Microsoft’s Group Policy Object (GPO) is a feature of the the Microsoft NT operating systems. Group Policy sets the the rules within which a user or a end point can behave. It is the holistic controller of the IT environment. The settings are part of of Microsoft Active Directory (AD) landscape. There are many benefits of active directory group policy objects (GPO) to ensure that the IT environment is within controls and user are not able to damage the systems.
Some of the benefits that help in tightening the cyber security are
1. Password: IT admin can set a common policy for user authentication. They can set minimum password strength to be x number of characters, have lower upper case along with special characters. To be forced changed after y number of days. Same password cannot be more than once ever or only after x number of months.
2. Software: User can be deprived the privilege of installing any software on their computer. If a software is needed then the IT admin can install it using higher credentials or push it from the domain server.
3. External media: A USB flash drive containing malicious payload can cause havoc with the IT infrastructure. External media such as USB drives, DVD/CD drives can be blocked from operation. User wont be able to transfer any file from or to an external media. This not just helps in blocking malicious software but also ensures user are not able to transfer confidential data out of company network.
4. Uniform user experiences: As the policy can be applied to a set of users, each user would have similar experience than their colleagues. Any software or additional privilege can be assigned only on need to have basis.
5. Quick deployment: IT administrator can deploy a policy directly from the main domains server. IT admin does not have to connect to or got to each PC for deployment. This save time and less effort is required.
6. Password prevention: Browsers have capability of storing site password for a user. While this is helpful it can have serious consequences if the hardware lands in hands of bad actors. Group policy can disallow any browser the functionality of storing password. User will have to remember password or use special password storage site.
7. Site blocking: IT administrator can block user from reaching any site that is deemed inappropriate from company point of view. They are usually data storage sites like Google Drive, DropBox etc. These sites are allowed only when the company have officially purchased storage facility for company use. Other types of sites can be data hoggers like YouTube, Vimeo etc. Based on company policy any site can be blocked across the company.
8. Disable administrator access: A new computer invariably gives complete access to the user. By bringing the the computer under active directory IT administrator can block user from accessing the command prompt (cmd) or registery.
Cyber security has exponentially evolved in past couple of years boosted by the work from home (WFH) requirements. The digital landscape hasn’t changed much however the cyber security requirements are in top demand to ensure safety and security of company resources and employees. Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy Objects can help you ease out a major portion of cyber security requirements.