Over the last few years I have worked with Microsoft Intune, and AzureAD. I always get the request; “We can do this on-premise, why doesn’t it work now in the cloud”. Most of the time it is just a mindset change. Once you understand how cloud native solutions work. One issue that has appeared over and over again is local administrators on workstations that are AzureAD joined only. On-premise we would use LAPS to control administrator accounts, for AzureAD joined devices it’s different, we don’t have a domain or group policy. We still have options to include users as local administration via the two roles Global Administrator and Device Administrator. These roles are added to the local administrator group on the workstation when it’s joined to the domain. However, once you start targeting application and setting deployment with Intune, you can end up pushing something to the wrong workstation just by logging in.
So the question came up, how do I create and manage local administrator for a Windows device that is joined only to AzureAD?
We have two options for Intune.
- Push out a PowerShell script to create an Administrator account. This is a one time action. PowerShell scripts only run once, then need to be recreated.
- Use Intune OMA to push out a new account. This works, but you can not change the password, update the user. It only creates an account, and the password is visible in Intune for all users with access.
So, this sparks an idea, how would I do it on-premise and can I replicate that to a cloud-based solution. The answer was to look at LAPS and see if I could develop a similar solution.
I created a project which I name Cloud Local Administrator Password Service. I have placed the project under open source at https://github.com/CraigWilsonOZ/CLAPS
The traditional tool LAPS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=46899) is used by IT administrators to manage local administrator accounts for Active Directory joined workstations and servers. This project has been created to replace that tool, LAPS. This tool will perform a similar function for Azure AD joined devices that are not connected to a local domain.
Windows workstations and servers that are joined only to an AzureAD have no access to Active Directory or Group Policy as such tools like LAPS do not work. This tool has been designed to fit this gap.
Cloud Local Administrator Password Service or CLAPS has been designed to run locally on a workstation or server. It will create a new local administrator account, reset the password at a set time and finally store the password in Azure Key Vault. This allows auditing on who has access to the accounts, permits offline access to the workstation and removes the need for standard users to be given local administrator rights to their daily account.
Microsoft does provide a solution for device management. Users who have the Global Administrator or Device Administrator roles are added as local administrators. The setting is tenant wide and allows any device administrator to login to any device. See the link https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/devices/assign-local-admin
The solution has been built to address the following requirements
- The solution must generate a complex password
- The solution must reset the password within a given time period
- The solution must provide a record of the actions taken
- All passwords must be transmitted securely
- All passwords must be stored securely
- The solution must support unattended installation
- Solution configuration can be updated without reinstallation
- The solution should use the minimum-security permissions required to perform actions
The core functions of the solution use a windows service. This service runs in the .NET Core framework. It uses either a json configuration file or local registry for configuration. The services on start-up will check the registry for the last update to a password, if the password record is outside the number of hours for a change, then the service will reset the password. The service then goes to sleep for up to 24 hours. Every time the service is restarted, or the 24-hour window has passed, the service checks again for a required password changed.
The password is created in code and uses the following values;
An Azure Key Vault is set up to store the passwords. This is required to be configured before deployment. The Service gets access to the Key Vault via an AzureAD Application. This Application is given set permissions inside the Azure Key Vault, so it can only create a secret, not read them.
Logging has been built into the application. All actions taken locally are logged into the Windows Event Log service. In addition, Azure Key Vault can also perform auditing logs if required.
The service will require internet access. Once a local account password has been set, it will attempt to store the password in the Azure Key Vault. It will require the Key Vault URL to be whitelisted in proxy services.
The service will need to be deployed in the following order.
- Deployment of AzureAD Application
- Creation of Azure Key Vault and assign AzureAD Application with set permissions
- Update of configuration, using one of two methods
- MSI, Appconfig.json with Key Vault URL, AzureAD ClientID and Secret
- Update registry settings
- Deployment of MSI
- Deployment of registry configuration, if the MSI has not been updated
Deployment of AzureAD Application
An AzureAD Application and Service Principal is required to access the Azure Key Vault. The following script can be used to create an Application and Principal.
The script outputs follow the following values; these will be required to complete the configuration.
|ClientID||Azure AD Application Client ID|
|Client Secret||Azure AD Application Client Secret|
|Subscription ID||AzureAD Tenant ID|
|Service Principal||Service Principal ID used to give access to the Key Vault|
Deployment of the Azure Key Vault
The Azure Key Vault is used to store the machine name and credential. Each time the password is reset, a new record is created under the machine name. The following ARM templates can be used to create the Key Vault. The Service Principal and Tenant ID will need to be updated in the parameter file.
Deployment of Service
The service can be installed using the MSI package. It will create all the registry keys and install the service. The registry keys will need to be updated to include your settings created during the deployment of the AzureAD Application and Key Vault. A PowerShell script has been included to help with the deployment of the keys. To deploy to an AzureAD connected device, use Intune. First deploy the MSI, once the MSI has been deployed. Push out the PowerShell script to update the registry keys. Another option would be to update the MSI with your own values. The MSI is created with Visual Studio. Once installed, the application will run as a service.