Enforce Network Security with Group Policy on your Windows Server
A Windows Server comes with a powerful tool called Group Policy, which when configured, enforces strict security protocols across all of the PCs on your network. Group Policy allows for network-wide configuration of your workstations in a way that can not be bypassed by a user.
1. Account Policies
Account policies administer the users of your network, and ensures that their access to your data and software meets HIPAA required standards.
Password Policy settings allow you to enforce HIPAA’s required password management policies. Here, you can set the minimum length, complexity, and age of each user’s unique password. For example, every 90 days each user can be prompted to change their passwords on a schedule.
Account Lockout Policy settings further manage the password policies of your network. Here, you can set how many attempts each user has to type in their correct password before it is temporarily frozen, or needs to be reset. This policy makes it impossible for brute-force hacking software to penetrate a user’s account.
2. Restricted Group Policies
Through restricted group policies, you can set up the membership of defined security groups for your users which carry special rights and permissions. For example, your internal groups may include your Management Team, your Dentists or Physicians, your IT Users, and your Server Administrators.
Each group can have specific policies in place that differ from the others. An example would be that your Dentists and Physicians may have administrative access to files and folders, but limited access to configure your Server. On the other hand, your IT Users & Server Managers would have access to configure the server, but not to access your patient or financial data.
3. System Services Policies
These important configurations address potential exploitation of your network by intruders. For example, weaknesses could be exploited when running a Web server to gain access to a networked PC’s operating system or files.
By preventing non-essential services on the workstations, you provide maximum security which limits what a Windows workstation can and cannot do when communicating with the server. You can further refine running services to require rights and permissions to limit the scope of damage caused by intruders or malware. Many malware packages use internal Windwos OS services such as encryption protocols to perform malicious attacks on your data. This can be limited through System Services Policies.
Finally, with these policies you can refine security auditing levels for system services. Here, you specify the type of events to be logged, and from there, the logs can be monitored for any odd behavior.
4. Registry Policies
The Windows Registry is part of the operating system, and contains vital keys that help your PC to function. If these registry entries are changed either accidentally or maliciously, the behavior of your PC may change by either ceasing to function, or by bypassing current workstation-level security protocols.
In order to ensure that only administrators can modify registry entries, Registry Policies are put in place on the Windows Server. These registry policies also log attempts to make changes to the registry, helping pin down sources of malware or malicious activity from a user of the PC. You can limit registry access by user, to read-only or to eliminate access altogether.
5. File System Policies
Your file system is the easiest portion of your PC to modify with an accidental misclick, or installation of a malicious application. Using File System Policies with the Group Policy settings on your server, you can grant only administrators with rights to alter system files and folders. Additionally, as with all of these group policy settings, audit logs can be configured which show any changes made to the file system. You can specify which users to log, and which changes to monitor.
The Group Policy is one of the most powerful components of a Windows Server, set up in a Domain Environment. It is built into every server, and is most powerful in a server running Active Directory. The actual configuration of policies can be easily streamlined by an IT company by using methods and procedures that have been tried and tested in multiple environments.
In short, the power of Group Policy can not be understated. Group Policy effectively secures each workstation on your network, and limits PC usage to defined behaviors such as business-only usage, or limited personal usage. A network with a configured Group Policy results in far less viruses, malicious attacks, and creates a secure, unbreakable network that complies with HIPAA requirements.
For more information about Group Policy or Windows Domain Servers, contact our Dental IT specialists today.