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Adding first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller within Windows 2003/2008/2012 domain environment

 

Prerequisites

The first and the most important part within preparation phase is… installing Windows Server 2016 server. If you do not have it installed, you would not be able to promote it as DC 🙂

This topic does not cover Windows Server 2016 installation process, so you should do this by yourself.

To be able to configure Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller within Windows 2003/2008/2012 domain environment we need to check if Forest Functional Level is set up at least in Windows 2003 mode. This is the lowest allowed Forest Functional Level for Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller. That means, Windows 2000 DCs are not supported anymore. Microsoft does not support them with cooperation with 2012 and 2016 Domain Controllers. It’s time to forget about these old operating systems.

If you do not know how to identify current domain or forest functional level, please follow this article on my blog Determine DFL and FFL using PowerShell

In case of need to raise them, please follow:

You are ready to go with the first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller installation process

Preparation for Domain Controller promotion

 

Just before we can go with Domain Controller promotion, we need to identify 2 FSMO Role owners for:

  • Schema Master
  • Infrastructure Master

These 2 role owners must be online and need to be accessible by our new Windows Server. It is required because from Windows Server 2012 forest and domain preparation is done in a background and the entire schema and domain extensions might be done by wizard itself, which is really convenient.

That’s right, there is no more adprep tool needed to be used manually by administrator. Everything can be covered by promotion wizard!

To check which Domain Controller(s) hold appropriate FSMO roles, you can follow one of below steps:

  • use command line netdom utility
netdom query fsmo

and check the output

  • use PowerShell cmd-lets
Get-ADForest

Get-ADDomain

and check servers holding particular role

  • you can give a try to my new C# application written recently

Identify FSMO Role owners

  • follow any other way you wish, to enumerate the roles

We collected almost all necessary information to start AD preparation for the first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller. The last and the most important part before we start preparation, is checking Forest/Domain condition by running:

  • dcdiag tool for environment’s health status
  • repadmin tool for environment’s replication status

Run in command-line on a DC:

dcdiag /e /c /v /f:c:\dcdiag.log

review log file and check if there are no errors. If so, please correct them (in case that your forest/domain has a lot of Domain Controllers, please skip /e switch)

now run in command-line:

repadmin /showrepl /all /verbose >c:\repadmin.log

to check if your DCs are replicating data without errors.

For more about Active Directory Troubleshooting Tools check one of my articles on this blog

After those checks, you can start with Active Directory preparation.

Adding first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller

Before we start preparing AD for new Windows Server 2012 DC, we need to be sure that we are members of:

  • Enterprise Administrators group
  • Schema Administrators group

These 2 groups membership is required to extend forest schema and prepare domain(s) for new DC’s deployment.

Install your new box with Windows Server 2012 and configure its IP address correspondingly to your network settings and change default server name to yours.

Remember that it’s very important to properly configure Network Card settings to be able to promote your new box as domain controller!

The most important part of configuring NIC is setting up DNS server(s). Point your new box to one of the existing Domain Controllers where you have installed and configured DNS or any other DNS server responsible for your domain’s DNS zone.

IPv4 settings verification

IPv4 settings verification

After you verified IP settings, you can start server promotion to Domain Controller. However, you cannot use old good known dcpromo command as it is not valid anymore.

Open Server Manager console (if it was not already opened) and click on “Add roles and features” on Dashboard screen

Adding Roles and Features

Adding Roles and Features

Using default settings in a wizard go up to “Server roles” step (in this article those steps are not described. You may expect their description in another article) and select Active Directory Directory Services role. Accept also default features which are required during installation

Select AD DS role to install

Select AD DS role to install

confirm you wish to install all required tools to manage domain from this server after promotion

Confirm tools installation

Confirm tools installation

Verify if check box is in proper place and go to the next step

Select AD DS role to install

Select AD DS role to install

On “Features” screen also go to the next step as we do not need more at this step to be installed. All required features will be installed as you accepted them a little bit earlier

Adding AD:DS role

Adding AD:DS role

Skip this step as it refers to Active Directory in Azure which is not part of this guide

Adding AD:DS role

Adding AD:DS role

Read information about role you are installing and go to confirmation screen to install it

Adding AD:DS role

Adding AD:DS role

Wait some time until selected role is being installed before you will be able to promote server to Domain Controller

Installing AD:DS role

Installing AD:DS role

Installing AD:DS role

Installing AD:DS role

Now, when role is installed, you can see in notification area an exclamation mark. It tells you that post-installation steps might be required

Notification area

Notification area

Click on it to see what can be done. You will see that now, you can promote your server to Domain Controller and information that features were installed successfully

Notification area

Notification area

 

OK, let’s start server promotion to Domain Controller! Click on “Promote this server to a domain controller” and you will see a wizard.

As we are adding Domain Controller into existing domain, we need to select proper option. It is selected by default, however, please ensure if you can see that “Add a domain controller to an existing domain” is selected

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

On the screen when you are prompt to provide domain in which new Domain Controller is promoted click on select button

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

You will be asked to provide credentials to discover available domains. Provide Enterprise Administrator credentials and go to the next step

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

You can provide credentials using User Principal Name or user name followed by NetBIOS domain name

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

When your credentials are appropriate you get a window with all available domains. Select this one in which you want to introduce Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller and click “OK

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

You should see a screen with all provided details from previous steps

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Define if server should be DNS server and Global Catalog. I would strongly recommend installing both roles on each Domain Controller in your environment. Select a Site to which this DC should belongs to and define Directory Services Restoration Mode (DSRM) password for this DC.

Important! DSRM password needs to be remembered as it is different than domain administrator’s   and is unique for every Domain Controller (if not configured to be replicated from model account in a domain – this is not a part of this guide)

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

If you have DNS delegation in place, update it here, or skip and do this later

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

In”Additional options” you can define if you want to install this Domain Controller from Install From Media (IFM) (if you have it) and point from which DC replication should be done. When you do not specify, server will choose the best location for AD database replication. If you have no special requirements for that, just leave “Any domain controller”

Important! If you wish to use IFM installation media, you need to be aware that it MUST be prepared on the same Windows Server version as promoted DC. It is not possible to promote Windows Server 2016 DC from Windows Server 2012 IFM or any other than 2016.

Note! As this is your first Windows Server 2016 DC in the environment, you cannot use IFM as deployment option.

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Specify location for AD database and SYSVOL (if you need different that suggested) and go to the next step

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

Now, wizard informs you that Schema and Domain preparation need to be done. As you did not run adprep before, it will be executed in a background for you

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

You will see a summary screen where you can check all selected options for server promotion. As in Windows Server 2012 everything done over Server Manager is translated into PowerShell code and it is executed in a background, you can check code by clicking on “View script” button. You will see what exactly will be run. This is transparent process and you cannot see PowerShell window in front of you

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

PowerShell code for adding Domain Controller

#
# Windows PowerShell script for AD DS Deployment
#

Import-Module ADDSDeployment
Install-ADDSDomainController `
-NoGlobalCatalog:$false `
-CreateDnsDelegation:$false `
-Credential (Get-Credential) `
-CriticalReplicationOnly:$false `
-DatabasePath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
-DomainName "testenv.local" `
-InstallDns:$true `
-LogPath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
-NoRebootOnCompletion:$false `
-ReplicationSourceDC "plwrow082wdc001.testenv.local" `
-SiteName "EUPLWROHQ01" `
-SysvolPath "C:\Windows\SYSVOL" `
-Force:$true

If all prerequisites will pass and you are sure that all setting you have set up properly, you can start installation

Domain Controller promotion

Domain Controller promotion

As it was stated earlier, wizard needs to extend schema and prepare domain for the first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller. You can see this during promotion process

Trnsparent adprep /forestprep

Trnsparent adprep /forestprep

Transparent adprep /domainprep

Transparent adprep /domainprep

wait until wizard will do its job and after server restart you will have new Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller logon screen

Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller logon screen

Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller logon screen

Log on into DC and enjoy its new features

Windows Server 2016 DC's desktop

Windows Server 2016 DC’s desktop

Give DC some time to replicate Directory Services data to be fully operational.

You can check if everything is replicated over LDP utility. Open run box and type ldp

Running LDP

Running LDP

From menu select “Connection -> Connect

LDP utility replication status check

LDP utility replication status check

Specify Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller’s name or leave it blank to connect to the DC itself

LDP utility replication status check

LDP utility replication status check

After connection verify at window bar if you are connected to appropriate Domain Controller

ldap://plwrow161wdc002.testenv.local/DC=testenv,DC=local

From Active Directory RootDSE context you can read Domain Controller’s functionality level, which in this case is 7 – Windows Server 2016

and search for

  • isGlobalCatalogReady
  • isSynchronized

if both attributes have TRUE as a status, everything is up-and-running properly. If not, you need to wait some time to give replication finish its job.

LDP utility replication status check

LDP utility replication status check

Post-installation steps

Now, you need to do small changes within your environment configuration.

On each server/workstation NIC properties configure alternative DNS server IP address pointing to the new Domain Controller.

Open DHCP management console and under server/scope options (it depends on your DHCP configuration) modify option no. 006

Add there IP address of your new Domain Controller as new DNS server.

That’s all!

Congratulations! You have promoted your first Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller in existing domain. Enjoy!

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

How to identify FSMO Roles owner

 

This topic is not new to administrators. I have just wondered if I could simplify that action somehow and I realized that this would be possible.

I’m learning C# coding with .NET so I decided to try creating a simple application (of course with GUI) to do the job itself without an administrator’s involvement.

So, you can download simple application written by me in C# using .NET framework and execute it on any domain member workstation/server, does not have to be necessarily Domain Controller (but may be), and get results on the screen.

The only one requirement is to have appropriate version of .NET framework installed on a machine from which this application is executed.

To simplify the entire process, I have compiled the application with .NET 3.5 and .NET 4.5 versions.

Both applications are identical but the only one difference is that one supports .NET 3.5 and the other one .NET 4.5

You can use .NET 3.5 application of Windows Vista/7/2008/2008R2 and .Net 4.5 on Windows 8/8.1/10/2012/2012R2/2016 as those .NET versions are defaults for that servers.

Of course you can always use the existing methods like command-line utilities or check that with PowerShell or even with Microsoft GUI consoles. The first two of them requires some knowledge about command and cmd-let syntax and the last one needs couple of consoles to check all of them.

My application is nothing new but helps a little bit. Just execute it and get results on the screen, that’s all.

Get FSMO Roles GUI

Get FSMO Roles GUI

When you click on any of server names in application’s window, you will copy server’s name into clipboard

Get FSMO GUI copy role owner name

Get FSMO GUI copy role owner name

and you can paste it, in example, to your documentation.

Copied FSMO Roles owner

Copied FSMO Roles owner

So, let’s give a try to the app to do a job for you. Download it and execute within a domain from any supported operating system with appropriate .NET framework installed on it.

  • Get FSMO GUI application for .NET 3.5
    (MD5 checksum: dcda3cca863320077b05f71a2dea4cc1)
    
    (SHA-1 checksum: 74e07d284e670a142bf0a02de8a7daeb975dbf0f)
    
    (SHA-256 checksum:55083852d36a8c5839f74a2ef8b91e18d2db327779d76b717ef9210679a20826)
  • Get FSMO GUI application for .NET 4.5
    (MD5 checksum: 2618e57525f60b98a2ce30da1776e272)
    
    (SHA-1 checksum: 023c7e0c77007ae746e6c8de0d1e7f30f97daf1d)
    
    (SHA-256 checksum: f23280ea26917c7005114d7a106f479808b377bd14179407ddfc22ce18cb410c)

I hope it would be useful for you.

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Be Wary of your Network Events Activities – Audit Active Directory for Enhanced Security

 

The role of auditing network events/activities in maintaining a secure IT environment

If you’re an IT administrator, you probably already know that most security breaches occur because of insider abuse/misuse and the total number of breaches is increasing exponentially each year. The majority of organisations house sensitive data somewhere on their system that, if exposed, could be costly and damaging to the reputation of the business.

Thankfully, Windows comes pre-packed with numerous auditing capabilities that can be used to track events or activities within the network. In this blog, we will discuss the nine audit settings that you can configure through the Windows operating system that will allow you to better monitor your Active Directory environment.

1. Audit Account Logon Events

When active, this audit setting monitors each time your computer is validating the credentials of user accounts with the right level of authority to generate account logon events.

Audit account logon events Properties

There are only two audit options that are available – successful attempts and failed attempts. You can check either one or both options (or neither if you require no auditing) as per your Active Directory monitoring requirements. In the above image, we have checked the “success” option.

After configuring this setting, you can view successful audit events in the audit log generated in the Event Viewer. All you need to do is navigate to the Windows Logs -> Security in the left panel and all the audit success events will be shown in the right panel. Click on a particular event to get detailed information in the lower right section of the window.

Refer to the highlighted portion in the below image for reference.

Event viewer console

2. Audit Account Management

Configuring this audit setting enables you to audit user account management and get details on the following:

  • User accounts or groups that are created, changed, or deleted
  • User accounts that are renamed, disabled or enabled
  • User accounts where the password has been set or changed

Audit account management Properties

3. Audit Directory Service Access

This audit setting determines whether the operating system you have on your computer audits users or user accounts attempting to access objects in the Active Directory. The only objects that can be audited are ones in which the SACL (System Access Control List) is specified by the user and the requested access type, including “Write”, “Read” or “modify,” matches with the settings that have been configured in the SACL.

4. Audit Logon Events

This setting enables users to audit every instance of a user attempting to log in and out of the system.

5. Audit Object Access

The “Audit Object Access” setting enables auditing of user attempts to access objects that are not present in the Active Directory; such as files, emails, Exchange groups or SharePoint items. However, the system will only generate audits for those objects specified in the System Access Control List.

6. Audit Policy Change

Configuring this setting enables users to audit each instance of users attempting to modify critical policies – including trust policy, account policy, audit policy and the user rights assignment policy.

7. Audit Privilege Use

This audit setting is configured to monitor the levels of permissions and rights that each user has to perform specific tasks. Defining this policy setting not only helps track the actions of privileged users but also facilitates in ensuring they don’t misuse the rights granted to them. If you wish to generate an audit entry when a user succeeds in exercising the right or permission assigned to him/her, check the “Success” option. To generate audit entries where the exercise of a user right fails, select the “Failure” option.

8. Audit Process Tracking

Configuring this security setting tracks any process-related activities including the creation of process, duplication handling, termination of process and objects that have been accessed indirectly.

9. Audit System Events

“Audit System Events” monitors details of users who attempt a security system startup or shutdown, try to change system time or aim to load extensible authentication components for personal benefits or other malicious purposes.

Defining this security policy allows you to keep track of the loss of audited events that have occurred due to the auditing system failure. It also shows you whether the security log size has exceeded the configured warning threshold level.

The Alternative

Enabling all these settings and keeping track of them can be quite a laborious and time consuming task. Often, administrators seek the help of third-party solutions to automate the auditing and monitoring of their critical IT systems. LepideAuditor for Active Directory tracks changes across Active Directory and sends real-time alerts and notifications straight to the inbox and generates detailed reports with just a single click.

Active Directory Topology Visualization

 

My friend Wojciech has started his blog recently and you can find there a lot of interesting articles. His knowledge base is increasing, so keep an eye on his blog, it’s worth!

One of really useful articles at this moment is about Active Directory Topology Visualization

If you have ever considered documenting your Domain Controllers connection map but you could not find free and easy tool for that, Wojciech prepared Visual Basic Script generating your AD topology which you can simply use in your documentation.

It is really simple in use, just double click on it and wait couple of minutes (depend on the environment size – how many DCs are in your domain). After some time you will receive Domain Controllers connection map.

Generated Active Directory topology - downloaded from http://wojciech.pazdzierkiewicz.pl

Generated Active Directory topology – downloaded from http://wojciech.pazdzierkiewicz.pl

This is also helpful in process of troubleshooting. But for the details just take a look at http://wojciech.pazdzierkiewicz.pl/?p=533

And do not forget visiting his blog to extend your Active Directory knowledge!

Author: Krzysztof Pytko
Sources: http://wojciech.pazdzierkiewicz.pl

Active Directory objects naming convention

 

Have you ever wondered about Active Directory objects naming convention in your domain environment? If not, but you wish to standardize their naming convention because your current one is not satisfactory then this article is for you.

Of course this is only a suggestion how to build the naming convention because there is no default and suitable template for all environments.

I will try to show you couple of examples for particular Active Directory objects and I hope you would be able to adjust them to your environment’s requirements.

Users

Every domain environment is full of users. That’s why good to have some naming convention for them to avoid mess.

The most popular template is based on user’s first and last name. This allows you to define variety naming conventions.

One of them defines user’s login combined with first name and last name separated by special character like:

  • dot
  • hyphen
  • underscore
  • no special character

Let’s take a look closer to an example for a person: Krzysztof Pytko. Possible logins could look like:

  • Krzysztof.Pytko
  • KrzysztofPytko
  • Krzysztof_Pytko
  • KrzysztofPytko

There is nothing wrong in this convention but what will happen if some day another Krzysztof Pytko would be hired in a company? In this case you need to somehow differentiate users. One of available options is to add a digit/number at the end of user’s login for example:

  • Krzysztof.Pytko1
  • Krzysztof.Pytko2

and so on.

Another option uses user’s last name and part of first name (let’s say 3 letters), in example:

  • pytkokrz

You can of course use a lot of variants based on a solution shown above but this also does not guarantee unique logins in the environment.

It’s good to have a naming convention which defines unique logins. One of option is to use employee number assigned by HR department. This should be unique for every employee in the company. Of course this might be difficult to remember by user but after few usages it should be easily remembered.

Let’s take a look for few examples

  • 1001000001
  • 0000001
  • 1150010001

everything depends on your company’s policy assigning employee numbers.

The last one example uses country and location identifiers with the next free number. Let’s consider this for Poland/Wroclaw for 15th employee

  • PLWRO015 (for smaller environments up to 1000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO0015 (for medium environments up to 10000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO00015 (for larger environments up to 100000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO000015 (for huge environments up to 1000000 users in a location)

That was not all possible options but this should show you a direction to create your own user’s naming convention.

Groups

As in previous paragraph, every domain is also full of groups. They are mostly used to grant access to resources but they have other purpose like:

  • role
  • fine-grained password policy
  • mail group
  • or other not mentioned here

However, regardless of their destination, every group must belongs to one of those types:

  • domain local
  • global
  • universal

So, you can use as group prefix, its type and it would look like:

  • l – for domain local groups
  • gfor global groups
  • ufor universal groups

OK, I have mentioned group prefix, so this probably means that I have some template to build group’s name? Yes, you’re right, I have something like that. Group naming convention relies on 2 variants in this case and depends on:

  • group is for resource access
  • group is not for resource access

 Let’s take a look what we need for group’s name, designated for resource access control:

  • group prefix
  • department owner
  • group role
  • group suffix

As group prefix, it’s good to choose group type, to simply underline what kind of type it is. Another possibility is to use prefix indicating for a group role. For department owner, specify short name or unique id of team to which it is designated. Group role should clearly define for what this group is used and it may be few words separated by hyphen () or underscore (_). However, I would recommend using hyphens only, it is much more readable form. Group suffix is mostly used only for resource access groups, which states if group has read-only (-r) or modify (-rw) permissions.

OK, let’s see few examples of resource groups for couple of departments:

  • IT department with licensing data
  • HR department with payroll data
  • Finance department with invoices
  • Common resources for all departments with instructions

All group types for IT department in above example are presented below:

  • litlicensing-datar (for read-only access); litlicensing-datarw (for modify access)
  • gitlicensing-datar (for read-only access); gitlicensing-datarw (for modify access)
  • uitlicensing-datar (for read-only access); uitlicensing-datarw (for modify access)

All group types for HR department with payroll data in above example are presented below:

  • lhrpayrollr; lhrpayrollrw
  • ghrpayrollr; ghrpayrollrw
  • uhrpayrollr; uhrpayrollrw

All group types for finance department with invoices data:

  • lfinanceinvoicer; lfinanceinvoicerw
  • gfinanceinvoicer; gfinanceinvoicerw
  • ufinanceinvoicer; ufinanceinvoicerw

and all group types for common resources share in read-only mode as modify is rarely used for all departments:

  • lallinstructionsr
  • gallinstructionsr
  • uallinstructionsr

That was not all possible options but this should show you a direction to create your own groups’s naming convention.

Computers and Servers

OK, now we are going into another important part on naming convention. This scheme is related with user devices and servers. It is really good to have common template for those machines as it would simply allow identifying them without logging on onto them.

There is a lot of possibilities and they rely on how much big is your environment. I will show you just couple of options which may direct you into your own scheme.

Computers

You need to remember that we are still limited to 15 characters in a computer name which is caused by NetBIOS.

Let’s start with the environments where up to 10000 computers in single location is enough.

CCLLLSVVFFFXXXX

where:

  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • FFF – is machine function (WKS, NTB, TAB, MOB)
  • XXXX – next number for machine

and below you can find few examples of scheme usage for 2 locations (Poland/Wroclaw and England/London):

  • PLWROW07WKS0001 (for computer with Windows 7)
  • PLWROW81WKS0005 (for computer with Windows 8.1)
  • PLWROW81NTB0015 (for notebook with Windows 8.1)
  • PLWROW81TAB0002 (for tablet with Windows 8.1)
  • UKLONWXPWKS0001 (for computer with Windows XP)
  • UKLONW07NTB0004 (for notebook with Windows 7)
  • UKLONW81TAB0150 (for tablet with Windows 8.1)

in a companies where more devices (up to 100000) are needed in one location, this convention might be selected (this is modification of this one above)

CCLLLSVVFFXXXXX

  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • FF – is machine function (PC, NB, TA, MO)
  • XXXXX – next number for machine

just short single example: PLWROW81PC00005

and a case for really large companies where up to 1000000 devices are needed in one location (this is modification of this one above)

  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • F – is machine function (Pc, Notebook, Tablet, Mobile)
  • XXXXXX – next number for machine

just short single example: UKLONW81T000015

Servers

Situation with servers name is similar to computers with the same limitation to 15 characters of NetBIOS name. You can simply apply the same scheme with small modifications.

Below scheme is good for environments where no more than 1000 servers of the same role are located within the same site.

CCLLLSVVRFFFXXX

where:

  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (03 – 2003, 08 – 2008, 12 – 2012)
  • R – is for operating system release (1 – release 1, 2 – release 2)
  • FFF – is machine function (DCR, DCW, FIL, PRT, APP, MGM)
  • XXX – next number for machine

Machine function in template above states:

  • DCR – Read-Only Domain Controller
  • DCW – Domain Controller
  • FIL – File Server
  • PRT – Print Server
  • APP – Application Server
  • MGM – Management Server

Ok, let’s consider few servers according to above naming convention:

  • PLWROW121DCW001
  • PLWROW122DCW002
  • PLWAWW122DCR001
  • PLWROW082FIL001
  • PLWROW082PRT001
  • PLPOZW032MGM003

this should be enough for most environments but if this is too less then you need to replace one server function character for the digit like:

CCLLLSVVRFFXXXX

you have less letters to describe more detailed server’s role but this allows you to have up to 10000 servers with the same role in the same site.

Let’s see short example of this scheme usage  PLWROW121APP0001

 Printers

To define printer naming convention you have a lot of possibilities, so I will present only one which seems to be good in my opinion. This is using:

SSSPMMMXXX

where:

  • SSS – printer signature
  • P – is it pooled or not (0 – no , 1 – pooled)
  • MMM – device manufacturer (SAM – Samsung, LEX – Lexmark, CAN – Cannon, HPP – HP Printer, KYO – Kyocera, RIC – Ricoh)
  • XXX – device number

Let’s see how this looks in practice:

  • PRT0LEX001
  • PRT0HPP002
  • PRT0RIC001
  • PRT1SAM001

Remember! Put detailed information of the printer’s location in printer’s properties as this is not available in naming convention.

I think that’s all for printers. As I said there is a lot of possibilities but I chose this one.

Group Policies

One more object remained on my list. This is GPO which is rarely used according to any naming convention. Especially in outsourced environments where many administrators are managing group policies.

I strongly suggest to apply some good scheme for those objects as it is much more convenient in management where a lot of policies are deployed.

For Group Policy naming convention you can use:

  • GPO prefix
  • GPO function (words separated by hyphen ““)
  • GPO suffix
  • GPO description (optional out of naming convention)

where GPO prefix is one of:

  • WIN – for Windows policies
  • CTX – for Citrix policies
  • RDS – for Terminal/Remote Desktop Services
  • TST – test policies
  • CUS – customer policies
  • OLD – old policies awaiting for removal

where GPO suffix is one of:

  • LPM – for loopback policy in merge mode
  • LPR – for loopback policy in replace mode
  • SCF – security filtering enabled
  • WMI – WMI filter applied
  • GPP – group policy preferences defined

basing on that, you can create GPOs in your environment. Below couple of examples:

  • winie-restrictions-control-panel
  • ctxscreen-saverlpr
  • tstwsus-updatescf
  • winfolder-mapping-drive-hgpp

and that’s all about naming convention in this article. I hope it was somehow helpful for you and you could build your custom naming convention for Active Directory objects.

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

iSiek’s forum has been launched

 

I would like to announce you that iSiek’s forum about Microsoft Windows services has been launched!

iSiek's forum

iSiek’s forum

I hope you would participate in building new IT community on this forum. I hope we would be able to help each other.

You are invited! I encourage you to register your account for free and start posting your issues or try to help others.

Just some simple forum’s rules

  1. Forum is free of charge. It is maintained from ads.
  2. To contribute in community, free registration is required
  3. Write posts in English
  4. Check forums if similar problem does not exist
  5. Use appropriate forum to post issue
  6. Do not spam
  7. Use external services to attach images/logs and place only link to them
  8. Be polite and do not use vulgarism
  9. If you do not want to help, do not answer

Be a part of this new community and make family atmosphere here.

I hope we will make this IT world better!

Forum address is http://kpytko.pl/forum

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Metadata cleanup over GUI

 

Sometimes we have problem with broken Domain Controller(s) within our environment. Then we do not think about consequences from removing failed DC from network. We just shut it down and replace with the new one, because mostly we have no system state backup of the old Domain Controller. Everything looks fine for us, we have no failed DC in a network. But Active Directory still knows about it and uses that DC for AD data replication which can cause errors.

To prevent replicating data between broken DC and the rest, you need to perform metadata cleanup.

This can be done using ntdsutil as I showed you some time ago in this article Metadata cleanup for broken Domain Controller or over graphical console – using Active Directory Users and Computers.

You still need to have Domain Admin account to do that and at least one Windows Server 2008 Domain Controller.

I will show you how to do that using Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain Controller but this is exactly the same procedure on previous servers.

To remove metadata about non-existing Domain Controller, log on to Windows Server 2008 or newer DC and open Active Directory Users and Computers console.

Click right mouse button (RMB) on start tile and choose “Run”

Execute run box

Execute run box

and type dsa.msc to open Active Directory Users and Computers console

Opening Active Directory Users and Computers console

Opening Active Directory Users and Computers console

Now, you need to go into main menu and search for “View -> Advanced features” option and select it

Selecting advanced features for ADUC console

Selecting advanced features for ADUC console

Now, go to “Domain Controllers” organizational unit and select Domain Controller for which you want to do metadata cleanup

Selection of Domain Controller to remove

Selection of Domain Controller to remove

Click on it RMB and choose “Properties

Properties of broken Domain Controller

Properties of broken Domain Controller

You need to check if this computer object is not protected by accidental deletion from domain environment. To see that, select “Object” tab. Looks if “Protect object from accidental deletion” is set. If so, uncheck it and apply changes.

Protect from accidental deletion check

Protect from accidental deletion check

Unchecking accidental deletion protection

Unchecking accidental deletion protection

Now, go back to Active Directory Users and Computers console to Domain Controllers OU and select this DC once again

Click RMB on it and choose “Deleteoption

Deleting broken Domain Controller from domain

Deleting broken Domain Controller from domain

Confirm that you are sure and you want to delete this object from the domain

Removing object from the domain

Removing object from the domain

You will get information that you are trying to remove Domain Controller from the domain without appropriate removal process

Domain Controller removal warning

Domain Controller removal warning

you are sure that this Domain Controller does not exists anymore and you wish to delete it anyway, so select this checkbox and confirm deletion

Confirm DC removal

Confirm DC removal

if your server was acting as Global Catalog, you need to confirm once again that you wish to delete it from the domain

Confirm DC removal

Confirm DC removal

There is one more place you need to visit to completely clean up your environment. Open Active Directory Sites and Services console and locate Site in which removed DC was authenticating objects

Sites and Services - removed DC

Sites and Services – removed DC

as you can see, this Domain Contoller has no NTDS Settiings object associated. Just click RMB on it and remove it

Removing DC from Sites and Services

Removing DC from Sites and Services

Confirm that you wnat to delete this object and that’s all!

Confirm DC object removal

Confirm DC object removal

You removed easily metedata of broken Domain Controller from your domain!

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Setting default domain password policy

 

Every domain environment needs a default domain password policy.

You have it, am I right?

Even if you don’t know, default password policy is available in your domain. By default, you will find all its settings within “Default Domain Policy“. This policy is applied at domain level.

Default Domain Policy

Default Domain Policy

To start with domain password policy, please read the article I published some time ago: Domain Password Policy

The question is: did you review password policy settings and considered password requirements for your environment?

Or just like the most administrators: “Hey, I was hired to this company much more later when password policy was in-place. I did not need to touch it!

Oh really?! Do you know that you (as a domain administrator) are responsible for password security? Yes, you are! So, let’s take closer look at those settings and what you can configure as reasonable default password policy.

 Default password settings

When you deploy new domain, you don’t have to configure password policy from the scratch. There are default values set up.

Default password settings

Default password settings

Of course, password settings should be adjusted to your company needs. Leaving the defaults might not be appropriate and I would strongly recommend to do that.

Let’s see what we can configure there. You will find password policies in two nodes under

Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Account Policies

These nodes are:

  • Password Policy
  • Account Lockout Policy

In Password Policy node you can configure:

  • Enforce password history
  • Maximum password age
  • Minimum password age
  • Minimum password length
  • Password must meet complexity requirements
  • Store passwords using reversible encryption

and in Account Lockout Policy node are these options:

  • Account lockout duration
  • Account lockout threshold
  • Reset account lockout counter after

Above options are responsible for building good password policy – default domain password policy.

Let’s see what they mean and what you can set up there.

Password Policy settings

This is really important node where you can define how the password would be built and how much secure it is. You need to remember that you are setting default password policy for your domain. All those settings will be applied to every domain account.

Password Policy settings

Password Policy settings

Remember! Users may complain about password setting but only then if you will force them to use very long passwords and if it will expire to often.

Enforce password history

To start building password policy you need to consider how many unique passwords user must set, before it would be possible to go back and use the oldest one.

For that “Enforce password history” setting is responsible. You need to define value, how many unique passwords are required to be set by user, before allowing him to use previous passwords.

Enforce password history explanation

Enforce password history explanation

Allowed value is between 0 (no password history) and 24 (maximum)

For default domain password policy I would suggest to set value of 10.

Changed enforce password history setting

Changed enforce password history setting

This is quite secure and allow much more simple calculation for other setting showed a little bit later in this article.

In this case, the setting means that user must set 10 unique passwords before he can go back and use first from the previous list of passwords.

There is slight chance that user would not reuse his passwords 🙂

Maximum password age

Another important setting in the policy is how often users must change their password.

Maximum password age explanation

Maximum password age explanation

Maximum password age value must be between 0 and 998 days.

Setting value of 0 causes that password expires every 0 days! That means in reality – password never expires

You definitively should avoid of using this value in productive environments! Especially that this is not easy to find out, because password never expires flag is not modified and you cannot see this directly in Active Directory Users and Computers console. Password never expires checkbox is NOT selected then!

Note! Good practice shows that password should be changed in range of 30 – 90 days.

When you set this value up too short, users would complain that they have to change password too often. This might cause a problem with “yellow sticks” around computer where users write their passwords!

For default domain password policy 90 days look reasonable and users are not complaining too much.

Maximum password age setting

Maximum password age setting

I would recommend of setting this value for the maximum password age. Password change once per 3 months is acceptable and no one should complain.

Minimum password age

This is really important setting and as I can see many administrators are afraid of setting this value to custom time.

Information! Minimum password age policy is responsible for controlling how often user is allowed to change the password.

Mostly, in the environments I see one of these two values:

  • 0 days
  • 1 day

By the default, you can find 1 day as minimum password age setting.

This means that user can change the password and in if he wants to do that again, he needs to wait 1 day before it would be possible again.

Minimum password age explanation

Minimum password age explanation

OK, but what’s wrong in this setting?

User is allowed to change the password once per day. That means, user can repeat this procedure every day to go back to his first (favourite) password.

At current stage, you defined 10 unique passwords, so after 10 days, user would be able to reuse his previous password again and use it for the next 80 days until system will force its change!

The situation looks even worse if the setting contains 0 days as a value.

There is no restriction to password change time limit for user! This means, user can simply go back to the previous password within the same day!

Setting strength options in other policies does not make sense as you can see, user would be able to have always the same password, all the time.

That’s why this setting is really important!

So, how should I set up this value?

I was wondering how to adjust this value in different environments and I figured it out.

I invented a formula to calculate appropriate value. Because password policies vary in every environment, I needed some common way to achieve this.

To simply calculate this value I used:

  • Enforce password history count
  • Maximum password age
Minumum password age formula

Minumum password age formula

This is really secure and reasonable value. You may be sure that user would not be able to reuse the first password during one password life cycle.

Hey, but users start complaining that they cannot change password on demand!

No, they would not! Believe me 🙂

The number of regular users, who are changing their passwords before forced by the system, is less than 1% in every environment.

Even administrator would not do that themselves 😀

Besides, they are allowed to change their password, but not every day.

That would help you to find out what is going on in your domain when some users will call IT department or HelpDesk too frequenty and request password change. Maybe an account is shared between other users? 🙂

Relying on this formula Minimum password age value is 10 days

Minimum password age

Minimum password age

and put calculated minimum password age into policy

Minimum password age setting

Minimum password age setting

Minimum password length

Ok, password life cycle is defined but we need to set up its length. You know that above settings would be nothing if you allow to use too simple password, rigth?

The setting should be chose wisely as enforcing users to set very long password might cause an issue with forgoten passwords or account lockouts. Sometimes it might be worse, they would use “yellow sticks” where password is written.

Possible values for this setting are between 1 and 14 characters.

Minimum password length explanation

Minimum password length explanation

When you set this up to 0 characters then password would not be required. Of course this is strongly not recommended!

Setting it between 8 -12 charactes is good enough and no one should complain.

Minimum password length setting

Minimum password length setting

Password must meet complexity requirements

Another important password policy setting.

If you do not use this option, your password policy would be weak.

Thanks to this setting you have to use 3 types of different characters out of 4 groups:

  • uppercase characters [A – Z]
  • lowercase characters [a – z ]
  • digits [0 – 9]
  • special characters [!@#$%^&*()-=_+]

This policy may be enabled or disabled. When it’s enabled, password is much more secure and of course I would recommend to have it enabled.

Password must meet complexity requirements explanation

Password must meet complexity requirements explanation

Store passwords using reversible encryption

That setting should never be enabled in default domain password policy unless you really need it and you have Windows Server 2000/2003 Domain Functional Level where Fine-Grained Password Policies are unavailable.

Enabling this setting causes that password is unsafe as it is stored like it would be saved in plain text!

Store passwords using reversible encryption explanation

Store passwords using reversible encryption explanation

That’s all about defined password policy strength.

Now it’s time to configure policies responisble for account lockout behavior.

Account Lockout Policy settings

Policies located under this node are responsible for locking account if user types password incorrectly few times in a row.

By default, they are unconfigured and account is not locking at all!

So, if this is not configured should I take care of it? If you are asking me – yes, always!

This should be configured in every domain environment. Even if you think that it is not necessary, turn it on.

Just set up Account lockout threshold value to something really high like 50. That’s quite enough failed logon attempts for users and still prevents infinite password guess by hackers or other dangerous stuff.

Let’s take a look at those policies and try to configure them reasonably.

Account lockout threshold

As mentioned above, if you think that you do not need this policy, turn it on and specify high number like 50 attempts

That’s quite enough failed logon attempts for users and still prevents infitite password guess by hackers or other dangerous stuff.

Account lockout threshold explanation

Account lockout threshold explanation

In other case when you would like to implement this feature in your environment, please follow below formula

Account lockout threshold formula

Account lockout threshold formula

This would allow your users to check every password used in the past and gives them extra 2 tries if some typo would appear in the password box. After that they will call IT or HelpDesk team 🙂

Based on that formula, current value is 12 failed logon attempts before account is locked out

Account lockout threshold value

Account lockout threshold value

Just set this up in the policy and 2 other option would activate

Account lockout threshold setting

Account lockout threshold setting

When you apply changes, another windows with 2 other settings appear filled with deafult values

Account lockout options

Account lockout options

Account lockout duration

Account lockout duration policy is responsible for locking a domain account for specified duration of time. When failed attempt logon count is reached, this policy locks temporarily the account.

When specified time passes, the account is unlocked and user may try to logon again using his credentials. To logon sooner, user needs to contact with IT or HelpDesk department and request manual account unlock.

Account lockout duration time explanation

Account lockout duration time explanation

Default value for this policy is reasonable. 30 minutes of account lockout is acceptable, after that time user is able to try to logon again.

If you need much more control when account is locked out, set up 0 as a value. Then account must be always unlocked by administrator.

Reset account lockout counter after

This setting must be less or equal to Account lockout duration time. It defines after what time failed logon attempt is reset and user may try to logon once again.

The setting gives user one more chance and if password is provided inproperly, account is locked out again for time specified in Accout lockout duration policy.

Reset account lockout counter after explanation

Reset account lockout counter after explanation

I would strongly recommend leaving the value with the same time as in Account lockout duration. Then users would not try to experiment with their password and do not extend lockout period.

When you implement all those setting in your password policy, take a look at its summary

New password policy summary

New password policy summary

it looks much better and much more secure than the deafult one and maybe better than your previous policy 🙂

Now, you need to only refresh password policy on your Domain Controllers and test if it is working fine for the next password change.

On Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2008R2 open command line and type

gpudate /force
gpupdate /force

gpupdate /force

to start refreshing group policies

GPOs refreshed

GPOs refreshed

On Windows Server 2012 and 2012R2 use PowerShell cmd-let for that

Invoke-GPUpdate
Invoke-GPUpdate cmd-let

Invoke-GPUpdate cmd-let

to get the same result as above.

And that’s all. Your default domain password policy is wisely implemented.

If you wish to deploy other password policies for other group of users and you have at least Windows Server 2008 Domain Functional Level please read these articles on my blog how to do that.

Fine-Grained Password Policy in Windows Server 2008/2008R2

Fine-Grained Password Policy in Windows Server 2012/2012R2

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Active Directory reporting – version 2

 

It took me some time to publish this post but finally, I did it.

My previous post about Active Directory Reporting using PowerShell script was published almost one year ago! Since that time a lot of new features were implemented within the script.

I was in contact with Daniel Petri, he suggested a lot of new features and we added them to the script. You may also wish to visit his great blog at  http://www.petri.com/

Today, I would like to introduce this script to you. I hope it would be useful for many of you. Let’s start with its description.

Have you ever consider how to simplify an Active Directory reporting for new AD environments? I decided to prepare PowerShell script which check a lot of Active Directory configuration settings and brings them on screen. This option reduces time required to gather some basic and a little bit more advanced information about Active Directory forest and domain(s) configuration.

AD environments mostly have at least one Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controller where Active Directory Web Services are running. This is mandatory prerequisite to be able to execute the script.

You can simply execute it on:

  • Domain Controller
  • Domain member server with PowerShell 2.0 installed
  • Domain member workstation with RSAT installed

for domain member machines you need to be sure that Active Directory Web Services port in available from location where you are running. By default it is 9389/tcp

The script requires only authenticated domain user to work properly if no custom delegation control is configured.

You can simply run it within PowerShell console without any parameter and its start scanning currently logged on forest with all its domain. When you specify a parameter – it must be DNS forest name – the scan is performed for the specified forest.

You don’t have to worry when executing the script because this is run in read-only mode, so no changes are done in the environment.

Below you may find some screen-shots from the script execution. This comes from multi-site, single domain test environment.

The output color (red) related with scanned data does not refer to an error! This is only to emphasise the setting on which you should pay attention.

Let’s see what settings are being checked when script is executed.

At forest level:

  • Forest name
  • Schema version
  • Forest Functional Level
  • List of trusts
  • Active Directory Recycle Bin enablement
  • Check of Exchange version
  • Check of Exchange Organization name
  • Check of Lync version
  • Tombstone lifetime period
  • Enumerate all partitions
  • All domains in the forest
  • Global Catalog servers in the entire forest
  • Site and Subnets information
  • Site link(s) configuration
  • UPN suffixes
  • Forest FSMO roles holders
  • Check members for Enterprise and Schema Administrator groups
  • Domain Controller(s) details
  • SYSVOL replication method
  • SYSVOL size for DFS-R replication method

at domain level:

  • Domain name
  • NetBIOS domain name
  • Domain Functional Level
  • List of Domain Controllers
  • List of Read-Only Domain Controllers
  • Global Catalog servers for the domain
  • SYSVOL replication method
  • Orphaned objects check
  • Lingering objects check
  • Conflict replication objects check
  • Default domain computer objects location
  • Default domain user objects location
  • Total no. of Organizational Units
  • Total no. of computers
  • Total no. of computers with particular operating system version
  • Total no. of users
  • Active users
  • Inactive users
  • Locked out users
  • Users with no password required
  • Users with password never expires
  • Total no. of groups
  • Global, Universal and Local groups check
  • Check for existance of default domain policies
  • Total no. of Domain Administrators
  • Built-in Domain Administrator account details
  • Domain FSMO roles holders
  • Default Domain Password policy details
  • Total no. of Fine-Grained Password Policies

So, please take a look at the screen-shot output from multi-site single domain environment below

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

and at this moment, that’s all. I hope in the future the script would be developed. I am going to add the results export into formatted HTML format.

Or maybe, you would like to participate with its future development? If so, please let me know and we’ll do that!

OK, and this is a script which you can download. After downloading, please remove –v2.doc extension and leave only .ps1

Active Directory Reporting v0.2 script

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Active Directory reporting

 

Have you ever consider how to simplify an Active Directory reporting for new AD environments? I have recently played with new multi domain environment and I had to check many things manually with built-in consoles. This is nothing difficult but needs some time and when I have done the environment recognition, I decided to prepare PowerShell script. It reduces time required to get some basics information about Active Directory forest and domain(s) configuration.

Today, many Active Directory environments have at least one Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controller where Active Directory Web Services are running. The script is written for at least PowerShell 2.0 with Active Directory module.

You can simply run it within PowerShell console without any parameter and its start scanning currently logged on forest with all its domain. When you specify a parameter – it must be DNS forest name – the scan is performed for the specified forest.

You don’t have to worry when executing the script because this is run in read-only mode, so no changes are done in the environment.

Below you may find some screen-shots from the script execution. Unfortunately, I have only access to single forest, single domain enviropnment at this time and you will get short overview of the script. But i will try to put additional screen-shots from multi-domain environment in the nearest future.

Oh, and one more thing. The output color (red) related with scanned data does not refer to an error! This is only to emphasise the setting on which you should pay attention.

That’s all, let’s see how the results are looking.

Script executed without a parameter

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

and script execution with forest name as a parameter

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

unfortunatelly, the output is exactly the same as for previous execution but I will replace screen-shots as soon as I will do thet in my multi-domain test environment.

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

OK, what is scanned by the script? Just take a look at the list below

At the forest level:

  • Forest name
  • Schema version
  • Forest Functional Level
  • Active DIrectory Recycle Bin enablement
  • All domains in the forest
  • Site names
  • Global Catalog servers in the entire forest
  • UPN suffixes
  • Forest FSMO roles holders

At domain level (each domain):

  • Domain name
  • NetBIOS domain name
  • Domain Functional Level
  • List of Domain Controllers
  • List of Read-Only Domain Controllers
  • Global Catalog servers for the domain
  • Default domain computer objects location
  • Default domain user objects location
  • Total no. of Organizational Units
  • Total no. of computers
  • Total no. of users
  • Total no. of groups
  • Total no. of Domain Administrators
  • Built-in Domain Administrator account details
  • Domain FSMO roles holders
  • Default Domain Password policy details
  • Total no. of Fine-Grained Password Policies

 

UPDATE

 

It took me some time to update this post but finally, I did it. A lot of new features were added into script check.

I was in contact with Daniel Petri, he suggested a lot of new features and we added them to the script. You may also wish to visit his great blog at  http://www.petri.com/

Please take a look at new features on forest level, implemented in the new script version:

  • List of trusts
  • Check of Exchange version
  • Check of Exchange Organization name
  • Check of Lync version
  • Tombstone lifetime period
  • Enumerate all partitions
  • Site and Subnets information
  • Site link(s) configuration
  • Check members for Enterprise and Schema Administrator groups
  • Domain Controller(s) details
  • SYSVOL replication method
  • SYSVOL size for DFS-R replication method

Also new features at domain level were added:

  • SYSVOL replication method
  • Orphaned objects check
  • Lingering objects check
  • Conflict replication objects check
  • Total number of computers with particular operating system version
  • Active users
  • Inactive users
  • Locked out users
  • Users with no password required
  • Users with password never expires
  • Global, Universal and Local groups check
  • Check for existance of default domain policies

So, please take a look at the output from multi-site single domain environment below

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

Script execution screen-shot

and at this moment, that’s all. I hope in the future the script would be developed. I am going to add the results export into formatted HTML format.

Or maybe, you would like to participate with its future development? If so, please let me know and we’ll do that!

OK, and this is a script which you can download. After downloading, please remove –v2.doc extension and leave only .ps1

Active Directory Reporting v0.2 script

Author: Krzysztof Pytko