Top Ten Tips for Security in Windows Server 2003

Guy’s top ten tips for Windows Server 2003 Security

Take as your mantra: ‘Preventions is better than cure’.  It is more fun configuring the system to prevent security breaches than implementing disaster recovery plans.

1) Administrators Account – Needs Renaming

If hackers do not know the name, then they cannot start guessing the password.  Choose a name which blends in with the other users.  You could even create a dummy Administrator account with no rights.  Audit the account and see what happens.

Master the Security Configuration and Analysis Snap-in

Use the Templates to check the available security settings for different levels of security e.g. HISECDC – High security settings for a domain controller.

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2) Certificates

Take the time to check out the variety of roles where certificates can improve security, examples: EFS, L2TP, and email.  Develop a policy and a strategy for certificates, for example set up your Active Directory certificate authority to be a subordinate of VeriSign.

3) Check the Security Logs

It is no use having a marvellous security system if you do not check to see what is happening.  Get to know the significant Security events such as ID’s 675 and 680.

4) EFS on Laptops

Equip your laptops with EFS, this will prevent people stealing the files through a parallel installation.  However it will not provide protection if the thief can guess the user’s password.  If you do you EFS take the time to practice with the recovery agent.  You will find that you have to backup the data and restore it on the server with the recovery agent’s certificate.

5) Make the Run As command your friend

Always logon with your ordinary humble account, and when you want administrative privileges, instead of logging off – which is a pain – use Run As.  You can even modify shortcuts to Run As another user.

6) L2TP for your VPN’s not PPTP

It seems that PPTP is a favourite choice for hackers, so configure the clients to use L2TP.  However the certificates are awkward to set up, so take care with the instructions.

7) Lockup your Root Servers

Do not neglect physical security, particularly for the servers in your root domain.  Think of the disaster if there was only one root server and it was stolen.

8) Services that you do not use?

If there are any services that you are not using, then make sure they are disabled.  Do you need IIS, FTP or Telnet on the server?  Should clients run VB or java scripting engines or macros?

9) User education

User support and acceptance for your security initiatives will be your unseen friend.  Foster goodwill by explaining why account security is so important.  Reinforce the message with horror stories from other companies.

10) Which service packs do you have?

Back to basics, remember to check for the latest security hot-fixes.  Several of these hot-fixes have prevented virus attacks which have crippled competitors.

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Related topics

Accounts   • Auditing  • IPSec  • Kerberos Tickets  • Windows RIS Server

LT2P and Certificates   • Security Snap-in  • Remote Shutdown