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Why is monitoring your Active Directory crucial?

Cyberattacks have increased in both frequency and sophistication over the years. With cybersecurity experts predicting a rise in security incidents, businesses are left scrambling for ways to strengthen their security posture. One surefire measure that can ensure your organization's preparedness against a cyberthreat is proactive monitoring of your Active Directory (AD) environment. Monitoring all AD activities enables you to identify suspicious changes and take immediate remediation efforts to thwart an attack and limit its damage. Here are seven best practices to help you keep an eye on everything that's happening in your AD.

Top 7 Active Directory monitoring best practices


Configure a robust audit policy

The first step to monitoring your AD is to ensure that for every activity occurring in your environment, the corresponding events are logged in the security log. Configuring the advanced audit policy enables you to collect events granularly and eliminate event noise. Additionally, a reasonable security log size and a flexible retention policy are essential to prevent information loss and overwrites.


Enable object-level auditing

Object-level auditing allows you to monitor changes to your AD objects, files, and folders. To enable auditing on directory objects, configure the System Access Control Lists (SACLs) along with the advanced audit policy. This will let you monitor events that are logged whenever any AD object or file-related activity occurs.


Keep tabs on group membership changes

Security groups determine a user's permissions and privileges in your AD environment. Unauthorized membership changes to privileged groups like the domain admins and enterprise admins groups may indicate a security breach. Continuous monitoring of privileged groups enables you to detect and respond to such changes immediately.


Track changes to GPOs

Group Policy Objects (GPOs) allow admins to apply cybersecurity controls and restrict what a user can and cannot do in the network from a central location. As some of these GPO settings have domain-wide consequences, they should be constantly monitored to avoid any disruption to your AD services.


Keep a lookout for account lockouts

While it's common for users to occasionally be locked out of their accounts, frequent account lockouts may point to password-guessing attempts indicating a brute-force attack. Monitoring account lockouts proactively can help you detect suspicious activities on your network.


Keep track of password changes

Implement a strong password policy and always monitor password changes and resets. This helps you take immediate action in the event of a breach. Also, closely examine the password change history of privileged accounts to find any indicators of compromise.


Take cognizance of critical events

Just the sheer number of events generated can complicate your AD monitoring efforts. However, watching out for the most critical events and setting up a real-time alerting mechanism to notify admins and security teams of suspicious changes can simplify your AD monitoring and secure your network.

Streamline AD monitoring with
ADAudit Plus

Monitoring your Active Directory with native tools can be a demanding and time-consuming process. ADAudit Plus, a user-behavior-analytics-driven, real-time change auditing solution from ManageEngine, provides over 200 preconfigured reports that track user, computer, group, OU, GPO, and other configuration changes. ADAudit Plus also offers instant alerts to help you stay on top of your AD monitoring.

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