So we’ve shed some light on the myriad of benefits of Group Policy, but what else can you do with it on your Local Area Network (LAN)? Most importantly, you can use it to keep your network safe, but there are a whole slew of other helpful ways that Group Policy Objects (GPOs) can streamline your network maintenance.
There are plenty of important factors that are rolled into the daily operations of your company. Whether your computer network contains information that’s strictly relevant to your company, or you store information that’s pertinent to your clients, it’s absolutely critical that you keep that data safe. Intrusions can be devastating to your network, so preventative measures should always be taken to ensure its security.
Group Policy Objects
That’s where Group Policy comes in! There are many ways to protect the integrity of your network by deploying GPOs that affect all of your users.
The most obvious way to protect your network is to use antivirus software. Through the use of Active Directory and Group Policy, your network administrators can push out network-wide updates to all virus software to make sure it stays up-to-date. Additionally, they can setup Group Policy Objects to instruct each machine to detect if antivirus software is installed upon user login, and if it’s not, the software will install and run as per the determined Group Policy settings.
Many companies have a corporate disclaimer that must be visible to all users who log onto their networks. In such an instance, a GPO can instruct each machine to display whatever message the network administrator sets each time a user logs on. These types of disclaimers usually state that the machine being used and the information contained within it and created on it are properties of the company, and warns users against malicious use, sometimes even outlining the consequences users who break the rules may face.
How to Control Your Network
The chances are that any software that your network administrators choose to install on the machines across the network is expected to remain on the machines by the admins. In order to avoid issues that may occur if users accidentally delete or uninstall programs or files, your network admins can restrict application permissions using GPOs. If users have access to a shared drive on the network, it’s possible to give them permission to access, edit, and save files on the drive, but to restrict them from deleting files and folders. This is only one example of the type of control you can have with regard to application permissions; there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to what you can permit/restrict using GPOs.
Likewise, suppose you want to set up a company-wide ban on Facebook and Twitter—that’s possible using Group Policy Objects on your Active Directory! This is called content filtering, and it’s done by setting up web proxies that will block particular content types or sources from communicating with your network. Not only can you block certain websites across your entire company, but you can designate smaller groups of users to pass through additional content filters via web proxies to keep them from accessing other content.
For example, suppose your receptionist has been spending a bit more time shopping online than you’d like—you can block her user profile on your network from accessing e-commerce sites! Furthermore, suppose you’ve noticed that your interns have been getting pretty loud lately, and whenever you look in, you realize they’re crowded around a screen watching viral YouTube videos—say hello to a content filter, and goodbye to intern distractions!