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Best Practices for Azure Access Management

Learn about Azure Access Management, its key components, and how to implement best practices in your Azure environment.

Best Practices for Azure Access Management

Azure Access Management refers to the process of controlling and managing user access to Azure resources. It involves implementing various security measures and tools provided by Azure to ensure that only authorized individuals can access and perform actions on resources within an Azure environment.

Access management is crucial in Microsoft Azure as it helps organizations maintain data security, protect sensitive information, and prevent unauthorized access or misuse of resources. Proper access management ensures that the right people have the right level of access to perform their tasks while reducing the risk of data breaches or security incidents.

This blog aims to provide an overview of Azure Access Management, explain its key components, and guide readers on how to implement access management best practices in their Azure environment.

Utilizing Microsoft Entra ID for Azure Access Management

Microsoft Entra ID (previously known as Azure Active Directory) is one of the most popular cloud-based identity and access management services in the world. Serving as the foundation for access management in Azure, it allows organizations to manage user identities, control access to resources, and enforce security policies.

Microsoft Entra ID is cost-effective, easy to use, and seamlessly integrates into a wide range of platforms and applications both on-premises and within the Cloud. Microsoft Entra ID helps you protect your data, users, and applications with single sign-on (SSO), conditional access, multifactor authentication (MFA), and identity governance. We’ll dive into some of the key components of Azure Access Management below.

Key Components of Azure Access Management

Two main components of Azure Access Management that proactively manage user access include role-based access control (RBAC) and privileged identity management (PIM):

Role-Based Access Control

Azure RBAC is a fundamental component of access management, providing a granular approach to managing access by assigning roles to users or groups that grant specific permissions to perform actions on Azure resources. Simply put, Azure RBAC helps manage who has access to resources, what they can do with those resources, and to what areas they specifically have access.

Creating Role Assignments with Role-Based Access Control

To control access to resources with Azure RBAC, you can assign Azure roles that will enforce permissions. Access is granted by creating a role assignment and revoked by removing a role assignment. A role assignment consists of three elements:

  1. Security Principal
    Security principals represent users, groups, service principals (identities created for use within applications), or managed identities attempting to gain access to Azure resources, and roles can be assigned to any security principal.

  2. Role Definition
    Role definitions, or roles, are a collection of permissions that can be performed, such as read, write, or delete. Roles can be high-level or specific, such as Owner or User Access Administrator for high-level and Virtual Machine Contributor for specific.

  3. Scope
    Scope is the set of resources that access applies to and can help further limit the actions allowed. For example, if you want to assign the role of Website Contributor to somebody, you can use scope to allow them to only contribute to one resource group.

Scope can be specified at four levels, from broad to narrow, in Azure – management group, subscription, resource group, or resource, and roles can be assigned at any of these levels.

Privileged Identity Management

Privileged Identity Management (PIM) is an additional service in Microsoft Entra ID that provides just-in-time access and privilege management for Microsoft Entra ID roles. PIM enables you to monitor access to important resources in your organization and minimize the number of people with access to secure information.

By using PIM, which provides time-limited access to privileged roles rather than giving permanent high-level access, organizations can reduce the chances of a malicious actor gaining access to sensitive data and prevent authorized users from mistakenly impacting a sensitive resource they don’t need to access.

Some helpful features of PIM include:

  • Just-in-time (JIT) privileged access
    Use JIT to limit the privilege granted to an as-needed basis.
  • Time-bound access
    Use time-bound access to set predetermined start and end dates for access.
  • Approval
    Require approval to activate privileged roles with higher access.
  • Multi-factor authentication
    Enforce and require MFA for activating roles.
  • Justification
    Require justification to gain insights as to why users are activating a role.
  • Notifications
    Get notified when privileged roles get activated.
  • Access reviews
    Conduct reviews to revoke access to roles users may no longer need.
  • Audit history
    Download audit histories for external or internal audits.
  • Prevent removal
    Block removal of the last active Global Admin or Privileged Role Administrator.

In addition to PIM, Privileged Access Management, or PAM, also enhances security by working on the principle of least privilege, which ensures employees have just enough access required to do their jobs, while PIM focuses on time-bound access.

Implementing Azure Access Management

In addition to using role-based access control and privileged identity management, here are a few other best practices you can follow for access management in Microsoft Entra ID:

  • Centralize identity management
    Establish a single instance of Microsoft Entra ID to maintain a single consistent authoritative source, and integrate your on-premises directories with Entra ID.
  • Enable single sign-on
    Enable single sign-on (SSO) so users can be productive from anywhere, at any time, on any device, with the same set of credentials.
  • Plan routine security improvements
    Use Identity Secure Score, recommended security controls published by Microsoft, to objectively measure your security posture and plan future improvements.
  • Enable password management
    Reduce IT support costs by enabling users to reset their own passwords with self-service password reset (SSPR) if they comply with your password policy.
  • Actively monitor for suspicious activity
    Have an active monitoring system in place to notify you of risks, such as attempts to sign in without being traced, or suspicious IP addresses.

Implement Azure Access Management Best Practices with Big Cloud Consultants

Implementing best practices for access management in Azure is crucial to maintain data security, protect sensitive information, and prevent unauthorized access or misuse of resources. With proper access management, organizations can reduce the risk of data breaches or security incidents.

However, we understand that the process can be overly complex and overwhelming which is why the team at Big Cloud Consultants is here to help. Our expert Microsoft Azure consultants can help you implement best practices for Azure Access Management to ensure your data remains secure. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you get more from your infrastructure with our wide array of Microsoft Azure services.

Picture of Craig Zimmerman - Chief Operating Officer

Craig Zimmerman - Chief Operating Officer

Craig Zimmerman is deeply versed in navigating the IT, software, and broadcast industries. As COO, Zimmerman's role sits at the intersection of strategy, operations, and growth, propelling organizations to new heights through cutting-edge cloud solutions and expertly delivered services. By leveraging his entrepreneurial skills and broad industry knowledge, Zimmerman effectively drives digital transformations and optimizes cloud usage for businesses.

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