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Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs

This article is part 7 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?
Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy
Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

When you want to integrate other products into your Conditional Access environment you can use “Custom controls” to include products from other vendors into your Conditional Access conditions. If a custom control is used the browser is redirected to the external service, performs any required authentication or validation activities, and is then redirected back to Azure Active Directory. If the user was successfully authenticated or validated, the user continues in the Conditional Access flow. More information and some samples can be found here: Azure AD + 3rd party MFA = Azure AD Custom Controls – https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/cbernier/2017/10/16/azure-ad-3rd-party-mfa-azure-ad-custom-controls/. This feature is still in preview but very promising for 3rd party vendors who want to integrate with Conditional Access.

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Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access

This article is part 6 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?
Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy
Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

In this part of the series we will go into more detail on where we can find information which can help us to troubleshoot Conditional Access policies.

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Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access

This article is part 5 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?
Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy
Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

Before you start implementing your Conditional Access policies you should define an implementation strategy, some things to consider are:

  1. Make sure that Modern Authentication is enabled for Exchange Online (EXO) and Skype for Business Online (SfBO), SharePoint online has modern authentication enabled out of the box
  2. Create 2 break glass accounts, these accounts, which are global administrator should have complex passwords and will be excluded from any conditional access policy created and must have MFA disabled (or either one of two per account). More information about creating break glass accounts can be found here: Manage emergency access accounts in Azure AD – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/users-groups-roles/directory-emergency-access. Also keep in mind that you might want to change the default account settings for the Break Glass accounts using PowerShell: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/security/azure-ad-secure-steps#step-2—reduce-your-attack-surface
  3. For each conditional access policy created, we will create an exclusion group, so that we can deal with exceptions in our environment. These exception groups will be setup with Access review functionality (if available) to make sure that the membership of these groups are evaluated on a regular basis.
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Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy

This article is part 4 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?
Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

When designing a Conditional Access strategy for a customer we first need to start with an inventory of the environment, in the most ideal situation you would design and implement conditional access in a green field scenario, but I for sure never had that luxury before so it’s better to assume that the customer is already using cloud apps and wants to implement conditional access as an security measure.

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Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?

This article is part 3 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?
Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy
Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access

Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

Microsoft explains Conditional Access in the following way. Conditional Access consists of access scenario’s called Conditional Access policies. An Conditional Access policy follows the following pattern:

When this happens, then to this

“When this happens” defines the reason for triggering your policy. This reason is characterized by a group of conditions that have been satisfied. With “Then do this” you define how users can access your cloud apps.

Technically this is translated to Conditions (When this happens) and Access controls (Then do this)

Conditional Access policy
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Conditional Access demystified, part 2: What is Conditional Access?

This article is part 2 of a series, for which the following articles are available:

Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction
Conditional Access demystified, part 3: How does Conditional Access work?
Conditional Access demystified, part 4: Designing a Conditional Access strategy
Conditional Access demystified, part 5: Implementing Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 6: Troubleshooting Conditional Access
Conditional Access demystified, part 7: Modifying Conditional Access to suit your special needs
Conditional Access demystified, part 8: Resources and further references

Microsoft describes Conditional Access as followed: “With Conditional Access, you can implement automated access control decisions for accessing your cloud apps that are based on conditions.” and “Conditional Access policies are enforced after the first-factor authentication has been completed. Therefore, Conditional Access is not intended as a first line defense for scenarios like denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, but can utilize signals from these events (e.g. the sign-in risk level, location of the request, and so on) to determine access.

The way I see it, the best way to explain what Conditional Access does, is by making the comparison to a firewall. A firewall determines what traffic can access your resources, under what circumstances and Conditional Access sort of does the same. Conditional Access describes under what circumstances users can access your cloud applications.

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Conditional Access demystified, part 1: Introduction

In July 2016 Microsoft made Conditional Access generally available as a feature of Azure Active Directory (AzureAD). Since that time I had a love and hate relationship with this functionality of Azure AD. Mainly because it’s difficult to test scenario’s and some changes can have a really high impact. I even experienced being locked out of accessing the Azure portal during one of my tests.

Why this series of articles?

Some good documentation from Microsoft and blogpost by fellow bloggers detailing Conditional Access scenario’s, but not really a one-stop shopping overview. With this series of blog posts I hope to achieve this.

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