Active Directory LDAP Filters

Active Directory is a standards-compliant directory service and the standard access protocol used to query Active Directory is the LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) protocol.


Active Directory is also the primary enterprise store for vital IT resources (user accounts, security groups, computer accounts and group policies) that play a central role in enterprise wide security, IT management and security audit and compliance reporting.


IT personnel often need to generate Active Directory based security reports that document the state of these IT resources, and to do so they can either user a set of Active Directory Reporting Tools that automate the generation of these reports, or a variety of LDAP clients, such as dsquery (provided by Microsoft) to generate these reports.


When IT admins choose to use LDAP tools, they are required to write LDAP filters which specify the parameters to use based on which the LDAP queries return this data. While most organizations choose to use automated tools because they are almost always more reliable and efficient to use, many IT admins also choose to create their own LDAP filters.


For organizations and IT personnel who wish to write their own scripts to generate custom reports, there are many helpful resources out there that can provide information on common LDAP filters.

What it SDDL

SDDL is an ancronym for Security Descriptor Definition Language - it defines a set of string elements for describing well-known security principals, permissions and flags in Windows security descriptors, which serve to protect securable objects in Windows operating systems.

What is delegation of administration in Active Directory?

An IT infrastructure is typically comprised of many IT assets such as user accounts, computers, files and databases, applications and services all of which need to be administered. In such IT infrastructures, it is not possible for a handful of administrators to adequately administer all aspects of the IT infrastructure.


Thus, in most IT infrastructures, administrative responsibilities for managing the various IT assets that together comprise the IT infrastructure are distributed (or delegated) amongst an adequate and typically greater number of less-privileged administrators, who are then responsible for managing smaller specific portions of the IT infrastructure.


Delegation of administration is the act of distributing and delegating an administrative task for various aspects of IT management amongst an adequate number of administrators.


The act of delegating administration involves granting one or more users or Active Directory security groups the necessary Active Directory security permissions as appropriate so as to able to allow the delegated administrator to carry out these tasks.


In the interest of security, after delegating an administrative task, IT personnel should always also verify delegation in Active Directory, so as to be sure that the task was delegated accurately. The process of verifying a delegation in Active Directory is rather complicated but with the right Active Directory Reporting Tool, IT personnel can accomplish this task efficiently and reliably.


Done right, Active Directory's powerful administrative delegation capabilities let organizations securely, efficiently and cost-effectively delegate administrative authority for identity and access management in their IT infrastructures thereby reducing cost and enhancing security.


Source - Active Directory Security Technical Reference

A Guide to the Active Directory Security Model

Active Directory's security model secures and protects every object stored in Active Directory, including domain user accounts and domain computer accounts, domain security groups and group policies. The Active Directory Security model allows administrators to specify who has what access to which object to a high degree of control. It also allows administrators to specify access for an entire group of users so as to simply security management.


The following is an overview of how Active Directory's security model protects stored content –

  1. Each object is protected by a component known as a Security Descriptor

  2. Each security descriptor contains amongs other compronents, an Access Control List (ACL)

  3. Each ACL contains one or more Access Control Entries (ACEs)

  4. Each ACE allows or denies specific security permissions to some security principal

  5. Security groups can be specified and be part of security groups

  6. ACEs can be explicit or inherited; explicit ACEs override inherited ACEs

  7. Access is specified in the form of low–level technical permissions

  8. These low-level permissions can be standard permissions, or special permissions such as extended rights or validated writes

  9. Active Directory's current object visibility mode impacts list access requests

  10. The access check takes into account the object's ACL and the user's token and determines resultant access for user on the object

In this manner, Active Directory's security model secures and protects Active Directory content.

How to generate security audit reports in Active Directory?

Microsoft's Active Directory technology is the foundation of identity and access management in Microsoft Windows Server based IT infrastructures as it stores and protects all vital components of security including user accounts, security groups, group policies and even computer accounts.
It thus plays a vital role in security and compliance auditing and thus organizations often have a need to generate and know how to generate security audit reports in Active Directory. These reports often form an integral component of an organization's overall security audit and regulatory compliance reporting apparatus. These reports often cover user account management, security group management, and even delegated administrative access management.
IT administrative personnel are often tasked with generating such reports and with the right Active Directory reporting tools, they can often generate these reports quickly, reliably and in a form that is required by IT managers and IT auditors. IT admins can also write PowerShell scripts for Active Directory or LDAP scripts to generate these reports but most often, writing such scripts can be time-consuming and error-prone and thus many IT admins often choose to use a 3rd party reporting solution to fulfill such needs.
On a related subejct, IT administrators also need to know how to audit and report security in Active Directory, and to do so, they often either rely on using custom inbuilt scripts or using 3rd party automated management tools as Microsoft unfortunately does not seem to provide appropriate tools to do so. Fortunately, there are some very helpful and useful 3rd party Active Directory reporting tools available that can assist IT admins in making this job easy and efficient for them to carry out.

What is IT Security Management?

IT Security Management involves the management of all aspects of an organization's IT security resources and IT infrastructure.

This includes providing adequate security to organizational computers, servers, applications, databases, intranet portals, documents, portable media, electornic email and communications.

IT security manageement is an integral aspect of IT management and plays a vital role in organizational security and corporate management.

In this blog, we look at a variety of questions on the subject of IT security management ranging from how to manage resources to best practices for managing accounts and identities.