How to check for rootkits on Linux with Tiger

Concerned that you may have a rootkit on your Linux server, desktop or laptop? If you want to check whether or not rootkits are present on your system, and get rid of them, you’ll need to scan you system first. One of the best tools to scan for rootkits on Linux is Tiger. When run, it does a complete security report of your Linux system that outlines where the problems are (including rootkits).

In this guide, we’ll go over how to install the Tiger security tool and scan for dangerous Rootkits.

Install Tiger

Tiger doesn’t come with any Linux distributions out of the box, so before going over how to use the Tiger security tool on Linux, we will need to go over how to install it. You will need Ubuntu, Debian, or Arch Linux to install Tiger without compiling the source code.

Ubuntu

Tiger has long been in the Ubuntu software sources. To install it, open up a terminal window and run the following apt command.

sudo apt install tiger

Debian

Debian has Tiger, and it is installable with the Apt-get install command.

sudo apt-get install tiger

Arch Linux

The Tiger security software is on Arch Linux via the AUR. Follow the steps below to install the software on your system.

Step 1: Install the packages required to install AUR packages by hand. These packages are Git and Base-devel.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

Step 2: Clone the Tiger AUR snapshot to your Arch PC using the git clone command.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/tiger.git

Step 3: Move the terminal session from its default directory (home) to the new tiger folder that holds the pkgbuild file.

cd tiger

Step 4: Generate an Arch installer for Tiger. Building a package is done with the makepkg command, but beware: sometimes package generation doesn’t work due to dependency problems. If this happens to you, check the official Tiger AUR page for the dependencies. Be sure also to read the comments, as other users may have insights.

makepkg -sri

Fedora and OpenSUSE

Sadly, both Fedora, OpenSUSE and other RPM/RedHat-based Linux distributions do not have an easy to install binary package to install Tiger with. To use it, consider converting the DEB package with alien. Or follow the source code instructions below.

Generic Linux

To build the Tiger app from source, you’ll need to clone the code. Open up a terminal and do the following:

git clone https://git.savannah.nongnu.org/git/tiger.git

Install the program by running the included shell script.

sudo ./install.sh

Alternatively, if you’d like to run it (rather than install it) do the following:

sudo ./tiger

Check for rootkits on Linux

Tiger is an automatic application. It doesn’t have any unique options or switches that users can use in the command-line. The user can’t just “run the rootkit” option to check for one. Instead, the user must use Tiger and run a full scan.

Each time the program runs, it does a scan of many different types of security threats on the system. You’ll be able to see everything it’s scanning. Some of the things that Tiger scans are:

  • Linux password files.
  • .rhost files.
  • .netrc files.
  • ttytab, securetty, and login configuration files.
  • Group files.
  • Bash path settings.
  • Rootkit checks.
  • Cron startup entries.
  • “Break-in” detection.
  • SSH configuration files.
  • Listening processes.
  • FTP configuration files.

To run a Tiger security scan on Linux, gain a root shell using the su or sudo -s command.

su -

or

sudo -s

Using root privileges, execute the tiger command to start the security audit.

tiger

Let the tiger command run and go through the audit process. It will print out what it’s scanning, and how it is interacting with your Linux system. Let the Tiger audit process run its course; it’ll print out the location of the security report in the terminal.

View Tiger Logs

To determine if you have a rootkit on your Linux system, you must view the security report.

To look at any Tiger security report, open up a terminal and use the CD command to move into /var/log/tiger.

Note: Linux will not let non-root users in /var/log. You must use su.

su -

or

sudo -s

Then, access the log folder with:

cd /var/log/tiger

In the Tiger log directory, run the ls command. Using this command prints out all the files in the directory.

ls

Take your mouse and highlight the security report file that ls reveals in the terminal. Then, view it with the cat command.

cat security.report.xxx.xxx-xx:xx

Look over the report and determine if Tiger has detected a rootkit on your system.

Removing rootkits on Linux

Removing Rootkits from Linux systems — even with the best tools, is hard and not successful 100% of the time. While it is true there are programs out there that may help get rid of these kinds of issues; they don’t always work.

Like it or not, if Tiger has determined a dangerous worm on your Linux PC, it’s best to back up your critical files, create a new live USB, and re-install the operating system altogether.

Read How to check for rootkits on Linux with Tiger by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to get a “Gnome-like” overview mode in KDE Plasma with qOverview

Those who love the look of Gnome Shell but want a better, more feature-filled setup should consider switching to KDE Plasma, especially since software like qOverview exists. qOverview is a piece of software that lets users experience a “Gnome-like” overview in KDE Plasma 5.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to set up qOverview, how to use it and recreate a fully functional Gnome desktop in KDE!

Note: please understand that qOverview is highly experimental software. It may not run correctly on your system! Use it at your own risk!

Install qOverview

The developer has qOverview on GitLab, and it’s the only way to install it. To get it, you’ll need to clone the source code directly from the internet. However, before we do that, some dependencies need to be installed.

If you do not use Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora or OpenSUSE, you’ll need to install the dependencies manually. Head over to this page to learn what they are.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install python3-pyqt5 python3-pyqt5.qtquick python3-dbus python3-yaml wmctrl

Debian

sudo apt-get install python3-pyqt5 python3-pyqt5.qtquickwmctrl

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S python-pyqt5 python-dbus python-yaml wmctrl

Fedora

sudo dnf install python3-PyQt5 python3-dbus wmctrl

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install python3-qt5 python-dbus python3-PyYAML python3-PyYAML wmctrl

With the dependencies taken care of, it’s time to start the building process. Follow the steps below to build the software.

Step 1: Clone the source code to your Linux PC using the git clone command.

git clone https://gitlab.com/bharadwaj-raju/qOverview.git

Step 2: Move the terminal session from its current directory (your home folder) into the qOverview code folder with the CD command.

cd qOverview

Step 3: Install the qOverview software on your Linux PC with the included script file. Be sure to run it with either sudo or su, or the code may not work.

sudo ./install.sh

Autostart qOverview

qOverview needs to be set to start automatically, or it will not work correctly. To automatically start it, you’ll need to work with the systemd init system, by creating a custom service file. In a terminal window, use the touch command to create a new file, then open it up in the Nano text editor.

sudo -s

touch /etc/systemd/system/qoverview.service

nano /etc/systemd/system/qoverview.service

Paste the following code for the new qOverview service file in the Nano, text editor:

[Unit]
Description=Spark service

[Service]
ExecStart=/usr/bin/qoverview.sh

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save the service file with the Ctrl + O keyboard combination. Then, use touch and echo to create the startup component of the service.

touch /usr/bin/qoverview.sh
echo '#!/bin/bash' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

echo ' ' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

echo 'qoverview-config-server' >> /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

Update the permissions of the script file using the chmod command.

sudo chmod u+x /usr/bin/qoverview.sh

Enable the new systemd entry file using the systemctl commands below.

sudo systemctl enable qoverview.service
sudo systemctl start qoverview.service

If the service starts successfully, qOverview will always be running on your system.

Configure qOverview

The qOverview software is running in the background, thanks to a custom systemd service. The next step is to set the software so that we can recreate the Gnome Shell desktop. In a terminal, run the qoverview-config-server command.

qoverview-config-server

Pay attention to the terminal prompt when this command runs, as qOverview will scan your system and set up a new Gnome-like desktop for you. If it fails, read the errors and re-run it. Then, after the configuration command finishes up, return to your terminal window and run the command below.

qoverview-config-server >/dev/null 2>&1 & disown

Running the qoverview-config-server in this way allows users to keep the qOverview server running in the background without keeping a terminal window open.

qOverview on KDE Plasma

Now that all the technical stuff is taken care of, we can use the qOverview software and get the Gnome-like overview mode in KDE we wanted. Access qOverview for the first time in KDE Plasma by pressing Alt + F2 on the keyboard. Type in the qoverview command. Running it will automatically start up a new “Gnome-like” overview mode you can use!

Note: qOverview has trouble working with custom KDE Plasma 5 themes. We highly recommend setting this software up with the default “Breeze” theme. Head over here to learn how to change KDE Plasma themes!

qoverview

Add custom items to the dock

Looking to add custom items to the qOverview dock? Open the config file in Nano.

nano ~/.config/qoverview.yaml

Scroll down to “dock-items” and write in the name of the applications you’d like to add. Then, press Ctrl + O to save, and Ctrl + X to exit.

Learn more about qOverview

The qOverview software has a lot of options and features. In this article, we’ve gone over the basics. Want to know more about it? Head over to the official development page. It has lots of information, like binding screen edges, adding custom items to the desktop and more! Alternatively, read the included README that comes with the code, by typing the following:

cat ~/qOverview/README.md

Read How to get a “Gnome-like” overview mode in KDE Plasma with qOverview by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Get the classic Windows 7 and 8 Calculator in Windows 10

If you miss the classic Calculator from Windows 7/8 and want to have the same Calculator in Windows 10, here’s how.

The Calculator in Windows 7/8 is more compact and easier to use with a keyboard and mouse than the current Windows 10 Modern Calculator app. If you miss the Calculator from Windows 7/8 and are using Windows 10, you’re in luck. This small app can bring the same Calculator to Windows 10 that Windows 7 and 8 use.

The Old Calculator for Windows 10 from Winaero “…is the genuine classic Calculator app extracted from Windows 8.1, with full localization support. It will be always in your OS language. It supports both Windows 10 x86 and Windows 10 x64”. It’s a small (941 KB) file and is free of malware according to VirusTotal.  Read More

What is the Netflix Proxy Error? Fix Your Streaming Errors the Fast Way

Lots of Netflix users have encountered the Whoops, something went wrong… proxy error page and have no idea what is going on. Netflix explains that the streaming errors has to do with your connection and the fact that you’re “using an unblocker or proxy’. For most people this is mystifying. What exactly is an unblocker or proxy, and why doesn’t Netflix want me to use one? This error is often referring to the use a VPN, but that is not always the case.

In this article, we will explain all. We will detail exactly what Netflix means by an unblocker or proxy and why they won’t let you use them. We will also highlight which VPNs you can still use with Netflix without encountering this error and why these work so well. And we will also make some other suggestions of things you can try to get around this error and continue to enjoy streaming your favorite Netflix shows without interference, no matter where in the world you are.

What does Netflix mean by ‘Unblocker or proxy’?

When Netflix claims you are using an ‘unblocker or proxy’ it means you are diverting all of your internet traffic through a proxy server. This is a third-party server which sits between your device and the internet. It could be a VPN server or other proxy services available, such as Smart DNS —  and the reason services like Netflix don’t like you using proxy servers is that they hide your real IP address.

Your IP address is a small bit of code which tells websites you visit where in the world your internet connection is. But when you send your internet data through a proxy server, your IP address is replaced by the IP address of that server. In this way, it is possible to fool services like Netflix into thinking you are based in a different country and so access services that wouldn’t normally be available to you; like accessing the US version of Netflix from somewhere in Europe for example.

Different types of Netflix Proxy

 Essentially there are three different types of proxy services that you can use to unblock Netflix. Each of them has pros and cons, but the most popular and most effective for most Netflix users is a VPN. Before we look at VPNs in more detail, here is a little information on the other two options:

Proxy Servers

A proxy server is a simple server which you can reroute your internet traffic through before it reaches the Netflix site. A proxy server will change your IP Address, and many  (but not all) are therefore able to access Netflix. However, there are some downsides to proxy servers. Many are free and run by volunteers. This means they can be unstable, unreliable, and sometimes even malicious. Many are also very slow and finding one which offers sufficient speeds to stream Netflix content can be difficult. There are paid-for private proxy services out there too. These are better, but for the price that you have to pay, they offer far fewer features than a VPN.

Smart DNS

Smart DNS is a proxy service which is tailored for streaming online content. It essentially worked like a paired-back VPN or proxy. There is no encryption involved when using Smart DNS and it will also only redirect relevant traffic rather than all of your internet data. This tends to mean connection speeds are a bit faster than a VPN. But again, a good Smart DNS costs money and, for a similar price, you can sign up for a VPN which offers far more features. Some VPNs even come with a free Smart DNS service bundled in.

Why is a VPN best for accessing Netflix?

Both proxies and Smart DNS have their advocates, but most people agree that the best tool for accessing Netflix is a VPN. VPNs offer server networks around the world which act as a proxy. But importantly, they encrypt all of the data being sent between your device and the VPN server. This hides everything you do online from prying eyes, including your own ISP, and means details of what you are watching on Netflix, and which Netflix service you are connecting to, remains private.

Because a VPN encrypts your data, it can slow your internet connection down. But the best VPNs now offer super-fast servers which means any impact on speeds is almost negligible and certainly not sufficient to stop you streaming content on Netflix. And with the concerted effort to crack down on proxies and unblockers by Netflix, and their content providers, it is generally agreed that the extra security and privacy a VPNs encryption offers is well worth the investment.

What is the best VPN to access Netflix? 

The reason the dreaded ‘Whoops, Something Went Wrong…’ proxy error comes up on Netflix is usually that you are using a VPN (or another proxy service) which Netflix has identified and blocked. This can happen to any VPN server at any time. However, while some VPN providers have given up finding ways around this, others have kept up the fight and continue to succeed in providing access to Netflix for their customers.

So, which VPN should you choose to unblock Netflix and get around the proxy error? You will need to find a VPN that fulfils the following criteria:

  • A reputable VPN provider with a track record of unblocking geo-restricted content.
  • Fast connection speeds suitable for streaming online video content
  • Available to users anywhere in the world.
  • Offer a great range of servers based in the USA (or whichever country you want to access Netflix in)
  • Guarantees to enable user access to Netflix USA despite their VPN block
  • Is also able to work with the Netflix app on Android and iOS mobile devices.

On the basis of these criteria and our extensive testing, we have identified four VPNs which you should have no problem getting around the Netflix proxy error and accessing their service from anywhere in the world:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is quite simply the best VPN on the market right now for unblocking Netflix. It offers super-fast connection speeds ideal for online streaming and combines them with strong encryption and excellent privacy protections too. Their network consists of servers in 145 cities across 90 countries, including hundreds of US servers in places such as New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle. While this whole network doesn’t work with Netflix at the same time, there are always plenty of servers which do and if you can’t find one, their helpful customer service team will always point you in the right direction. ExpressVPN can also get around the proxy error on the Netflix app for Android and iOS devices too making it the perfect VPN for streaming Netflix on every device.

Read our full ExpressVPN review here.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Sign up for a year with ExpressVPN at $6.67 per month and get 3 months FREE! There’s also an amazing risk-free 30-day money back guarantee, just in case you’re not completely satisfied.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN costs a little less than ExpressVPN, but still delivers a superb all-around service and is also capable of unblocking Netflix on any device. Like ExpressVPN, their encryption and privacy policies are above industry standard. There was a time when their connection speeds left a bit to be desired, but recent investment in new super-fast servers means they are now one of the fastest VPNs around, and perfect for streaming on Netflix. The NordVPN server network is huge, with 799 servers across 57 countries including 336 based in different locations across the United States. Their inbuilt SmartPlay technology is guaranteed to ensure that the Netflix Proxy error should be a thing of the past. And if you do encounter any issues, they also have a great customer support team to help.

Read our full NordVPN review here.

HUGE DEAL: Get a 66% discount on the 2-year subscription, just $3.99 a month! All plans are backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.

3. Private VPN

Private VPN’s focus on privacy and security makes them a great bet for unblocking Netflix. And the way they do it, which is unique amongst rival VPNs, brings guaranteed results. Their unique dynamic dedicated IP address system means every Private VPN customer is given a unique IP Address, which changes each time they connect. This makes it almost impossible for Netflix to identify that your connection comes via a VPN. The rest of their service is pretty good too, with 256-bit AES encryption as standard and a guaranteed no user logs promise thrown in too. They only offer 100 servers in 56 different countries at the moment, but there are still plenty of US-based servers to choose from. And because Private VPN deploys the same technique through their Android and iOS apps too, they should work with Netflix apps on any mobile device as well.

Read more about PrivateVPN’s features in our complete PrivateVPN review.

4. CyberGhost

For those who are new to VPNs and perhaps a little wary of them, CyberGhost is probably the best choice to unblock Netflix. It is an easy and user-friendly VPN, with simple features anyone can use. Just open up their app on any device and select ‘Unblock Streaming Sites’. Choose a country and CyberGhost will do the rest. This ease-of-use doesn’t mean compromising in other areas either. CyberGhost also offers excellent security with 256-bit encryption, a no user logs policy, and great connection speeds. Their server network is another big one too, with 1,300 servers available in nearly 60 countries including plenty in the USA. Not all of these will work with Netflix, but again their friendly help desk will point you towards one that does if you have any problems.

Read our full CyberGhost review here.

Why use a Proxy to access Netflix?

Netflix is proud to offer its service to almost every country on earth these days. But it is also working hard to ensure that users can only access the service for their home country. Why would you want to access a different version of Netflix? Quite simply, some country’s Netflix service offers a great deal more content than others. And some are much more reasonably priced too.

For example, if you have access to the US version of Netflix, you can enjoy up to 5,600 different titles for a price of $14 a month. However, if you are in the UK, the number of available titles drops to just over 2,900, but the cost is £9.99 (US$13.20). So, for just 80 cents more a month you can access almost 50% more titles. And for US subscribers, you might want to take an envious look at Japan, because they have 6,340 available titles on their Netflix service, and pay just ¥1,450 (US$12). And if saving money is your main motivation, then try Netflix Mexico, which is available at just over US$10 a month.

All of these prices are for the premium subscription rate but clearly illustrate the disparity which exists over different subscription rates. And while some people are motivated by a desire to save a few dollars, it is the wider range of content available in places like the USA and Japan which tempts many people into using a VPN or another proxy service to access Netflix.

What to do if you are still getting the Netflix proxy error?

Whether you choose one of our recommended VPNs or another proxy option, there is always a chance that the server you are connecting to might suddenly throw up the dreaded ‘Whoops, something went wrong error.’ It can happen at any time and without any warning and all it means is that Netflix has decided that the IP Address you are using belongs to a proxy and has, therefore, blocked it. If this happens halfway through an episode of your favorite show it can be extremely frustrating. But don’t worry, there are a few simple things to do to get around the problem:

Try a different server

If Netflix has found out the IP Address you are using belongs to a proxy, you just need to start using a new one. With a VPN, this is easy. Just switch to another server and try Netflix again. If that one brings up the same error message, try another. If you are using any of our recommended providers, it will only be a matter of time before you find one which works.

Contact Customer Support

If you don’t have the patience to find a working server using trial and error, a quicker option might be to contact your VPNs customer support. Most VPNs offer live chat facilities on their websites which means you can get a response almost instantly. Even if you have to submit a ticket, most help desks are pretty fast these days and will respond within a few minutes. Just ask them to point you towards a server which can unblock Netflix in whichever country you are connecting to. Follow their advice and you will soon be streaming again.

Clear your cookies

Netflix may start throwing up the proxy error because some of the cookies on your browser are telling them your actual location. By clearing your browser’s cookies, you remove this possibility, and, in some cases, Netflix will start to work again.

Update geo-location data in your browser

Another possible cause of the error is that your browser might be leaking your actual geo-location to Netflix. We often tell browsers which country we are in to speed up performance, but if that data doesn’t match your IP Address, Netflix can spot something is wrong and decide you must be using a proxy. To fix this, try to avoid telling your browser where in the world you are. If you have already done this, most browsers will allow you to disable it again in the browser settings menu. Do this, and Netflix might start working again.

Fix a DNS leak

A DNS leak is when your device is leaking information which tells Netflix your actual location even when you are using a proxy. Most VPNs include DNS Leak Protection as standard these days. Certainly, all of our recommended providers do. But, others may not and certainly some proxy services can be more vulnerable to this problem. If you do have a DNS leak, you will need to fix it to get Netflix working again.

Sign up for a VPN which guarantees to unblock Netflix

If you haven’t already signed up for one of our recommended VPNs, are getting the Netflix proxy error, and none of the above is helping to fix it, it is probably time to sign up. All of the above VPNs pledge to unblock Netflix and, for the prices they charge, that represents a great value-for-money offer. So, if you are getting the proxy error, one of the best ways to get around it is to use a service which guarantees to be able to do just that. A VPN!

Conclusion

A Netflix proxy is a service which is able to unblock Netflix from different countries such as the USA. There are a number of different types of proxy you can use, but the most effective and most popular is a VPN. As we have explained, not every VPN is able to unblock Netflix, but we have given you a selection of our recommended VPNs which can do the job. We have also explained why it is in your interests to use a VPN to unblock Netflix. So, why delay? Sign up for one of our recommended VPNs today and start getting the most out of your Netflix subscription.

What is your experience of using a proxy to unblock Netflix? Do you agree that VPNs do the best job, or have you had a good experience with another type of proxy? Which of our recommended VPNs do you think does the best job of unblocking Netflix? We always welcome the thoughts and views of our readers, so why not share them with us using the comment box below?

Read What is the Netflix Proxy Error? Fix Your Streaming Errors the Fast Way by David Spencer on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

5 Best Active Directory Tools and Management Software

Active Directory, or AD as it is often referred to, is Microsoft’s own version of an LDAP directory service. It’s been around since Windows server 2000 and replaced the then-aging domain management features of Windows servers. It is a hugely complex service that takes care of authenticating users and equipment, pinpointing their location and managing access rights. Being so complex, it’s no surprise that several developers have tried to make tools that ease the pain of managing Active Directory. Today, we’re bringing you some of the best Active Directory tools that can be found on the Internet.

We’ll first have a general discussion about directory services, what they are, their purpose and utility, and give you some example of them. Next, we’ll talk about LDAP and X.500, two standardized protocols related to directory services. Then, we’ll briefly talk about the evolution of Microsoft directory services. This will bring us to the core of our matter, the best Active Directory Tools we could find. We’ll give you a brief review of each one.

Directory Services, What They Are

Wikipedia defines a Directory Service as “a mapping between the names of resources in a network and their respective network addresses.” And in its simplest form, this is really all it is. So then, you may ask, is the Domain Name System (DNS) a directory service? The answer is a resounding YES! But if it’s that simple, why is Active Directory so complex?

Active Directory, just like most modern directory services, implements much more functionality than just mapping names to addresses. They are at the core of the network’s security and will contain detailed information about users (user accounts) and resources and are also at the center of the access-control mechanisms of most networks. The modern directory service is a database where most of the information about a network, its resources and users are stored.

A directory service is a hierarchical database of objects, each representing a different entity. Some objects represent users, some represent computers or other available resources such as network shares. Other objects are containers for objects. The hierarchical structure makes finding any single object easier and allows for easy permission management where objects can inherit permissions from their parent.

Our goal is not to make you a directory service expert, though, but rather to give you enough background information to better understand what Active Directory is and where it’s coming from. Let’s have a look at some real-life examples of past and present directory services you may have encountered.

Some Examples

DNS is one of the very first directory services. It dates back to the early eighties. It had–and still has–a single primary purpose: translating hostnames into IP addresses. It’s still in widespread use today and it’s one of the foundations of the Internet.

The Network Information Service, or NIS, was Sun Microsystems’ own implementation of a name service similar to DNS for its Unix ecosystem.

Novell Directory Services—later called eDirectory—was the directory service of Novell Netware networks. Somewhat similar to what Active Directory is today, it was an all-encompassing system not only used for name resolution but also for authentication and access control.

NetInfo was developed by NEXT and, when Apple acquired the company, became the Mac OS’s directory service before being replaced by OpenDirectory.

Finally, NT Domains are another example of a directory service. They are the ancestor of Active Directory. NT Domains were primarily used for access control and authentication purposes.

X.500 And LDAP, Two Directory Services Standards

In the information age, interoperability is more important than ever which causes standards to emerge in every field. Directory services are no different two primary standards exist, LDAP and X.500

The X.500 standard, or more precisely the X.500 series of standards are a group of specifications from the ITU-T covering several aspects of electronic directory services. The first iterations date back to 1988 but X.500 is still in widespread use today.

One of the goals of a set of standard protocols as proposed by X.500 is to ensure interoperability and allow systems from different vendors to interact. X.500 is actually a set of nine individual protocols

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or LDAP, is an open, vendor-neutral, industry standard application protocol for accessing and maintaining distributed directory information services over an IP network. Today, most directory services implementations, including Microsoft’s Active Directory are LDAP-compliant.

LDAP was originally intended as a lightweight alternative protocol for accessing X.500 directory services through the simpler TCP/IP protocol stack. As such, X.500 and LDAP are not mutually exclusive and are instead complementary. For instance, the LDAP specification states that the structure of the directory services database must be X.500 compliant.

LDAP clients can not only read the attributes of objects in a directory services database, they can also modify them. This, of course, means that LDAP is secure and offers an authentication mechanism to protect against unauthorized modifications.

From NT Domain To Active Directory

As stated earlier, Windows NT domains were the first form of directory service in the Microsoft ecosystem. As you could have guessed, they first appeared with Windows NT, back in 1993. They had a centralized database that was located on a domain controller which was primarily responsible for user authentication. The database could be replicated on several domain controllers for redundancy and to ensure that large, multi-site networks could authenticate users locally.

With Windows 2000, Microsoft released Active Directory. It was a much-needed improvement over the traditional domains that had been used for years. Active Directory provides several different services. First and foremost are the domain services. These are the cornerstone of Windows networks. They store information about members of the domain, including devices and users, verifies their credentials, authenticates them, and defines their access rights.

Other important services of Active Directory include Certificate Services which provide a local public key infrastructure. They can create, validate and revoke public key certificates for internal use in an organization. Such certificates can be used to encrypt files, emails, and network traffic. Other services provided by Active Directory include federation services, a type of single sign-on mechanism, and rights management services.

The Best Active Directory Tools

The main characteristic of Active Directory is that it is big and complex. And with this complexity comes administration headaches. Fortunately, many tools have been developed by third parties to address some of the AD administration burdens. Those are the tools we’ve researched and we’re presenting you some of the best we could find. This list is far from extensive as there are simply way too many tools out there.

1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds is known to make some of the very best network and system administrations tools. We’ve featured SolarWinds product countless times when, for example, we reviewed the best SNMP monitoring tools or the best NetFlow collectors and analyzers. SolarWinds is also famous for its free tools, task-specific tools aimed at administrators.

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor - ActiveDirectory

It’s no surprise, then, that the SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is on our list. And while its unassuming name might not lead one to think this is an Active Directory tool, its broad range of functionalities make it a great tool for monitoring and managing Active Directory.

Let’s start by having a look at how the SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor can help with AD management. First, the tool features domain controller monitoring which monitors several operational parameters. It will tell you when CPU usage is getting too high, when a user account is locked out or when there is a login issue.

The software will also monitor the NTDS object counters, helping reduce server overload. Furthermore, the SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor gives you insight into several LDAP statistics including LDAP active threads, bind time, client sessions, and successful binds and searches per second.

The SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor can send notifications when directory servers fail to replicate, an event which can prevent users from accessing folders and files. It also provides detailed performance statistics related to directory services such as distributed file system, DFS replication, intersite messaging, DNS client, Windows time, RPC, server and workstation services, and Active Directory domain services, just to name a few of the most significant ones.

But as its name implies, this tool will not only monitor Active Directory services but also the servers themselves and the applications running on them. This complete package can scale from the smallest networks to large, multi-site networks with hundreds of physical and virtual servers. And it can monitor servers in cloud environments such as those from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure just as well.

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor - Multi Cloud

The SolarWinds Server & Application monitor will initially auto-discover hosts and devices on your network. Then, a second discovery scan will detect applications running on each server. Once it’s up and running, using this tool can hardly be easier, thanks to its intuitive user interface. Clicking on Node Detail, for instance, displays the node’s performance and health information.

Pricing for the SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor starts at just below $2 995 and a free 30-day trial version is available for download.

2. ManageEngine Active Directory Free Tools

ManageEngine is another common name among system and network administrators. It makes the OpManager, arguably one of the best IT infrastructure monitoring tools. And like SolarWinds, ManageEngine also makes some great free tools. In fact, they have more than fifteen free Active Directory tools that can help with monitoring and administering your AD infrastructure. Some are standalone programs while others are Powershell cmdlets. One great thing about this toolkit is that most of the tools are bundled in a single download. Let’s see what the most interesting of these tools are.

The AD Query Tool allows you to read any attribute data that you require from the Active Directory like a User objects’ first name, last name telephone, address an so on. The utility can also help query Active Directory Group and Computer objects.

ManageEngine AD Query Tool

The CSV Generator Tool will generate a CSV file (who would have thought?) that contains a custom array of user-specified Active Directory attributes and their corresponding values. The resulting file can be used for bulk Active Directory management.

The Last Logon Finder is used to list the last logon time of all or selected users in all the selected domain controllers in the domain. It is typically used for audit and cleanup activities.

ManageEngine Last Logon Finder

The Terminal Session Manager is a Powershell cmdlet you can use to identify and manage multiple terminal sessions in a domain from a single point. With it, terminal sessions for multiple users across a domain can be managed, disconnected or logged off.

The Active Directory Replication Manager enables administrators to force replication of data in a domain or the entire forest. It also allows replication of data between two domain controllers and it will list comprehensive reports on the last replication.

ManageEngine AD Replication Management Tool

The DMZ Port Analyzer lets administrators check the status of ports required by any third party application to work with Active Directory. It can be used to open appropriate ports on firewalls.

The Domain Controller Roles Reporter lists all the domain controllers and their respective roles in the Domain. It can help administrators identify any associated role of a domain controller.

ManageEngine Domain Controller Roles Reporter

The Local User Manager helps administrators manage user accounts within the domain. It provides information about local user accounts and also allows management of these accounts using a convenient user interface.

The Domain Controller Monitoring Tool is a simple tool which auto-discovers the domains and displays them. It will show various parameters of domain controllers such as CPU Utilization, Disk Utilization, and Memory Utilization. You can also view other parameters like Page Reads per second, Page Writes per second, File Reads, File Writes, etc.

ManageEngine DC Monitor

The Password Policy Manager allows any user to retrieve and view the domain’s password policy. It also allows users with administrative rights to edit the domain password policy.

As its name implies, the Empty Password Users Report Tool is used to find the user accounts with password fields set to null, helping administrators to avoid any security-related issues.

The Active Directory Duplicate Finder is a Powershell utility that lets administrators identify duplicate entries for Active Directory attributes in a domain. Duplicate entries are conveniently listed, helping administrators ensure a duplicate-free Active Directory.

The DNS Reporter helps you obtain information related to your network’s DNS infrastructure. It can display the details of the available DNS records, their corresponding record types, IP addresses and the service details simply by entering a domain name.

The Service Accounts Management is designed to help you easily create, edit, and delete managed service accounts in just a few clicks. This tool requires no knowledge of PowerShell, the usual tool used to accomplish these tasks.

ManageEngine Service Account Management Tool

The Weak Password Users Report helps find weak passwords in Active Directory by comparing users’ passwords against a list of over 100,000 commonly used weak passwords. You can then force the users with weak passwords to change their passwords the next time they log on.

3. Enow Compass

Compass from ENow Software helps you identify hidden issues in your environment before it is compromised. It allows real-time network monitoring of your Active Directory and all domain controllers. Compass can ensure your Active Directory is healthy by monitoring DFS/FRS replication It will also find DNS name resolution issues and help troubleshoot problematic applications to help you keep your AD running smoothly.

ENow Compass - AD Replication

Compass has over 50 reports that include the audit of the Domain Admins Group, the identification and removal of inactive user accounts, and the identification of FSMO roles. The tool is quick to install and easy to use. It features an intuitive and easy to use dashboard that helps identify issues early before they become outages.

Detailed pricing information for Compass can be obtained by contacting Enow sales and a free 14-day trial can be obtained.

4. Anturis Active Directory Monitor

Half the work of managing Active Directory is to ensure all the services are running smoothly and this is exactly what the Active Directory Monitor from Anturis is all about. This tool can alert you to abnormal situations via email, SMS or voice call notifications. You can also use the Active Directory Monitor to establish performance baselines for your Active Directory servers and replication structure allowing you to recognize performance trends and help reduce the risk of bottlenecks before they have a negative impact on your AD performance.

Anturis Active Directory Monitor

The Active Directory Monitor will show you server and LDAP sessions and set alerting thresholds. It will also show you Kerberos and NTLM authentications per second, giving you an idea of the general server load. And with replication being one of the most important aspects of Active Directory, replication performance metrics such as replication status, DRA pending replication synchronizations and DRA pending replication operations are also monitored.

Active Directory Monitor is a cloud-based service and several subscription plans are available at prices ranging from $10/month for 10 monitors to $650/month for 1000 monitors. A free version is also available but it is limited to 5 monitors. However, all paid plans have a free 30-day trial.

5. Quest Active Administrator

Las on our list is the Quest Active Administrator. This is a complete and integrated Active Directory management software solution. It bridges the gaps that Microsoft’s tools leave behind. The tools will make it easier and faster to meet auditing requirements and security needs. It has features addressing many of the most important areas of AD management.

Quest Active Administrator

Among the tool’s main features, Active Administrator offers integrated, proactive administration. It also has intuitive reporting and alerting, letting you quickly monitor and report on changes by filtering event type, user, and date, as well as user login and lockout activity. You can also set event alerts and automate alert-based actions.

Pricing for Active Administrator is per enabled user account in your AD and starts at $16.37 for a perpetual license with one-year support. A minimum license for 20 user accounts must be purchased. A free 30-day trial version can be downloaded.

Read 5 Best Active Directory Tools and Management Software by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter