What is Domain Controller? Everything You Need to Know

What is Domain Controller? Everything You Need to Know
What is Domain Controller?

Implementing the network security best practices is of the utmost importance to enable secure remote device access, extend security compliance, centralise user data, and strengthen your security posture.

In this remote working environment, establishing a secure connection between your remote employee’s devices and the corporate domain is vital to combat data centre security risks and make security management and compliance hassle-free.

This is where the domain controller and domain joining come in.

This article will show what a domain controller is, its types, and the benefits of domain control for your enterprise network. Let’s begin!

Understanding Domain Controller

A Domain Controller (DC) is a server that responds to the security authentication requests within a certain domain from network endpoints and verifies users on the computer network.

While domains provide a hierarchy for organising computers and users connected to your network—a Domain Controller keeps that data secured and organised.

The Domain Controller in Active Directory acts as a gatekeeper and holds the keys to your kingdom, allowing access to the domain resources. Hence, it runs the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) for request authentication within a domain.

Besides, domain control also enforces security policies, authenticates users for a domain, and stores the user’s account information in a secure way.

What is The Main Function of a Domain Controller?

A domain controller is a server that acts as a gatekeeper for user authorisation and authentication. The main function of DC is to validate users' access to the domain network. Whenever the user tries to access the domain network, the work of DC is to verify the user's credentials on the network. And based on the verification process either allows or restricts the user.

Why is a Domain Controller Important?

It is the core of any network. All the critical data, sensitive information, company policies and computer systems are stored in the domain controller. Based on the stored information, DC can validate the user's access. So if the cyber attack occurs, the attackers will target the domain controller as it stores all the information.

Since it is at very high risk, security measures should be implemented to protect domain controllers.

How Does A Domain Controller Work?

Let us look at a Domain Controller example to understand its working.

Ideally, enterprises have several Domain Controllers—each having a copy of the Active Directory (AD).

All the user login credentials from the network are held and consolidated in Domain Controller in the Active Directory service. Hence, DC uses the Active Directory to house the user database and login information.

So, when a user logs in to their domain, DC checks and validates their credentials, like usernames and passwords—to either permit or deny access for that user.

Thus, a remote Domain Controller helps manage and maintain your network security and user identity security—enforcing security policies across Active Directory domains.

Hence, here’s a breakdown of the roles and responsibilities of a Domain Controller (DC):

  • User authentication and validation to access your network.
  • Regulating access and permissions—overseeing a user’s access rights within the domain.
  • Implementing network-wide rules and group security policies for passwords or granting access.

Let’s learn more about the benefits and limitations of domain control for your enterprise.

Do You Need A Domain Controller: Advantages And Drawbacks

Irrespective of your organisation or business size—you need a Domain Controller to improve your network’s security if you save your customer’s data and login credentials on your enterprise network.

Here are the benefits of a Domain Controller (DC) for your organisation network:

  • Centralises user data management for efficient organisation and data storage.
  • Makes resource sharing for files and printers a breeze.
  • Simplifies network administrative workload.
  • Facilitates and provides more control over users’ settings and entitlements.
  • Maximises and ensures high network and data security.
  • Enables user data encryption.
  • Enables Federation configuration for redundancy (FSMO).
  • Increases collaborative possibilities within the domain.
  • Easier to distribute and replicate across large networks.
  • Easier to harden and lockdown for improved security.

Here are the limitations or cons of a Domain Controller (DC):

  • Comes with the potential to be hacked and become an easy target for cyberattacks.
  • You must ensure users' and the Operating System’s (OS) stability and security.
  • It’s important to check for hardware and software requirements and keep them up-to-date.
  • Your network depends on the Domain Controller’s uptime.

What Are The Types Of Domain Controllers?

There are two major types of Domain Controllers—read-only and read-write.

  • Read-only: The read-only Domain Controller (DC) comprises a copy of the AD DS database, which is read-only.
  • Read-write: A read-write Domain Controller comes with the ability to read and write to the AD DS database.

With that in mind, let’s also understand what domain joining is and how it differs from Domain Controllers.

Domain Controller vs Domain Joining

Many confuse these two terms—assuming domain joining and Domain Controller to be the same.

Domain Joining is a feature that allows your employees to securely connect to your work domain from a remote location using their enterprise login credentials. Hence, it enables them to join a domain of your enterprise effectively.

On the other hand, as we discussed, a Domain Controller is what determines whether users are eligible to join the Active Directory domain—validating their credentials from the Active Directory.

Get Started With Domain Joining With InstaSafe

Domain Joining and Controllers come with their own perks and vulnerabilities. While they strengthen your network and ensure maximum user data security and protection—choosing the right service and implementing domain controllers is paramount.

If you need a service to connect your remote employee devices to your corporate domain securely, check out our InstaSafe solutions. Get domain joining to ensure compliance with updated security protocols, push group security policies to remote devices, and enable maximum control over security patches and updates.

Book a demo today to learn more!

FAQs about Domain Controller:

  1. What does the domain controller do?

The function of domain controllers is to store the information that can validate the user's access to the network.

2. What are the main components of domain controllers?

DNS server, Active Directory database, LDAP. DFS, Group policy, etc., are the main components of domain controllers in Windows Active Directory.

3. What is the difference between Active Directory and Domain Controller?

The domain controller is the server that carries out the user authentication request, while the active directory is the type of database that manages the identity of users.

4. What are the types of domain controllers?

Domain controllers are classified into two types which are Read-only and Read-write.

5. What are the 3 main functions of Active Directory?

The prominent benefits of the active directory are more accessible resource location, centralised security administration and single logon access to global resources.

6. How many types of Active Directory are there?

There are 7 types of active directories, each deployed with different purposes.