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PowerBroker for Windows, Best Known Secrets – Collections

Posted October 1, 2012    Morey Haber

One of the best-known secrets about PowerBroker for Windows is the ability to logically group rules into Collections. This Best Practice allows you to organize rules based on almost any criteria and treat multiple rules as a single entity. This feature is most useful when:

  • Rules require the same item-level targeting
  • Organizing rules into physical groupings for ease of maintenance or review
  • Creating rule groups based on abstract terms like department, application, or even denied applications or websites
  • Enforcing that all sub-groups or rules inherentthe same action
  • Storing obsolete or temporary rules
  • Staging rules that are used for testing before inserting them into production. (This works best with Item Level Targeting).

Below are sample rule Collections that can be considered for any organization:

  • Operating System Elevations for managing tasks inherent to the OS. Sample rules in this group are for items like modifying the system clock, running defrag.exe, or even adding an ODBC driver.
  • Website Explicit Deny rules are for creating Internet Explorer policies that block specific websites. In this example, rules contain the blocking of websites that are against corporate policy. These rules would be processed regardless of whether the user is on the corporate network or logging on remotely.
  • The Engineering Department Allowed Collection is an abstract collection of rules that utilizes Item Level Targeting to allowapplications like VMware workstation or AutoCad to operate correctly for specific subnets.
  • Discovery is a sample collection with passive rules strictly used to discover applications that are being executed with administrative privileges.

Logically building these groups is a best practice that all organizations should consider as a part of their deployment. Just like you build folders and tree structures in Active Directory, you can do the same with PowerBroker for Windows policy collections.

The ordering of collections and the rules they contain is equally as important as the rules themselves. The order number for each rule and collection is displayed in the Order column of the PowerBroker snap-in user interface. A sample screenshot is below:

 

It is important to note that, a collection and a rule can have the same order number since rules are children of collections. No two collections can have the same order number nor can any two rules within anycollection.

When building collections and rules, the following best practices govern rule-processing order:

  • Within each Group Policy Object (GPO), rules are processed sequentially from highest order number to lowest, and only the first rule that targets an application takes effect.
  • When a rule and a collection have the same order number, the individual rule is processed before the collection.
  • When a rule collection contains a sub-collection, rules in the parent collection are processed first, and then rules in the sub-collection are processed.
  • Rule collections are automatically assigned an order number when they are created. You can change the order number of a collection by selecting the collection in the Group Policy Management Editor and clicking the Move the selected item up or Move the selected item down arrow buttons in the menu bar.

For more information on how to take advantage of collections, please visit our site.

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