Most organizations have no Active Directory cyber disaster recovery plan

Although 97% of organizations said that Active Directory (AD) is mission-critical, more than half never actually tested their AD cyber disaster recovery process or do not have a plan in place at all, a Semperis survey of over 350 identity-centric security leaders reveals.

Active Directory recovery plan

“The expanded work-from-home environment makes organizational identity a priority and also increases the attack surface relative to Active Directory,” said Charles Kolodgy, Principal at Security Mindsets.

Key research findings

  • AD outages have a serious business impact. 97% of respondents said that AD is mission-critical to the business, and 84% said that an AD outage would be significant, severe, or catastrophic.
  • AD recovery failure rate is high. 71% of respondents were only somewhat confident, not confident, or unsure about their ability to recover AD to new servers in a timely fashion. Only a tiny portion (3%) said they were “extremely confident.”
  • AD recovery processes remain largely untested. Exactly 33% of organizations said they have an AD cyber disaster recovery plan but never tested it, while 21% have no plan in place at all. Out of the entire poll, just 15% of respondents said they had tested their AD recovery plan in the last six months.
  • Organizations expressed many concerns about AD recovery, with the lack of testing being the number one concern. This includes organizations that have not tested AD recovery at all and those who have tried but failed.

“In today’s cloud-first, mobile-first world, dependency on Active Directory is rapidly growing and so is the attack surface,” said Thomas LeDuc, VP of Marketing at Semperis. “One survey respondent even noted that a prolonged AD outage would be akin to a nuclear inferno. So, it’s clear that while organizations understand the importance of AD, they are a step behind in securely managing it, particularly as they support an expanding ecosystem of mobile workers, cloud services, and devices.”

As the gatekeeper to critical applications and data in 90% of organizations worldwide, AD has become a prime target for widespread cyberattacks that have crippled businesses and wreaked havoc on governments and non-profits.

Active Directory recovery plan

Active Directory recovery plan

  • Minimize Active Directory’s attack surface: Lock down administrative access to the Active Directory service by implementing administrative tiering and secure administrative workstations, apply recommended policies and settings, and scan regularly for misconfigurations – accidental or malicious – that potentially expose your forest to abuse or attack.
  • Monitor Active Directory for signs of compromise and roll back unauthorized changes: Enable both basic and advanced auditing and periodically review key events via a centralized console. Monitor object and attribute changes at the directory level and changes shared across domain controllers.
  • Implement a scorched-earth recovery strategy in the event of a large-scale compromise: Widespread encryption of your network, including Active Directory, requires a solid, highly automated recovery strategy that includes offline backups for all your infrastructure components as well as the ability to restore those backups without reintroducing any malware that might be on them.



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