Active Directory Role-Based Security


Successful Active Directory management requires distribution of administrative responsibilities among multiple users (like Help Desk operators or department managers) according to their operational and administrative role in the organisation.  Delegation of administration rights makes Active Directory management much easier and more efficient, but may pose a number of security risks if not implemented properly.  The native means for Active Directory delegation introduce a number of challenges and are often ineffective due to the following reasons:

  • The process involves modification and maintanance of multiple Access Control Lists (ACLs) accross many objects in Active Directory, which is very error-prone and often results in users either not having access they need or having elevated administrative privileges they don't need.
  • There is no central place to store and manage permissions, and, as a result, it is rather challenging to control who has what privileges and why.
  • Permissions can be applied either at the domain or OU levels only.  This significantly complicates the delegation process, because the Active Directory OU structure is often designed for effective application of Group Policy Objects, rather than for delegation of security rights.

How Adaxes helps

Adaxes addresses all challenges listed above by providing an Active Directory role-based access control.  The role-based approach gives you a very high and granular level of control over the permissions you grant to administrators and end-users within Active Directory.  The role-based security model enables you to assign permissions to users based on the job roles they hold within your organisation and eliminates the need to manually modify ACLs across Active Directory.  As delegation of rights using Adaxes doesn't affect the native Active Directory permissions, you can significantly reduce the number of users with administrative access to the security-sensitive resources in AD.

Role-Based Access Control for Active Directory

Every time you want to assign or revoke privileges, you need to grant or withdraw a set of permissions necessary to perform a certain job function.  To simplify the process, Adaxes allows you to consolidate permissions into Security Roles and then assign these roles to users in accordance with their role in the organisation.  For example, you can define a security role called Help Desk and associate with that role a set of administrative tasks typically performed by Help Desk operators (such as resetting passwords, unlocking user accounts, managing group memberships, etc.).  To grant rights for performing Help Desk duties, you simply need to assign this role to users and define where in AD these users will be able to execute this role.

To grant or revoke access rights to all users performing the same job function, you just need to modify the permissions of the security role associated with that job function.  Centrally, easily, and reliably.

Since Adaxes includes built-in security roles for typical responsibilities out of the box, you don't need to undertake an extensive process of defining your own security roles.  If necessary, you can modify the built-in roles to meet your own needs or inherit your security roles from already existing ones.

Role-Based Permission Assignments

In assigning an administrative role to users, you are essentially saying that these users will have the privileges granted by this role within the specified scope of influence.  The scope of influence determines where in Active Directory the users of the role can perform the delegated activities.  For example, suppose you need to allow your Help Desk team to perform account management tasks on the members of the Manufacturing department.  To do this, you need to assign the Help Desk security role to an AD group associated with the Help Desk team over the user accounts located under the 'Manufacturing' OU.

However, what if the members of the Manufacturing department are spread across different OUs, domains, or forests?  Or what if members of the Manufacturing department are located in one and the same OU with members of other department?  The native Active Directory delegation model cannot address these questions as it only allows you to delegate permissions with a scope limited to either entire AD domain or a specific organisational unit.  The role-based delegation model implemented in Adaxes gives you much more flexibility by enabling a more granular and accurate assignment of rights by allowing you to delegate permissions over:

  • all objects located in one or several AD domains or forests,
  • objects located under an OU (all descendants or only immediate children),
  • members of AD groups (direct or indirect),
  • specific AD objects,
  • members of Business Units (virtual OUs).

Delegating permissions over Business Units is rather beneficial as Business Units can include AD objects that reside in different OUs, domains, and even forests.  The membership of a Business Unit is defined by flexible membership rules that allow including AD objects that correspond to certain search criteria, members of AD groups, objects located under an OU or container, etc.  Getting back to the example above, in order to delegate rights to a group of users over all members of the Manufacturing department, you can create a Business Unit that will include all user accounts whose Department property is set to 'Manufacturing' and assign the Help Desk role over this Business Unit.  As a result, the Help Desk team will gain control over all accounts of users whose Department is set to 'Manufacturing'.  When a new user account is created, or when its Department property is changed, it is automatically added or removed from the Business Unit, and, consequently, the Help Desk team automatically gains or loses control over this account.

Active Directory role-based access control, provided by Softerra Adaxes allows you to greatly reduce complexity and cost of security administration.  By defining administrative security roles, you can delegate permissions on the basis of user job functions, which allows you to focus on business processes and eliminates the need to maintain multiple ACLs across Active Directory.  Role-based approach allows you to manage Active Directory permissions from a central location that significantly simplifies the process itself and allows you to efficiently track and monitor access to the Active Directory resources.

Other Features

Active Directory Management

Adaxes features a rule-based platform for Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365 automation, provides an enhanced web-based management environment, gives you a role-based access control model for delegating privileges, adds security with approval-based workflow, allows enforcing corporate data standards and much more.  

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Active Directory Automation

Adaxes provides rule-based automation for Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365.  It allows executing sets of operations that are governed by if/else conditions before or after certain events in AD.  So, for example, after the department of a user is changed, Adaxes can then automatically update the user’s group membership and send an email notification to the user’s manager, following the rules you define.  

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Active Directory Provisioning

Using condition-based rules you can automate the entire user provisioning process.  Once a new user account is created in Active Directory, Adaxes will automatically execute the rest of onboarding procedures for you: moving the user account to a correct OU, adding it to necessary groups, creating and configuring an Exchange mailbox, assigning Office 365 licences, enabling the user for Skype for Business, creating and sharing a home folder, sending a welcome email, etc.  Similarly to that, you can also automate all operations associated with user updates.  Finally, when a user is terminated, Adaxes can automatically execute all the provisioning operations in reverse, ensuring instant and errorless offboarding.

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Web Interface for Active Directory

Adaxes Web Interface enables Active Directory management via a standard web browser.   It features a modern responsive design, so users can access it on their laptops, tablets, phones or any other devices.  You can set up different Web Interfaces specifically tuned for the needs of different job roles, like administrators, help desk, HR, managers, and others, giving them a clean and intuitive way to access the tasks they need.   Adaxes Web Interface also incorporates Exchange and Office 365 management, so users get a single console without the need to learn and use multiple tools for their day-to-day routines.

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Web Interface Customisation

The Adaxes Web Interface is fully customisable, so you can configure it to have the exact views, forms, and operations that each user needs.  For example, administrators can have a full set of management activities in Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365 across the entire environment, whereas managers can be set to view just their subordinates and only be able to update their group membership, assign Office 365 licences and change certain AD properties.  

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Active Directory Self Service

Adaxes Web Interface can act as a self-service portal for regular users.  You can granularly specify, which operations they have access to, like updating their personal info, changing their own password, searching Active Directory, managing own group membership, updating Office 365 licences, etc.

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Active Directory Password Self-Service

Adaxes Password Self-Service allows users to reset forgotten passwords and unlock accounts by themselves.  To do that they need to go through a simple identity verification procedure that may involve answering security questions, SMS verification, using authenticator apps like Google Authenticator, Authy and others.  A self-password reset can be accessed from the Windows logon screen, Adaxes Web Interface or it can be integrated into your own portal.

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Exchange Management and Automation

Adaxes automates Exchange mailbox management both on-premises and in Office 365.  For example, after creating a new user account in Active Directory, Adaxes can automatically create an Exchange mailbox for the user.  The database distribution of mailboxes can be done based on the first letter of the users’ surname, least number of mailboxes in the DB, the round-robin method, etc.  Adaxes can then configure the mailbox, e.g.  modify storage quotas or enable mailbox features like Unified Messaging or Archiving.

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Office 365 Automation and management

Adaxes can automatically assign and revoke Office 365 licences using condition-based rules.  For example, when a new user is created in Active Directory, Adaxes can activate an account in Office 365 for the user and assign the necessary O365 licences according to the rules you define.  Different licences can be assigned to different users based on their job title, department, location, etc.

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Active Directory Role-Based Security

Adaxes introduces Role-Based Access Control for Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365.  In a role-based delegation model, instead of assigning permissions to users, they are assigned to roles that correspond to actual job functions.  So, when you need to change privileges for all users with the same job function, all you need to do is modify the permissions of the associated role.  Assigning roles to users is done in a centralised manner, allowing you to easily control, who can do what and where.  With role-based delegation, you can granularly specify, which parts of Active Directory are visible to users.  For example, you can allow certain users to only view AD objects located in their own OU, while hiding the rest of the Active Directory structure from them.

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Approval-Based Workflow

Adaxes allows you to add an approval step to practically any operation in Active Directory, Exchange and Office 365.  For example, you can delegate user creation to HR, but after they fill in the form and click Create, Adaxes can suspend the operation and only proceed once a member of IT staff reviews and approves it.  For more complex and security-sensitive scenarios, you can set up multi-level approvals.  Such an approach allows delegating more tasks to lower level staff without taking the risk of losing control over them.

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Active Directory Reports

Adaxes comes with reporting capabilities, allowing you to monitor and analyse what’s going on in your environment.  Out of the box, you get more than 200 reports, which should cover the majority of your requirements.  For more demanding scenarios Adaxes also provides various ways to create custom reports, including using your own scripts.  It enables you to create reports of practically any complexity that can be specific to your organisation's needs.  To deliver reports to users Adaxes supports centralised scheduling and also provides a self-scheduling option, allowing users to choose by themselves, which reports they want to receive and when.

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Custom Commands for Active Directory

With Custom Commands users can launch complex multi-step operations in one go.  For example, if you need to send a user on vacation, you can do it with just one click in the Web Interface.  The operation can include steps like disabling the user account, adding it to a corresponding group, sending a notification to the user’s manager, etc.  Such an approach allows you to delegate complicated tasks to users and not worry that they will miss a step or do something wrong.  Besides, you don’t over-privilege them, as you only give out permissions to execute the Custom Command as a whole, not the individual steps it consists of.  Administrators can also use Custom Commands in their day-to-day routines to make the management process simpler and accomplish the same results with a lot fewer clicks.

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Scheduled Tasks for Active Directory Management

Adaxes allows you to automate various routine management tasks by scheduling them.  For example, it can automatically de-provision inactive accounts in AD, allocate users to necessary groups, maintain OU structure, etc.  You can also schedule tasks like importing new users from CSV.  Automating such a sensitive operation doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice any control, as you can add an approval step to it.  This way users will be created in AD only after a member of IT staff reviews and approves the operation.  You can also use scheduled tasks to send various notifications to users, like reminders about their password or account expiration.

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Active Directory Delegation

Active Directory management involves many different operations that require administrative privileges granted by default to AD administrators only.  Though operations like password reset or account unlock are pretty simple, they take a lot of time of highly-skilled IT staff, not allowing them to focus on more complex and important issues.  Active Directory delegation helps you optimise the productivity of the IT department by letting non-administrative users (e.g.  department managers or Help Desk operators) perform certain administrative activities in Active Directory.  

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