Conditional Access: What Is It And What Are The Advantages Of It

Conditional Access: What Is It And What Are The Advantages Of It

Once user credentials became a necessity for online activity their security, or lack thereof, became a serious concern very shortly after. Up to 81% of online security events occur due to weak or stolen user credentials, and unfortunately employees continue to utilise poor online security practices.

It is suggested that 61% of employees utilise the same password across multiple platforms, and 43% of employees have shared their password with other persons. It is for these reasons that compromised credentials continue to be the main cause of online security breaches.

Most organisations prioritise the security of online access and staff identity management, which may be attributed in part to the increasing use of cloud-based technology, as well as the convenience of employees only needing to enter a username and password once to access their online destination.

If a cybercriminal obtains an employee’s login credentials, they can then access the employees account, along with any data and associated access privileges. This can be even more problematic if the compromised account is linked to Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, as these accounts may be linked to cloud storage and the employee’s email account, among other things.

Below we will discuss the use of conditional access, including how it works alongside multi-factor authentication (MFA), and the advantages of implementing conditional access in the workplace.

Conditional Access: What Is It?

Conditional access, also known as contextual access, is a method used to control or restrict user access. Simplified, it can be viewed as a process of “if and then” actions, meaning “if” this thing occurs, “then” take this action.

These actions can be thought of as rules. For example, if a user logs in from outside their home country, a request for a one-time-password can be issued to the user.

Conditional access allows administrators to add multiple conditions to the process of users accessing a system. It is commonly used in conjunction with MFA, which acts to improve security by adding extra steps or layers to access procedures, but without major inconvenience to the individual.

Some of the most common occurrences where conditional access might be invoked include:

  • A users IP address
  • The geographic location of the user
  • The time of day of access
  • The device used to access
  • The role or status of the user

For administrators of Microsoft systems, conditional access can be implemented in Azure Active Directory, and other systems will feature similar identity and access management tools (such as HPE Aruba Clearpass Policy Manager). Due to the importance of conditional access, we recommend that you engage the services of a specialist in online security, and Aryon are qualified and best suited to assist you with this.

What Are The Benefits Of Implementing Conditional Access?

It Improves Security

Implementing conditional access will assist your organisation via improved security measures, and by providing options to challenge a user and their legitimacy whenever they attempt to access your systems. As an example, the basic log in requirements of a username and password can be strengthened with additional requirements, and IP addresses originating from unusual geographic locations or unknown devices can also be challenged with extra verification requests, or even blocked altogether should the administrator choose to do so.

It Automates the Access Processes

Once the “if” and “then” actions have been set up, the access processes are automated, and system managed. These processes can include contextual considerations such as geographic and IP location, and it also provides a productivity benefit to IT teams and system managers, as they do not need to constantly monitor these processes but can still ensure a high standard of compliance and deliverability.

Automation is preferable over human-implemented and managed processes because it is more accurate and dependable, and it eliminates the danger of human mistake. By automating your processes, you can best assure the integrity and verification of your access and its processes.

Certain Activities Can Be Restricted

Conditional access can be implemented for reasons other than disrupting unauthorised users – it can also be used to restrict the actions that authorised users can perform.

An authorised users’ access to specific data and information can be associated with the role that they have in the system, and a combination of rules can be used to increase security. For example, a view-only rule can be automatically applied any user if they attempt to access a system from an unknown device.

It Helps To Improve The Security Of The User Login Process

Studies have shown that up to 67% of organisations do not use multi-factor authentication as part of their online processes, despite it being one of the most effective methods to stop online credential security breaches.

One of the reasons MFA is not implemented more widely is due to the believed inconvenience that it will cause for employees. Employees may believe that MFA interferes with their productivity or that it makes it more difficult for them to access systems and applications.

Such perceived inconveniences can be limited by the conditions that are applied to users. Challenge actions or questions can be limited to specific employee roles or context-based situations, such as those holding management positions or to geographical and IP considerations.

It Enables the Rule of the Least Privileged Access

The rule of the least privileged access is a practice where users and their access are tied with the specific organisational role that they hold. Most commonly it equates to granting only the lowest level of access to a user as per necessary for them to adequately perform their occupational role. It is considered a best practice and once each role has been set up in the identity management system, access can be attributed on a case-by-case basis.

As you can see, the implementation of conditional access can help an organisation strengthen and simplify the process of online user access, while providing increased security and improved practices. Identity management within systems can be streamlined and individual roles can be managed by a set of defined actions and processes.

We Can Help You with Implementing Conditional Access

We can help you to implement conditional access in your workplace. This will enhance your online security and reduce the risk of an online security breach. Contact us today to find out how we can best assist you with all of your online security needs.