Microsoft 365 serves as an operational hub for many businesses. With that, it also has become a large attack vector leading to account compromise and other breaches. This begs the question – is your business confident in its Microsoft 365 security posture? If unsure, CBIZ CompuData is here to help.  

Microsoft provides a solution that requires specific criteria to be met before access to resources is granted. Enter Conditional Access policies. As defined by Microsoft, “Conditional Access policies at their simplest are if-then statements: if a user wants access to a resource, then they must complete an action. For example, if a user wants to access an application or service like Microsoft 365, then they must perform multifactor authentication to gain access.” 

In our experience onboarding organizations, most policies are either non-existent, misconfigured, or inadequately enforced which leaves the Microsoft 365 environment vulnerable. 

Implementing Conditional Access Policies strengthens your security posture by allowing only authorized users, using trusted devices and appropriate applications, to access sensitive resources within your Microsoft 365 environment. In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of these policies and strategies for their effective use. 

Understanding the Landscape 

When creating a Microsoft 365 account, basic security settings, called Security Defaults, are automatically enabled. These are the basic building blocks of security such as requiring MFA and blocking legacy authentication protocols. While a baseline is critical, Conditional Access policies allow for more granular controls and conditions.  

The Conditional Access policy landscape is vast and can be complex. This is why it is important to review baselines that make sense for your business operations. Below will discuss some of the granularity that can be applied to Conditional Access and it becomes clear why a carefully curated set of policies must be reviewed with a trusted IT partner. 

Customizing Policies for Enhanced Protection 

The true power of Conditional Access Policies lies in customization beyond default settings. By tailoring these policies, you can effectively address specific security requirements and ensure your business aligns with industry standards. Here are some ways we recommend customizing policies to enhance protection: 

Device-based Policies: Enforce policies that require devices to meet specific compliance standards, such as BitLocker encryption, password policies, software updates, and proper firewall configurations before granting access to resources.

Location-based Policies: Restrict access based on the user’s geographical location or the network they are connecting from, preventing access from unauthorized or high-risk locations.

Location-based Policies: Customize access policies based on user identity and attributes. You can create policies that only allow access to certain resources for specific user roles or groups or enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) for users accessing sensitive data.

Real-World Benefits 

Beyond enhancing your security posture and adding extra layers of protection to your business, consider these additional advantages: 

Improved Compliance: By enforcing access controls and authentication requirements, you can meet regulatory compliance standards specific to your industry

Reduced Risk of Data Breaches: Conditional Access Policies help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information, reducing the likelihood of data breaches and financial losses.

Enhanced User Experience: With granular access controls in place, users can securely access Microsoft 365 services from anywhere, on any device, without compromising usability.

Navigating the Complexity with CBIZ CompuData 

At CBIZ CompuData, we understand that delving into Conditional Access Policies can seem daunting. Every organization is unique with its own set of security requirements, compliance standards, and operational considerations. That is why we work to blend industry best practice within the context of your business operations to configure Conditional Access Policies. Doing so creates better alignment with your business’s goals and objectives without hindering usability of the platform. 

Our team can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your Microsoft 365, examining your policy structure and hygiene parameters to determine whether you are meeting recommended baselines. The value of our expertise is knowing that your infrastructure is in a healthy, secure state, that risks to your data are being mitigated, and that we are continuously improving security baselines to keep pace with the industry’s best practices. 

To learn more about how CBIZ CompuData can help guide you towards a secure and resilient Microsoft 365 environment, email us. 

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Author: Michael Ulrich

Michael serves customers as a Systems Engineer on CBIZ CompuData's Project Team. With nearly 10 years in the field, Michael provides expertise in systems and network engineering, project management, and solution architecture. His early career in Higher Education has enabled Michael to teach and translate technology for clients in a way that is clear and concise. Michael works exclusively with CBIZ CompuData's largest clients to design a holistic IT strategy, deliver a uniform onboarding experience, and provide a seamless transition to ongoing support and account management.