Active Directory is Microsoft’s Identity and Access Management system. It’s full of measures that help keep the right people accessing the right data to help keep your system as a whole safe.
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you make sense of what the benefits are, and how you can make the most of them.
Review Reports and Audit User Activity in your System
As an admin, you’re able to see what all these identities are up to. This helps you spot risks before they turn into real damaging problems — or allows you to understand what went wrong if you are in the middle of a crisis.
Does a user have more access than they should and keep poking around where they shouldn’t be? You can halt that. Is your data under attack? You may be able to pinpoint the identity being used to proliferate the damage and remove their access.
Use One Identity to Access Any App
When a user has to sign on with one set of credentials for one service, and another for another, this leads to problems. Passwords are often used for multiple services, or when you force different passwords, the user may start storing them insecurely in order to remember them.
With Active Directory, you can allow one identity to access any app. When each point of login is a potential security hole, you reduce your risk when you bundle them all together and enforce strong passwords.
Protect Access to Sensitive Data and Apps
Obviously, not every user needs access to every app and every piece of data. Access can be granted on an as-needed basis according to the principle of least privilege. Users should have just enough appropriate access to be able to work effectively.
Any more, and you’ve got an unacceptable risk on your hands. A compromised account or a user turned hostile will generally be capable of damage — but you can at least limit it.
Risk Calculation and Multi-factor Authentication
There may be situations you can be reasonably confident that the user is who they say they are and allow them instant access. You may deem company desktops located within your building safe devices, for instance.
You might also want your users to be able to access data and apps remotely. The work-anywhere power of the cloud is a worthy goal to pursue — but just because that login attempt from a personal laptop does have the right password doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right end-user. Perhaps the laptop was stolen, along with the notepad the user wrote down their password. Or perhaps it’s a completely unknown device that’s acquired the credentials through a data breach.
In any case, you can decide what’s acceptable and what requires a second layer of security, and require riskier access attempts to prove their identity through additional levels of scrutiny, such as texted confirmation PIN codes.
When your standards are met, that’s it! The user has their convenient, multi-app access at their fingertips, and can get to work without the business of logging in and security getting in the way. They work better; you run safer.
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