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19
Oct
2022
Azure Active Directory Management Best Practices

Azure Active Directory Management Best Practices

Managing your business’s IT systems is no easy task. You must make sure all your company’s devices are running smoothly and update them on a regular basis. You also need to protect your hardware, software, and networks from hazards such as ransomware. Furthermore, you need to ensure that everyone in your company can access the resources they need to perform their jobs. 

Enter Azure Active Directory, or Azure AD. This cloud-based service is Microsoft’s identity and access management solution, available to all MS 365 subscribers¹. Your employees can use this platform to access a variety of external resources, including MS 365, the Azure portal, and numerous other SaaS applications as well¹. Azure AD also enables them to access your internal resources, including cloud-based apps and those on your company intranet¹. In this article, we will discuss some best practices for effective Azure AD management.  

One noteworthy best practice for Azure AD management is to implement the principle of least privilege. When you manage Azure AD to least privilege, you only grant your network administrators the permission they need to do their jobs². When you limit the roles and scopes available to your administrators, you also limit which resources are most at risk in the event your network’s security is compromised². 

Continuing with the principle of least privilege, you should only grant your administrators access for a specific period². Azure AD offers Privileged Identity Management (PIM), which lets you provide just-in-time access for your network administrators². When this timeframe expires, be it a day, a week, or a month, PIM automatically removes privileged access for these users². Also, PIM sends you notifications any time that "new users are added to highly privileged roles," letting you know exactly who can access these resources². 

While applying the principle of least privilege is crucial for Azure AD management, you should also implement multi-factor authentication (MFA), which we discussed in a previous article. Recent Microsoft research shows that when you use MFA, your account is 99.9 percent less likely to be compromised than it would be without MFA². There are two ways you can enable MFA in Azure AD: you can either implement it with Role Settings under PIM, or you can utilize conditional access². Either way, by adding an extra layer of security, MFA in Azure AD protects you from hackers and gives you much-needed peace of mind. 

Another best practice for managing your Azure Active Directory is to delete any accounts no longer in use³. Since you can overlook inactive accounts for a long time, you must promptly address and remove them to keep hackers from accessing your network without permission³. With hackers in pursuit of sensitive files, in addition to accounts with elevated permissions, inactive user accounts and empty groups in your Azure AD are prime targets³. Therefore, you should remove these accounts from the system as quickly as possible to eliminate the risk of attack by malicious insiders or disgruntled former employees³. In short, deleting unused accounts in Azure AD helps keep hackers at bay. 

Yet another best practice for Azure AD management is to customize your company’s Azure portal⁴. While Microsoft’s default version of Azure AD is entirely plain, with no branding or other distinguishing characteristics, you can apply your company’s logo and colors if you so desire⁴. This helps users determine that they have found the proper page to access intranet and other company resources⁴. Also, this customization acts as a safeguard against phishing, as it can help users recognize incorrect landing pages and prevent them from logging into MS 365 phishing sites⁴. Customizing your Azure portal plays a pivotal role in managing your Azure AD effectively. 

Navitend can help you. Call 973.448.0070 or setup an appointment today. 

Sources: 

¹Microsoft. “What is Azure Active Directory?” Retrieved from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/fundamentals/active-directory-whatis.  

²Microsoft. “Best practices for Azure AD roles.” Retrieved from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/roles/best-practices.  

³ManageEngine.com. “Best practices to secure your Active Directory.” Retrieved from https://www.manageengine.com/products/ad-manager/active-directory-best-practices.html.  

⁴Cloudforce. “Azure Active Directory Best Practices.” Retrieved from https://www.gocloudforce.com/insights/azure-ad-best-practices/.  

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