Active Directory and the Best Practices for Identity Audits

Created by Microsoft and first released in 2000, Active Directory (AD) has been used to manage users, devices, and other resources for the last two decades and has become the defacto identity store of record.   That’s why now, and still, it is imperative we recognize Active Directory and the best practices for identity audits.

Remember the original purpose of AD (Active Directory)?   Rather than requiring users to provide a distinct password for each application they would like to use, Microsoft AD stores log-in credentials so that users can make use of single-sign-on (SSO) capabilities and reduce password fatigue. Especially when AD was first released, users would have to know the server, file, and pathname to locate a file, creating difficulties for users who needed access to certain files to do their job. Now, AD centralizes information and application data for IT teams to manage efficiently and allow users to access the data they need with ease. Without using AD, users would have to manually enter a separate username or password for each application, have IT departments assist in logging in, or make account changes for each separate application, making the process both challenging and time-consuming for users.

ADs are separated into three organizational units: domains, trees, and forests. Domains are groups of users and devices, trees are groups of domains that define trust between the units on the tree, while forests are groups of domains that define the trust between trees. These units are useful for establishing interactions between different company departments or in intercompany relationships that may require the two companies to share information. As organizations grow in complexity, the data and network of domains grow and require tools to enable proper management.

To maintain compliance with regulatory requirements outlined by SOXSOC, HIPAA, and more, organizations are responsible for reporting not only the information they have stored within their AD but users that have access to the information stored within it as well. Breaches often come with a hefty price tag, making AD audits essential. What are the best practices for an AD audit?

In the AD itself, there is no tool that facilities an easy, comprehensive AD. You can get a spreadsheet complete with all users within a group, but it still is required to be manually reviewed by the appropriate individuals. YouAttest makes AD auditing simple with a simple script that exports all of the necessary user, group, manager and role information.  This information then gets uploaded to YouAttest simple workflow driven GUI tool.

Image #1: YouAttest provides a quantified, repeatable and simplified method to audit your user, grups, managers and roles in Active Directory


Through the audit, YouAttest provides a quick (and automated) snapshot of user access rights, enabling organizations to quickly see if users are over-permissioned or able to access data they should not have access to.  If Okta is in the identity mix, audits can be triggered in the event of group changes (like users being added or removed), so that the change can be approved or revoked. This is especially important as user lifecycle management becomes more complex and aids in the reduction of insider threats when there is visibility into the activity of each user.

Using YouAttest for AD audits creates detailed, comprehensive data on user access. Rather than risking human errors and security flaws that may result from manual audits, YouAttest assists organizations in the implementation of an automated audit to deliver insights and create an efficient AD audit procedure.

YouAttest is the only cloud-based IGA platform that deploys in minutes for Active Directory and other resources.   YouAttest executes access reviews and other need audit functionality for all compliance needs.   Register for YouAttest AD identity audit webinar, May 5th with GRC expert Kyle GilillardTrace3’s Kyle Gililland and YouAttest – AD Audit Best Practices