Businesses desire to have reliable system administrators who are majorly responsible for designing a smoothly functioning IT infrastructure. An organization’s economic efficiency and scalability rely much on the robustness of the IT infrastructure. IT admins are in charge of crafting the business’s tech stack which makes it very critical for them to choose the right set of tools and software which paves a path for the organization’s success.
There are several free and charged tools available in the market, selecting an accurate combination of tools is the key. PowerShell is one such tool that is designed to ease out the burden of manual work on IT admins by enforcing automation and simplifying configurations.
What is Windows PowerShell?
PowerShell is a Windows command-line shell that allows system administrators to automate several tasks in Windows habitat. It offers several competent features such as robust command-line history, tab completion & command prediction, supports command and parameter aliases, a pipeline for chaining commands and an in-console help system that enables IT admins to automate management systems.
PowerShell favors extensibility by allowing independent or enterprise developers to modify its tools and resources as per their custom needs. It also offers simplified, command-based navigation which enables users to steer through the registry, processes and other data stores conveniently.
Uses and applications of Windows PowerShell
Automation of tasks with cmdlets
Cmdlets are Windows PowerShell commands that enable the management of computers from the command line. Cmdlets carry out system management tasks such as maintenance of active directories, registry, services, and leverage improved access over Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) which is a set of specifications provided by Microsoft for combining management of devices and applications in a network.
Pushing network-wide workarounds
Using Windows PowerShell enables IT admins to identify limitations and loopholes in software or program and apply re-configurations to such programs across an entire network of devices, without having to manually set configurations for each device in the network. For example; compelling all users to adopt a multi-factor authentication and change passwords at fixed intervals.
PowerShell remoting enables IT admins to push scripts on multiple devices at once, along with enabling remote installation, configuration, information access and more. This is a tremendous time-saving method, especially in times like the ongoing pandemic where most businesses have a remote workforce.
Access to information
It enables users to export all files, Windows Registry and e-signature certificates from one or more devices making it easier to access even hard to find data.
What is the Role of Windows PowerShell in Security?
Security engineers and System administrators use PowerShell to implement automated security solutions and employee devices. This enables IT admins to roll out security solutions on multiple devices at once and saves time in processing. However, PowerShell scripts are themselves prone to cyber-threats owing to the fact that they are one of the key sources to control enterprise devices. Security professionals are required to ensure constant software upgrades, use constraint language modes, implement code signing certificate as defensive strategies to ensure the prevention of cyber-attacks.
PowerShell scripts best practices
Start from the basics
Get-Help, Get-Command & Get-Module are the most basic and the most important cmdlets that every system admin must know. These are the most fundamental commands that display information about PowerShell concepts, functions, workflows and more.
Apply remote management commands
In order to access the remote management facilities of PowerShell, users must download all ‘Remote Server Administration Tools Active Directory PowerShell’ modules from Microsoft.
Active directory management
Two apex cdmlets under active directory management are UnlockADAccount and Set- ADAccountPassword. The former cdmlet enables returning Active Directory Domain Services access to a locked or suspended account, while the latter enables IT admins to manually set passwords for Active Directory accounts.
Set Execution Policy
This is a command to control the security levels of PowerShell. Restricted, All signed, Remote Signed and Unrestricted and the 4 security policies that IT admins can deploy based on the extent of security required.
Prerequisites to deploy PowerShell scripts
PowerShell database scripts have some general prerequisites based on their version.
- Device requirement: The most common requirement is that the scripts can run only on Windows device profiles or any devices that meet the same requirements.
- Operating system requirements: PowerShell scripts are compatible with only Windows servers based on their versions.
- Engine requirement: Windows PowerShell is designed to be compatible backward with its earlier version. However, the minimum engine requirement is a Microsoft .Net framework
- Security requirement: To run a PowerShell script, you need to be signed in as a user with ample security clearance. For example, to run a PowerShell script that installs a database, you must be logged in as a user that is authorized to create the required databases.
- Remote utility requirement: To enable remote working with PowerShell, users need to install Windows C Runtime on Windows versions predating Windows 10 and WMF (Windows Management Framework) for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008.
Learn More: Deploy Powershell Scripts with Windows MDM Agent
Since every Windows computer has PowerShell pre-installed on it, not only provides users with a wide array of utilities but also enables a competitive edge in terms of marketability. Keeping in mind its high-automation ability and user-friendly interface, Windows PowerShell makes it easier for IT admins to scale their efforts and avoid downtime by providing accurate, flexible and rapid service. Microsoft recently declared PowerShell as an open-source tool that can now be available on Linux and macOS in addition to Windows.