Admin account - AWS Directory Service

Admin account

When you create an AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory directory, AWS creates an organizational unit (OU) to store all AWS related groups and accounts. For more information about this OU, see What gets created. This includes the Admin account. The Admin account has permissions to perform the following common administrative activities for your OU:

The Admin account also has rights to perform the following domainwide activities:

  • Manage DNS configurations (add, remove, or update records, zones, and forwarders)

  • View DNS event logs

  • View security event logs

Only the actions listed here are allowed for the Admin account. The Admin account also lacks permissions for any directory-related actions outside of your specific OU, such as on the parent OU.

Important

AWS Domain Administrators have full administrative access to all domains hosted on AWS. See your agreement with AWS and the AWS data protection FAQ for more information about how AWS handles content, including directory information, that you store on AWS systems.

Note

We recommend that you do not delete or rename this account. If you no longer want to use the account, we recommend you set a long password (at most 64 random characters) and then disable the account.

Enterprise and domain administrator privileged accounts

AWS automatically rotates the built-in Administrator password to a random password every 90 days. Anytime the built in Administrator password is requested for human use an AWS ticket is created and logged with the AWS Directory Service team. Account credentials are encrypted and handled over secure channels. Also the Administrator account credentials can only be requested by the AWS Directory Service management team.

To perform operational management of your directory, AWS has exclusive control of accounts with Enterprise Administrator and Domain Administrator privileges. This includes exclusive control of the AD administrator account. AWS protects this account by automating password management through the use of a password vault. During automated rotation of the administrator password, AWS creates a temporary user account and grants it Domain Administrator privileges. This temporary account is used as a back-up in the event of password rotation failure on the administrator account. After AWS successfully rotates the administrator password, AWS deletes the temporary administrator account.

Normally AWS operates the directory entirely through automation. In the event that an automation process is unable to resolve an operational problem, AWS may need to have a support engineer sign in to your domain controller (DC) to perform diagnosis. In these rare cases, AWS implements a request/notification system to grant access. In this process, AWS automation creates a time-limited user account in your directory that has Domain Administrator permissions. AWS associates the user account with the engineer who is assigned to work on your directory. AWS records this association in our log system and provides the engineer with the credentials to use. All actions taken by the engineer are logged in the Windows event logs. When the allocated time elapses, automation deletes the user account.

You can monitor administrative account actions by using the log forwarding feature of your directory. This feature enables you to forward the AD Security events to your CloudWatch system where you can implement monitoring solutions. For more information, see Enable log forwarding.

Security Event IDs 4624, 4672 and 4648 are all logged when someone logs onto a DC interactively. You can view each DC’s Windows Security event log using the Event Viewer Microsoft Management Console (MMC) from a domain joined Windows computer. You can also Enable log forwarding to send all of the Security event logs to CloudWatch Logs in your account.

You might occasionally see users created and deleted within the AWS Reserved OU. AWS is responsible for the management and security of all objects in this OU and any other OU or container where we have not delegated permissions for you to access and manage. You may see creations and deletions in that OU. This is because AWS Directory Service uses automation to rotate the Domain Administrator password on a regular basis. When the password is rotated, a backup is created in the event that the rotation fails. Once the rotation is successful, the backup account is automatically deleted. Also in the rare event that interactive access is needed on the DCs for troubleshooting purposes, a temporary user account is created for an AWS Directory Service engineer to use. Once an engineer has completed their work, the temporary user account will be deleted. Note that every time interactive credentials are requested for a directory, the AWS Directory Service management team is notified.