Conditional access is a security mechanism within Microsoft that allows access to resources only under certain conditions. By verifying that a user has the necessary permissions to access resources, companies can improve their security permissions.
Conditional access is often used to ensure only authorised users can access intended material / sensitive data. This can be implemented in a number of methods including password, biometric authentication, two-factor authentication and more. Access security is crucial in preventing unauthorised access to resources.
There are a number of benefits of implementing conditional access including security, compliance and user experience. See below a table explaining some of the most common benefits.
|Enhanced security||Conditional access helps to ensure that only authorised users can access sensitive resources, which reduces the risk of data breaches, theft, and unauthorised access.|
|Compliance||Implementing conditional access can help organisations comply with industry regulations and data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).|
|Reduced risk of data loss||Conditional access can help reduce the risk of data loss by ensuring that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised personnel.|
|Increased control||Conditional access gives organisations more control over who can access their resources, and under what conditions.|
|Flexible access policies||Conditional access policies can be customised to suit an organisation’s specific needs, such as restricting access to certain devices or locations.|
|Improved user experience||Conditional access can provide a seamless user experience by allowing authorised users to access resources without needing to go through multiple authentication steps.|
|Centralised management||Implementing conditional access can provide centralised management of access policies, making it easier to monitor and enforce compliance with security policies.|
|Cost-effective||Conditional access can be cost-effective, as it reduces the need for expensive hardware or software solutions, and can be integrated into existing security infrastructure.|
What are the most common rules a company can set?
Many organisations have a specific set of underlying conditional access rules to meet varying needs and requirements. However, there are some common conditional access rules that many companies use:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA): By requiring uses to authenticate when accessing sensitive data or applications. This can be based on various conditions including: Location, device type and risk level.
- Device Compliance: This requires devices to meet certain compliance standards before granting access to sensitive resources. This can include checking if the device is fully up to date with the latest software patches, encryption and not been jailbroken.
- Location – based access: This limits access to resources based on the users location. Many organisations set this to trusted networks or locations, also known as geo-fencing.
- Application access: Restrict access to specific applications or data based on the users role or permissions.
- Risk-based access: This can include checking for suspicious behaviours, known threats or other factors that can increase the risk of unauthorised access. Using risk base can ensure a user or device reaches a certain standard before access is granted.
- Time-based access: Limiting access to resources based on the time of day or day of the week. For example, only being able to access certain applications during business hours.
This list is just a short example of some of the most common conditional access rules companies may have. Organisations can add specific rules that depend on specific needs, industry regulations and risk management strategies.
What if conditional access is set wrong?
If conditional access policies are not setup correctly or not enforced it can lead to numerous risks!
|Consequences of not having proper conditional access controls|
|Unauthorised access to resources|
|Increased risk of data loss|
|Compliance violations and potential penalties or fines|
|Reduced control over who has access to resources|
|Reduced productivity due to overly restrictive access policies|
|Increased costs associated with remediation, legal action, or loss of business|
It is highly important for organisations to prioritise setting up and enforcing proper conditional access to mitigate these risks and protect their data, reputation and bottom line.
Who is responsible for conditional access?
In most organisations the setting and responsibility of conditional access falls between the IT department & security team. These teams are responsible for implementing and configuring the technical aspects of conditional access, such as setting up policies, configuring access controls and integrating with other security tools and systems.
Ultimately, it is important for all stakeholders within an organisation to understand their roles and responsibilities in implementing and enforcing proper conditional access controls to ensure the security of their data and resources.
Is conditional access a one-stop solution?
Conditional access is an important security tool that helps organisations better protect their data & resources. However, it is not a one-stop solution and should be used in conjunction with other security measures to provide a comprehensive security strategy.
It is recommended to combine conditional access with other security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems and endpoint protection. Further to this education and awareness programs can be used to ensure that users understand the importance of maintaining a strong security practices.
Overall, conditional access is a valuable security tool that should be used as a comprehensive security strategy that includes multiple layers of protection. Next2IT recommend to regularly carry out security reviews of your organisation to ensure no aspect of security is overlooked. We advise all our clients to work on a ‘least possible privileges’ basis, meaning you should only have enough access to complete your duties, with role based access control (PIM) where possible.