Nearly as long as passwords have been around, they’ve been a significant source of security concern. Eighty-one percent of security incidents happen due to stolen or weak passwords. Additionally, employees need to pay more attention to the basics of good cyber hygiene.
For example, 61% of workers use the same password for multiple platforms. And 43% have shared their passwords with others. These factors are why compromised credentials are the leading cause of data breaches.
Access and identity management have become a priority for many organizations. This is primarily due to the rise of the cloud and the practice of people needing only to enter a username and password to access systems.
Once a cybercriminal gets a hold of an employee’s login, they can access the account and any data it contains. This is especially problematic when it’s an account like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These accounts can access things like cloud storage and user email.
Below, we’ll explain conditional access and how it works with multi-factor authentication (MFA). We’ll also review the advantages of moving to a conditional access process.
What Is Conditional Access?
Conditional access is also known as contextual access. It is a method of controlling user access. You can think of it as several “if/then” statements, meaning “if” this thing is present, “then” do this.
For example, conditional access allows you to set a rule stating the following. “If a user logs in from outside the country, require a one-time passcode.”
Conditional access allows you to add many conditions to the process of user access to a system. It is typically used with multi-factor authentication or MFA. This is to improve access security without unnecessarily inconveniencing users.
Some of the most common contextual factors used include:
- IP address
- Geographic location
- Time of day
- The device used
- Role or group the user belongs to
At Allixo, we set up conditional access for our Modern Office clients in Azure Active Directory. We can also set it up in other identity and access management tools. As your IT partner, we can help with setup and the conditions that would make the most sense for your business.
The Benefits of Implementing Conditional Access for Identity Management
Using conditional access improves your company’s security stance. It allows you more flexibility in challenging user legitimacy and doesn’t just grant access to anyone with a username and password. Instead, the user needs to meet specific requirements.
Contextual access could block any login attempts from countries where no employees are. It could also present an additional verification question when employees use an unrecognized device.
Automates the Access Management Process
Once the if/then statements are set up, the system takes over. It automates the monitoring of contextual factors and takes the appropriate actions. This reduces the burden on administrative IT teams. It also ensures that no one is falling between the cracks.
Automated processes are more accurate and reliable than manual processes. Automation removes the human error component. This helps ensure that each condition is verified for every single login.
Allows Restriction of Certain Activities
Conditional access isn’t only for keeping unauthorized users out of your accounts. You can use it in other ways. One of these is to restrict the activities that legitimate users can do. For example, you could restrict access to data or settings based on a user’s role in the system. You can also use conditions in combination. Such as lowering permissions to view-only. You could trigger this if a user holds a particular role and is logging in from an unknown device.
Studies show that as many as 67% of businesses don’t use multi-factor authentication, even though it’s one of the most effective methods to stop credential breaches. One of the biggest reasons it is not used is the inconvenience factor for employees. They may complain that it interferes with productivity. Or say it makes it harder for them to use their business applications.
Enforces the Rule of Least Privilege
Using the rule of least privilege is a security best practice. It means only granting the lowest level of access in a system as necessary for a user to do their work. Once you have roles in your identity management system, you can base access on those roles.
Conditional access simplifies restricting access to company data or system functions based on job needs, streamlining identity management because it contains all parts in the same system for access and MFA rules. Everything stays together, making management simpler.
Get Help Implementing Conditional Access Today!
Once conditional access is set up, the automated system takes over. It improves your security and reduces the risk of an account breach. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.