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Don’t Forget About Credential Security in Active Directory

Password security remains one of the top concerns within the information security and cybersecurity industries.

Securing Credentials in Active Directory 

Active Directory (AD) is an authentication and directory service used by organizations of all types and sizes. AD is ubiquitous among organizations—around 90% of enterprises rely on it—and it has become a massive and tempting target for threat actors.

While AD provides both users and administrators with myriad central services, the fact is its security has not kept pace with the growing complexity of the modern digital ecosystem. AD is a rich repository of personal data like financial information, addresses, and other PII, which is exactly what many cybercriminals are after.

In recent years, while certain applications and enterprises have prioritized credential scrutiny, Active Directory lags in implementing robust security measures. Its pervasive presence often leads to complacency regarding the need for updated security features. However, adversaries have recognized AD’s vulnerability, realizing that breaching it grants unfettered access to entire networks, including invaluable assets like password hashes.

The proliferation of poor password hygiene, widespread password reuse, and the escalating frequency of data breaches have facilitated the accumulation of vast databases containing billions of compromised account credentials. These databases of stolen credentials, in turn, lead to more data breaches.

The need for password screening 

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends that companies screen new passwords against those known to be commonly used, expected, or compromised. Given the vast and ever-growing amount of newly exposed credentials available to hackers, organizations must continuously check password integrity to keep these credentials out of AD.

Some tools screen for passwords that were reused on your device or system, but most pull from a static list of exposed passwords. Enzoic for AD won’t change anything about what you and your users see when logging in. Still, it can change everything for your network security because it compares entered passwords to a proprietary, dynamic, constantly-updated blacklist.

Upholding robust password security throughout the network

Businesses of all types and sizes have a responsibility to protect user data and personal information. Even as legal requirements change, maintaining compliance in order to decrease the risk of a data breach, or other cyberattack, repeatedly comes back down to identity and access management—which includes the desperate need to protect credentials.

Periodically reviewing all accounts, especially those with administrative privileges within AD, is another policy to adopt. Recent successful ransomware attacks have underscored the vulnerability of reused credentials, particularly those associated with administrator accounts. When employees turn over, projects change hands, and companies transition technologies, it’s common for accounts and credentials to be neglected or forgotten entirely. To help counteract this pattern, security teams should ensure that administrator accounts are protected with secure (unique) passwords and that they have oversight into changes to access.

Moreover, implementing additional security layers, such as two-factor authentication, further fortifies defenses against unauthorized access, even for administrator accounts.

Enzoic for Active Directory is an easy-to-install plugin that gives you a frictionless way to identify, monitor, and remediate unsafe passwords. Take a tour now.