You might hear the terms “Active Directory” and “the zero-trust security model” if you spend any time around IT workers in a professional setting. These concepts often preoccupy them because they’re trying to get their company’s computer systems to function as flawlessly as possible.
If you don’t know much about IT, though, these terms might baffle you. You may not know about the zero-trust model, Active Directory, or how they interact.
We’ll talk about that a little bit in the following article. It’s helpful to know these concepts, even if you don’t work directly in the IT industry.
What is the Zero-Trust Security Model?
We’ll start by briefly discussing each concept. Defining zero-trust security is actually not that difficult once you understand the basic idea.
You might sometimes hear your IT department talk about the zero-trust model as perimeterless security. It is a way that your IT department will set up your company’s computer systems.
If you have the zero-trust model in place, that means you’ve programmed your computers and software systems to automatically not trust anyone or anything that’s trying to interact with them until they have verified their identity. You’d be wrong if you think this model is overkill.
Zero trust matters because it can be your company’s last defense line against hackers who might try to penetrate your network. If you have the zero-trust protocol in place, it can sniff out brute force attacks, phishing spam, and other potential threats.
Since these attacks happen more often than ever these days, more companies regard zero-trust as essential. In the past, some businesses didn’t implement it, but it has become nearly ubiquitous at this point.
What is Active Directory?
Active Directory is a directory service. There are many directory services on the market, but this one shows up in many office settings because of its intuitive nature. You might have someone who’s not great with computers, but you can usually teach them to use it without too much trouble.
Microsoft came up with Active Directory, and it works with their Windows domain networks. If you get a Windows server operating system, you should see Active Directory preinstalled more times than not.
At one point, Microsoft set up Active Directory so that people would only use it for centralized domain management. Since then, they have modified it so that it sees even more widespread use.
How Do These Two Interact with One Another?
If you have Active Directory for your business and want to set up a zero-trust security model, you should know that is definitely possible these days. You can format Active Directory to put the zero-trust model in place. Once you do that, you should feel a lot more secure about using Active Directory as your workers go about their daily tasks.
Not trusting admin accounts is one of the best ways to do that. You can provide elevated privilege for someone who needs to go into the system and make changes but only for limited time periods.
In other words, say you have a system admin who you allow to access your computer network, which runs Active Directory. They need to go on there and perform some patches and upgrades.
You can give them the power to do that, but only for a set time. That is because it’s inherently dangerous to have a standing account with too much control over your system.
If you only give an admin a limited time to make the changes they need, it’s far less likely they will abuse their rights. Admins who misuse their authority, either deliberately or unintentionally, can cause all kinds of problems for your company.
Move Away from Passwords
If you have Active Directory and you want to use the zero-trust model, getting away from passwords is another way to do that. Security researchers and virtually anyone in the IT field will probably tell you the same thing in 2022: you should get away from passwords entirely if at all possible.
If you want to have genuine Active Directory security, what you might do in years past was to have every system user come up with a very complex password, then change it once per quarter. You don’t have to do that anymore.
Now, you can use Microsoft 365 along with Active Directory. You can then instruct your users to log in with an Active Directory account and an Azure AD account, rendering further password use unnecessary.