Azure Active Directory

03 oktober 2020 om 02:00 by Monique Riepe - Post a comment

As technology keeps on evolving, data has become the most crucial element for businesses. With more data, breaches have become quite common over cloud-based networks. This calls for simplified identity management and threat protection systems in place.

There exists a need for tools that can prevent data breaches as well as lower the complexity of identity management in medium and large scale organizations. Azure Active Directory is one of those tools that help you manage identities and access capabilities with ease. Let’s take a look at what is Azure Active Directory and how it is useful to prevent data breaches in this post.

Table of Content

  1. What is Azure Active Directory?
  2. How is Azure AD different from Windows Server AD??
  3. How does Azure Active Directory work?
  4. Key benefits of using Azure AD
  5. Wrapping Up

What is Azure Active Directory?

Azure Active Directory (AD) is a fully managed service that offers identity and access capabilities for SaaS applications and on-premise applications on a local directory. It was designed to handle web-based services that use a REST API interface.

Unlike the traditional active directory, Azure AD works on a completely different set of service protocols. These protocols have proved to be highly effective as Azure AD is trusted and used by thousands of businesses around the World.

With Azure AD, employees can connect with 1000’s of SaaS and on-premise applications without the need for individual logins in each application. In simple words, Azure AD allows businesses to improve their productivity and security by offering Single Sign On capabilities to all their employees.

The administrator can create an access token for an employee, giving them access to the tools and applications in their organization. The token will be stored locally on the employee’s device, thereby minimizing the chance for errors and potential break-ins.

How is Azure AD different from Windows Server AD?

Windows Server AD is completely different from the Azure AD in several ways. In fact, Azure AD can never act as a replacement to the pre-existing Windows Server AD in any way.

If you have a Windows Server AD, you can extend its capabilities, by synchronizing it with Azure AD. This can be done with the help of a dedicated tool referred to as Azure Active Directory Sync. It allows the data on the on-premise directory to be synced with Azure AD.

In reality, there are 1000’s of businesses and startups that run without an on-premise directory. All they need is a couple of SaaS and cloud-based applications to run their business. Azure Active Directory provides these new-age businesses with dependable and scalable identity capabilities without the need for an on-premise directory.

How does Azure Active Directory work?

Azure Active Directory can be analogous to a safe that stores all your login credentials, usernames, and access levels of users/employees. There are two ways in which an Azure active directory works -

Cloud-Only

This mode is commonly used in startups and in new-age businesses that do not use legacy applications. They use only cloud-based applications, allowing Azure AD to be operated in the ‘Cloud-Only’ mode.

Hybrid

Some organizations are still tied to legacy software which is only accessible on-premise. In these situations, Azure AD is connected to the local active directory. This is used as the master for your account data and thereby working in a ‘Hybrid’ mode.

Let us learn more about how Azure AD works with an example. In the below example, we have depicted two scenarios for a user – one before Azure AD was used and one after it was implemented.

Before Azure AD

Jacob was the IT administrator of Partech. Assuming Partech has more than 1500 employees at any given time. With so many employees, and so many tools available in the organization, there is a real challenge of preventing data breaches for Jacob.

Therefore Jacob decides to give unique login credentials for every employee in the organization.

But, there exists a problem with this solution!

With so many IDs, usernames, and passwords, it becomes a daunting task for Jacob to manage it. This leads to confusion and increases the chance of data breaches.

After Azure AD

Now Jacob convinces Partech to use Azure AD for simplifying its identity and access capabilities within the organization. With Azure AD implemented, each employee can access the software with a single access ID.

This is referred to as single sign-on and it significantly lowers the complexity in identity management. With a simplified system in place, IT Administrators like Jacob can now manage threats easily and nullify data breaches in the organization.

Key Benefits of using Azure AD

Threat Detection

This is one of the most important benefits of Azure AD for large-sized organizations. Apart from acting as an identity management service, it also scans for potential threats in log-ins. When it deems a user or their activity as suspicious, Azure AD can trigger two-factor authentication to prevent data breaches. The two-factor authentication has to be activated by the administrator.

Single Sign-On Compatibility

Another important feature of Azure AD is the Single Sign-On compatibility to all the applications available in the organization. The administrator can create groups to determine which user has access to what application. Applications can be connected to Azure AD with the help of OpenID Connect, SAML protocol, WS-federation, and Oauth 2.0 Protocol. Once connected, any user can access any application with a single password and username ( provided the administrator has permitted access to the user).

Flawless Identity Governance & Protection

Azure AD offers you advanced capabilities that allow you to identify and manage access lifecycles of users with ease. Azure AD also constantly gathers data from Microsoft to identify potential threats before they even occur in your directory. It automates the process of creating remedies, thereby giving you the best in class identity protection.

Ease of Application Management

Azure Active Directory helps you manage on-premise and SaaS applications from a single portal. You can also integrate them and allow the user to access all of the available applications with a single sign-on.

Added Security to Prevent Data Breaches

One of the best features of Azure AD is its ability to prevent potential data breaches with ease. It uses threat detection models, multi-factor authentication, conditional access, and privileged identity management to make sure that your data is safe and secure.

Wrapping Up

Azure Active Directory is a useful addition in your organization to prevent data breaches and to make the lives of your IT administrators simpler. With some great benefits under its belt, Azure AD has found its use in both B2B and B2C applications. For instance, in B2B applications, you can effectively manage guest users and partners, thereby providing them access or revoking it whenever needed. While in B2C applications, you can use Azure AD to offer your customers an effective way to manage their accounts in your applications.