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Securing Applications with Azure Active Directory

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Securing Applications with Azure Active Directory

Navigating a changing world while ensuring business continuity.


Helping your organization understand and improve your Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) environment by analyzing your configuration and policies.

Today, many IT professionals are dealing firsthand in navigating a changing world. The expectations that IT and Security teams face are rising to an almost overwhelming level. Companies are balancing the safety of customers and employees, trying to ensure business continuity all while trying to regain economic stability.


Perfect of business leaders who state they feel pressure to lower security costs.


Percent of business leaders who state that improving user experience and productivity is their top priority.


Percent of business leaders who state that security controls to protect access to apps is their top priority.

The rise of remote work compounds these issues for IT. An increasingly remote workforce makes secure access from anywhere essential. Many applications that are traditionally on-prem now need to be accessible remotely.

And so IT and Security teams are starting to take a hard look at their existing environments.

In our current reality of a highly dispersed remote workforce, now more than ever, identity is your control plane to have greater visibility and control over who has access to what, when they should have it, and under what conditions. The first step towards this journey is consolidating all your identities, apps and devices across on-premises and the cloud. This can provide the single source of truth for managing and securing access across your entire digital estate.

With Azure AD, you can have a single control plane for all your apps, users and devices. Azure AD provides a single control plane for all your apps – and when we say all your apps, we truly mean all your apps.

Your Microsoft apps like Office 365, your SaaS apps like Workday, ServiceNow, Box, Salesforce as well as your on-premises apps that might be using legacy authentication protocols.

Once you bring in all your apps under one control plane, you can start to unlock all the benefits Azure AD can provide. The main reasons we see customers start to unify their app management with Azure AD is because:

  • It offers better security, governance and reliability. The cloud is more secure. It offers the ability to train models and algorithms, and provides ways to integrate solutions seamlessly for better security than you can achieve on-premises.​
  • It provides better end user experiences by ensuring seamless access to apps and resources with a common, seamless identity across cloud and on-premises.
  • It provides a much better experience for IT and Security teams. With the cloud you can manage all your apps from a single screen and reduce costs by retiring on-prem infrastructure.

Stay secure and resilient across your environment

When you have your applications connected to Azure AD, you can start to enforce strong access polices across your apps.

Based on Microsoft research, identity can be a common attack vector among bad actors. We’ve seen a 300-percent increase in identity attacks over the past year, making it more critical than ever to build an identity-driven security practice based upon strong authentication and intelligent adaptive access policies.

We built our intelligent adaptive access policy engine, Conditional Access, so you can minimize user friction while ensuring strong security. Conditional Access’s robust controls allow you to define specific conditions for how users authenticate and gain access to apps and data. For example, you can require MFA of a user who is trying to access an application from an uncompliant device.

Conditional Access provides robust controls to control how users authenticate and gain access to critical apps and data, ensuring not only seamless experiences for your users but also protecting your entire organization from costly breaches.

active directory policies image

While conditional access protects resources from suspicious requests, Identity Protection goes further by providing ongoing risk detection and remediation of suspicious user accounts. Identity protection keeps you informed 24/7 of suspicious user and sign-in behavior in your environment. Its automatic response proactively prevents compromised identities from being abused.

  • Real-time continuous detection: Monitor security alerts that affect your organization’s identities with continuous real-time and aggregated sign-in risk and user risk. Receive alerts when a user’s risk reaches a specified threshold.
  • Automated remediation: Set policies to automatically block sign-ins above a certain risk threshold (high, medium), review alerts, and automate responses for common scenarios.
  • Connected intelligence: Investigate risky users and sign-ins to address potential vulnerabilities. Go a step further if you see a suspicious incident and correlate alerts with other Microsoft solutions, which we’ll discuss next, for a more in-depth investigation and response.

Access to apps can be easy to grant but much harder to track. So you need the ability to trace who has access to which resources and quickly revoke access when it’s no longer needed.

With built-in identity governance capabilities in Azure AD, you can ensure that the right people have the right access to the right apps, and revoke that access when it’s no longer required

Azure AD Identity Governance allows you to:

  • Automate access to apps based on an identity’s lifecycle. For example, provisioning or deprovisioning apps when an employee joins, leaves or moves within an organization.
  • Ensure that only authorized users have access based on policies.
  • Provide employees and guest users with workflows to request access.
  • Establish regular access reviews to validate if users still need access.
  • Establish effective controls with time-limited access for privileged role assignments.

Improve productivity with seamless access

Of course, security cannot come at the expense of user productivity. Secure access doesn’t have to be cumbersome for employees. In fact, intelligent security controls designed with real people in mind make it more likely that user accounts won’t be compromised.

End-user security experiences only work when they minimize user friction to ensure wide adoption and maximum productivity.

Seamless Azure AD user experiences start with passwordless authentication to organizational resources. Users never have to touch or remember a password, further breaking your exposure to your weakest security link. Passwordless Microsoft authentication experiences include:

  • Microsoft Authenticator: For the greatest flexibility, convenience, and cost, we recommend the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app for your two-factor needs. Microsoft Authenticator supports biometrics such as fingerprints or FaceID, push notifications, and one-time passcodes for any Azure AD-connected app. Download Microsoft Authenticator at no cost from the Apple and Android app stores, and it’s free to use as an MFA solution with Azure AD.
  • Windows Hello: For a great built-in experience on the PC, we recommend using Windows Hello. It uses your face or fingerprint to sign in automatically. Once signed-in to their computers, your users can seamlessly access apps connected to Azure AD without using their password.
  • FIDO2: FIDO2 security keys are now available from several of our partners like Yubico, Feitian Technologies, and HID Global in a USB, NFC-enabled badge or biometric key.
active directory passwordless technology

Once users have conveniently verified their identity and authenticated themselves, they need rapid access to their resources to remain productive. It’s critical that you provide a consistent access experience, especially if you have a dispersed remote workforce. You can best achieve this experience through single sign-on, which ensures that users have one-click access to all the apps they need without continually signing in and re-entering passwords.

Azure AD further simplifies the user productivity experience by providing an access portal like My Apps to aid with application discovery and launch. Users can further customize and optimize their application launch experience by grouping apps into intuitive collections.

Reduce costs and increase IT efficiency

As you bring all your apps into one identity solution, you can start to drive efficiency. You can eliminate legacy and on-prem infrastructures as we previously discussed and you can consolidate identity management into a single solution.

A recent Microsoft survey found that, on average, some organizations may have up to 9 identity solutions—a separate MFA solution, a separate SSO solution, a separate adaptive access solution, etc… As you can imagine having all these disparate solutions from different vendors is not only complicated to manage but also increases costs quickly. 

Your company may be using products that can do one or more of these things; Azure AD has capabilities in all these areas.

You’ve invested in Azure AD, so it makes sense to take advantage of the breadth of these capabilities built-in to Azure AD, rather than to pay for redundant single use tools.

Microsoft’s vision with Azure AD is to help you simplify the way you manage and secure your applications by providing one identity system for your cloud and on-premise apps. Users just sign in once to securely and seamlessly access any application.

azure active directory applications

A short time ago, Microsoft commissioned a study with Forrester to help quantify the economic benefits of securing all applications within an organization with a single identity solution.  The results: customers who secure all their apps with Azure AD can achieve an ROI of 123%. 

Not only does Azure AD reduce management and oversight needed from your IAM team it can help:

  • Reduce costs by retiring on-premises infrastructure.
  • Reduce the likelihood of data breaches.
  • And reduce helpdesk costs associated to password resets — all while improving employee productivity.


Helping your organization understand and improve your Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) environment by analyzing your configuration and policies.

For more information on how to begin implementing or improving your Active Directory – we’d like to invite you to contact our Microsoft Active Directory experts below.

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