January 27, 2022
min read

Directory services play a vital role in providing users with access to computer resources as well as enabling companies to ensure that sensitive information is protected. Recently, the design and range of features that solutions evolved as software became more complex. Microsoft’s Active Directory and Azure Active Directory play a significant role in safeguarding company data. Given the current dynamic technical landscape, corporations need to be sure that their applications include a handful of important features.

Directories act as guards and block outsiders from accessing company information. Businesses can choose from a wide range of solutions in this area. Microsoft Active Directory and Microsoft Azure Active Directory are the repositories for more user identities than all other combined directory services providers, according to International Data Corp (IDC).

Why has it been popular? Active Directory’s identity ecosystem continues to expand, offering advanced authentication capabilities for many Windows use cases and increasingly, non-Windows environments, according to IDC. The solution offers strong capabilities for identity protection, Conditional Access, continuous access evaluation, and verifiable credentials. Consequently, many other vendors, including CoreView, developed solutions that build on top of that strong foundation. Here are a handful of capabilities that such solutions should have.

Quickly Create, Enforce, and Manage Policies

Directories rely on policies in order to ensure that users go only where they are authorized, so information is secure. A strong AD solution applies policies that handle Microsoft Office 365 administration and builds workflows that:

  • Set conditional access policies for users outside the country
  • Force changes the password on the next login
  • Reactivate compromised accounts
  • Manage SharePoint external sharing policies

Enable Multi-factor Authentication

Criminals have spent decades trying to crack the security checks that were put into place when the Internet began to change how corporate information flowed. In the old days, the process of ensuring that someone was whom they claimed to be was based on short passwords. As the limitations of such an approach became apparent, new tools emerged.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires at least two forms of personal user identification in order to access company resources. Underscoring the need for MFA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines for password security recognize MFA as a best practice. The United States Department of Homeland Security now recommends that all Microsoft Office 365 users implement MFA. To keep data secure, IT buyers should already have MFA solutions included within their present year security software budgets; if not, include such next year, according to IDC.

Ensure Compliance

As noted, organizations now need to protect their digital data, which is constantly under attack. Cybercrime is expected to inflict damages totaling $6 trillion globally in 2021. In response, a raft of regulations emerged that try to ensure that organizations have the proper checks in place to safeguard sensitive information.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework: is a set of security guidelines based on existing standards and best practices that provide guidance, so companies ensure digital data privacy.
  • CIS Benchmarks: are configuration baselines and best practices designed to secure computer systems that identify, develop, validate, promote, and sustain cybersecurity best practices.
  • General Data Protection Regulation is a set of privacy and security laws that outline obligations that organizations must follow if they collect data about individuals living in the European Union.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018: provides consumers with control over the personal information that businesses collect about them.
  • The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program is a US government program that provides a standard approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

So, companies need directory tools that help them monitor items, such as software usage. With such solutions, they ensure that users do not inadvertently make a mistake that opens up a security hole, and they remain compliant with the growing number of regulations.

Embrace End-user Self-service

In the past, much of an organization’s business processes relied on paper and manual input. Digitization offers them a way to remove friction from the workflow. Companies had begun to embrace it, and the pandemic spurred adoption. Companies accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and their internal operations by three to four years, and the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios jumped by seven years, according to McKinsey.

A few examples of directory enable self-service features are

  • Self-Service password reset
  • Implement self-service password resets: users reset their passwords without help desk administrator intervention.
  • Empower business line employees to establish and manage group settings.

Automate and Protect Active Directory Information

Employees constantly come and go in large enterprises. In addition, their roles change, sometimes they gain more authority, and other times, they move into positions with less. As a result, directory management is a constantly evolving, complex effort, one where attention to detail is vital to safeguarding corporate information.

Traditionally, IT teams entered much of the data that was needed to provide users with access to corporate computing resources.  Sometimes, they made mistakes, more of them as the configurations became more complex. In fact, through 2020, 80% of cloud breaches were due to customer misconfiguration, mismanaged credentials, or insider theft, according to Gartner.

With solutions, like CoreView, common Active Directory housekeeping tasks can be automated and eliminate human error, including:

  • Adding a remote user from an Organizational Unit (OU)
  • Creating an M365 user from Azure AD
  • Moving group to a different Organizational Unit
  • Moving a user to different OU

As a result, the input is done correctly and on time. In addition, IT administrators save hours of manual effort each week, hours that can be put toward other technology initiatives.

Microsoft has a dominant position in the enterprise directory space. As the threat landscape grew, the vendor expanded its ecosystem. Solutions, like CoreView, enable enterprises to monitor employee software usage, identify problems, and remediate them, so their data remains safe. Schedule your demo today.

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Created by M365 experts, for M365 experts.