The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 5 – Client-Side Migration and Testing

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 5 – Client-Side Migration and Testing

Welcome to the fifth entry in my series on the evolution of Microsoft’s Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) to Azure Information Protection (AIP).  We’ve covered a lot of material over this series.  It started with an overview of the service, examined the different architectures, went over key planning decisions for the migration from AD RMS to AIP, and left off with performing the server-side migration steps.  In this post we’re going to round out the migration process by performing a staged migration of our client machines.

Before we jump into this post, I’d encourage you to refresh yourself with my lab setup and the users and groups I’ve created, and finally the choices I made in the server side migration steps.  For a quick reference, here is the down and dirty:

  • Windows Server 2016 Active Directory forest named GEEKINTHEWEEDS.COM with servers running Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), Active Directory Domain Name System (AD DNS), Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS), Azure Active Directory Connect, and Microsoft SQL Server Express.
  • Forest is configured to synchronize to Azure AD using Azure AD Connect and uses federated authentication via AD FS
  • Users Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams will be using a Windows 10 client machine with Microsoft Office 2016 named GWCLIENT1
  • Users Theodore Logan and Michael Myers will be using a Windows 10 client machine with Microsoft Office 2016 named GWCLIENT2
  • Users Jason Voorhies and Theodore Logan are in the Information Technology Windows Active Directory (AD) group
  • Users Ash Williams and Michael Myers are in the Accounting Windows AD group
  • Onboarding controls have been configured for a Windows AD group named GIW AIP Users of which Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams are members

Prepare The Client Machine

To take advantage of the new features AIP brings to the table we’ll need to install the AIP client. I’ll be installing the AIP client on GWCLIENT1 and leaving the RMS client installed by Office 2016 on GWCLIENT2. Keep in mind the AIP client includes the RMS client (sometimes referred to as MSIPC) as well.

If you recall from my last post, I skipped a preparation step that Microsoft recommended for client machines. The step has you download a ZIP containing some batch scripts that are used for performing a staged migration of client machines and users. The preparation script Microsoft recommends running prior to any server-side configuration Prepare-Client.cmd.  In an enterprise environment it makes sense but for this very controlled lab environment it wasn’t needed prior to server-side configuration. It’s a simple script that modifies the client registry to force the RMS client on the machines to go to the on-premises AD RMS cluster even if they receive content that’s been protected using an AIP subscription. If you’re unfamiliar with the order that the MSIPC client discovers an AD RMS cluster I did an exhaustive series a few years back.  In short, hardcoding the information to the registry will prevent the client from reaching out to AIP and potentially causing issues.

As a reminder I’ll be running the script on GIWCLIENT1 and not on GIWCLIENT2.  After the ZIP file is downloaded and the script is unpackaged, it needs to be opened with a text editor and the OnPremRMSFQDN and CloudRMS variables need to be set to your on-premises AD RMS cluster and AIP tenant endpoint. Once the values are set, run the script.

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Install the Azure Information Protection Client

Now that the preparation step is out of the way, let’s get the AIP client installed. The AIP client can be downloaded directly from Microsoft. After starting the installation you’ll first be prompted as to whether you want to send telemetry to Microsoft and use a demo policy.  I’ll be opting out of both (sorry Microsoft).

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After a minute or two the installation will complete successfully.

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At this point I log out of the administrator account and over to Jason Voorhies. Opening Windows Explorer and right-clicking a text file shows we now have the classify and protect option to protect and classify files outside of Microsoft Office.

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Testing the Client Machine Behavior Prior to Client-Side Configuration

I thought it would be fun to see what the client machine’s behavior would be after the AIP Client was installed but I hadn’t finished Microsoft’s recommended client-side configuration steps. Recall that GIWCLIENT1 has been previously been bootstrapped for the on-premises AD RMS cluster so let’s reset the client after observing the current state of both machines.

Notice on GWICLIENT1 the DefaultServer and DefaultServerUrl in the HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Common\DRM do not exist even though the client was previously bootstrapped for the on-premises AD RMS instance. On GIWCLIENT2, which has also been bootstrapped, has the entries defined.

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I’m fairly certain AIP cleared these out when it tried to activate when I started up Microsoft Word prior to performing these steps.

Navigating to HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\MSIPC shows a few slight differences as well. On GIWCLIENT1 there are two additional entries, one for the discovery point for Azure RMS and one for JOG.LOCAL’s AD RMS cluster. The JOG.LOCAL entry exists on GIWCLIENT1 and not on the GIWCLIENT2 because of the baseline testing I did previously.

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Let’s take a look at the location the RMS client stores its certificates which is %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\MSIPC.  On both machines we see the expected copy of the public-key CLC certificate, the machine certificate, RAC, and use licenses for documents that have been opened.  Notice that even though the AD RMS cluster is running in Cryptographic Mode 1, the machine still generates a 2048-bit key as well.

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Now that the RMS Client is reset on GIWCLIENT1, let’s go ahead and see what happens the RMS client tries to do a fresh activation after having AIP installed but the client-side configuration not yet completed.

After opening Microsoft Word I select to create a new document. Notice that the labels displayed in the AIP bar include a custom label I had previously defined in the AIP blade.

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I then go back to the File tab on the ribbon and attempt to use the classic way of protecting a document via the Restrict Access option.

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After selecting the Connect to Rights Management Servers and get templates option the client successfully bootstraps back to the on-premises AD RMS cluster as can be seen from the certificates available to the client and that all necessary certificates were re-created in the MISPC directory.

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That’s Microsoft Office, but what about the scenario where I attempt to use the AIP client add in for Windows Explorer?

To test this behavior I created a PDF file named testfile.pdf.  Right-clicking and selecting the Classify and protect option opens the AIP client to display the default set of labels as well as a new GIW Accounting Confidential label.

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If I select that label and hit Apply I receive the error below.

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The template can’t be found because the client is trying to pull it from my on-premises AD RMS cluster.  Since I haven’t run the scripts to prepare the client for AIP, the client can’t reach the AIP endpoints to find the template associated with the label.

The results of these test tell us two things:

  1. Installing the AIP Client on a client machine that already has Microsoft Office installed and configured for an on-premises AD RMS cluster won’t break the client’s integration with that on-premises cluster.
  2. The AIP client at some point authenticated to the Geek In The Weeds Azure AD tenant and pulled down the classification labels configured for my tenant.

In my next post I’ll be examining these findings more deeply by doing a deep dive of the client behavior using a combination of procmon, Fiddler, and WireShark to analyze the AIP Client behavior.

Performing Client-Side Configuration

Now that the client has been successfully installed we need to override the behavior that was put in place with the Prepare-Client batch file earlier.  If we wanted to redirect all clients across the organization that were using Office 2016, we could use the DNS SRV record option listed in the migration article.  This option indicates Microsoft has added some new behavior to the RMS Client installed with Office 2016 such that it will perform a DNS lookup of the SRV record to see a migration has occurred.

For the purposes of this lab I’ll be using the Microsoft batch scripts I referenced earlier.  To override the behavior we put in place earlier with the Prepare-Client.cmd batch script, we’ll need to run both the Migrate-Client and Migrate-User scripts.  I created a group policy object (GPO) that uses security filtering to apply only to GIWCLIENT1 to run the Migrate-Client script as a Startup script and a GPO that uses security filtering to apply only to GIW AIP Users group which runs the Migrate-User script as a Login script.  This ensures only GIWCLIENT2 and Jason Voorhies and Ash Williams are affected by the changes.

You may be asking what do the scripts do?  The goal of the two scripts are to ensure the client machines the users log into point the users to Azure RMS versus an on-premises AD RMS cluster.  The scripts do this by adding and modifying registry keys used by the RMS client prior to the client searching for a service connection point (SCP).  The users will be redirected to Azure RMS when protecting new files as well as consuming files that were previously protected by an on-premises AD RMS cluster.  This means you better had performed the necessary server-side migration I went over previously, or else your users are going to be unable to consume previously protected content.

We’ll dig more into AIP/Office 2016 RMS Client discovery process in the next post.

Preparing Azure Information Protection Policies

Prior to testing the whole package, I thought it would be fun to create some AIP policies. By default, Microsoft provides you with a default AIP policy called the Global Policy. It comes complete with a reasonably standard set of labels, with a few of the labels having sublabels that have protection in some circumstances. Due to the migration path I undertook as part of the demo, I had to enabled protection for All Employees sublabels of both the Confidential and Highly Confidential labels.

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In addition to the global policy, I also created two scoped policies. One scoped policy applies to users within the GIW Accounting group and the other applies to users within the GIW Information Technology group. Each policy introduces another label and sublabel as seen in the screenshots below.

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Both of the sublabels include protection restricting members of the relevant groups to the Viewer role only. We’ll see these policies in action in the next section.

Testing the Client

Preparation is done, server-side migration has been complete, and our test clients and users have now been completed the documented migration process. The migration scripts performed the RMS client reset so no need to repeat that process.

For the first test, let’s try applying protection to the testfile.txt file I created earlier. Selecting the Classify and protect option opens up the AIP Client and shows me the labels configured in my tenant that support classification and protection. Recall from the AIP Client limitations different file types have different limitations. You can’t exactly append any type of metadata to content of a text file now can you?

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Selecting the IT Staff Only sublabel of the GIW IT Staff label and hitting the apply button successfully protects the text file and we see the icon and file type for the file changes.  Opening the file in Notepad now displays a notice the file is protected and the data contained in the original file has been encrypted.

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We can also open the file with the AIP Viewer which will decrypt the document and display the content of the text file.

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Next we test in Microsoft Word 2016 by creating a new document named AIP_GIW_ALLEMP and classifying it with the High Confidential All Employees sublabel.  The sublabel adds protection such that all users in the GIW Employees group have Viewer rights.

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Opening the AIP_GIW_ALLEMP Word document that was protected by Jason Voorhies is successful and it shows Ash Williams has viewer rights for the file.

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Last but not least, let’s open the a document we previously protected with AD RMS named GIW_GIWALL_ADRMS.DOCX.  We’re able to successfully open this file because we migrated the TPD used for AD RMS up to AIP.

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At this point we’ve performed all necessary steps up the migration.  What you have left now is cleanup steps and planning for how you’ll complete the rollout to the rest of your user base.  Not bad right?

Over the next few posts ‘ll be doing a deep dive of the RMS Client behavior when interacting with Azure Information Protection.   We’ll do some procmon captures to the behavior of the client when it’s performing its discovery process as well as examining the web calls it makes to Fiddler.  I’ll also spend some time examining the AIP blade and my favorite feature of AIP, Tracking and Revocation.

See you next time!

 

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 3 – Planning The Migration

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 3 – Planning The Migration

Welcome to the third post in my series exploring the evolution of Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) into Azure Information Protection (AIP).  My first post provided an overview of the service and some of its usages and my second post covered how the architecture of the solution has changed as the service has shifted from traditional on-premises infrastructure to  a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering).  Now that we understand the purpose of the service and its architecture, let’s explore what a migration will look like.

For the post I’ll be using the labs I discussed in my first post.  Specifically, I’ll be migrating lab 2 (the Windows Server 2016 lab) from using AD RMS to Azure Information Protection.  I’ve added an additional Windows 10 Professional machine to that lab for reasons I’ll discuss later in the post.  The two Windows 10 machines are named CLIENT1 and CLIENT2.  Microsoft has assembled some guidance which I’ll be referencing throughout this post and using as the map for the migration.

With the introduction done, let’s dig in.

Before we do any button pushing, there’s some planning necessary to ensure a successful migration.  The key areas of consideration are:

  • Impact to collaboration with trusted organizations
  • Tenant key storage
  • AIP Client Rollout
  • Integrated Rights Management (IRM) functionality of Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft SharePoint Server

Impact to collaboration with trusted organizations

Possibly most impactful to an organization is the planning that goes into how the migration will affect collaboration with partner organizations.  Back in the olden days of on-premises AD RMS, organizations would leverage the protection and control that came with AD RMS to collaborate with trusted partners.  This was accomplished through trusted user domains (TUDs) or federated trusts.  With AIP the concept of TUDs and additional infrastructure to support federated trusts is eliminated and instead replaced with the federation capabilities provided natively via Azure Active Directory.

Yes folks, this means that if you want the same level of collaboration you had with AD RMS using TUDs, both organizations will need to need to have an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenant with a license that supports the Azure Rights Management Service (Azure RMS).    In a future post in the series, we’ll check out what happens when the partner organization doesn’t migrate to Azure AD and attempts to consume the protected content.

Tenant Key Storage

The tenant key can be thought to as the key to the kingdom in the AIP world.  For those of you familiar with AD RMS, the tenant key serves the same function as the cluster key. In the on-premises world of AD RMS the cluster key was either stored within the AD RMS database or on a hardware security module (HSM).

When performing a migration to the world of AIP, storage of the tenant key has a few options.  If you’re using a cluster key that was stored within the AD RMS database you can migrate the key using some simple PowerShell commands.  If you’re opted to use HSM storage for your cluster key, you’re going to be looking at the bring your own key (BYOK) scenario.  Finally, if you have a hard requirement to keep the key on premises you can explore the hold your own key option (HYOK).

For this series I’ve configured my labs with a cluster key that is stored within the AD RMS database (or software key as MS is referring to it).  The AD RMS cluster in my environment runs in cryptographic mode 1, so per MS’s recommendation I won’t be migrating to cryptographic mode 2 until after I migrate to AIP.

AIP Client Rollout

Using AIP requires the AIP Client be installed.  The AD RMS Client that comes with pre-packaged with Microsoft Office can protect but can’t take advantage of the labels and classification features of AIP.   You’ll need to consider this during your migration process and ensure any middleware that uses the AD RMS Client is compatible with the AIP Client.  The AIP Client is compatible with on-premises AD RMS so you don’t need to be concerned with backwards compatibility.

As I mentioned above, I have two Windows 10 clients named CLIENT1 and CLIENT2.  In the next post I’ll be migrating CLIENT2 to the AIP Client and keeping CLIENT1 on the AD RMS Client.  I’ll capture and break down the calls with Fiddler so we can see what the differences are.

Integrated Rights Management (IRM) functionality of Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft SharePoint Server

If you want to migrate to AIP but still have a ways to go before you can migrate Exchange and SharePoint to the SaaS counterparts, have no fear.  You can leverage the protection capabilities of AIP (aka Azure RMS component) by using the Microsoft Rights Management Service Connector.  The connector requires some light weight infrastructure to handle the communication between Exchange/SharePoint and AIP.

I probably won’t be demoing the RMS Connector in this series, so take a read through the documentation if you’re curious.

We’ve covered an overview of AIP, the different architectures of AD RMS and AIP, and now have covered key planning decisions for a migration.  In the next post in my series we’ll start getting our hands dirty by initiating the migration from AD RMS to AIP.  Once the migration is complete, I’ll be diving deep into the weeds and examining the behavior of the AD RMS and AIP clients via Fiddler captures and AD RMS client debugging (assuming it still works with the AIP client).

See you next post!

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 1

The Evolution of AD RMS to Azure Information Protection – Part 1

Collaboration.  It’s a term I hear at least a few times a day when speaking to my user base.  The ability to seamlessly collaborate with team members, across the organization, with trusted partners, and with customers is a must.  It’s a driving force between much of the evolution of software-as-a-service collaboration offerings such as Office 365.  While the industry is evolving to make collaboration easier than ever, it’s also introducing significant challenges for organizations to protect and control their data.

In a recent post I talked about Microsoft’s entry into the cloud access security broker (CASB) market with Cloud App Security (CAS) and its capability to provide auditing and alerting on activities performed in Amazon Web Services (AWS).  Microsoft refers to this collection of features as the Investigate capability of CAS.  Before I cover an example of the Control features in action, I want to talk about the product that works behind the scenes to provide CAS with many of the Control features.

That product is Azure Information Protection (AIP) and it provides the capability to classify, label, and protect files and email.  The protection piece is provided by another Microsoft product, Azure Active Directory Rights Management Services (Azure RMS).  Beyond just encrypting a file or email, Azure RMS can control what a user can do with a file such as preventing a user from printing a document or forwarding an email.  The best part?  The protection goes with the data even when it leaves your security boundary.

For those of you that have read my blog you can see that I am a huge fanboy of the predecessor to Azure RMS, Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS, previously Rights Management Service or RMS for you super nerds).  AD RMS has been a role available in Microsoft Windows Server since Windows Server 2003.  It was a product well ahead of its time that unfortunately never really caught on.  Given my love for AD RMS, I thought it would be really fun to do a series looking at how AIP has evolved from AD RMS.   It’s a dramatic shift from a rather unknown product to a product that provides capabilities that will be as standard and as necessary as Antivirus was to the on-premises world.

I built a pretty robust lab environment (two actually) such that I could demonstrate the different ways the solutions work as well as demonstrate what it looks to migrate from AD RMS to AIP.  Given the complexity of the lab environment,  I’m going to take this post to cover what I put together.

The layout looks like this:

 

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On the modern end I have an Azure AD tenant with the custom domain assigned of geekintheweeds.com.  Attached to the tenant I have some Office 365 E5 and Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 trial licenses  For the legacy end I have two separate labs setup in Azure each within its own resource group.  Lab number one contains three virtual machines (VMs) that run a series of services included Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), AD RMS, and Microsoft SQL Server Express.  Lab number two contains four VMs that run the same set as services as Lab 1 in addition to Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) and Azure Active Directory Connect (AADC).  The virtual network (vnet) within each resource group has been peered and both resource groups contain a virtual gateway which has been configured with a site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) back to my home Hyper-V environment.  In the Hyper V environment I have two workstations.

Lab 1 is my “legacy” environment and consists of servers running Windows 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 (AD RMS hasn’t changed in any meaningful manner since 2008 R2) and a client running Windows 7 Pro running Office 2013.  The DNS namespace for its Active Directory forest is JOG.LOCAL.  Lab 2 is my “modern” environment and consists of servers running Windows Server 2016 and a Windows 10 client running Office 2016 .  It uses a DNS namespace of GEEKINTHEWEEDS.COM for its Active Directory forest and is synchronized with the Azure AD tenant I mentioned above.  AD FS provides SSO to Office 365 for Geek in The Weeds users.

For AD RMS configuration, both environments will initially use Cryptographic Mode 1 and will have a trusted user domain (TUD).  SQL Server Express will host the AD RMS database and I will store the cluster key locally within the database.  The use of a TUD will make the configuration a bit more interesting for reasons you’ll see in a future post.

Got all that?

In my next post I’ll cover how the architecture changes when migrating from AD RMS to Azure Information Protection.

AWS and Microsoft’s Cloud App Security

AWS and Microsoft’s Cloud App Security

It seems like it’s become a weekly occurrence to have sensitive data exposed due to poorly managed cloud services.  Due to Amazon’s large market share with Amazon Web Services (AWS) many of these instances involve publicly-accessible Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.  In the last six months alone there were highly publicized incidents with FedEx and Verizon.  While the cloud can be empowering, it can also be very dangerous when there is a lack of governance, visibility, and acceptance of the different security mindset cloud requires.

Organizations that have been in operation for many years have grown to be very reliant on the network boundary acting as the primary security boundary.  As these organizations begin to move to a software defined data center model this traditional boundary quickly becomes less and less effective.  Unfortunately for these organizations this, in combination with a lack of sufficient understanding of cloud, gives rise to mistakes like sensitive data being exposed.

One way in which an organization can protect itself is to leverage technologies such as cloud access security brokers (cloud security gateways if you’re Forrester reader) to help monitor and control data as it moves travels between on-premises and the cloud.  If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a CASB, I covered it in a previous entry and included a link to an article which provides a great overview.

Microsoft has its own CASB offering called Microsoft Cloud App Security (CAS).  It’s offered as part of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) E5/A5 subscription.  Over the past several months multiple connectors to third party software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers have been introduced, including one for AWS.  The capabilities with AWS are limited at this point to pulling administrative logs and user information but it shows promise.

As per usual, Microsoft provides an integration guide which is detailed in button pushing, but not so much in concepts and technical details as to what is happening behind the scenes.  Since the Azure AD and AWS blog series has attracted so many views, I thought it would be fun and informative to do an entry for how Cloud App Security can be used with AWS.

I’m not in the habit of re-creating documentation so I’ll be referencing the Microsoft integration guide throughout the post.

The first thing that needs doing is the creation of a security principal in AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) that will be used by your tenant’s instance of CAS to connect to resources in your AWS account.   The first four steps are straightforward but step 5 could a bit of an explanation.

awscas1.pngHere we’re creating a custom IAM policy for the security principal granting it a number of permissions within the AWS account.  IAM policies are sets of permissions which are attached to a human or non-human identity or AWS resource and are evaluated when a call to the resource is made.  In the traditional on-premises world, you can think of it as something somewhat similar to a set of NTFS file permissions.  When the policy pictured above is created the security principal is granted a set of permissions across all instances of CloudTrail, CloudWatch, and IAM within the account.

If you’re unfamiliar with AWS services, CloudTrail is a service which audits the API calls made to AWS resources.  Some of the information included in the events include the action taken, the resource the action was taken upon, the security principal that made the action, the date time, and source IP address of the security principal who performed the action.  The CloudWatch service allows for monitoring of metrics and optionally triggering events based upon metrics reaching specific thresholds.  The IAM service is AWS’s identity store for the cloud management layer.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the services, let’s look at the permissions Microsoft is requiring for CAS to do its thing.  The CloudTrail permissions of DescribeTrails, LookupEvents, and GetTrailStatus allow CAS to query for all trails enabled on an AWS account (CloudTrail is enabled by default on all AWS resources), lookup events in a trail, and get information about the trail such as start and stop logging times.  The CloudWatch permissions of Describe* and Get* are fancy ways of asking for  READ permissions on CloudWatch resources.  These permissions include describe-alarms-history, describe alarms, describe-alarms-for-metric, get-dashboard, and get-metric-statistics.  The IAM permissions are similar to what’s being asked for in CloudWatch, basically asking for full read.

Step number 11 instructs us to create a new CloudTrail trail.  AWS by default audits all events across all resources and stores them for 90 days.  Trails enable you to direct events captured by CloudTrail to an S3 bucket for archiving, analysis, and responding to events.

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The trail created is consumed by CAS to read the information captured via CloudTrail.  The permissions requested above become a bit more clear now that we see CAS is requesting read access for all trails across an account for monitoring goodness.  I’m unclear as to why CAS is asking for read for CloudWatch alarms unless it has some integration in that it monitors and reports on alarms configured for an AWS account.  The IAM read permissions are required so it can pull user  information it can use for the User Groups capability.

After the security principal is created and a sample trail is setup, it’s time to configure the connector for CAS.  Steps 12 – 15 walk through the process.  When it is complete AWS now shows as a connected app.

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After a few hours data will start to trickle in from AWS.  Navigating to the Users and Accounts section shows all of the accounts found in the IAM instance for my AWS account.  Envision this as your one stop shop for identifying all of the user accounts across your many cloud services.  A single pane of glass to identity across SaaS.

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On the Activity Log I see all of the API activities captured by CloudTrail.  If I wanted to capture more audit information, I can enable CloudTrail for the relevant resource and point it to the trail I configured for CAS.  I haven’t tested what CAS does with multiple trails, but based upon the permissions we configured when we setup the security principal, it should technically be able to pull from any trail we create.

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Since the CAS and AWS integration is limited to pulling logging information, lets walk through an example of how we could use the data.  Take an example where an organization has a policy that the AWS root user should not be used for administrative activities due to the level of access the account gets by default.  The organization creates AWS IAM users accounts for each of its administrators who administer the cloud management layer.  In this scenario we can create a new policy in CAS to detect and alert on instances where the AWS root user is used.

First we navigate to the Policies page under the Control section of CAS.

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On the Policies page we’re going to choose to create a new policy settings in the image below.  We’ll designate this as a high severity privileged account alert.  We’re interested in knowing anytime the account is used so we choose the Single Activity option.

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We’ll pretend we were smart users of CAS and let it collect data for a few weeks to get a sampling of the types of events which are captured and to give us some data to analyze.  We also went the extra mile and leveraged the ability of CAS to pull in user information from AWS IAM such that we can choose the appropriate users from the drop-down menus.

Since this is a demo and my AWS lab has a lot of activity by the root account we’re going to limit our alerts to the creation of new AWS IAM users.  To do that we set our filter to look for an Activity type equal to Create user.  Our main goal is to capture usage of the root account so we add another filter rule that searches for a User with the name equal to aws root user where it is the actor in an event.

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Finally we configure the alert to send an email to the administrator when the event occurs.  The governance capabilities don’t come into play in this use case.

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Next we jump back to AWS and create a new AWS IAM user named testuser1.  A few minutes after the user is created we see the event appearing in CloudTrail.

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After a few minutes, CAS generates and alert and I receive an email seen in the image below.   I’m given information as to the activity, the app, the date and time it was performed, and the client’s IP address.

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If I bounce back to CAS I see one new Alert.  Navigating to the alert I’m able to dismiss it, adjust the policy that generated it, or resolve it and add some notes to the resolution.

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I also have the option to dig deeper to see some of the patterns of the user’s behavior or the pattern of the behaviors from a specific IP address as seen below.

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All this information is great, but what can we do with it?  In this example, it delivers visibility into the administrative activities occurring at the AWS cloud management layer by centralizing the data into a single repository which I can then send other data such as O365 activity, Box, SalesForces, etc.  By centralizing the information I can begin doing some behavioral analytics to develop standard patterns of behavior of my user base.  Understanding standard behavior patterns is key to being ahead of the bad guys whether they be insiders or outsiders.  I can search for deviations from standard patterns to detect a threat before it becomes too widespread.  I can also be proactive about putting alerts and enforcement (available for other app connectors in CAS but not AWS at this time) to stop the behavior before the threat is realized.  If I supplemented this data with log information from my on-premises proxy via Cloud App Discovery, I get an even larger sampling improving the quality of the data as well as giving me insight into shadow IT.  Pulling those “shadow” cloud solutions into the light allow me to ensure the usage of the services complies with organizational policies and opens up the opportunity of reducing costs by eliminating redundant services.

Microsoft categorizes the capabilities that help realize these benefits as the Discover and Investigate capabilities of CAS. The solution also offers a growing number of enforcement mechanisms (Microsoft categorized these enforcement mechanisms as Control) which add a whole other layer of power behind the solution.  Due to the limited integration with AWS I can’t demo those capabilities with this post.  I’ll cover those in a future post.

I hope this post helped you better understand the value that CASB/CSGs like Microsoft’s Cloud App Security can bring to the table.  While the product is still very new and a bit sparse on support with 3rd party applications, the list is growing every day. I predict the capabilities provided by technology such as Microsoft’s Cloud App Security will be as standard to IT as a firewall in the years to come.  If you’re already in Office 365 you should be ensuring you integrate these capabilities into your arsenal to understand the value they can bring to your business.

Thanks and have a wonderful week!

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services – Part 3

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services  – Part 3

Well folks, it’s time to wrap up this series on Azure Active Directory Domain Services (AAD DS).  In my first post I covered the basic configurations of the managed domain and in my second post took a look at how well Microsoft did in applying security best practices and complying with NIST standards.  In this post I’m going to briefly cover the LDAPS over the Internet capability, summarize some key findings, and list out some improvements I’d like to see made to the service.

One of the odd features Microsoft provides with the AAD DS service is the ability to expose the managed domain over LDAPS to the Internet.  I really am lost as to the use case that drove the feature.  LDAP is very much a legacy on-premises protocol that has no place being exposed to risks of the public Internet.  It’s the last thing that should the industry should be encouraging.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.   Now let me step off the soap box and let’s take a look at the feature.

As I covered in my last post LDAPS is not natively enabled in the managed domain.  The feature must be configured and enabled through the Azure Portal.  The configuration consists of uploading the private key and certificate the service will use in the form of a PKCS12 file (*.PFX).  The certificate has a few requirements that are outlined in the instructions above.  After the certificate is validated, it takes about 10-15 minutes for the service to become available.  Beyond enabling the service within the VNet, you additionally have the option to expose the LDAPS endpoint to the Internet.

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Microsoft provides instructions on how to restrict access to the endpoint to trusted IPs via a network security group (NSG) because yeah, exposing an LDAP endpoint to the Internet is just a tad risky.  To lock it down you simply associate an NSG with the subnet AAD DS is serving.  Once that is done enable the service via the option in the image above and wait about 10 minutes.  After the service is up, register a external DNS record for the service that points to the IP address noted under the properties section of the AADS blade and you’re good to go.

For my testing purposes, I locked the external LDAPS endpoint down to the public IP address my Azure VM was SNATed to.  After that I created an entry in the host file of the VM that matched the external DNS name I gave the service (whyldap.geekintheweeds.com) to the public IP address of the LDAPS endpoint in order to bypass the split-brain DNS challenge.  Initiating a connection from LDP.EXE was a success.

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Now that we know the service is running, let’s check out what the protocol support and cipher suite looks like.

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Again we see the use of deprecated cipher suites. Here the risk is that much greater since a small mistake with an NSG could expose this endpoint directly to the Internet.  If you’re going to use this feature, please just don’t.  If you’re really determined to, don’t screw up your NSGs.

This series was probably one of the more enjoyable series I’ve done since I knew very little about the AAD DS offering. There were a few key takeaways that are worth sharing:

  • The more objects in the directory, the more expensive the service.
  • Users and groups can be created directly in managed domain after a new organizational unit is created.
  • Password and lockout policy is insanely loose to the point where I can create an account with a three character password (just need to meet complexity requirements) and accounts never lockout.  The policy cannot be changed.
  • RC4 encryption ciphers are enabled and cannot be disabled.
  • NTLMv1 is enabled and cannot be disabled.
  • The service does not support smart-card enforced users.  Yes, that includes both the users synchronized from Azure AD as well as any users you create directly in the managed domain.  If I had to guess, it’s probably due to the fact that you’re not a Domain Admin so hence you can’t add to the NTAuth certificate store.
  • LDAPS is not enabled by default.
  • Schema extensions are not supported.
  • Account-Based Kerberos Delegation is not supported.
  • If you are syncing identities to Azure AD, you’ll also need to synchronize your passwords.
  • The managed domain is very much “out of the box” defaults.
  • Microsoft creates a “god” account which is a permanent member of every privileged group in the forest
  • Recovery of deleted objects created directly in the managed domain is not possible.  The rights have not been delegated to the AADC Administrator.
  • The service does not allow for Active Directory trusts
  • SIDHistory attribute of users and groups sourced from Azure AD is populated with Primary Group from on-premises domain

My verdict on AAD DS is it’s not a very useful service in its current state.  Beyond small organizations, organizations that have very little to no requirements on legacy infrastructure, organizations that don’t have strong security requirements, and dev/qa purposes I don’t see much of a use for it right now.  It comes off as a service in its infancy that has a lot of room to grow and mature.  Microsoft has gone a bit too far in the standardization/simplicity direction and needs to shift a bit in the opposite direction by allowing for more customization, especially in regards to security.

I’d really like to see Microsoft introduce the capabilities below.   All of them should  exposed via the resource blade in the Azure Portal if at all possible.  It would provide a singular administration point (which seems to be the strategy given the move of Azure AD and Intune to the Azure Portal) and would allow Microsoft to control how the options are enabled in the managed domain.  This means no more administrators blowing up their Active Directory forest because they accidentally shut off all the supported cipher suites for Kerberos.

  • Expose Domain Controller Event Logs to Azure Portal/Graph API and add support for AAD DS Power BI Dashboards
  • Support for Active Directory trusts
  • Out of the box provide a Red Forest model (get rid of that “god” account)
  • Option to disable risky cipher suites for both Kerberos and LDAPS
  • Option to harden the password and lockout policy
  • Option to disable NTLMv1
  • Option to turn on LDAP Debug Logging
  • Option to direct Domain Controller event logs to a SIEM
  • Option to restore deleted users and groups that were created directly in the managed domain.  If you’re allow creation, you need to allow for restoration.
  • Removal of Internet-accessible LDAPS endpoint feature or at least somehow incorporate the NSG lockdown feature directly into the AAD DS blade.

While the service has a lot of room for improvement the direction of a managed Windows AD offering is spot on.  In the year 2018, there is no reason Windows AD shouldn’t be offered as a managed service.  The direction Microsoft has gone by sourcing the identities and credentials from Azure AD is especially creative.  It’s a solid step in the direction of creating a singular centralized identity service that provides both legacy and modern protocols.  I’ll be watching this service closely as Microsoft builds upon it for the next few months.

Thanks and see you next post!

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services – Part 2

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services  – Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of my series on Microsoft’s managed services offering of Azure Active Directory Domain Services (AAD DS).  In my first post I covered so some of the basic configuration settings of the a default service instance.  In this post I’m going to dig a bit deeper and look at network flows, what type of secure tunnels are available for LDAPS, and examine the authentication protocols and supporting cipher suites are configured for the service.

To perform these tests I leveraged a few different tools.  For a port scanner I used Zenmap.  To examine the protocols and cipher suites supported by the LDAPS service I used a custom openssl binary running on an Ubuntu VM in Azure.  For examination of the authentication protocol support I used Samba’s smbclient running on the Ubuntu VM in combination with WinSCP for file transfer, tcpdump for packet capture, and WireShark for packet analysis.

Let’s start off with examining the open ports since it takes the least amount of effort.  To do that I start up Zenmap and set the target to one of the domain controllers (DCs) IP addresses, choose the intense profile (why not?), and hit scan.  Once the scan is complete the results are displayed.

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Navigating to the Ports / Hosts tab displays the open ports. All but one of them are straight out of the standard required ports you’d see open on a Windows Server functioning as an Active Directory DC.  An opened port 443 deserves more investigation.

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Let’s start with the obvious and attempt to hit the IP over an HTTPS connection but no luck there.

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Let’s break out Fiddler and hit it again.  If we look at the first session where we build the secure tunnel to the website we see some of the details for the certificate being used to secure the session.  Opening the TextView tab of the response shows a Subject of CN=DCaaS Fleet Dc Identity Cert – 0593c62a-e713-4e56-a1be-0ef78f1a2793.  Domain Controller-as-a-Service, I like it Microsoft.  Additionally Fiddler identifies the web platform as the Microsoft HTTP Server API (HTTP.SYS).  Microsoft has been doing a lot more that API since it’s much more lightweight than IIS.  I wanted to take a closer look at the certificate so I opened the website in Dev mode in Chrome and exported it.  The EKUs are normal for a standard use certificate and it’s self-signed and untrusted on my system.  The fact that the certificate is untrusted and Microsoft isn’t rolling it out to domain-joined members tells me whatever service is running on the port isn’t for my consumption.

So what’s running on that port?  I have no idea.  The use of the HTTP Server API and a self-signed certificate with a subject specific to the managed domain service tells me it’s providing access to some type of internal management service Microsoft is using to orchestrate the managed domain controllers.  If anyone has more info on this, I’d love to hear it.

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Let’s now take a look at how Microsoft did at securing LDAPS connectivity to the managed domain.  LDAPS is not enabled by default in the managed domain and needs to be configured through the Azure AD Domain Services blade per these instructions.  Oddly enough Microsoft provides an option to expose LDAPS over the Internet.  Why any sane human being would ever do this, I don’t know but we’ll cover that in a later post.

I wanted to test SSLv3 and up and I didn’t want to spend time manipulating registry entries on a Windows client so I decided to spin up an Ubuntu Server 17.10 VM in Azure.  While the Ubuntu VM was spinning up, I created a certificate to be used for LDAPS using the PowerShell command referenced in the Microsoft article and enabled LDAPS through the Azure AD Domain Services resource in the Azure Portal.  I did not enable LDAPS for the Internet for these initial tests.

After adding the certificate used by LDAPS to the trusted certificate store on the Windows Server, I opened LDP.EXE and tried establishing LDAPS connection over port 636 and we get a successful connection.

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Once I verified the managed domain was now supporting LDAPS connections I switched over to the Ubuntu box via an SSH session.  Ubuntu removed SSLv3 support in the OpenSSL binary that comes pre-packaged with Ubuntu so to test it I needed to build another OpenSSL binary.  Thankfully some kind soul out there on the Interwebz documented how to do exactly that without overwriting the existing version.  Before I could build a new binary I had to add re-install the Make package and add the Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC) package using the two commands below.

  • sudo apt-get install –reinstall make
  • sudo apt-get install gcc

After the two packages were installed I built the new binary using the instructions in the link, tested the command, and validated the binary now includes SSLv3.

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After Poodle hit the news back in 2014, Microsoft along with the rest of the tech industry advised SSLv3 be disabled.  Thankfully this basic well known vulnerability has been covered and SSLv3 is disabled.

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SSLv3 is disabled, but what about TLS 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2?  How about the cipher suites?  Are they aligned with NIST guidance?  To test that I used a tool named TestSSLServer by Thomas Pornin.  It’s a simple command line tool which makes cycling through the available cipher suites quick and easy.

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The options I chose perform the following actions:

  • -all -> Perform an “exhaustive” search across cipher suites
  • -t 1 -> Space out the connections by one second
  • -min tlsv1 -> Start with TLSv1

The command produces the output below.

TLSv1.0:
server selection: enforce server preferences
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5
TLSv1.1: idem
TLSv1.2:
server selection: enforce server preferences
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3f- (key: RSA) DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA256
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA
3– (key: RSA) RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5

As can be seen from the bolded output above, Microsoft is still supporting the RC4 cipher suites in the managed domain. RC4 has been known to be a vulnerable algorithm for years now and it’s disappointing to see it still supported especially since I haven’t seen any options available to disable within the managed domain. While 3DES still has a fair amount of usage, there have been documented vulnerabilities and NIST plans to disallow it for TLS in the near future. While commercial customers may be more willing to deal with the continued use of these algorithms, government entities will not.

Let’s now jump over to Kerberos and check out what cipher suites are supported by the managed DC. For that we pull up ADUC and check the msDS-SupportedEncryptionTypes attribute of the DC’s computer object. The attribute is set to a value of 28, which is the default for Windows Server 2012 R2 DCs. In ADUC we can see that this value translates to support of the following algorithms:

• RC4_HMAC_MD5
• AES128_CTS_HMAC_SHA1
• AES256_CTS_HMAC_SHA1_96

Again we see more support for RC4 which should be a big no no in the year 2018. This is a risk that orgs using AAD DS will need to live with unless Microsoft adds some options to harden the managed DCs.

Last but not least I was curious if Microsoft had support for NTLMv1. By default Windows Server 2012 R2 supports NTLMv1 due to requirements for backwards compatibility. Microsoft has long recommended disabling NTLMv1 due to the documented issues with the security of the protocol. So has Microsoft followed their own advice in the AAD DS environment?

To check this I’m going use Samba’s smbclient package on the Ubuntu VM. I’ll use smbclient to connect to the DC’s share from the Ubuntu box using the NTLM protocol. Samba has enforced the use NTLMV2 in smbclient by default so I needed to make some modifications to the global section of the smb.conf file by adding client ntlmv2 auth = no. This option disables NTLMv2 on smbclient and will force it to use NTLMv1.

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After saving the changes to smb.conf I exit back to the terminal and try opening a connection with smbclient. The options I used do the following:

  • -L -> List the shares on my DC’s IP address
  • -U -> My domain user name
  • -m -> Use the SMB2 protocol

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While I ran the command I also did a packet capture using tcpdump which I moved over to my Windows box using WinSCP.  I then opened the capture with WireShark and navigated to the packet containing the Session Setup Request.  In the parsed capture we don’t see an NTLMv2 Response which means NTLMv1 was used to authenticate to the domain controller indicating NTLMv1 is supported by the managed domain controllers.

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Based upon what I’ve observed from poking around and running these tests I’m fairly confident Microsoft is using a very out-of-the-box configuration for the managed Windows Active Directory domain.  There doesn’t seem to be much of an attempt to harden the domain against some of the older and well known risks.  I don’t anticipate this offering being very appealing to organizations with strong security requirements.  Microsoft should look to offer some hardening options that would be configurable through the Azure Portal.  Those hardening options are going to need to include some type of access to the logs like I mentioned in my last post.  Anyone who has tried to rid their network of insecure cipher suites or older authentication protocols knows the importance of access to the domain controller logs to the success of that type of effort.

My next post will be the final post in this series.  I’ll cover the option Microsoft provides to expose LDAPS to the Internet (WHY OH WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?), summarize my findings, and mention a few other interesting things I came across during the study for this series.

Thanks!

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services – Part 1

Deep Dive into Azure AD Domain Services  – Part 1

Hi everyone.  In this series of posts I’ll be doing a deep dive into Microsoft’s Azure AD Domain Services (AAD DS).  AAD DS is Microsoft’s managed Windows Active Directory service offered in Microsoft Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service intended to compete with similar offerings such as Amazon Web Services’s (AWS) Microsoft Active Directory.  Microsoft’s solution differs from other offerings in that it sources its user and group information from Azure Active Directory versus an on-premises Windows Active Directory or LDAP.

Like its competitors Microsoft realizes there are still a lot of organizations out there who are still very much attached to legacy on-premises protocols such as NTLM, Kerberos, and LDAP.  Not every organization (unfortunately) is ready or able to evolve its applications to consume SAML, Open ID Connect, OAuth, and Rest-Based APIs (yes COTS vendors I’m talking to you and your continued reliance on LDAP authentication in the year 2018).  If the service has to be there, it makes sense to consume a managed service so staff can focus less on maintaining legacy technology like Windows Active Directory and focus more on a modern Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) solutions.

Sounds great right?  Sure, but how does it work?  Microsoft’s documentation does a reasonable job giving the high level details of the service so I encourage you to read through it at some point.  I won’t be covering information included in that documentation unless I notice a discrepancy or an area that could use more detail.  Instead, I’m going to focus on the areas which I feel are important to understand if you’re going to attempt to consume the service in the same way you would a traditional on-premises Windows Active Directory.

With that introduction, let’s dig in.

The first thing I did was to install the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Active Directory Domain Services and Group Policy Management tools.  I used these tools to explore some of the configuration choices Microsoft made in the managed service.  I also installed Microsoft Network Monitor 3.4 to review packet captures  captured using the netsh.

After the tools were installed I started a persistent network capture using netsh using an elevated command prompt.  This is an incredibly useful feature of Windows when you need to debug issues that occur prior or during user or system logon.  I’ve used this for years to troubleshoot a number of Windows Active Directory issues including slow logons and failed logons.  The only downfall of this is you’re forced into using Microsoft Network Monitor or Microsoft Message Analyzer to review the packet captures it creates.  While Microsoft Message Analyzer is a sleek tool, the resources required to run it effectively are typically a non-starter for a lab or traditional work laptop so I tend to use Network Monitor.

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After the packet capture was started I went through the standard process of joining the machine to the domain and rebooting the computer.  After reboot, I logged in an account in the AAD DC Administrators Azure Active Directory group, started an elevated command prompt as the VM’s local administrator and stopped the packet capture.  This provided me with a capture of the domain join, initial computer authentication, and initial user authentication.

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While I know you’re as eager to dig into the packet capture as I am, I’ll cover that in a future post.  Instead I decided to break out the RSAT tools and poke around at configuration choices an administrator would normally make when building out a Windows Active Directory domain.

Let’s first open the tool everyone who touches Windows Active Directory is familiar with, Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC).  The data layout (with Advanced Features option on) for organizational units (OUs) and containers looks very similar to what we’re used to seeing with the exception of the AADC Computers, AADC Users, AADDSDomainAdmin OUs, and AADDSDomainConfig container.  I’ll get into these containers in a minute.

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If we right-click the domain node and go to properties we see that the domain and forest are running in Windows Server 2012 R2 domain and forest functional level with no trusts defined.  Examining the operating system tab of the two domain controllers in the Domain Controllers OU shows that both boxes run Windows Server 2012 R2.  Interesting that Microsoft chose not to use Windows Server 2016.

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Navigating to the Security tab and clicking the Advanced button shows that the AAD DC Administrator group has only been granted the Create Organizational Unit objects permission while the AAD DC Service Accounts group has been granted Replicating Directory Changes.  As you can see from these permissions the base of the directory tree is very locked down.

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Let me circle back to the OUs and Containers I talked about above.  The AADDC Computers and AADDC Users OUs are the default OUs Microsoft creates for you.  Newly joined machines are added to the AADDC Computers OU and users synchronized from the Azure AD tenant are placed in the AADDC Users OU.  As we saw from the permissions above, we could use an account in the AAD DC Administrators group to create additional OUs under the domain node to delegate control to another set of more restricted admins, for the purposes of controlling GPOs if security filtering doesn’t meet our requirements, or for creating additional service accounts or groups for the workloads we deploy in the environment.  The permissions within the default OUs are very limited.  In the AADDC Computer OU GPOs can be applied and computer objects can be added and removed.  In the AADC Users OU only GPOs can be applied which makes sense considering the user and group objects stored there are sourced from your authoritative Azure AD tenant.

The AADDSDomainAdmin OU contains a single security group named AADDS Service Administrators Group (pre-Windows 2000 name of AADDSDomAdmGroup).  The group contains a single member names dcaasadmin which is the renamed built-in Active Directory administrator account.  The group is nested into a number of highly privileged built-in Active Directory groups including Administrators, Domain Admins, Domain Users, Enterprise Admins, and Schema Admins.  I’m very uncomfortable with Microsoft’s choice to make a “god” group and even a “god” user of the built-in administrator.  This directly conflicts with security best practices for Active Directory which would see no account being a permanent member of these highly privileged groups or at the least divvying up the privileges among separate security principals.  I would have liked to see Microsoft leverage a Red Forest Red Forest  design here.  Hopefully we’ll see some improvements as the service matures.  I’m unsure as to the purpose of the OU and this group at this time.

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The AADDSDomainConfig container contains a single container object named SchemaUpdate.  I reviewed the attributes of both containers hoping to glean some idea of the purpose of the containers and the only thing I saw of notice was the revision attribute was set to 2.  Maybe Microsoft is tracking the schema of their standard managed domain image via this attribute?  In a future post in this series I’ll do a comparison of this managed domain’s schema with a fresh Windows Server 2012 R2 schema.

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Opening Active Directory Sites and Services shows that Microsoft has chosen to leave the domain with a single site.  This design choice makes sense given that a limitation of AAD DS is that it can only serve a single region.  If that limitation is ever lifted, Microsoft will need to revisit this choice and perhaps include a site for each region.   Expanding the Default-First-Site-Name site and the Servers node shows the two domain controllers Microsoft is using to provide the Windows Active Directory service to the VNet.

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So the layout is simple, what about the group policy objects (GPO)?  Opening up the Group Policy Management Console displays five GPOs which are included in every managed domain.

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The AADDC Users GPO is empty of settings while the AADC Computers GPO has a single Preference defined that adds the AAD DC Administrators group to the built-in Administrators group on any member servers added to the OU.  The Default Domain Controllers Policy (DDCP) GPO is your standard out of the box DDCP with nothing special set.  The Default Domain Policy (DDP) GPO on the other hand has a number of settings applied.  The password policy is interesting… I get that you have the option to source all the user accounts within your AAD DS domain from Azure AD, but Microsoft is still giving you the ability to create user accounts in the managed domain as I covered above which makes me uncomfortable with the default password policy.  Microsoft hasn’t delegated the ability to create Fine Grained Password Policies (FGPPs) either, which means you’re stuck with this very lax password policy.  Given the lack of technical enforcement, I’d recommend avoiding creating user accounts directly in the managed domain for any purpose until Microsoft delegates the ability to create FGPPs.  The remaining settings in the policy are standard out of the box DDP.

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The GPO named Event Log GPO is linked to the Domain Controllers OU and executes a startup script named EventLogRetentionPolicy.PS1.  Being the nosy geek I am, I dug through SYSVOL to find the script.  The script is very simple in that it sets each event log to overwrite events over 31 days old.  It then verifies the results and prints the results to the console.  Event logs are an interesting beast in AAD DS.  An account in the AAD DC Administrators group doesn’t have the right to connect to the Event Logs on the DCs remotely and I haven’t come across any options to view those logs.  I don’t see any mention of them in the Microsoft documentation, so my assumption is you don’t get access to them at this time.  I have to imagine this is a show stopper for some organizations considering the critical importance of Domain Controller logs.  If anyone knows how to access these logs, please let me know.  I’d like to see Microsoft incorporate an option to send the logs to a syslog agent via a configuration option in the Azure AD Domain Services blade in the Azure Portal.

I’m going to stop here today.  In my next post I’ll do some poking around by running a port scan against the managed domain controllers to see what network flows are open, enable LDAPS to see what the SSL/TLS landscape looks like, and examine authentication protocols and algorithms supported (NTLMv1,v2, Kerberos DES, etc).  Thanks for reading!