Active Directory self service: back to the basics

Posted by Edward Killeen on Mon, Jun 25, 2012

We get involved in some very cool intricate discussions on identity management; delving into federation, RBAC, provisioning workflows, all the really fun stuff.  But sometimes you have to step back and realize that there is some blocking and tackling needed.  You need Active Directory self service.

End users are an incredible source for identity information and permissions management.  What you can't automate, delegate.  And this is very true.

active directory self serviceThe problem is that Active Directory houses some very sensitive information and many extremely important business processes are keyed off of it.  As such, you can't let an end user change their title or direct reports or gain access to the shared folder that houses the 10Q documents.  So, when delegating, keep RBAR in mind.

What's RBAR you say?  Rights based approval routing.  The idea that you take your roles and assign what can and cannot be changed in AD based on who is asking.  If it's the title attribute and the requester is the VP of HR, you let the change happen.  If it's the mobile phone number and it's the user requesting it, make the change.  If it's the telephone number and the user's manager asking, route that approval over to IT for an official OK.

It's really that easy.  It takes IT out of the process unless it's something that they need to know and/or approve.  It gives control to the business owner who should know what needs to happen.  And it maintains the integrity of Active Directory.

This RBAR concept also applies to Active Directory group management.  Different groups have different levels of security.  Anybody should be able to join the "book of the month club" group; but an approval should be needed to join the "Top Secret book binding project" group.  CEO approval should be needed to join the "10Q analyst call" group and HR approval should be needed to leave the "Employees on probation" group.  RBAR it.

What happens when you flip the tables and offer file share access via self service?  Nothing different, apply the RBAR concept to requesting access to a resource.  Don't just rely on the outdated AGDLP method to manage access, utilize roles and RBAR.

I could go on and on but our whitepaper already did that, discussing how to delegate permissions into AD without giving permission to AD.  Take a look.

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Tags: Active Directory, Identity and Access Management (IAM)