SCDPM in a tiered infrastructure

When a company has a secure infrastructure, usually there are several tiers of resources managed by different administrators (or, at least, by same administrators but using different user accounts). For example, one may separate sensitive servers, like PKI Certification Authorities, Hyper-V hosts or file servers containing PII, and mark them as Tier 1 servers, while marking all other servers as Tier 2. Then he sets up permissions in a way that each tier has its own local administrators, and you may even forbid cross-tier logon completely (except network logon – network logon is useful and doesn’t pose a security threat).

In the ideal world you would have separate management solutions for each tier. But we all live in real world and, sometimes, it is impossible to find additional resources to support your infrastructure. In that case, it is more appropriate to designate your management servers, including backup ones, as Tier 1 – this way more secure servers will be able to access resources residing on less secure servers but not vice versa.

What does this mean for SCDPM? DPM wasn’t designed to backup resources from another security tier, but we can bent it to our will.
After you install an SCDPM agent on a server in Tier 2, then you must attach it to an SCDPM server in Tier 1. At this step, a user, which you are using to attach the agent, must be a local administrator at both the server and the client. Considering our tiered infrastructure, this is impossible, as one user cannot be a member of local administrators on machines from different tiers.
Fear not! We shall grant required permissions granularly in two steps:

Step 1

Basically we need to allow following permissions for Tier 1 admin at Tier 2 server’s WMI root and propagate them through the tree:

  • Enable
  • MethodExecute
  • RemoteAccess
  • ReadSecurity

You may choose to assign these permissions either via GUI, using wmimgmt.msc, or using PowerShell.
For PowerShell way you may use this fixed version of Set-WmiNamespaceSecurity.ps1 script. Original, written by Steeve Lee, suffers from a bug which does not allow to set inheritance flag and throws an error: “Invoke-WmiMethod : Invalid parameter”.
Run PowerShell script at the Tier 2 client as follows:
Set-WmiNamespaceSecurity.ps1 -namespace 'root' -operation 'add' -account 'EXAMPLE\tier1-admin' -permissions 'Enable','MethodExecute','RemoteAccess','ReadSecurity' -allowInherit $true

If you are going to set permissions with a GUI, here’s how it should looks like:

Step 2

This is counter-intuitive one: As we know, SCDPM server requests the time zone from an agent and saves it in the database. Sometimes, somehow, step 1 is not enough for remote non-admin user to request computer’s time zone. As a workaround, execute following WMI query at an SCDPM client: select * from Win32_TimeZone. After that, remote non-admin user will be able to request TimeZone instances for some time.
To utilize PowerShell for the task, execute this: Get-WmiObject -Query 'select * from Win32_TimeZone'

After these two steps, you should be able to add Tier 2 agent under protection of Tier 1 SCDPM server. When you have finished, you may safely remove those permissions by running the following command:
Set-WmiNamespaceSecurity.ps1 -namespace root -operation delete -account 'EXAMPLE\tier1-admin'

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