What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access is a feature of Azure AD that helps organizations improve security and compliance. By creating Conditional Access policies, you can fine-tune your authentication process — without unduly burdening users.
Consider how the authentication process has traditionally worked: Organizations require users to supply a user ID and password. Most of the time, it’s the legitimate account owner typing them in and everything’s fine — the user can go on to access all the data, applications and other resources they’ve been granted permissions for. But sometimes, it’s an attacker who has stolen or guessed a user’s credentials, and now they’re merrily romping around your network, and your organization is at risk of ending up in the data breach headlines or being slapped with an enormous compliance fine.
To reduce these risks, organizations can put additional authentication hurdles in place. Usually that takes the form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) — requiring the user to supply a code sent to their mobile device, a fingerprint or some other additional authentication factor.
These strategies can be extremely effective. Microsoft reports that its telemetry shows that 99.9% of organization account compromise could be stopped by simply using MFA. The trouble is, MFA is a pretty blunt tool. It introduces an unnecessary hassle in most cases, when legitimate users are just trying to do their jobs, increasing user frustration and hurting productivity. And it can be woefully insufficient in others, like when it’s a highly privileged admin accessing highly sensitive systems and you really want additional evidence that the authentication request is legitimate.
Azure AD Conditional Access helps you strengthen your authentication process in a way that avoids issues like these. For example, you can create a policy to require administrators — but not regular business users — to complete an MFA step. But you can get a lot more granular than that. You’re not limited to simple facts like whether the user is an admin; you can also factor in things like the user’s location and the type of authentication protocol being used. For instance, you can deny all requests that come from North Korea, allow all requests that come from your headquarters location, and require MFA for all the rest. Moreover, you can create multiple policies that work together to put guardrails in place exactly where you need them.
Read the entire article on the Quest blog here.