Get-UniqueString: generate unique ID for Azure Deployments

When deploying resources to Azure, you sometimes need to generate a world-wide unique name. Examples of these are DNS names, storage account names, Azure Batch account names, etc. Some of these names have additional requirements. For instance, storage account names must be all lowercase with a length of 3 to 24 letters. How do you…

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Best practices for a stable AGPM deployment

Over the years I have worked a lot with Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM), our solution for change management of Group Policy. This small tool is part of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). AGPM has always flown under the radar, but is deployed in surprisingly many enterprises. By reviewing and troubleshooting some of these deployments…

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Do you have plaintext passwords in your Azure deployments?

If you are developing deployments for Azure you will encounter situations where you need to use passwords and other data that needs to stay hidden. Azure has plenty of facilities for this, but sometimes people can be tempted to take shortcuts. So, for one of the projects I’m involved in there was a suspicion that…

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Azure Quickstart Template: create forest with one or two domains

A lot has happened in the Azure world since I last published this short series on deploying an Active Directory forest with ARM templates: Part 1: Using the template Part 2: Understanding the template structure Part 3: Visualizing the template Since that time we have had a major advance in the Virtual Machine world with…

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Check your DNS for WINS lookup — then get rid of it

It is surprisingly often that I encounter customers who have a WINS dependency in an odd place: in DNS itself. Since the early days of AD the DNS service had a feature that was intended specifically to help with migrations from NT4 domains to Active Directory. This feature called WINS Lookup is enabled on a…

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The Active Directory 2016 PAM Trust: how it works, and why it should come with a safety advisory

We have long been working on increasing security in the design and operations of Active Directory. In each release from Windows Server 2003, 2008 and up to 2012 R2 you can see steps taken: better encryption, additional Kerberos features, deprecation of old protocols, etc. With Windows Server 2016 we have taken a next step, and…

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PKI: which templates are built-in and which are from my company?

A colleague asked me a question on behalf of his customer. They were doing a discovery in a rather messy PKI environment and the question arose: which templates are standard (default), and which ones were created manually? Hopefully they have a good naming convention to make this immediately obvious, but otherwise a deeper look is needed. After…

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PKI: which templates are published where?

Windows Server has two kinds of Certificate Authorities: Standalone and Enterprise. This strangely named difference really only means one thing: an Enterprise CA can (must) use templates for certificates it issues. Using templates you enforce standards for your private certificates, and enable desirable features like autoenrollment. A template exists as an object in the Configuration…

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The well-known SID -1000

It is not every day that you discover a new well-known SID, but today I got mine. I know… if I just discovered a well-known SID it can hardly be well-known, can it? Let me explain. If you have been around the (Windows) block a few times, you will know what a SID is: a security…

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Get rid of accounts that use Kerberos Unconstrained Delegation

Suppose you are managing an enterprise Active Directory. You will have people at your desk that need you to configure something in AD to support their applications: GPOs, service accounts, OUs and permissions, etc. Sometimes they will ask for Kerberos Delegation, a nebulous technology that is generally not well understood by admins or developers. There are…

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