What is LAPS?
A lot of organisations will use the same local administrator password across all machines, which is a bad idea for a number of reasons. At a basic level, if this password is learnt, it allows anyone to install software as an administrator – at a higher level it facilitates things such as pass the hash, mimikatz and general reconnaissance against your machines (usually with the goal of elevating to Domain Admin).
If you currently deploy your Local Administrator Account via Group Policy Preferences, this makes things even easier for an attacker to obtain the shared local administrator password. The CPASSWORD value is easily searchable against SYSVOL and Microsoft provide the 32-byte AES key which can be used to decrypt the CPASSWORD. Alan has a great post here why you should stop using Group Policy Preferences for deploying Local Administrators.
So what can we do?
LAPS – Local Administrator Password Solution! This is Microsoft’s solution to managing Local Administrator account passwords across an organisation. LAPS solution features include:
• Sets a unique randomly generated password PER machine
• Automatically change the Local Administrator Password every x days
• Stores Local Administrator Passwords as an attribute of the Computer Object in Active Directory
• Password is protected in AD by AD ACL, so granular security model can be easily implemented
• Password is protected during the transport via Kerberos encryption
- Installs LAPS onto management machine
- Extend Schema and prepare Active Directory
- Deploying LAPS client to those machines you wish to manage
- Configure Group Policy to enable and set the relevant policies
This post will cover steps 1, 2 and 3.
First off, we’re going to install the management portion of LAPS. Download LAPS here and next, next through the installation. On the custom setting page choose all of the management tools. The AdmPwd GPO Extension is required if the machine you’re installing the management portion on will also be managed by LAPS.
Follow ‘Preparing Active Directory’ on the management machine.
Preparing Active Directory
1. Extending the Active Directory Schema
The Active Directory Schema needs to be extended to add two attributes to the computer class. These are ms-MCS-AdmPwd which stores the password in clear text, and ms-Mcs-AdmPwdExpirationTime which stores the password expiration time. You will need to be a member of the Schema Admins security group.
2. Adding Machine Rights
You need to delegate to right to allow the computer object to write to the ms-MCS-AdmPwd and ms-Mcs-AdmPwdExpirationTime attributes.
This sets the following permissions against all computer objects within the OU specified, including all child objects.
This is what the Set-AdmPwdComputerSelfPermission cmdlet does behind the scenes on the computer objects ACL:
3. Check ExtendedRights permissions on OU
To get information on the groups and users able to read the password (ms-MCS-AdmPwd) for a specific Organizational Unit (OU), run the following.
4. Remove ExtendedRights permission on OU
If you need to remove the permission to view the password (ms-MCS-AdmPwd) for a group or user, carry out the following.
- Open ADSIEdit
- Right Click on the OU that contains the computer accounts that you are installing this solution on and select Properties
- Click the Security tab
- Click Advanced
- Select the Group(s) or User(s) that you don’t want to be able to read the password and then click Edit
- Uncheck All extended rights
5. Delegate a Security group the rights to view and reset LAPS
Here I’m delegating the Security Group ‘LAPS’ the right to view the LAPS Password and to have the ability to reset the password (more on that in part 2). I’ve re-run the ExtendedRights cmdlet, and you can now see that the LAPS group has been added.
This is what the Set-AdmPwdReadPasswordPermission and Set-AdmPwdResetPasswordPermission cmdlets are doing behind the scenes on the computer objects ACL:
Active Directory is now prepared!
Deploying LAPS is very straight forward, and can be deployed via Group Policy, SCCM, Login Script, manual install etc… By default no management tools are installed, only the CSE required to manage the computer. Deploy the LAPS client to all machines that you wish to manage.
Deploying LAPS to x64 machines
Deploying LAPS to x86 machines
Optional Deploying LAPS to x64 machines and create a custom admin account “LocalAdmin” during setup
If you want to deploy a new custom Local Administrator Accounts via Group Policy, due to the limitation of software installation you will need to use Orca or InstEd to generate a MST to pass the CUSTOMADMINNAME value. Edit the Property Table, and replace __null__ with the name of the Local Administrator you’d like to create.
To confirm the installation has succeeded, confirm that C:\Program Files\LAPS\CSE\AdmPwd.dll is present.
The bulk of the deployment has now been completed. In part 2 we will cover Group Policy which will essentially turn LAPS on, how to view passwords and some general discussion on the solution.