What are risk detections?

Risk detections in Microsoft Entra ID Protection include any identified suspicious actions related to user accounts in the directory. Risk detections (both user and sign-in linked) contribute to the overall user risk score that is found in the Risky Users report.

ID Protection provides organizations access to powerful resources to see and respond quickly to these suspicious actions.

Security overview showing risky users and sign-ins

Note

ID Protection generates risk detections only when the correct credentials are used. If incorrect credentials are used on a sign-in, it does not represent risk of credential compromise.

Risk types and detection

Risk can be detected at the User and Sign-in level and two types of detection or calculation Real-time and Offline. Some risks are considered premium available to Microsoft Entra ID P2 customers only, while others are available to Free and Microsoft Entra ID P1 customers.

A sign-in risk represents the probability that a given authentication request isn't the authorized identity owner. Risky activity can be detected for a user that isn't linked to a specific malicious sign-in but to the user itself.

Real-time detections might not show up in reporting for 5 to 10 minutes. Offline detections might not show up in reporting for 48 hours.

Note

Our system might detect that the risk event that contributed to the risk user risk score was either:

  • A false positive
  • The user risk was remediated by policy by either:
    • Completing multifactor authentication
    • Secure password change.

Our system will dismiss the risk state and a risk detail of “AI confirmed sign-in safe” will show and no longer contribute to the user’s overall risk.

Sign-in risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Type
Atypical travel Offline Premium
Anomalous Token Offline Premium
Anomalous Token Real-time or Offline Premium
Suspicious browser Offline Premium
Unfamiliar sign-in properties Real-time Premium
Malicious IP address Offline Premium
Suspicious inbox manipulation rules Offline Premium
Password spray Offline Premium
Impossible travel Offline Premium
New country Offline Premium
Activity from anonymous IP address Offline Premium
Suspicious inbox forwarding Offline Premium
Mass Access to Sensitive Files Offline Premium
Verified threat actor IP Real-time Premium
Additional risk detected Real-time or Offline Nonpremium
Anonymous IP address Real-time Nonpremium
Admin confirmed user compromised Offline Nonpremium
Microsoft Entra threat intelligence Real-time or Offline Nonpremium

User risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Type
Possible attempt to access Primary Refresh Token (PRT) Offline Premium
Anomalous user activity Offline Premium
User reported suspicious activity Offline Premium
Suspicious API Traffic Offline Premium
Suspicious sending patterns Offline Premium
Additional risk detected Real-time or Offline Nonpremium
Leaked credentials Offline Nonpremium
Microsoft Entra threat intelligence Offline Nonpremium

Premium detections

The following premium detections are visible only to Microsoft Entra ID P2 customers.

Premium sign-in risk detections

Atypical travel

Calculated offline. This risk detection type identifies two sign-ins originating from geographically distant locations, where at least one of the locations might also be atypical for the user, given past behavior. The algorithm takes into account multiple factors including the time between the two sign-ins and the time it would take for the user to travel from the first location to the second. This risk might indicate that a different user is using the same credentials.

The algorithm ignores obvious "false positives" contributing to the impossible travel conditions, such as VPNs and locations regularly used by other users in the organization. The system has an initial learning period of the earliest of 14 days or 10 logins, during which it learns a new user's sign-in behavior.

Investigating atypical travel detections
  1. If you're able to confirm the activity wasn't performed by a legitimate user:
    1. Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block user if attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password.
  2. If a user is known to use the IP address in the scope of their duties:
    1. Recommended action: Dismiss the alert
  3. If you're able to confirm that the user recently traveled to the destination mentioned detailed in the alert:
    1. Recommended action: Dismiss the alert.
  4. If you're able to confirm that the IP address range is from a sanctioned VPN.
    1. Recommended action: Mark sign-in as safe and add the VPN IP address range to named locations in Microsoft Entra ID and Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps.

Anomalous token

Calculated in real-time or offline. This detection indicates that there are abnormal characteristics in the token such as an unusual token lifetime or a token that is played from an unfamiliar location. This detection covers Session Tokens and Refresh Tokens.

Note

Anomalous token is tuned to incur more noise than other detections at the same risk level. This tradeoff is chosen to increase the likelihood of detecting replayed tokens that might otherwise go unnoticed. Because this is a high noise detection, there's a higher than normal chance that some of the sessions flagged by this detection are false positives. We recommend investigating the sessions flagged by this detection in the context of other sign-ins from the user. If the location, application, IP address, User Agent, or other characteristics are unexpected for the user, the tenant admin should consider this risk as an indicator of potential token replay.

Investigating anomalous token detections
  1. If you're able to confirm that the activity wasn't performed by a legitimate user using a combination of risk alert, location, application, IP address, User Agent, or other characteristics that are unexpected for the user:
    1. Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.
  2. If you're able to confirm location, application, IP address, User Agent, or other characteristics are expected for the user and there aren't other indications of compromise:
    1. Recommended action: Allow the user to self-remediate with a Conditional Access risk policy or have an admin confirm sign-in as safe.

For further investigation of token based detections, see the article Token tactics: How to prevent, detect, and respond to cloud token theft and the Token theft investigation playbook.

Token issuer anomaly

Calculated offline. This risk detection indicates the SAML token issuer for the associated SAML token is potentially compromised. The claims included in the token are unusual or match known attacker patterns.

Investigating token issuer anomaly detections
  1. If you're able to confirm that the activity wasn't performed by a legitimate user:
    1. Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.
  2. If the user confirmed this action was performed by them, and there are no other indicators of compromise:
    1. Recommended action: Allow the user to self-remediate with a Conditional Access risk policy or have an admin confirm sign-in as safe.

For further investigation of token based detections, see the article Token tactics: How to prevent, detect, and respond to cloud token theft.

Suspicious browser

Calculated offline. Suspicious browser detection indicates anomalous behavior based on suspicious sign-in activity across multiple tenants from different countries in the same browser.

Investigating suspicious browser detections
  • Browser isn't commonly used by the user or activity within the browser doesn't match the users normally behavior.
    • Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.

Unfamiliar sign-in properties

Calculated in real-time. This risk detection type considers past sign-in history to look for anomalous sign-ins. The system stores information about previous sign-ins, and triggers a risk detection when a sign-in occurs with properties that are unfamiliar to the user. These properties can include IP, ASN, location, device, browser, and tenant IP subnet. Newly created users are in "learning mode" period where the unfamiliar sign-in properties risk detection is turned off while our algorithms learn the user's behavior. The learning mode duration is dynamic and depends on how much time it takes the algorithm to gather enough information about the user's sign-in patterns. The minimum duration is five days. A user can go back into learning mode after a long period of inactivity.

We also run this detection for basic authentication (or legacy protocols). Because these protocols don't have modern properties such as client ID, there's limited data to reduce false positives. We recommend our customers to move to modern authentication.

Unfamiliar sign-in properties can be detected on both interactive and non-interactive sign-ins. When this detection is detected on non-interactive sign-ins, it deserves increased scrutiny due to the risk of token replay attacks.

Selecting an unfamiliar sign-in properties risk allows you to see Additional Info showing you more detail about why this risk triggered. The following screenshot shows an example of these details.

Screenshot showing an example of unfamiliar sign-in properties risk detection.

Malicious IP address

Calculated offline. This detection indicates sign-in from a malicious IP address. An IP address is considered malicious based on high failure rates because of invalid credentials received from the IP address or other IP reputation sources.

Investigating malicious IP address detections
  1. If you're able to confirm that the activity wasn't performed by a legitimate user:
    1. Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.
  2. If a user is known to use the IP address in the scope of their duties:
    1. Recommended action: Dismiss the alert

Suspicious inbox manipulation rules

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection looks at your environment and triggers alerts when suspicious rules that delete or move messages or folders are set on a user's inbox. This detection might indicate: a user's account is compromised, messages are being intentionally hidden, and the mailbox is being used to distribute spam or malware in your organization.

Password spray

Calculated offline. A password spray attack is where multiple usernames are attacked using common passwords in a unified brute force manner to gain unauthorized access. This risk detection is triggered when a password spray attack has been successfully performed. For example, the attacker is successfully authenticated, in the detected instance.

Investigating password spray detections
  1. If you're able to confirm that the activity wasn't performed by a legitimate user:
    1. Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.
  2. If a user is known to use the IP address in the scope of their duties:
    1. Recommended action: Dismiss the alert
  3. If you're able to confirm that the account hasn't been compromised and can see no brute force or password spray indicators against the account.
    1. Recommended action: Allow the user to self-remediate with a Conditional Access risk policy or have an admin confirm sign-in as safe.

For further investigation of password spray risk detections, see the article Guidance for identifying and investigating password spray attacks.

Impossible travel

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection identifies user activities (is a single or multiple sessions) originating from geographically distant locations within a time period shorter than the time it takes to travel from the first location to the second. This risk might indicate that a different user is using the same credentials.

New country

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection considers past activity locations to determine new and infrequent locations. The anomaly detection engine stores information about previous locations used by users in the organization.

Activity from anonymous IP address

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection identifies that users were active from an IP address that has been identified as an anonymous proxy IP address.

Suspicious inbox forwarding

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection looks for suspicious email forwarding rules, for example, if a user created an inbox rule that forwards a copy of all emails to an external address.

Mass access to sensitive files

Calculated offline. This detection is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection looks at your environment and triggers alerts when users access multiple files from Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft OneDrive. An alert is triggered only if the number of accessed files is uncommon for the user and the files might contain sensitive information

Verified threat actor IP

Calculated in real-time. This risk detection type indicates sign-in activity that is consistent with known IP addresses associated with nation state actors or cyber crime groups, based on Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC).

Premium user risk detections

Possible attempt to access Primary Refresh Token (PRT)

Calculated offline. This risk detection type is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDE). A Primary Refresh Token (PRT) is a key artifact of Microsoft Entra authentication on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, and later versions, iOS, and Android devices. A PRT is a JSON Web Token (JWT) that's specially issued to Microsoft first-party token brokers to enable single sign-on (SSO) across the applications used on those devices. Attackers can attempt to access this resource to move laterally into an organization or perform credential theft. This detection moves users to high risk and only fires in organizations that have deployed MDE. This detection is low-volume and is seen infrequently in most organizations. When this detection appears it's high risk, and users should be remediated.

Anomalous user activity

Calculated offline. This risk detection baselines normal administrative user behavior in Microsoft Entra ID, and spots anomalous patterns of behavior like suspicious changes to the directory. The detection is triggered against the administrator making the change or the object that was changed.

User reported suspicious activity

Calculated offline. This risk detection is reported when a user denies a multifactor authentication (MFA) prompt and reports it as suspicious activity. An MFA prompt not initiated by a user might mean their credentials are compromised.

Suspicious API traffic

Calculated offline. This risk detection is reported when abnormal Graph traffic or directory enumeration is observed by a user. Suspicious API traffic might suggest that a user is compromised and conducting reconnaissance in their environment.

Suspicious sending patterns

Calculated offline. This risk detection type is discovered using information provided by Microsoft Defender for Office (MDO). This alert is generated when someone in your organization has sent suspicious email and is either at risk of being restricted from sending email or has already been restricted from sending email. This detection moves users to medium risk and only fires in organizations that have deployed MDO. This detection is low-volume and is seen infrequently in most organizations.

Nonpremium detections

Customers without Microsoft Entra ID P2 licenses receive detections titled "additional risk detected" without the detailed information regarding the detection that customers with P2 licenses do.

Nonpremium sign-in risk detections

Additional risk detected (sign-in)

Calculated in real-time or offline. This detection indicates that one of the premium detections was detected. Since the premium detections are visible only to Microsoft Entra ID P2 customers, they're titled "additional risk detected" for customers without Microsoft Entra ID P2 licenses.

Anonymous IP address

Calculated in real-time. This risk detection type indicates sign-ins from an anonymous IP address (for example, Tor browser or anonymous VPN). These IP addresses are typically used by actors who want to hide their sign-in information (IP address, location, device, and so on) for potentially malicious intent.

Admin confirmed user compromised

Calculated offline. This detection indicates an admin has selected 'Confirm user compromised' in the Risky users UI or using riskyUsers API. To see which admin has confirmed this user compromised, check the user's risk history (via UI or API).

Microsoft Entra threat intelligence (sign-in)

Calculated in real-time or offline. This risk detection type indicates user activity that is unusual for the user or consistent with known attack patterns. This detection is based on Microsoft's internal and external threat intelligence sources.

Nonpremium user risk detections

Additional risk detected (user)

Calculated in real-time or offline. This detection indicates that one of the premium detections was detected. Since the premium detections are visible only to Microsoft Entra ID P2 customers, they're titled "additional risk detected" for customers without Microsoft Entra ID P2 licenses.

Leaked credentials

Calculated offline. This risk detection type indicates that the user's valid credentials have been leaked. When cybercriminals compromise valid passwords of legitimate users, they often share these gathered credentials. This sharing is typically done by posting publicly on the dark web, paste sites, or by trading and selling the credentials on the black market. When the Microsoft leaked credentials service acquires user credentials from the dark web, paste sites, or other sources, they're checked against Microsoft Entra users' current valid credentials to find valid matches. For more information about leaked credentials, see Common questions.

Investigating leaked credentials detections
  • If this detection signal has alerted for a leaked credential for a user:
    • Recommended action: Mark the sign-in as compromised, and invoke a password reset if not already performed by self-remediation. Block the user if an attacker has access to reset password or perform MFA and reset password and revoke all tokens.

Microsoft Entra threat intelligence (user)

Calculated offline. This risk detection type indicates user activity that is unusual for the user or consistent with known attack patterns. This detection is based on Microsoft's internal and external threat intelligence sources.

Common questions

Risk levels

ID Protection categorizes risk into three tiers: low, medium, and high. When configuring ID Protection policies, you can also configure it to trigger upon No risk level. No Risk means there's no active indication that the user's identity has been compromised.

Microsoft doesn't provide specific details about how risk is calculated. Each level of risk brings higher confidence that the user or sign-in is compromised. For example, something like one instance of unfamiliar sign-in properties for a user might not be as threatening as leaked credentials for another user.

Password hash synchronization

Risk detections like leaked credentials require the presence of password hashes for detection to occur. For more information about password hash synchronization, see the article, Implement password hash synchronization with Microsoft Entra Connect Sync.

Why are there risk detections generated for disabled user accounts?

Disabled user accounts can be re-enabled. If the credentials of a disabled account are compromised, and the account gets re-enabled, bad actors might use those credentials to gain access. ID Protection generates risk detections for suspicious activities against disabled user accounts to alert customers about potential account compromise. If an account is no longer in use and wont be re-enabled, customers should consider deleting it to prevent compromise. No risk detections are generated for deleted accounts.

Where does Microsoft find leaked credentials?

Microsoft finds leaked credentials in various places, including:

  • Public paste sites such as pastebin.com and paste.ca where bad actors typically post such material. This location is most bad actors' first stop on their hunt to find stolen credentials.
  • Law enforcement agencies.
  • Other groups at Microsoft doing dark web research.

Why am I not seeing any leaked credentials?

Leaked credentials are processed anytime Microsoft finds a new, publicly available batch. Because of the sensitive nature, the leaked credentials are deleted shortly after processing. Only new leaked credentials found after you enable password hash synchronization (PHS) are processed against your tenant. Verifying against previously found credential pairs isn't done.

I haven't seen any leaked credential risk events for quite some time

If you haven't seen any leaked credential risk events, it is because of the following reasons:

  • You don't have PHS enabled for your tenant.
  • Microsoft has not found any leaked credential pairs that match your users.

How often does Microsoft process new credentials?

Credentials are processed immediately after they have been found, normally in multiple batches per day.

Locations

Location in risk detections is determined using IP address lookup.

Next steps