The reports of leaked and phished accounts are growing by the day. Password resets might not suffice to protect complex attacks because a single password, no matter how strong it is, can still be compromised by smart guesswork backed by automation tools. That is where the MFA feature on Azure is a much more effective option for protecting user accounts. However, rolling out the Azure MFA across an organization is a technically challenging task. Beyond protecting all stakeholder accounts from the IT to the HR department, Azure MFA has to be rolled out strategically to support applications, systems, networks, and processes without adversely impacting the regular workflow. This blog is a comprehensive guide on how to implement Azure MFA for organizations.
Training and Myth Busting
It is important to prepare employees before implementing Azure MFA. Send out communications about the organization’s plan to roll out the feature with details about the tentative date and the actions they need to take for meeting the newly implemented compliance norms.
This communication can also be used to dispel some of the myths and concerns users might have about the misuse of their phone numbers or fears about being locked out of their accounts if they are not able to authenticate. The idea is to encourage employees for extra protection of their accounts. This comes at the cost of a slight inconvenience of an additional layer of authentication.
Start rolling out Azure MFA for accounts that are more susceptible to attacks or need urgent protection. This typically includes privileged users and administrative accounts. Not only this increases the security for such accounts but it also helps you identify potential impediments to a full-scale roll-out. Use the lessons learned to implement a pilot project for employees from certain critical arms of the business, such as the finance department, which regularly deals with sensitive information.
The organization-wide deployment of Azure MFA extends beyond user accounts covered as a part of the restricted roll-out in the earlier phase. This phase includes identifying existing systems that need user-sign in but can be secured with Azure MFA. Additionally, there might be other legacy systems and networks that might either need to be upgraded or replaced. Once you have audited the systems that require MFA, the next step is prioritizing the applications and systems based on importance, compatibility, usage, and other factors for the MFA implementation. Some of these applications could need more granular control than other systems for which you will need to upgrade to Azure AD Premium P1 or Azure AD Premium P2 plans. You can then configure Azure MFA for each of these applications, frame policies for methods, and factors for MFA registration and use.
Post Deployment Support and Monitoring
During and after MFA implementation across the organization, work with stakeholders to make the authentication process as frictionless as possible. Provide alternative options such as biometrics, Microsoft Authentication App, and OAUTH verification codes. With an Azure AD Premium plan, you can even enable conditional and contextual factors for authorization using the capabilities of advanced features like Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Azure AD Identity Protection.
Once you have optimized the Azure MFA solution for networks, systems, applications, and users, you can continue to improve on the plans for contingencies such as failed-sign ins and account lockouts, which could result from the unintentional actions of legitimate users or because of theft or loss of MFA-enabled devices. Automating workflows can help employees report breaches conveniently and resume work faster.
Monitoring the use of Azure MFA is a continuous process. Its implementation affects security and productivity. Tracking user behavior across applications and devices can help gauge the success of the implementation of Azure MFA. The Azure AD Premium plans have particularly detailed monitoring and reporting capabilities that can be leveraged to enhance security especially while scaling up the implementation for more users, devices, and applications.
Implementing Azure MFA For Organizations
Although implementing Azure MFA is an especially technical process for enterprises with complex on-premises infrastructure, it is an important security feature for protection against a wide range of cyberattacks. Upgrading to the Azure AD Premium plans adds flexibility to the Azure MFA feature with conditional access and better security and management capabilities.
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