategy, you gain a significant advantage in the fight against cybercrime. Don’t wait for a breach to occur before you act. Start fortifying your AD security posture today!

Picture of Sarika Sharma
Sarika Sharma

Sarika, a cybersecurity enthusiast, contributes insightful articles to Fidelis Security, guiding readers through the complexities of digital security with clarity and passion. Beyond her writing, she actively engages in the cybersecurity community, staying informed about emerging trends and technologies to empower individuals and organizations in safeguarding their digital assets.

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