Unconstrained Delegation In Active Directory – Everything You Need to Know

  author
Written By Mohit Jha
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On December 22nd, 2023
Reading Time 4 Minutes Reading

This write-up acts as a comprehensive guide that helps administrators understand, deploy, and manage unconstrained delegation in Active Directory. Furthermore, It also discusses the impact of unconstrained delegation, associated risks, and strategies to secure a network environment. 

An Active Directory (AD) is a centralized facility offered by Microsoft that works on Windows servers, and stores network resources such as users, computers, printers, shared folders, etc. It facilitates user authentication and manages access control to these resources.

However, when it comes to cyber threats for Active Directory, it has been seen that most of the cyber attacks are caused by the misconfigurations of AD delegations. One such common misconfiguration is unconstrained delegation. It allows a service or application to impersonate a user when they need to access other network services on the user’s behalf. 

Hence, it is recommended to follow complete Active Directory security and best practices to ensure cyber resilience.  Let’s discuss it in detail and learn about different delegations in Active Directory.

What is Delegation in Active Directory? 

Active Directory delegations offer a specialized way of using Kerberos authentication to grant users elevated permissions necessary for specific tasks without assigning them Domain Admin or Account Operator roles. 

This functionality allows defined users to execute their responsibilities with increased authority within the network infrastructure. In technical terms, it allows a computer to save a user’s Kerberos authentication tickets and impersonate and act on behalf of the user.

What are the Different Types of Delegation in Active Directory?

To classify the different types of delegation in Active Directory, we can say there are two broad types of delegation in Active Directory: Constrained Delegation and Unconstrained Delegation. The key difference between constrained delegation and unconstrained delegation is – how much control and limitations are imposed on the delegated permissions. Let’s discuss them step by step.

What is Constrained Delegation in Active Directory & Its Example?

The constrained delegation restricts and specifies the scope and actions that delegated entities can perform within Active Directory. Some of the constrained delegation examples are Control Access Rights delegation and Schema delegation.

What is Unconstrained Delegation in Active Directory & Its Example?

Unconstrained delegation allows broader access, it is a configuration setting that is necessary for the smooth operation of numerous multi-tiered web applications. Some of the unconstrained delegation examples are OU (Organizational Unit) delegation, Group Policy Delegation, Service Delegation, and DNS (Domain Name System) Delegation.

Potential Security Vulnerabilities Associated with Unconstrained Delegation

There can be various potential security vulnerabilities associated with unconstrained delegation such as leveraging these configurations attackers can potentially use to impersonate a user or service account and gain access to sensitive resources in an organization’s network. 

Apart from this, there are several note-worthy vulnerabilities, such as 

  • Allows unrestricted access to resources across the domain.
  • Vulnerable to credential theft and pass-the-ticket attacks.
  • Increases the risk of lateral movement by attackers.
  • Facilitates unauthorized privilege escalation.
  • Prone to misuse if service accounts are compromised.
  • Enables attackers to impersonate users across the domain.
  • Heightens the impact of a compromised account within Active Directory.
  • Increases the attack surface by granting broad access rights.
  • It is challenging to monitor and detect unauthorized activities due to broad permissions.
  • Raises the risk of data breaches and unauthorized data access.

Since the Unconstrained Delegation poses such vulnerabilities. You must be amused, by what to do now, how to get rid of these. Don’t worry you can get rid of them by disabling the unconstrained delegation in Active Directory.

How to Disable Unconstrained Delegation in Active Directory:

  • Step 1. Open “Active Directory Users and Computers.”
  • Step 2. Find the account/service in question.
  • Step 3. Access its properties.
  • Step 4. Navigate to the “Delegation” tab.
  • Step 5. Choose “Do not trust this user for delegation” or a similar option.
  • Step 6. Apply changes and repeat for other accounts if needed.

How SysTools Can Help You Setup Your AD Environment?

In normal business operations, there comes a time when you need to perform a consolidation, reorganization, or separation within your AD environment. In these instances, it is very important to migrate AD objects from one domain to another, SysTools offers the enterprise-class Active Directory Migrator, which is a reliable, secure, and efficient solution for active directory migration needs.

Conclusion 

In this informative guide, we have learned all about delegations, their types, and the significance of different delegations in the Active Directory environment. Although you can disable the unconstrained delegation, despite, it does not eliminate the risk of cyber threats. 

Because when you disable unconstrained delegation, it can result in compatibility issues with respective applications, that require these functionality. Eventually, the administrators have to re-configure these applications to adopt constrained delegation or RBCD.