Access control has long been one of the most popular ways to manage computing resources usage in your office. While this method often proves effective, it has a flaw. If someone steals the login credentials of a team member, they can access your network and the data inside it, resulting in a breach of your most sensitive information. While multi-factor authentication (MFA) can solve this problem, it can be a burden for busy team members who present multiple credentials to verify their identities.
Microsoft Conditional Access is a feature in Azure Active Directory that improves security and authentication by using identity-driven common signals for access control. But how does this feature work? How can Conditional Access policies benefit your business?
Understanding Conditional Access Policies
Microsoft says “Conditional Access brings signals together to make decisions and enforce organizational policies. Azure AD Conditional Access is at the heart of the new identity-driven control plane.” This feature — included in the Azure AD Premium P1 license — removes the pain points of MFA without compromising security.
Conditional Access policies use common signals that determine whether someone can access a service or application. Microsoft describes these policies as “if-then statements.” In other words, someone must complete an action before accessing a resource.
Common Signals for Conditional Access Policies Include:
Create policies for specific users and groups in your office. For example, delegate MFA duties to administrators instead of other team members. That approach can improve performance and allow regular users to focus on their jobs rather than waste time verifying identities.
Select trusted IP address ranges to use for control policy decisions. For instance, allow traffic from a particular country or region. On the flip side, block traffic in a specific location from accessing your network.
Choose trusted devices from key platforms for use in control policy decisions. Such as, allow traffic from a particular device, such as a privileged workstation. Alternatively, block traffic from a specific device in your office.
Benefits of Conditional Access Policies
Here are some of the benefits of using Conditional Access policies:
Conditional Access provides more flexibility for your access control workflows. Instead of implementing MFA for every login event, you can choose when to enforce it based on the above signals. For example, you can require MFA when someone logs in to your network from a particular region or block their access completely.
Identify Risky Behavior
Integrate signals with Azure AD Identity Protection and discover potentially dangerous login behavior. You can then enforce MFA in these scenarios or encourage team members to change their usernames and passwords.
Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
Use Conditional Access with Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps to monitor and control user application sessions and access in real time. This method provides a 360-degree overview of user access control in your cloud environment.
When Should You Use Conditional Access Policies?
Here are some use cases for Conditional Access:
- Someone in your organization wants to access Microsoft Teams but is away from the office. You can customize Conditional Access to automatically block access in this scenario or grant access after the user completes MFA or takes another action.
- Someone in your organization wants to access Office via Microsoft 365 but logs in from a new device. You can customize Conditional Access to automatically block access or grant access after the user completes MFA, has an administrator mark the device as compliant, or takes another action.
- Someone in your organization wants to log in to a Microsoft application but triggers MFA. You can customize Conditional Access to delegate MFA responsibilities to an administrator rather than the end user.
When working with a Microsoft partner, you get more value from Conditional Access and implement your business’s most effective access control policies. A partner can also help you implement enhanced security into your tech stack if you have a license other than Azure AD Premium P1, such as Microsoft E3.
Conditional Access Policies vs. MFA
Your team members might be required to complete MFA at pre-determined periods or whenever they want to access an account or application. This process could involve confirming their identity on a separate device or clicking on an email link.
While users who complete MFA are less likely to be hacked, providing multiple verification factors is a time-consuming process that slows down business productivity and infuriates team members. Those unable to meet the second (or third) authentication requirement won’t be able to access services, draining the resources of IT administrators who then need to rectify the issue.
Conditional Access policies allow you to optimize access control on a granular level. You can choose the security events that trigger MFA and make restrictive decisions based on a particular use case.
Conditional Access simplifies access control workflows in your organization, helping you improve user security and compliance. You can customize Conditional Access policies based on specific signals to reduce the pain points of MFA and fine-tune how team members access applications and services.
Dynamic Consultants Group is your trusted Microsoft partner for Conditional Access implementation. Talk to an expert now to learn more.