Active Directory (AD) is a directory service that Microsoft developed for Windows domain networks and is included in most Windows Server operating systems as a set of processes and services.

An AD domain controller authenticates and authorizes all users and computers in a Windows domain type network—assigning and enforcing security policies for all computers and installing or updating software. For example, when a user logs into a computer that is part of a Windows domain, Active Directory checks the submitted password and determines whether the user is a system administrator or normal user.

Active Directory makes use of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) versions 2 and 3, Microsoft’s version of Kerberos, and DNS.


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