The shift to the cloud has become increasingly popular as it provides the accessibility businesses now need to work from anywhere. However, this also means that your data is much more at risk in the cloud if you don’t have the proper security tools in place.
Microsoft Azure Active Directory is an identity and access management service that combines user credentials and authentication policies to control who can log into your systems. No matter if your data is stored on a server in your office or in an app online – Azure AD protects it.
When it comes to choosing a specific Azure AD plan, it can get confusing knowing which one your business needs. That’s why we’ve broken down the options and compiled a few recommendations to help you determine what will best support your organization.
How does it work?
There’s a fine line between implementing the right tools to keep your data secure and ensuring that your team can access that data without too much hassle. Luckily, Azure AD balances out the two – keeping your data protected and the log-in process seamless.
With thousands of different cloud-based and on-premise apps that your team may need to use on a regular basis, simplification is key. Rather than creating separate credentials for each cloud service, Azure AD gives you the ability to manage a single identity for each employee. This streamlined process allows you to verify who is accessing your data and feel confident knowing they can only access what they need to do their job.
Azure AD also allows you to enable multi-factor authentication with an additional form of identification required at log-in. With this extra layer of protection, your data is better protected from cyber attacks caused by compromised or stolen passwords. Additionally, Azure AD guards your organization against known weak and potentially dangerous passwords by alerting users if their chosen password is potentially putting their account at risk.
Finding the right fit for your organization.
It’s clear that Azure AD provides your business many benefits – but how do you know which plan to choose?
In its simplest form, if you have a subscription to Microsoft 365, you get a specific edition of Azure AD at no additional cost. This edition provides very basic security tools that often don’t meet the needs or compliance requirements of your business.
As you move up the ladder, there are two Premium Azure AD subscription options that include higher levels of security and additional features that work to better support the needs of your business.
On their own, P1 licenses are priced at $6 per user/month. Or, if your organization bundles Microsoft 365 licenses, the Microsoft 365 E3 licenses include this Azure AD Premium P1 tier.
- Conditional Access
- Password Protection
- Self-service password reset (cloud & on-premise users)
- Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
The Premium P1 tier is a good start when it comes to securing access to your data. However, when it comes to building a strong cyber resilience and meeting compliance requirements, Premium P2 will likely be the better option.
On their own, P2 licenses are priced at $9 per user/month. Or, once again, if your organization bundles Microsoft 365 licenses, the Microsoft 365 E5 licenses include this Azure AD Premium P2 tier.
With a P2 license, you automatically get every feature included in all other Azure AD editions, plus a few additional features:
This feature allows your organization to easily manage group memberships and role assignments. This is especially helpful in ensuring everyone has the access they need to do their job efficiently while simultaneously decreasing the risk that your data may end up in the wrong hands.
Privileged Identity Management (PIM)
This feature grants admins the ability to upgrade their permissions on an as-needed basis, giving them access to various Azure resources only when necessary. With admin accounts being a huge target to your organization, the ability to provide just-in-time access to these users greatly reduces the risk to your data should their account be compromised.
This feature provides an automated way to quickly compare a user’s log-in attempt against typical risk factors like unusual travel, malware-linked IP addresses, anonymous IP addresses, unfamiliar sign-in properties, etc.
With the increased sophistication and speed of cyber attacks, it’s no longer enough to rely on a user to report suspicious activity or hope that an admin catches it. The identity protection feature not only identifies these potential threats, but can also send the information to other tools for further investigation and action if need be.
Making the most out of your subscription.
While both of the Azure AD Premium options have similar features, the additional security tools that are included in the P2 licenses take your organization from having a good security posture to a great one.
In today’s cyber world, many organizations are required to demonstrate a high level of security for compliance purposes. Oftentimes, those requirements include having a way to manage privileged access and the automation of responding to a potentially compromised account. The Premium P2 license does that and more. Plus, with a relatively small difference in pricing between the two, the P2 license gives you the most value for your investment.
If you’d like more information on specific features or choosing the right tier for your business, contact us today! Our team of experts would be more than happy to assist.