howdoesofficeworkwithactivedirectory
how does office 365 work with active directory

Azure Active Directory (Azure Directory) is Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise identity and access management solution (IAM). Azure AD is the core of Office 365. It can sync with the on-premise Active Directory, and provides authentication to other cloud-based system via OAuth.

Microsoft Teams witnessed a dramatic 70% increase in daily Teams usage during the 2020 pandemic. This was in just one month. Although it’s not clear how many of these users are new to Azure AD or whether they have been around for a while, we can assume that the 2020 Pandemic accelerated adoption and implementation of Azure AD to support remote workers.

At the time of writing, it is week eleventeen of pandemic. It seems more likely that enterprises will not return to the previous times. Administrators who work in hybrid cloud environments need to understand Azure AD and, most importantly, how to keep data safe in this cloud-first environment without a secure perimeter.

What is Windows Active Directory?

Azure Active Directory (Azure Directory) is Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise identity and access management solution (IAM). Azure AD is the core of Office 365. It can sync with the on-premise Active Directory, and provides authentication to other cloud-based system via OAuth.

Microsoft Teams witnessed a dramatic 70% increase in daily Teams usage during the 2020 pandemic. This was in just one month. Although it’s not clear how many of these users are new to Azure AD or how many have been using it for the past month, we can assume that the 2020 Pandemic accelerated adoption and implementation of Azure AD to support remote workers.

Get the Pen Testing Active Directory Environments eBook for Free

“This really opened up my eyes to AD security, in a way that defensive work never did.”

At the time of writing, it is week eleventeen of pandemic. It seems more likely that enterprises will not return to the previous times. Administrators who work in hybrid cloud environments need to understand Azure AD and, most importantly, how to keep data safe in this cloud-first environment without a secure perimeter.

What is Windows Active Directory?

Windows Active Directory is Microsoft’s predecessor for Azure AD. Active Directory was released by Microsoft in Windows 2000 server. It became the standard for enterprise identity management.

Active Directory is stored on-premise in Domain Controllers (DC). Each DC has a list of computers and users that have access to network resources. Users authenticate to DCs using Kerberos and NTLM authentication.

Because many of the attacks Incident Response team investigates involve AD, we love AD security. You could use brute force to crack an old NTLM password, or you might try to gain administrative privileges. Many conference talks have been about AD security. We even created a guide for pen testing your AD environment in order to protect it from common off-the shelf attacks.

Azure AD must be mentioned in any conversation. We will discuss why in this blog.

Microsoft created Azure AD and Windows AD. They are both IAM systems. But that’s about it. These systems are fundamentally different and can exist in an interconnected enterprise environment.

Azure Active Directory

  • REST APIs Azure AD uses Representational state Transfer (REST), APIs to enable communication with other web-based services
  • Authentication Azure AD uses cloud authentication protocols such as OAuth2, SAML and WS-Security to authenticate users
  • Network Organization Each Azure AD instance, also known as a “tenant”, is a flat organization of users and groups.
  • Entitlement Administration: Administrators divide users into groups and give them access to resources and apps.
  • Devices – Azure AD offers mobile device management with Microsoft Intune
  • Desktops – Windows desktops are able to join Azure AD with Microsoft Intune
  • Servers Azure AD uses Azure AD domain Services for managing servers that are part of the Azure cloud virtual machine environment

Windows Active Directory

  • LDAP Windows AD uses lightweight Directory Access Protocol to transfer data between clients, servers, and DCs.
  • Authentication Windows AD uses Kerberos & NTLM to verify user credentials
  • Network Organization: Windows AD can be broken down into Organizational Units and Domains as well as Forests
  • Entitlement Administration: Data owners or admins assign users to groups. These groups have access to the network’s resources.
  • Devices: Windows AD does not manage mobile devices
  • Desktops – Desktops that are connected to Windows AD are subject to Group Policy. (GPOs).
  • Servers Servers are managed by GPOs and other on-premise servers management systems

Both are likely to be the answer to your question “So which one should I use?” If you have an established enterprise network, Windows AD is most likely installed. Azure AD will be used to manage your cloud infrastructure.

Azure AD is a great option if you’re starting a new company from scratch.

Another question that you might ask is, “Which one is easier to configure?” I would answer that neither is more or lesser configurable and neither is less secure. For companies with more than 100 users, both systems will require the expertise of a qualified expert in order to manage and protect your network. Azure AD will be easier to manage for smaller shops.

Also Read:  Benefits of Office 365 Personal

Azure AD Connect for Hybrid Deployments

Azure ADConnect Microsoft’s solution for hybrid Windows AD/Azure AD deployments. Azure AD Connect synchronizes data between on-premise DCs as well as the cloud.

Azure AD Connect allows you to sync user accounts from your Azure tenant to your on-premises system. It provides pass-through authentication, password hash sync, federation and health monitoring.

These features enable your users to share the same password and user id on-premise as well as in the cloud. They also make it easier to manage your hybrid environment. Azure AD Connect is required if you have hybrid environments.

Security professionals and sysadmins need to have a single view of all users, regardless of whether they are accessing cloud or onprem resources.

Considerations for Azure Active Directory

Okay, now you may be thinking about implementing Azure AD in your organization. Now it’s time to make real decisions.

1. Azure AD licensing is the same as Office 365 licensing. There are four levels of license: Premium P1, Premium P1, Premium P2, and Free.

Office 365 Apps is included in your Office 365 subscription. Premium packages are an additional item. The subscription to Azure, Dynamics 365 and Intune includes the free license.

The Premium tier includes advanced password protection, self service password management for your users and advanced group access management.

You need to review both the features lists for Azure AD as well as Microsoft 365 to fully understand what is available so that you can plan your implementation strategy.

Ed. Note: Microsoft 365 has recently been renamed Office 365. Microsoft’s documentation has both the names at the time of writing. However, they are not the same thing.

2. Choose your scenario: Hybrid Azure AD or Azure AD? Hybrid is a good option if you have Windows AD. Azure AD is the best choice if you want to create a cloud-only infrastructure.

You have two options for your hybrid environment: Managed or Federated. Azure AD Connect is required to sync with Azure AD if you plan to create users in Windows AD.

Do you plan to use Azure AD’s device management? You will need Windows 10 for all of those devices if you do.

3. SSO: Will you enable Single Sign-on (SSO) with Azure AD To use the Azure Single Sign-on (SSO), you will need to set up hybrid clouds for printing and configure cloud apps and services.

4. User Provisioning: How do you add existing users to Azure Either you can have your users enroll themselves, Windows Automate or an administrator.

These four steps will get you on the right track. To find the right answers, you will need to do more research. This will allow you to answer more questions.

What is the working principle of Azure Active Directory?

Microsoft Azure AD is a brand new system designed to support cloud infrastructure. Azure AD uses REST APIs for data transfer between one system and other cloud applications. This is the case with most cloud applications.

Azure AD is not like Windows AD. It’s a flat structure that can be used by one tenant. The tenant is a circle that surrounds your stuff. Although you can control what happens inside the tenant’s house, once it leaves the circle, you lose some control over what happens.

Varonis’s data security approach aligns with zero trust principles. We will continue to incorporate zero-trust as needed.

Users and groups

Azure AD is built on the foundation of users and groups. Users can be further organized into groups that behave in the same way. You might put the Product Management team into one Azure AD group. The group can grant permissions to the group level so that when users leave your organization, one account is needed to be deactivated and the rest remains the same.

Azure AD users can be from any location. Let me reiterate that. Azure AD can include identities for both users within your organization and those who have an account with Microsoft.

This means that outsiders can be brought into your tenant and granted specific permissions, just as if they were part of your company. This adds an extra layer of security to your organization’s data if done correctly.

Azure AD: Adding Users and Groups

Azure AD offers many ways to populate users and groups.

  • Azure AD Connect is used to sync users between Windows AD and Azure AD. This method is used by most enterprises who already have Windows AD.
  • In the Azure AD Management Portal, you can manually create users.
  • With PowerShell, you can program the process of adding new users.
  • You could also program it with the Azure AD graph API.
Also Read:  Top MLM Software

No matter what option you choose, there are some key points to remember about adding users to Azure AD.

  1. Set up your password policies and authentication methods, and make multi-factor authentication mandatory.
  2. Only add users to Azure AD that you are required. You can either delete service accounts and stale accounts from Windows AD or leave them.
  3. To keep Azure AD privileged access to a minimum, follow Microsoft’s guidance.
  4. Group users and give them access to only the resources and applications they require to perform their jobs.
  5. Connect users to their devices (laptops, mobile phones, etc.). You can set limits on the amount of confidential data that is downloaded from monitored devices or saved.

Custom domains

Your users will experience less frustration when migrating to Azure AD if they have a custom domain. This is the default Azure AD domain:

  • @notarealdomain.onmicrosoft.com

It’s quite a lot of typing. Your users will be grateful if Azure AD was configured to use domains you own. Instead, it would look like @notarealdomain.com This is much simpler to work with.

Common Attacks Against Azure AD

Azure Active Directory (Azure Directory) is Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise identity and access management solution (IAM). Azure AD is the core of Office 365. It can sync with the on-premise Active Directory, and provides authentication to other cloud-based system via OAuth.

Microsoft Teams witnessed a dramatic 70% increase in daily Teams usage during the 2020 pandemic. This was in just one month. Although it’s not clear how many of these users are new to Azure AD or how many have been using it for the past month, we can assume that the 2020 Pandemic accelerated adoption and implementation of Azure AD to support remote workers.

Get the Pen Testing Active Directory Environments eBook for Free

“This really opened up my eyes to AD security, in a way that defensive work never did.”

At the time of writing, it is week eleventeen of pandemic. It seems more likely that enterprises will not return to the previous times. Administrators who work in hybrid cloud environments need to understand Azure AD and, most importantly, how to keep data safe in this cloud-first environment without a secure perimeter.

What is Windows Active Directory?

Windows Active Directory is Microsoft’s predecessor for Azure AD. Active Directory was released by Microsoft in Windows 2000 server. It became the standard for enterprise identity management.

Active Directory is stored on-premise in Domain Controllers (DC). Each DC has a list of computers and users that have access to network resources. NTLM or Kerberos authentication is used to authenticate users.

You could use brute force to crack an old NTLM password, or you might try to take control of an administrator account through privilege escalation. Many conference talks have been about AD security. We even created a guide for pen testing your AD environment in order to protect it from common off-the shelf attacks.

Azure AD must be mentioned in any conversation. We will discuss why in this blog.

What is the working principle of Azure Active Directory?

Microsoft Azure AD is a brand new system designed to support cloud infrastructure. Azure AD uses REST APIs for data transfer between one system and other cloud applications. This is the case with most cloud applications.

Azure AD, unlike Windows AD, is a flat structure within a single tenant. The tenant is a circle that surrounds your stuff. Although you can control what happens inside the tenant’s house, once it leaves the circle, you lose some control over what happens.

Users and groups

Azure AD is built on the foundation of users and groups. Users can be further organized into groups that behave in the same way. You might put the Product Management team into one Azure AD group. The group can grant permissions to the group level so that when users leave your organization, one account is needed to be deactivated and the rest remains the same.

Azure AD users can be from any location. Let me reiterate that. Azure AD can include identities for both users within your organization and those who have an account with Microsoft.

This means that outsiders can be brought into your tenant and granted specific permissions, just as if they were part of your company. This adds an extra layer of security to your organization’s data if done correctly.

Azure AD: Adding Users and Groups

Azure AD offers many ways to populate users and groups.

  • Azure AD Connect is used to sync users between Windows AD and Azure AD. This method is used by most enterprises who already have Windows AD.
  • In the Azure AD Management Portal, you can manually create users.
  • With PowerShell, you can program the process of adding new users.
  • You could also program it with the Azure AD graph API.
Also Read:  Benefits of Managed Security Services in Sacramento CA

It doesn’t matter what option you choose, but there are some key points you should remember about adding users to Azure AD.

  1. Set up your password policies and authentication methods, and make multi-factor authentication mandatory.
  2. Only add users to Azure AD that you are required. You can either delete service accounts and stale accounts from Windows AD or leave them.
  3. To keep Azure AD privileged access to a minimum, follow Microsoft’s guidance.
  4. Group users and give them access to only the resources and applications they require to perform their jobs.
  5. Connect users to their devices (mobile phone, laptops, etc.) You can set limits on the amount of confidential data that is downloaded from monitored devices or saved.

Custom domains

Your users will experience less frustration when migrating to Azure AD if they have a custom domain. This is the default Azure AD domain:

  • @notarealdomain.onmicrosoft.com

It’s quite a lot of typing. Your users will be grateful if Azure AD was configured to use domains you own. Instead, it would look like @notarealdomain.com This is much simpler to work with.

Common Attacks Against Azure AD

Although I would like to claim that the transition to Azure AD went smoothly and was without any issues, it wasn’t. Anyone who makes a significant transition to a cloud-enabled environment is likely to be targeted by malicious attackers looking to penetrate the new frontier. They did.

Varonis IR investigates brute force attacks on Azure AD. Credential stuffing is a technique that allows attackers to take large numbers of usernames and passwords from data breaches dumps in an attempt to hack into Azure AD accounts.

Azure AD can be accessed via the internet so it is a very easy target. Most brute force attacks can be stopped by a good password policy, multi-factor authentication, and behavioral monitoring of login activity, and geo-hopping. Most. In the event that an attacker succeeds with one login attempt, you still need to monitor your data in order to detect malicious activity within your tenant.

Phishing is another top attack against Azure AD users. Phishing could lead to credential theft and malware infection that can give attackers a foothold to your tenant. Azure AD offers a number of useful enhancements, including warnings when you open emails from outsiders or untrusted sources.

This setting and other email protections can be enabled in the Azure AD management console. This Live Cyber Security Lab shows how phishing can be used to steal data from users.

Azure Skeleton Key Attack

This attack is based on Azure AD Connect. We described it above as the method to synchronize both your Azure AD and on-prem AD. Azure AD Connect can also be configured using Pass-Through authentication. This method installs an on-prem server known as the “Azure agent”.

An attacker can compromise the Azure agent server of an organization and create a backdoor that allows them access as any synchronized user. Varonis has created a proof of concept that alters the Azure authentication function so it is 1. Give us a “skeleton key” password that will be used by all users. All clear-text passwords and usernames should be saved to a single file.

What else can I configure in Azure AD?

Microsoft offers enhancements to Azure AD, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft 365 that will help you further secure and protect your data in the cloud. These are just a few of the additional options you have to make your organization safer.

  • To enable Single Sign-On (SSO), integrate applications with Azure AD
  • Automate the provisioning of new users’ applications based on group membership
  • Limit user’s ability consent to applications – This can be a phishing attack and the attacker will have a foothold in your tenant once the user clicks.
  • Reject legacy protocols with security problems, such as SMTP, POP3, and MAPI.
  • Allow Microsoft Cloud Access Security to monitor your tenant. You can also augment this monitoring with Azure Skeleton key attack
  • Once you have Varonis installed, categorize all sensitive data and tag them with Microsoft Azure Information Protection (AIP).

This is not a complete list of tools that can be used to secure Azure AD. Check out the webinar Microsoft Teams to see other ways to protect data and learn why one security specialist stated, “We wouldn’t even consider OneDrive if Varonis wasn’t in place.”

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.

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