Although 97% of organizations surveyed said that Active Directory (AD) is mission-critical, more than half never actually tested their AD cyber disaster recovery process or do not have a plan in place at all
Although 97% of organizations surveyed said that Active Directory (AD) is mission-critical, more than half never actually tested their AD cyber disaster recovery process or do not have a plan in place at all, according to Semperis’ 2020 study, titled Recovering Active Directory from Cyber Disasters. This discovery is alarming given the rise of fast-moving ransomware attacks and the widespread impact of an AD outage.
The report, based on a survey of over 350 identity-centric security leaders, highlights the current state of cyber preparedness as it relates to recovering Microsoft Active Directory (AD) from ransomware and wiper attacks.
“The expanded work-from-home environment makes organizational identity a priority and also increases the attack surface relative to Active Directory,” said Charles Kolodgy, Principal at Security Mindsets. “As the Semperis survey points out, over 50% of organizations have no AD cyber disaster recovery plan or have not tested what they have. An AD failure resulting from a cyberattack caused by ransomware could be catastrophic to any unsuspecting or unprepared business.”
Key research findings:
- AD outages have a serious business impact. Almost every respondent (97%) said that AD is mission-critical to the business, and 84% said that an AD outage would be significant, severe, or catastrophic.
- AD recovery failure rate is high. Most respondents (71%) were only somewhat confident, not confident, or unsure about their ability to recover AD to new servers in a timely fashion. Only a tiny portion (3%) said they were “extremely confident.”
- AD recovery processes remain largely untested. Exactly one-third of organizations (33%) said they have an AD cyber disaster recovery plan but never tested it, while 21% have no plan in place at all. Out of the entire poll, just 15% of respondents said they had tested their AD recovery plan in the last six months.
- Organizations expressed many concerns about AD recovery, with the lack of testing being the number one concern. This includes organizations that have not tested AD recovery at all and those who have tried but failed.
“In today’s cloud-first, mobile-first world, dependency on Active Directory is rapidly growing and so is the attack surface,” said Thomas LeDuc, Vice President of Marketing at Semperis. One survey respondent even noted that a prolonged AD outage would be akin to a nuclear inferno. So, it’s clear that while organizations understand the importance of AD, they are a step behind in securely managing it, particularly as they support an expanding ecosystem of mobile workers, cloud services, and devices.”
As the gatekeeper to critical applications and data in 90% of organizations worldwide, AD has become a prime target for widespread cyberattacks that have crippled businesses and wreaked havoc on governments and non-proﬁts. In partnership with Semperis, the Identity-Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) included the following security guidance for AD in the latest iteration of IDSA Best Practices:
- Minimize Active Directory’s attack surface: Lock down administrative access to the Active Directory service by implementing administrative tiering and secure administrative workstations, apply recommended policies and settings, and scan regularly for misconfigurations – accidental or malicious – that potentially expose your forest to abuse or attack.
- Monitor Active Directory for signs of compromise and roll back unauthorized changes: Enable both basic and advanced auditing and periodically review key events via a centralized console. Monitor object and attribute changes at the directory level and changes shared across domain controllers.
- Implement a scorched-earth recovery strategy in the event of a large-scale compromise: Widespread encryption of your network, including Active Directory, requires a solid, highly automated recovery strategy that includes offline backups for all your infrastructure components as well as the ability to restore those backups without reintroducing any malware that might be on them.
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