Microsoft 365 offers a wide variety of services beyond the full stack of services like Exchange Online, Microsoft Teams, etc. In particular, you can use Azure Active Directory as your primary Identity Provider (IdP). This allows you to move authentication of your legacy applications from on-premises to Azure.
Azure & Active Directory Center
ENow Software's Azure & Active Directory blog built by Microsoft MVPs for IT/Sys Admins.
Last week I shared part one of my Microsoft 365 Security Assessment where we took a deep dive into securing things related to Azure Active Directory. If you haven’t had a chance to read through it yet, take a few minutes and read it here.
Now that we’re all on the same page, lets dive into part two, where we’ll cover security settings in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center.
As a Microsoft 365 certified Security Administrator, and Microsoft certified Azure Security Engineer I have recently done a number of Microsoft 365 security assessments. Some of them have been post-breach assessments. A lot of companies had to enable remote workers in a hurry at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result have realized security configuration and protection is more critical than ever.
My email address is my identity
In Active Directory on-premises or Azure Active Directory (AAD), used by Office 365, our User Principal Name (UPN) is often the same as our email address. These days, we often log in with our email addresses, which means that whatever we’re “using under the hood” from an authentication point of view is the same as our email address. This convention of making our email address the same as our UPN is common practice and even advocated by Microsoft.
There’s a running joke in the industry that the COVID-19 pandemic has done more to drive digital transformation in organizations than any consultant, project team or CTO. While this may be a slight exaggeration, there is definitely an element of truth to it. Many organizations have historically been slow to adopt remote working practices, but the pandemic and associated lockdowns have forced organizations all over the world to change their work from home policies and accelerate the deployment of tools to support telecommuting.
Administrative Units Management in Azure Active Directory
Since writing this blog post in May 2018 about administrative units, some things have finally been changed. As this feature is still in preview, it can now be managed in the Azure portal and with Microsoft Graph. But before we go into more detail, let's do a quick heads-up what administrative units are used for.
One of the great features in Microsoft 365 is Azure Active Directory Application Proxy. AAD App Proxy allows you to publish internal web applications to the Internet and ensure users authenticate in a very secure way. Best of all, it can do this usually without requiring any firewall changes – all that is required is outbound Internet access from the computer running the AAD App Proxy agent.
What a difference a few weeks can make. In less than a month, a huge segment of the world’s working population has had to transition to a work from home model. For some workers and organizations this is the first time they’ve done this, and some are still scrambling to make it work. A lot of organizations have spent the last 10-20 years securing their environments to prevent external access only to find out now that they need to break down those barriers.
I still remember the first password I ever had; it was for my GeoCities account in the late ‘90s before they were purchased by Yahoo!. The password was a randomly generated string of six lowercase characters – that was it, no uppercase, numbers or special characters. I memorized it and thought it was great, no one would ever guess that random password – unlike the passwords my friends used, which were usually the name of their girlfriend or their nickname. By today’s standards though, it is clear that a lot has changed since then, and I’d be willing to bet that any decent authentication system would actually prevent you from using such a trivial password.
Want to learn more about Active Directory?
Active Directory Administration Cookbook, 2nd Edition
In this book, Microsoft MVP & Technical Editor of ENow's Azure & Active Directory Center, Sander Berkouwer will share the intricacies of managing Azure AD, Azure AD Connect as well as Active Directory for administration in the cloud and on Windows Server 2022.