Configure and enable risk policies

As we learned in the previous article, Risk-based access policies, there are two types of risk policies in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Conditional Access you can set up to automate the response to risks and allow users to self-remediate when risk is detected:

  • Sign-in risk policy
  • User risk policy

Screenshot of a Conditional Access policy showing risk as conditions.

Choosing acceptable risk levels

Organizations must decide the level of risk they want to require access control on balancing user experience and security posture.

Choosing to apply access control on a High risk level reduces the number of times a policy is triggered and minimizes the impact to users. However, it excludes Low and Medium risks from the policy, which may not block an attacker from exploiting a compromised identity. Selecting a Low risk level to require access control introduces more user interrupts.

Configured trusted network locations are used by Identity Protection in some risk detections to reduce false positives.

Risk remediation

Organizations can choose to block access when risk is detected. Blocking sometimes stops legitimate users from doing what they need to. A better solution is to allow self-remediation using Azure AD multifactor authentication (MFA) and secure self-service password reset (SSPR).

Warning

Users must register for Azure AD MFA and SSPR before they face a situation requiring remediation. Users not registered are blocked and require administrator intervention.

Password change (I know my password and want to change it to something new) outside of the risky user policy remediation flow does not meet the requirement for secure password reset.

Microsoft's recommendation

Microsoft recommends the below risk policy configurations to protect your organization:

  • User risk policy
    • Require a secure password reset when user risk level is High. Azure AD MFA is required before the user can create a new password with SSPR to remediate their risk.
  • Sign-in risk policy
    • Require Azure AD MFA when sign-in risk level is Medium or High, allowing users to prove it's them by using one of their registered authentication methods, remediating the sign-in risk.

Requiring access control when risk level is low will introduce more user interrupts. Choosing to block access rather than allowing self-remediation options, like secure password reset and multifactor authentication, will impact your users and administrators. Weigh these choices when configuring your policies.

Exclusions

Policies allow for excluding users such as your emergency access or break-glass administrator accounts. Organizations may need to exclude other accounts from specific policies based on the way the accounts are used. Exclusions should be reviewed regularly to see if they're still applicable.

Enable policies

Organizations can choose to deploy risk-based policies in Conditional Access using the steps outlined below or using the Conditional Access templates (Preview).

Before organizations enable remediation policies, they may want to investigate and remediate any active risks.

User risk policy in Conditional Access

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal as a Conditional Access Administrator, Security Administrator, or Global Administrator.
  2. Browse to Azure Active Directory > Security > Conditional Access.
  3. Select New policy.
  4. Give your policy a name. We recommend that organizations create a meaningful standard for the names of their policies.
  5. Under Assignments, select Users or workload identities.
    1. Under Include, select All users.
    2. Under Exclude, select Users and groups and choose your organization's emergency access or break-glass accounts.
    3. Select Done.
  6. Under Cloud apps or actions > Include, select All cloud apps.
  7. Under Conditions > User risk, set Configure to Yes.
    1. Under Configure user risk levels needed for policy to be enforced, select High. (This guidance is based on Microsoft recommendations and may be different for each organization)
    2. Select Done.
  8. Under Access controls > Grant.
    1. Select Grant access, Require password change.
    2. Select Select.
  9. Under Session.
    1. Select Sign-in frequency.
    2. Ensure Every time is selected.
    3. Select Select.
  10. Confirm your settings and set Enable policy to Report-only.
  11. Select Create to create to enable your policy.

After confirming your settings using report-only mode, an administrator can move the Enable policy toggle from Report-only to On.

Sign-in risk policy in Conditional Access

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal as a Conditional Access Administrator, Security Administrator, or Global Administrator.
  2. Browse to Azure Active Directory > Security > Conditional Access.
  3. Select New policy.
  4. Give your policy a name. We recommend that organizations create a meaningful standard for the names of their policies.
  5. Under Assignments, select Users or workload identities.
    1. Under Include, select All users.
    2. Under Exclude, select Users and groups and choose your organization's emergency access or break-glass accounts.
    3. Select Done.
  6. Under Cloud apps or actions > Include, select All cloud apps.
  7. Under Conditions > Sign-in risk, set Configure to Yes. Under Select the sign-in risk level this policy will apply to. (This guidance is based on Microsoft recommendations and may be different for each organization)
    1. Select High and Medium.
    2. Select Done.
  8. Under Access controls > Grant.
    1. Select Grant access, Require multifactor authentication.
    2. Select Select.
  9. Under Session.
    1. Select Sign-in frequency.
    2. Ensure Every time is selected.
    3. Select Select.
  10. Confirm your settings and set Enable policy to Report-only.
  11. Select Create to create to enable your policy.

After confirming your settings using report-only mode, an administrator can move the Enable policy toggle from Report-only to On.

Migrate risk policies from Identity Protection to Conditional Access

While Identity Protection also provides two risk policies with limited conditions, we highly recommend setting up risk-based policies in Conditional Access for the following benefits:

  • Enhanced diagnostic data
  • Report-only mode integration
  • Graph API support
  • Use more Conditional Access attributes like sign-in frequency in the policy

If you already have risk policies enabled in Identity Protection, we highly recommend that you migrate them to Conditional Access:

Screenshots showing the migration of a sign-in risk policy to Conditional Access.

Migrating to Conditional Access

  1. Create an equivalent user risk-based and sign-in risk-based policy in Conditional Access in report-only mode. You can create a policy with the steps above or using Conditional Access templates based on Microsoft's recommendations and your organizational requirements.
    1. Ensure that the new Conditional Access risk policy works as expected by testing it in report-only mode.
  2. Enable the new Conditional Access risk policy. You can choose to have both policies running side-by-side to confirm the new policies are working as expected before turning off the Identity Protection risk policies.
    1. Browse back to Azure Active Directory > Security > Conditional Access.
    2. Select this new policy to edit it.
    3. Set Enable policy to On to enable the policy
  3. Disable the old risk policies in Identity Protection.
    1. Browse to Azure Active Directory > Identity Protection > Select the User risk or Sign-in risk policy.
    2. Set Enforce policy to Off
  4. Create other risk policies if needed in Conditional Access.

Next steps