Today Active Directory Security is mission-critical to organizational security worldwide and thus mission-critical to Cyber Security worldwide. On this blog, former Microsoft Program Manager for Active Directory Security, and today, CEO of Paramount Defenses, shares valuable technical insights on Active Directory Security.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Active Directory Security - A Guide for CISOs

Folks,

Over the last decade, we've had thousands of organizations reach out to us to request our assistance on numerous aspects of Active Directory Security, so we have a very good idea of exactly how well organizations worldwide, as well as their CISOs, understand the paramount importance of Active Directory Security today.

In our vast experience, we have found that the thousands of organizations worldwide still do not yet understand the paramount importance of securing and defending their foundational Active Directory, and unfortunately that is deeply concerning.


Today cyber security begins at the top, so to help the CISOs of all organizations worldwide unequivocally understand the paramount importance of Active Directory Security, we released an Executive Summary on Active Directory Security -

Active Directory Security

This simple Executive Summary (PDF) can be downloaded from here - Active Directory Security.


In the interest of their organization's foundational security, I highly recommend that all CISOs worldwide read it.

Best wishes,
Sanjay.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Simple Question for all Self-Proclaimed Active Directory Security Experts

Folks,

As former Microsoft Program Manager for Active Directory Security, I find it amusing every time I come across some Active Directory vendor's or self-proclaimed AD security expert's website that claims that they know Active Directory Security well.

(You see, not one of these Active Directory Security vendors or self-proclaimed Active Directory security experts seem to have a CLUE as to the most important Active Directory Security Capability in the world, let alone possessing that paramount capability.)

So, I thought I'd  pose a very simple Active Directory Security question to all Active Directory Security vendors and experts -


Question: Do you know the answer to this ONE simple question?


Specifically, in that question, I have shared a simple non-default string, and I have indicated that is a cause for great concern.

What I would like to know is what it represents and why is it a great cause of concern for 85% of organizations worldwide?


On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being easy and 10 being difficult, I'd rate this question as a 3, so if you're truly an Active Directory expert, this should be easy for you, and shouldn't take you a minute. You can leave your answer in a comment below.


Here's your chance to impress me (and the whole world.) Oh, and Microsoft employees too may feel free to take a shot ;-)

Best wishes,
Sanjay.

Monday, January 6, 2020

What is Active Directory, and Why Is it Important?

Folks,

Today is January 06, 2020, and as promised, here I am getting back to sharing thoughts on Active Directory Security.


Back to the Basics (Cyber Security 101)

I'd like to kick off this blog this year/decade by asking and answering a very simple yet vital question - What is Active Directory?

You see, while this question may seem simple to some (and it is,) its one of the most important questions to answer adequately, because in an adequate answer to this most simple question lies the key to organizational cyber security worldwide.

The reason is very simple -  if you were to ask most CISOs or IT professionals, they'll likely tell you that Active Directory is the "phone book" of an organization's IT infrastructure, and of course, since "who really cares about a phone book" it is this shallow view that leads so many organizations to greatly diminish the value of Active Directory to the point of sheer negligence!

In fact, for years now, this has been the predominant view held by most CISOs and organizations worldwide, and sadly it is the negligence resulting from such a simplistic view of Active Directory that the Active Directory deployments of most organizations remain substantially insecure and vastly vulnerable to compromise today.



Active Directory - The Very Foundation of Organizational Cyber Security Worldwide

If as they say, a "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words", perhaps I should paint you a very simple Trillion $ picture -


An organization's Active Directory deployment is quite simply its single most valuable IT and corporate asset, worthy of the highest protection at all times, because it is the very foundation of an organization's cyber security.

You see, the entirety of an organization's building blocks of cyber security i.e. all organizational user accounts and passwords used to authenticate their people, all security groups used to authorize access to all their IT resources, all their privileged user accounts, all the accounts of all their computing devices (laptops, desktops, servers etc.) are all stored, managed and secured in (i.e. inside) the organization's foundational Active Directory, and all sensitive/privileged actions on them are audited in it.

In other words, should an organization's foundational Active Directory, or even a single Active Directory privileged user account, be compromised, the very foundation of the organization's cyber security, and thus the entire organization could be exposed to the risk of complete, swift and colossal compromise.



Active Directory Security Must Be Organizational Cyber Security Priority #1

Ensuring the highest protection of an organization's foundational Active Directory deployment must, without a doubt, be the #1 priority of every organization that cares about cyber security, protecting shareholder value and business continuity.


Here's why - A deeper, detailed look into What is Active Directory ?


For anyone to whom this may still not be clear, I'll spell it out - just about everything in organizational Cyber Security, whether it be Identity and Access Management, Privileged Access Management, Network Security, Endpoint Security, Data Security, Intrusion Detection, Cloud Security, Zero Trust etc. ultimately relies and depends on Active Directory (and its security.)


In essence, today every organization in the world is only as secure as is its foundational Active Directory deployment, and from the CEO to the CISO, from IT Managers to Auditors and from Domain Admins to employees, everyone should know this fact.

Best wishes,
Sanjay.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Its Time to Help Secure Active Directory Worldwide

Folks,

I trust this finds you all doing well. It has been a few months since I last blogged - pardon the absence. I had to focus my energies on helping the world get some perspective, getting 007G ready for launch, and dealing with a certain nuisance.

Having successfully accomplished all three objectives, it is now finally TIME to help thousands of organizations worldwide adequately secure and defend their foundational Active Directory deployments from the proverbial SKYFALL(ing on them).


I'm BLOWN away by just how little organizations (as well as AD/cyber security companies) worldwide seem to know and understand not just the paramount importance of, but also what it takes to adequately ensure Active Directory Security.


When you know as much as I do, care as much as I do, and possess as much capability as I do, you not only shoulder a great responsibility, you almost have an obligation to educate the whole world about cyber security risks that threaten their security.

So, even though I barely have any time to do this anymore, in the interest of foundational cyber security worldwide, I'm going to start sharing some valuable perspectives again, and do so, on three blogs - this one, that one, and the one below.


Speaking of which, earlier this week, I had the PRIVILEGE to launch the official PD blog -  https://blog.paramountdefenses.com


Stay tuned for high-value AD security insights right here from January 06, 2020 onwards,
and let me take your leave with a befitting (and one of my favorite) songs(s)  -



Best wishes,
Sanjay.


PS: Just a month ago, the $ Billion Czech cyber security company Avast was substantially compromised, and guess what the perpetrators used to compromise them? They used the EXACT  means I had clearly warned about TWO years ago, right here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Pardon the Delay

Folks,

I trust this finds you doing well. The last time I blogged was on Nov 05, 2018, and I had said that it was time to help Microsoft and the world better understand Active Directory Security and that I would be sharing additional insights starting Nov 18, 2018.

Please pardon the delay - something important came up, and
today I'd like to share with you the reason for this delay...


One of the World's Most Powerful Defense Organizations Requested Our Assistance

Back in Nov 2018, just as I was about to start blogging that series, one of the most powerful defense organizations in the world reached out to us requesting our assistance in correctly identifying privileged users within their foundational Active Directory.


(You see, organizations that actually understand Active Directory Security know that there is ONLY one way to correctly identify privileged access in Active Directory. Organizations that don't yet know this simple fact still resort to acquiring and using what basically are petty but pretty looking Active Directory permissions analyzers (and there still are 1000s of such organizations.))

Whilst we were happy to assist them, due to certain operational constraints, it turned out that in order for us to help them, we would have to make some non-trivial changes to Gold Finger. This was very important for them so we went straight to work.

We put our entire development team to work, and we worked 60 days straight without taking a break; there were no Christmas holidays, no New Years holidays, no weekends. There was only work, and within 60 days we had made and thoroughly tested all the enhancements required for us to be able to assist this one particular organization, and as a result, 1000s of others.

As Gold Finger's architect, I too was substantially involved in the process, and as a leader, I too worked 60 days straight, and it is my privilege to share that earlier today we officially released Gold Finger version 6.5, complete with all the required changes.



Introducing Gold Finger 6.5

Earlier today, we announced the release of Gold Finger v6.5, featuring amongst other enhancements, support for Windows 10.

Here's the Press Release from this morning - Paramount Defenses Releases Gold Finger Version 6.5

Gold Finger v6.5

If you can touch a button, you can now instantly, automatically and accurately determine exactly who has what privileged access, where and how, in any Active Directory, and on any Microsoft Windows operating system, including Windows 10!


The free version of Gold Finger v6.5 is also available at - https://www.paramountdefenses.com/goldfinger.html


With this little but important detour out of the way, you can expect me to get back to some blogging one of these days because Microsoft and thousands of its customers worldwide still seem to need of help understanding the very basics of Active Directory security i.e. without the ability to accurately determine effective permissions in Active Directory, you cannot secure a single object in Active Directory, and by corollary you can't accomplish a single Active Directory security related objective, and that includes all the latest buzzwords - Privileged Access Management, Privileged Account Discovery, Zero-Trust, Blah Blah, etc. etc.

So, thank you for pardoning the delay, and stay tuned!  

Any day now!

Best wishes,
Sanjay.

Monday, November 5, 2018

It is TIME to Help Microsoft AND Thousands of Organizations Worldwide Better Understand Active Directory Security

Folks,

As former Microsoft Program Manager for Active Directory Security, and today as the CEO of Paramount Defenses, I feel that it is time to help the $800 Billion Microsoft, and 1000s of organizations worldwide better understand Active Directory Security.


Here's why - Over the last few years, 1000s of organizations from across over 150 countries worldwide have requested our assistance (completely unsolicited), so we know about the various challenges that most organizations have to deal with, and based on what we're seeing across the globe, the state of foundational cyber security worldwide seems to be worrisome.

Incidentally, a large majority of these organizations do have several piece-meal cyber security controls such as Active Directory Auditing, Advanced Threat Analytics, Two-Factor Authentication, Privileged Session Managers, Password Vaults, Zero-Trust Security, Privileged Access Management (PAM) etc., yet their Active Directory deployments are still likely vastly vulnerable.

I'll say only this much - TODAY Microsoft Active Directory is at the foundation of cyber security and privileged access at over 85% of all business and government organizations worldwide, AND the current state of awareness and (the substantially inadequate level of) protection afforded to these foundational Active Directory deployments is concerning enough that it warrants the attention of all stakeholders, including executive and IT leadership, customers and investors, worldwide.

Thus, in weeks to come, we may reach out to the Executive Management of organizations worldwide to make them aware.






In addition, to help educate Microsoft AND the world, starting next Monday, Nov 12, 2018, I'll be penning the following -

  1. Active Directory Security For Everyone - Why is Active Directory Security Paramount to Organizational Cyber Security?

  2. Active Directory Security For Novices and Enthusiasts - A Closer Look at Active Directory's Security Model etc.

  3. Active Directory Security for IT Admins and Security Auditors - An Overview of Active Directory Security Permissions

  4. The World's Most Important Active Directory Need and Security Capability - Active Directory ___ ___

  5. For Self-Proclaimed Active Directory Security Experts - Why Analyzing Active Directory Security Permissions is Useless


  6. For IT Managers and CISOs - The Billion $ Difference Between Active Directory Auditing and Active Directory Audit

  7. For all Organizations - What Happens When an Organization Deploys a Cheap Auditing Solution Built Overseas?

  8. For Microsoft, Domain Admins and CISOs Worldwide - What Constitutes a Privileged User in Active Directory?

  9. For the CyberArks of the World - How to Correctly Identify/Audit Privileged Access/Users in Active Directory?

  10. For All Audit Organizations Worldwide - Are You Sure Your Auditors Know How to Correctly Audit Active Directory?


  11. To All Cloud & Cyber Security Companies Worldwide - Isn't Active Directory at the Very Foundation of Your Security Too?



Finally, for C*Os worldwide, I penned this today - Cyber Security 101 for the C-Suite - Active Directory Security is Paramount.


Ideally, Microsoft should be doing this (i.e. helping adequately educate their customers worldwide), but it appears that these days all they seem to care about is that new fad called "The Cloud", so we're left with no choice but to do this for the world.

Very well then, onward to Nov 12, 2018, right here.


Sincerely,
Sanjay