Active Directory: what is it and how does it work?

Regardless of size, most organizations use Active Directory to manage permissions and control access to critical network resources. But what exactly is it, and how does it help organizations?

Active Directory™ is a common topic of discussion within the company. Sometimes, callers refer to it using the term “AD”. In fact, Active Directory represents Microsoft’s software that organizes and provides access to the information contained in an operating system’s directory. Find out more about this system.

Table of contents

What is Active Directory?

Active Directory (AD) is a system ofDirectory service that runs on Microsoft Windows Server. Its main function is to allow administrators to manage permissions and control access to network resources. In Active Directory, data is stored in the form of objects. These include users, groups, applications and devices. In addition, they are classified according to their name and attributes.

Active Directory allows administrators to centrally manage and control the configuration of computers and users. In fact, users must authenticate themselves before they can seamlessly access all the resources in the domain for which they are authorized.

It should be noted, however, that active directory systems are vulnerable to several types of threatsSince it plays a central role in authorizing users.

How does Active Directory work?

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is a central component of Active Directory. It provides the The primary mechanism for authenticating users and determines which network resources they can access. It also provides additional features such as single sign-on (SSO), security certificates, LDAP and access rights management.

AD DS organizes data in a hierarchical structure consisting of domains, trees and forests. In fact, a domain represents a group of objects such as users, groups and devices, which share the same database AD. A tree is one or more domains grouped in a logical hierarchy. A forest is the highest level of organization in AD and contains a group of trees.

Using Active Directory

In addition to Active Directory Domain Services, there are a handful of other essential services provided by AD. Some of these services and their uses are listed below:

  • Lightweight Directory Services or AD LDS. This is a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory service. It provides only a subset of the functionality of AD DS, making it more versatile in terms of where it can be used.
  • Certificate Services. This provides a way to create, manage, and share encryption certificates, which allow users to securely exchange information over the Internet.
  • Active Directory Federation Services or ADFS. It is a single sign-on (SSO) solution for AD. It gives employees the ability to access multiple applications with a single set of credentials, simplifying the user experience.

Rights Management Services or AD RMS. This set of tools helps manage security technologies that will help organizations secure their data. These technologies include encryption, certificates and authentication. They cover a range of applications and content types, such as email and Word documents.

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