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Azure AD for Stronger Security in Remote Work

Covid-19 forced numerous IT organisations to make a judgment call. Management had to allow employees to work remotely for their protection. To secure the remote workplace, IT managers leveraged Azure AD to manage company IT resources remotely. This also led to the increased adoption of the Zero Trust Model security framework.

Even though the Covid-19 restrictions have eased, many IT organisations have continued with the remote working model. The reason is simple: remote working brings immense work-life-related benefits for everyone.

 

What is Azure AD? 

Microsoft designed Azure Active Directory as a cloud-based identity and access management service that helps your employees access external resources while working from home. The company intranet allows easy management from the office, but remote employees require access to Microsoft 365 or Azure Portal to carry out their daily tasks. 

 

Similarly, organisations can’t take risks for their internal documents, so they require a secure authentication platform that only allows access to employees by recognising their corporate identity. Here are some features that make Azure stand out: 

  • Rest APIs
    Representational State Transfer APIs allow Azure to communicate with other web-based services. 
  • Authentication
    Cloud-based protocols like OAuth2 are used to authenticate users on Azure. 
  • Network Organisation
    Every Azure instance is called a Tenant, a flat structure representing users and groups. 
  • Entitlement Management
    Admins are allowed to organise users in groups to assign access to resources. 
  • Devices
    Microsoft Intune allows Azure to manage mobile devices easily. 
  • Desktops
    Windows desktops can also join Azure AD through Microsoft Intune. 

Using Zero Trust Model with Azure AD

Zero Trust Model is essentially a security framework that requires all users, inside or outside the organisation’s network, to authenticate, authorise, and continuously validate themselves. This security configuration is empirical to keeping applications and sensitive data safe. Another assumption of Zero Trust is the removal of the traditional network edge. 

 

Users can use local, cloud, or hybrid networks to access company resources to get the job done. Similarly, Zero Trust can uniquely address the challenges you face in the modern business environment, which involves securing remote workers, preventing ransomware threats, and facilitating cloud deployments. 

 

Here are three main principles of the Zero Trust approach that you need to keep in mind before deploying: 

  1. Assigning user credential verification
    Users are authenticated based on multiple data points, including location, IP, device, or credentials, with assistance from robust security methods such as MFA or Biometrics.

    With Azure, you will get: 

    • Strong authentication (passwordless sign-in).
    • Azure AD Hybrid Join allows secure and rich client access to data from numerous devices. 
    • Microsoft Intune assists in collecting data from the user’s device to determine whether Azure should trust it or not. 
  2. Allowing least amount of privilege
    Information is slowly released to the users, as the Zero Trust Approach creates access hierarchies and roles are assigned scopes to allow access to different websites. Users are only entrusted with the least privilege needed to carry out daily tasks.

    With Azure, you will get: 

    • Privilege identity management through robust and flexible functionality. 
    • Capabilities to introduce conditional access for users. 
    • Centralised view to all resources being accessed by the users. Premium P2 users will also take advantage of entitlement management to grant access to company resources. 
    • All users must consent to application management and restrictions that prevent unauthorised access to company data. 
    • Azure automatically creates, manages, and terminates user identities based on your organisation’s 
  3. Assuming a breach
    The Zero Trust model relies heavily on network traffic visibility by implementing automated logins, end-to-end encryption, and security analysis. Therefore, you should continuously work on improving your threat detection capabilities.

    With Azure, you will get: 

    • Azure AD password protection service enforces a robust yet user-friendly password protection policy within your organisation. 
    • You can also leverage identity protection from the Premium P2 feature that automatically detects identity-based risks and constantly monitors them to ensure the integrity of company data and infrastructure integrity. 

Benefits of Azure Active Directory

Here are some of the aspects of Azure Active Directory that your organisation will benefit from. 

  • High availability
    Microsoft developed AAD as a highly available architecture strategically spread over 28 data centres worldwide. They also consist of Independent building blocks that allow scalability and availability. 
  • Simplified access
    Through AAD, remote workers can easily access your resources through: 

    • Single Sign-On
      A single identity allows users to access thousands of SaaS applications. 
    • Application Proxy
      You can securely publish your on-premises applications through AAD as it ensures secure remote access. 
  • Self Service Features
    Microsoft has included a self-service password manager that allows users to reset their passwords if they forget them by answering additional security questions to unlock their accounts themselves. 

Conclusion

Not taking cybersecurity seriously is an avoidable security risk that organisations need to resolve before allowing their employees to work from home. Azure AD allows IT managers to handle security concerns while managing remote user authentication manually. You can deploy AAD on your cloud or explore various hybrid deployments to streamline your processes.

 

Need help in shifting to remote working? Our team of Azure Specialists can help you start the workplace transition and protect your cloud deployment simultaneously.

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