Meet Microsoft Entra

Microsoft Entra will verify all types of identities and secure, manage, and govern their access to any resource. The new Microsoft Entra product family will:

Protect access to any app or resource for any user across hybrid, multicloud, and beyond;

  • Secure and verify every identity including for employees, customers, partners, apps, devices, and workloads;
  • Provide only necessary access by discovering and right-sizing permissions, and managing access lifecycles for any identity; and
  • Simplify the human experience with simple sign-in, intelligent security, and unified administration.

But, what it is really Microsoft Entra? A unified portal for securing and managing every identity – The admin center for Microsoft Entra facilitates identity and access management, multicloud permissions management, and administration of verifiable credentials, all in one place.

When Entra will take place? In May 31st

And what happens to my AzureAD? Azure AD continues to be the foundational infrastructure for all new products in Microsoft Entra family. Innovation and investment in Azure AD continues, including the popular Application Gallery, Conditional Access, multifactor authentication, passwordless, and more.

Will I still be able to access my Azure AD Admin portal? short answer yes, long answer see below:

  1. The Azure AD admin center (aad.portal.azure.com) will continue to function for the next 12-18 months, and then redirect to entra.microsoft.com in 2023 after extensive customer notice.
  2. The Azure portal at portal.azure.com will also continue to offer Azure AD for Azure customers.
  3. The M365 portal Azure AD admin page will be redirected to entra.microsoft.com later this summer.

So, can I Buy Microsoft Entra? Microsoft Entra is a product family. Products within Microsoft Entra are available for sale but there is no Entra bundle to purchase

This new product family has an impact on licenses or billing? No, but if you’re interested in sing Microsoft Entra Permissions Management will need to obtain a license for the solution. Microsoft Entra Verified ID is a free service but some scenarios, integrated with Azure AD capabilities, may require an Azure AD P1 or P2 license as a pre-requisite.

More info at: Secure access for a connected world—meet Microsoft Entra – Microsoft Security Blog

Why you should block legacy authentication

Currently, we could say that Legacy Authentication is one of the most compromising sign-in, luckily for us, older protocols have been replacing with modern authentication services, taking the advantage that MA supports MFA, while Legacy Authentication refers to all protocols that use Basic Authentication, and only requires one method of authentication.

So, it is important thar for security reasons we need to disable legacy authentication in our environments, why? Because enabling MFA isn’t effective if legacy protocols are not blocked. For example, the following options are considered legacy authentication protocols:

  • Authenticated SMTP – Used by POP and IMAP clients to send email messages.
  • Autodiscover – Used by Outlook and EAS clients to find and connect to mailboxes in Exchange Online.
  • Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) – Used to connect to mailboxes in Exchange Online.
  • Exchange Online PowerShell – Used to connect to Exchange Online with remote PowerShell. If you block Basic authentication for Exchange Online PowerShell, you need to use the Exchange Online PowerShell Module to connect.
  • Exchange Web Services (EWS) – A programming interface that’s used by Outlook, Outlook for Mac, and third-party apps.
  • IMAP4 – Used by IMAP email clients.
  • MAPI over HTTP (MAPI/HTTP) – Used by Outlook 2010 and later.
  • Offline Address Book (OAB) – A copy of address list collections that are downloaded and used by Outlook.
  • Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTP) – Used by Outlook 2016 and earlier.
  • Outlook Service – Used by the Mail and Calendar app for Windows 10.
  • POP3 – Used by POP email clients.
  • Reporting Web Services – Used to retrieve report data in Exchange Online.
  • Other clients – Other protocols identified as utilizing legacy authentication

How can we monitor the usage of legacy authentication in Azure AD?

Thanks to Log Analytics, Insights and workbooks, we are able to monitor the use of those protocols, for instance:

And check the non-interactive sign-ins (be careful with ADConnect sync accounts):

What we can do to avoid this?

The best way to block or report legacy authentication for users is use Conditional Access policies (Does my organization need Azure AD Conditional Access? – Albandrod’s Memory (albandrodsmemory.com) & Enabling zero trust security in your environment – Albandrod’s Memory (albandrodsmemory.com)

But the best way is creating a CA policy:

My final advice

Legacy authentication must be disabled to protect our environments, but first, start small and analyse the impact in your organization.

Till next time!

PassWordless Authentication with Fido 2 Keys – Part 2

This is a second part of my blog about reviewing Fido2 Keys from Feitian (PassWordless Authentication with Fido 2 Keys – Albandrod’s Memory (albandrodsmemory.com))

In this case, I am testing out the K33 and K44 products

The initial setup of the tenant is covered in my previous post, so I will skip the details of how to do it.

To configure the K33 key you will need to download the app “BioPass FIDO2 Manager” from the Windows Store:

And connect your K33 key via USB to the laptop (otherwise won’t be possible to configure), the configure your preferred PIN, and finally configure your fingerprints. The process to the K44 is similar, but in this case, I am using and Ipad, and the app to download is “iePassManager”

Once the two keys are configured, you’re ready to setup them in AzureAD MFA (https://aka.ms/setupmfa)

K33 process

I have explained the process of how to initially configure the K33 key, but I strongly recommend to follow the steps mentioned in K33_Microsoft_Services_Guide.pdf (ftsafe.com) to pair the key with your laptop.

Once the key has been paired, the process to configure it is simple, the only thing that you must take into account is that even it is Bluetooth Key, you must configure it as an USB key (but remember, it must be paired first with the device).

Authentication with K33

K44 Registration Process

Once again, it is needed to set up the PIN for the Key, in my case, it has been done with the Ipad, but the registration process, is easy as the video shows:

The sign in process is very similar as we’ve seen before, so I do not want to cover this, but as you can observe, the registration and use of Fido2 Keys is pretty simple.

Inclusion, MFA keys and particularly, Fido2 Keys from Feitian are great!! But now, something that you must consider when implementing Fido2 keys in your environment:

There’s no way to enforce PIN policy in Azure AD: Every user can set up their own PIN to use their key. There is no centralized way to manage PINs, but Windows Hello for Business blocks simple PIN codes by default.  The bad news is, if you add the key directly to your Azure AD account, these settings are overridden ☹

Feitian offers multiple options for connecting your key, so you’re sure to find one that works for you. Among the available connections are USB-A, USB-C, NFC, Bluetooth, PIN, biometrics, and more.

Biometrics requires app installation: you need to download the manufacturers’ application that enables fingerprint scanning, which is additional software that you must consider to install

Again, I want to thanks Feitian for providing the security keys to test out the use cases

Till next time!

My two cents for 2022

Nobody can doubt that 2021 has been the year to adopt the cloud (due to COVID of course), mostly because most of us needed to work from home. We can say that business has changed and “Probably” will never go back to was it was.

Remote work will continue growing, so in 2022 we will need to protect our assets much better, and for this, here are my predictions/concerns for the next year:

  • Hacker will continue to try to breach in our systems and try to access by the weak link in supply chains. For this, we need to reduce privileges for internal and external accounts, and not forget about machine identities
  • Every business needs to reduce his own Attack Surface, to reduce the blast radius of any exposure or incident. To achieve this, tools that provide visibility into identities and activities are essential, we need to be sure of what happened and respond quickly to those incidents
  • Protect the data is your responsibility, try to plan and build security controls for your cloud migration roadmap
  • Zero Trust will continue growing, but remember to keep in touch with all the components: network, identity, permissions, configurations… The need of tools that give visibility is essential here.
  • Currently we put the focus on protecting our user identity with MFA controls, but what about machine identities? These identities and permissions are being exploited in every breach to make lateral attacks, so we will need to be aware of that during the next year.

For now, I think that it’s all, stay tuned to the blog and happy new year!

Recommendations for deploying a Jump Host in Azure

Probably you’re asking yourself what’s a jump host? So in simple words, is a virtual host which is not the same as you use daily to read e-mail, browse the web, install software, but is used to perform administrative tasks for one or multiple IT infrastructures.

These are some of the recommendations that I follow when I need to deploy a jump host in Azure. The first two, are the most important, you have to be sure of not doing any of these

  • Do NOT install any productivity tools such as Office, it’s important to keep the VM as clean as possible, it’s only a considered to be a jump Host, not a working device.
  • Do NOT use this VM for general internet browsing purposes

and other some recommendations…

  • Isolate the VM with NSG, only is need to access where it is really needed
  • Install the AntiMalware extension from Azure and configure Windows Defender Settings
  • If possible, configure JIT on the VM
  • Onboard the device in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (if Possible)
  • Apply the Microsoft Security baseline
  • Enable Windows Defender Network Protection and Exploit Guard
  • Enable Virtualization based security, if you deployed a Gen 2 VM

That’s all, as always, these are my recommendations, probably you have different ones

My password recommendations from the trenches

The following are recommendations and thoughts that I extracted by working with several customers, maybe you will find it obvious, but for other people could be useful. So, let’s begin:

In the identity plane, we could say that exists 2 categories:

  • Resist Common attacks
  • Contain successful attacks

I don’t want to enter of how to resist or contain attacks, because probably I covered some of these topics in other blog entries, but for me, there is another category which is: understand the human nature.

Nothing more that understand that almost every rule that we impose to the end users, result in degradation of security. Why? Because we force users to use long passwords, with special characters, and in the end, users tend to reuse passwords which makes easier to guess or crack passwords for malicious actors.

So, in the post I will resume some of my experiences as AntiPatterns and recommendations:

  • Antipattern – Requiring long passwords: excessive length passwords (more than 10 characters) can result in a behaviour predictable, users tend to choose repeating patterns (heyholetsgoheyholetsgo) that meet the character length but clearly not hard to guess. We can say that this kind of passwords are hard to guess but lead to poor behaviours to guess the password.
    • SuperPRO Tip: You can use a long password, but in this case what I recommend is something that engineers from Microsoft do. They use a very loooooooong password, they forget it, and instead of it, they use passwordless mechanisms such as Windows Hello to sign in.

My tip: Use minimum 8 length requirement but ban common passwords with Azure AD Password Protection.

  • Antipattern – Require use of multiple character sets: probably you’re not in the same line as me, but I’ve seen that this rule do more harm than good. People use patterns as substitutions such  as $ for s, @ for a, 1 for I. So keep it in mind
  • Antipattern – Password expiration: Policy expiration drive users to use very predictable password (for example, the next password can be predicted on the previous password), end users do not tend to use a new password, the tend to update the old one.

My tip for the two previous points: Azure AD Password Protection + Conditional Access based on User Identity

  • Recommendation – Ban common passwords: For me, the most important restriction is to ban the use of common password to reduce the possibility of brute force or password spray attacks

Tip: Look at my first tip 😊

  • Recommendation – Educate end Users not to use organization credentials anywhere else: Yes I know that educate users are difficult, but you have to do it, because the tend to reuse the same password across multiple sites. It is a common practice for cyber criminals to try compromised credentials across many sites.
  • Recommendation – Enforce MFA registration and enable MFA: ensure that users maintain their security information up to date, so they can respond to security challenges if needed. Doing this, I have seen that end users are more implicated concerning digital security

Enabling MFA prevents up to 99.9% of identity attacks, and if we use other controls such as user location, the better.

PRO TIP: Use Conditional access with FIDO2 security key (PassWordless Authentication with Fido 2 Keys – Albandrod’s Memory (albandrodsmemory.com))

EndUser TIP: Consider turning on two-step verification everywhere you can

  • Recommendation – Enable risk-based Authentication: when the system detects suspicious activity, it challenges the user to ensure that they are the legitimate account owner. Personally, I think that this feature is great, but the only drawback that it is only included with AAD P2

Probably you will have different ones based on your experience but these are my recommendations. Till next time and stay safe!

Microsoft Defender for EndPoint

This product is becoming very popular among my customers specially when they’d purchased Microsoft 365 E5 LIcenses, but, let’s have a look how we can implement this technology in our business.

But first, What is Defender for EndPoint? It’s an enterprise endpoint security platform designed to help enterprise networks prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to advanced threats. Also we can onboars servers and devices indepently to the service, which is great.

What is very cool, MDE is not only available for Windows, also for iOS, Linux and Android, so we can cover almost all the spectrum of corp devices.

And most important, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint integrates seamlessly into Microsoft Endpoint Manager. You only must activate the Intune integration ones during the initial setup and your reports will flow into MEM. This allows you create and configure Security baselines, which are pre-configured groups of Windows settings that help you apply the security settings that are recommended by the relevant security teams.

If you’re using an existing AV solution, you can check out the following guidelines to migrate to MDE:

What are the high level steps to implement Microsoft Defender for Endpoint?

If you want to know more, as always Microsoft Learn is the more technical and comprehensive approach to explain products than on normal Microsoft Docs Practice security administration – Learn | Microsoft Docs and don’t forget to visit the TechCommunity: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-defender-for-endpoint/bd-p/MicrosoftDefenderATP

Lastly, remember, you can access to the M365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com

Keep safe and get some fun!

PassWordless Authentication with Fido 2 Keys

This is something I wanted to test some time ago, and now thanks to Feitian I was able to do it. So let’s dig into detail what is passwordless with Fido2 Keys, how we can configure it in AzureAD, and what advantages provide as an end user. ¡Let’s begin!

But before dig in depper, let me explain the basics: A security key is a piece of hardware that you can connect to your computer or phone to verify your credentials when logging, unlike a password, it’s completely safe, because the configuration is different for each system.

So, what does Fido2 Keys? As you probably know, logging into a resource requires a username and password, and with MFA, it usually requires a username/password combination plus one other authentication factor, like a time-based one-time password. In this case, FIDO2 is a standards-based method of user authentication that is passwordless, supporting PIN and biometrics in security tokens

For starters, with FIDO you can:

  • Improve security with crypto-secured passwordless authentication
  • Remove the helpdesk costs associated with forgotten passwords by replacing them with a simple PIN or fingerprint
  • Remove the user-experience annoyances of long passwords to create, remember and reset so that your workforce can get on with their role simply and seamlessly.

What about the preparation of AzureAD?

For IT, At high level there is only two tasks to accomplish:

  • Enable the new authentication method registration on AzureAD
  • Enable FIDO2 as an authentication method

Easy, isn’t it?

What about the registration for end users?

In my case, how the security Key is a biometic security Key, what i needed to do first is to register my fingerprint. Once I did this (manufacturer provide details, you’re ready to go with next steps).

In order to register the security token with AzureAD, the user will need to access to https://aka.ms/setupsecurityinfo where will be able to see all the authentication method available for them:

And once the user have selected the security key option, the process of registration will begin. In my case, I selected USB device and then… I needed to provide a PIN for the security Key:

Things that you have to keep in mind, is we user have to set up their own PIN to use their key, it cannot be enforced or centralized way to manage PIN, so is probably that your users end up using PINs like 123456.

ONce you have registered the key, it will appear in the security Info Panel:

Ok, it’s great what you’re are explaining, but how it is used?

With the following video, I want to show how the process of passwordless authentication in AzureAD is done:

As you can see, the login was done without entering any user or password. If you’re conviced, and you want to start deploying Fido2 Keys in your organization, think first about the following points:

Registration

  • Control to ensure that the employee has been through sufficient identity checks to create a trusted identity.

Issuance

The organisation needs policy control over:

  • The type of FIDO device used (external USB / Bluetooth)
  • The organisation needs to consider the type of user verification required (Fingerprint / NFC)
  • The end user needs a simple experience during registration of a FIDO credential
  • The organization needs to trust the genuineness of the FIDO device being used for the FIDO credential

Lifecycle Management

  • Vision of who has been assigned which FIDO Credentials
  • Ability to simply revoke access to all systems accessed by the FIDO Credential
  • Ability to manage lost devices / replacement devices / back up devices

Authentication

  • The end user needs a simple experience to authenticate to systems, usernameless aids this process.

As you can see Fido2 Keys are great, and what is better, not only works with AzureAD, it can be used to authenticate with oter services like twitter, Instagram, etc…

Link References:

Register your key at https://aka.ms/mysecurityinfo

If you are a Microsoft 365 admin, use an interactive guide at https://aka.ms/passwordlesswizard

Does my organization need Azure AD Conditional Access?

Consider how the authentication process has traditionally worked: Organizations require users to supply a user ID and password. Then, the user can go on to access all the data, applications and other resources they’ve been granted permissions for. But what about if an attacker has stolen a user’s credentials? How can we reduce these risks? It is where Conditional access takes place 🙂

But the question is, do I really need it? It depends your case or scenario 😛 but let’s dig in depending in what you’re using:

  • Security Defaults: To help organizations establish a basic level of security, Microsoft makes security defaults available to everyone at no extra cost. This feature automatically enforces the following policies:
  1. All Users must register for AzureAD MFA
    1. Users must complete MFA challenge when they authenticate using a new device or application
    2. Administrators must complete an MFA step every time they sign in. This policy applies to nine key Azure AD roles, including Global Administrator, SharePoint Administrator, Exchange Administrator, Conditional Access Administrator and Security Administrator.
    3. Any user trying to access the Azure portal, Azure PowerShell or the Azure CLI must complete additional authentication
    4. All authentication requests made using older protocols are blocked
  • Azure AD COnditional Access: But as you can imagine, in some organizations these security defaults are not enough, they want to have more fine-grained controls, so to do this we need Conditional Access, which allows us to:
  • create a policy to require administrators — but not regular business users — to complete an MFA step
    • Use the user location and the type of protocol being used to restrict the access
    • Deny all requests that comes from a particular country, and require MFA for the rest
    • As you can see, you can create multiple policies that work together to put guardrails in place exactly where you need them

Azure AD Conditional Access is an extremely valuable tool for helping you implement a Zero Trust model, protecting the three cores of the strategy:

  • Least privilege — Helps to grant the right access at the right time to only those who need it by enabling trusted locations and IP ranges, implement stronger controls for privileged users, and control access to sensitive applications and content.
  • Verify explicitly — Continually verify identities as users move around the network by requiring MFA when users appear on new devices and from new locations.
  • Assume breach — Weak passwords, password spraying and phishing all but guarantee malicious actors are inside your network. It allows to block legacy authentication and putting stronger access controls in front of your most valuable resources.

As you can see, Azure AD Conditional Access is a powerful tool for strengthening security and ensuring regulatory compliance

Take care!