Authentication vs. Authorization

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

So what’s the difference between these 2 terms? Quite a lot of people, even senior enterprise administrators tend to get this one wrong.

Well let’s try to establish this once and for all:

Authentication is all about checking and validating that a user is who he says he is. Authentication is commonly based upon a username and a password (but from now on and in the future we should all really be heading towards certificates).
To set a daily task to the word “Authentication”, this is really what you do once you logon to the domain at work once you’ve booted up your computer.

Authorization determines wheter a user has access to resources – i.e. on a specific share on the company fileserver.
It involves SAM, ACLs (Access Control Lists) and Kerberos.

So to keep it in a phrase:
“You need to authenticate at a DC to be authorized access to a share”

Categories: Uncategorized

AD DS Administrative Models

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Theory is of course no more than that in an IT world, but every now and then there’s a couple of theoretical terms which are very good to remember.
Since I’m working in an Enterprise company, one of the few here ind Denmark, this is especially important for me to remember.

Please notice that this info is all taken from the Microsoft 70-647 Second Edition Training Kit:

In the centralized administration model, IT-related administration is controlled by one group.
In this model, all critical servers are housed in one location, which facilitates central backup
and an appropriate IT staff member being available when a problem occurs.
The centralized administration model is typically used in organizations that have one large
central office with a few branch offices. Delegation is by function rather than by geographical
location, and most tasks are allocated to IT staff.

In the distributed administration model, tasks are delegated to IT in various locations. The
rights to perform administrative tasks can be granted based on geography, department, or
job function. Also, administrative control can be granted for a specific network service such
as DNS or a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. This enables separation of
server and workstation administration without giving nonadministrators the rights to modify
network settings or security. A sound, well-planned delegation structure is essential in the
distributed administration model.
The distributed administration model is commonly used in enterprises that have a number
of large, geographically distributed locations—for example, a multinational organization.
Such organizations typically have several domains or even several forests. Although rights are
delegated to administrative staff on a regional basis, a group of enterprise administrators can
typically perform high-level administrative tasks across domains and across forests.

The mixed administration model uses both centralized and distributed administration. For example,
you could define all security policies and standard server configurations from a central
site but delegate the implementation and management of key servers by physical location.
Administrators can configure servers in their own location but cannot configure servers in
other locations. You can distribute the rights to manage only local user accounts to local
administrators and restricted rights over specific OUs to nonadministrative staff. As with the
distributed administrative model, an enterprise administrators group would have rights in all
locations. This model is used in medium-sized organizations with a few fairly large sites that
are geographically separated but in which the main office wants to keep control of certain
aspects of the operation.

Categories: Active Directory

Forest and Domain Functional Levels

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

A list of the forest functional levels and the features supported in Server 2008 R2.
The list is from the 2nd edition of the Microsoft 70-647 book.

Forest Functional Level and its Features

Windows Server 2000

All default Active Directory features

Windows Server 2003

All default Active Directory features, plus the following features:
■ Support for forest trusts
■ Support for renaming domains
■ Support for linked-value replication, which enables domain controllers to replicate individual property values for objects instead of the complete objects to reduce network bandwidth usage
■ The ability to deploy a read-only domain controller (RODC) that runs Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2
■ Improved Knowledge Consistency Checker (KCC) algorithms and scalability
■ The ability to create instances of the dynamic auxiliary class called dynamicObject in a domain directory partition
■ The ability to convert an inetOrgPerson object instance into a User object instance and the reverse
■ The ability to create instances of the new group types, called application basic groups and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) query groups, to support role-based authorization
■ Deactivation and redefinition of attributes and classes in the schema

Windows Server 2008

All the features available at the Windows Server 2003 forest functional level but no additional features

Windows Server 2008 R2

All the features that are available at the Windows Server 2003 forest functional level, plus the following features:
■ Active Directory Recycle Bin


Domain Functional Level and its Features

Windows 2000

Native All default Active Directory features and the following features:
■ Universal groups for both distribution groups and security groups
■ Group nesting
■ Group conversion, which makes conversion between security groups and distribution groups possible
■ Security identifier (SID) history

Windows Server 2003

All default Active Directory features, all features from the Windows 2000 Native domain functional level, plus the following features:
■ The availability of the domain management tool, Netdom.exe, to prepare for a domain controller rename
■ Update of the logon time stamp
■ The ability to set the userPassword attribute as the effective password on the inetOrgPerson object and user objects
■ The ability to redirect Users and Computers containers
■ Authorization Manager, to store its authorization policies in AD DS
■ Constrained delegation
■ Support for selective authentication

Windows Server 2008

All default Active Directory features, all features from the Windows Server 2003 domain functional level, plus the following features:
■ Distributed File System (DFS) Replication support for SYSVOL
■ Advanced Encryption Services (AES 128 and 256) support for the Kerberos authentication protocol
■ Last Interactive Logon Information
■ Fine-grained password policies

Windows Server 2008 R2

All default Active Directory features, all features from the Windows Server 2008 domain functional level, plus the following features:
■ Authentication mechanism assurance
■ Automatic service principal name (SPN) management for services running on a particular computer under the context of a Managed Service Account when the name or DNS host name of the machine account changes

Categories: Active Directory