Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Active Directory - The World's Most TRUSTWORTHY Foundational Technology


Today I'd like to share a few thoughts with you on one the most important topics in all of organizational security - i.e. which FOUNDATIONAL technology should organizations be operating upon today? I will make the case of Active Directory (🔺).

Microsoft Active Directory - The World's Most Trustworthy Foundational Technology

For the last twenty years, the entire world has successfully operated on a highly trustworthy foundation - Active Directory.

Indeed, from the entire United States Government to virtually the entire global Fortune 1000, today over twenty thousand government and business organizations in over one hundred and ninety countries operate on Microsoft Active Directory.

Active Directory has stood the test of time and is the most trustworthy foundation that organizations can operate on today.

While some may view Active Directory as merely an Identity Provider (IDP), in reality, it is substantially more than that. 

Active Directory is -

  1. An enterprise-grade multi-mastered directory service that offers unrivaled availability, fault-tolerance and resilience. 

  2. A Kerberos realm that enables enterprise-wide trustworthy network authentication and seamless single sign-on.

  3. The Foundation of Authentication, Authorization and Auditing (AAA) that empowers organizations to precisely control network user authentication, secure authorization to IT resources and auditing for all vital AA actions.

  4. The Heart of Identity and Access Management (IAM) considering that the entirety of an organization's identities (and their credentials) and security groups reside in and are secured and managed in Active Directory.   

  5. The Heart of Privileged Access and Enabler of Least Privileged Access (LPA) considering that the most powerful privileged accounts are stored, secured and managed in it -AND- that privileged access for all salient aspects of identity and access management can be precisely provisioned/delegated based on the principle of least privilege.    

  6. The Control Center for Centralized Host and Security Management that via Group Policy enables organizations to easily, efficiently and comprehensively control and manage all endpoints -AND- their security.

  7. The Foundation for Zero Trust considering that Zero Trust is fundamentally about ensuring that all access is provisioned based on the principle of least privilege (i.e. LPA), and in environments powered by Active Directory, access for all aspects of identity and access management is provisioned, controlled and audited in Active Directory.

In addition, Active Directory lets organizations easily enable seamless single sign-on to external systems via federation, and it can be synchronized with secondary IDPs like Microsoft Azure to facilitate SSO access to Cloud based services.

Finally, contrary to popular belief, Active Directory can* in fact be easily, efficiently and reliably operated and secured. 

However, the most important and overlooked strength of Active Directory is that enables and empowers organizations to be able to autonomously and independently operate their IT infrastructures, without any eternal external dependencies, without having to expose the entire organization to the Internet, and without having to incur a dime of additional cost.


In essence, today, an organization's Active Directory deployment is the very foundation of its cyber security, the heart of privileged access and the bedrock of organizational security, which makes it an extremely valuable organizational asset.

Above all, it lets organizations independently operate, highly trustworthy, self-reliant and fixed-cost IT infrastructures, in contrast to having to relinquish all control and transition to relatively new, constantly costing, third-party operated services.

In conclusion, when it comes to cyber security, technical maturity, operational excellence and autonomous operation, today, no technology can rival the trustworthiness, resilience and autonomy that Active Directory offers organizations.

Best wishes,
Sanjay Tandon

Program Manager
Active Directory Security
Microsoft Corporation

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