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A Discussion on Effective Audit of User Access

NetApp File Monitoring

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NetApp file monitoring is finally right around the corner.  Our solution for monitoring activity on NetApp Filers is due to officially release in the coming weeks.  We’ll have file reads, changes, creates, deletes, permission changes, etc. baked into our already successful web-based reporting console which also reports on Windows file system activity, Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange, and Novell Netware, eDirectory and NSS on OES2 (SUSE Linux) platforms.  NetApp file activity monitoring will be available through the same solution that already provides full effective rights reporting – who has access to what – across Windows and NetApp devices.  Contact us for more information!

Permissions and Group Membership Cleanup

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At NetVision, we hear from numerous organizations who are looking for help with cleaning up permissions that have gotten out of control over time.  David Rowe explains the challenges and provides some tips on how to tackle the job in this ESJ article titled Coming Clean: Getting a Handle on Permissions and Group Memberships.

Updated: Access Rights Inspector SSE

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NetVision today released an updated version of Access Rights Inspector Single Server Edition.  The new version applies a fix to issues related to large volume size and the initial file/folder rights scan.  The SSE version is a free 30-day trial providing access rights reports on a single server. 

Access Rights Inspector SSE enables users to select user accounts/groups and files/folders to generate custom reports on access rights based on those selections.

Available Reports include:

  • Effective Rights: calculates permissions based on group memberships, inherited rights, ownership, and more.
  • Explicit Rights: provides explicit permission settings for selected accounts and resources.
  • Deny ACEs: provides a list of all locations where permissions are explicitly denied.

Click here to download a copy to get immediate reports on your server!

Take Ownership Issue

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According to the two TechNet articles below, a user with the ‘take ownership’ permission on a file or folder should be able to assign ownership to a group of which they’re a member. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way.  An error is thrown indicating that the user should have ‘restore files and directories’ permission in order to assign ownership to a group.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753659.aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc780020(WS.10).aspx

Thanks! to FK for raising the issue (which contradicts information in the NetVision paper on Windows Access Rights)  It’s a fairly obscure find, but worth understanding.

Access Rights – Single Server – Free Trial

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NetVision this week announced a free trial of our Access Rights Inspector Single Server Edition.  Click here for more information on the Single Server Edition and the free download.  This version is limited to a single server and produces reports in only PDF format.  But it still provides extremely useful reports on effective rights calculating nested groups, hierarchical permissions, and more.  Give it a try on your own server today and let us know what you think!

NetApp Security Audit

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We’ve already mentioned on this blog that NetVision provides calculated file system permission reporting with Access Rights Inspector.  What we haven’t discussed is that we support NetApp file storage solutions in Windows networking environments. 

You can connect NetApp devices to your Windows environment using Common Internet File System (CIFS) and leverage the existing authentication services in Active Directory.  Windows/NTFS permissions can be quite complicated.  Add the complexity of Windows shares and you’re soon looking for a way to easily report on access rights.

That’s where Access Rights Inspector steps in wearing a long red cape and blue tights.  With full understanding of groups, nested groups, file ownership , share permissions and more, it gives easy answers on effective rights for Windows and NetApp file storage solutions.

Windows File Share Permissions

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Windows file system permissions are complicated enough without having to consider file shares.  But, we use shares because they make life easier in networked environments.  So, we need to understand how Windows file share permissions affect the effective rights that users have to files and folders.  The Security permissions tab doesn’t tell the whole story.

Sometimes, we run into scenarios where an account appears to have been granted access to appropriate groups, but when the user tries to access an important file, she is denied access.  Other times, it’s the reverse scenario. Again, users appear to have been granted appropriate group memberships, but they are actually able to access more than they should.  And of course it’s almost never obvious why we get these unexpected results.

When configuring a Windows file share, the permissions for the share are handled differently than the rights granted on the file system itself. Each share has its own ACE (Access Control Entry) that governs the permissions on the file system to which the share enables access. Since both direct assignments and share assignments have their own ACEs, Microsoft provides a simple rule on how these ACEs will work together. When both affect the same area of the file system, the most restrictive of the two permission sets has precedence. Sounds simple. But in practice, determining how direct and share permissions cause unexpected effective rights for users can be complicated and time consuming.

Complicating things further, users are sometimes directly granted permissions to a share or file system rather than having permissions assigned via group memberships. And accounts can belong to numerous groups that each has different sets of permissions. As this web of permissions is constructed from multiple sources of permission assignments, the job of determining how accounts have gained or lost access gets increasingly complicated.

NetVision takes the mystery out of Access Rights. It’s critical to be able to easily and quickly determine the effective rights to sensitive data. NetVision’s Access Rights Inspector allows users to gather file system rights information, and then display the effective rights applied to users and groups across the file system.

Instead of limiting our scope to explicit rights across a file system (ACE entries), NetVision reports on permissions acquired from all sources – explicit permissions, shares, ownership, group memberships, etc. Access Rights Inspector makes all permission settings clear and provides a quick view into the calculated effective rights saving time, reducing cost, and improving your security posture.

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