What Is The Purpose Of Active Directory Domain Services?
The Active Directory Domain Services is basically a server role in Active Directory. It lets the admins efficiently manage and store information from a network. They can store resources from a network and application data among other things in a distributed database. It is also known to make the life of admins easier by helping them manage the network’s elements better and organizing them into a hierarchy. The hierarchy structure includes an AD forest containing organizational units.
The Active Directory Domain Services contains the following elements.
- AD Users and Computers
- AD Administrative Center
- AD Domains and Trusts
- AD Sites and Services
- AD PowerShell module
- Server for Network Information Service tools
When the Windows Server 2012 was released, a few new features came into being. A couple of new features included a global catalog of information on all objects in the directory and a flexible single master options role. There was also a replication service to distribute the data in a directory across the network.
Active Directory Domain Services Offers:
The Active Directory Domain Services or the AD DS is known to offer a lot of core functionality needed by a centralized user management system. Let’s take a look at some of them in this section.
Domain Services: This allows to store data while also managing communication between the users and the DC. It is one of the first purposes of AD domain services.
Lightweight Directory Services: Coming to the next main offering, it supports LDAP for cross-platform domain services, such as Linux systems on your network.
Directory Federation Services: AD DS offers SSO authentication for multiple applications within the same session. This means users need not give the same credentials.
Certificate Services: Another great offering is that it lets your DC offer signatures, digital certificates, and public-key cryptography.
Rights Management: It controls data access policies along with information rights. For instance, this could mean that this element is the one that decided whether or not one can gain access to a certain folder.
Purpose of Domain Controllers with AD DC
Domain Controllers are basically the servers in your network that host Active Directory Domain Services. They store AD DS data and accordingly, act in response to authentication requests. In addition to their main task, they also host other services. For instance, the Kerberos Key Distribution Center is known to verify and encrypt Kerberos tickets which is what the AD DS uses for authentication. Besides that, Netlogon is used as the authentication communication service and Intersite messaging is used for DCs’ communication. Since Kerberos needs all computer times to be in sync, Windows Time (W32time) comes into the play.
Active directories must have at least one domain controller since these are believed to be the containers for the domains. Each one is a part of an AD forest, which usually has one or more domains within an organizational unit. One of the main things behind AD DS is the framework present for domain management and the system that you can make use of to access AD is DC.
One thing you might have to appreciate is that modern cybersecurity is based on a deep understanding of Active Directory. It is crucial for understanding the attacker’s lateral movement, capabilities for infiltration, and data exfiltration. Regardless of how cunningly they might have planned the attack, they are definitely leaving some tracks behind in the AD logs as they make their away across your network. Varonis monitors AD for these footsteps and clues by tracking DNS calls, VPN activity, file activity, and more.
Active Directory Domain Services Benefits
In this section, let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of active directory domain services.
Central Storage and Management: The active directory domain has a centralized storage repository for the files. Users can access them anytime due to the fact that they are usually stored in the central server. The admin can also develop a policy or framework so that cybersecurity and network services can be established efficiently.
Enhanced Backup: Of course, backup is a crucial element of any system. If there were no central storage, users would have to locally store their files. This means that in the event of a cyberattack, the locally stored data would be the first at risk. Due to this, the active directory encourages central storage, so that users would be able to get access to their data at all times while staying safe from cyberattacks.
Administration and Security: Usually, network admins have the full run of the system and everything that happens on the domain. The admins have the main authority to decide if new security measures are needed and to bring them in when required. New security elements could be anything, such as installing antivirus software, getting more security levels on sensitive documents, prohibiting access to untrustworthy elements, and so on. Thanks to this, users will no longer have to worry about cyberattacks and sensitive documents falling into wrong hands.
Privileged Access Management: This is a system put in place to reduce security breaches due to credential theft techniques. This could include attacks like pass-the-hash or phishing among others. Privileged access management or PAM is designed to give users an administrative access solution that usually uses Microsoft Identity Manager.
Single Point of Access: Another excellent benefit of the AD DS is the single point of administration for network resources. This lets the users use the single sign-on feature and the Active Directory authenticates the user the first time they use it. Following entries don’t require authentication, saving a bit of resource usage. The authorization level depends on their roles and designation and the kind of work they have.
In this post, we have talked about what essentially is an active directory domain service, its role and purpose, and some of the benefits it can offer. It is known to offer better security, centralized storage and management, and effective costing. Hope this article threw a bit of light into the workings of AD DC.