New Azure AD Capabilities for Conditional Access and Azure VMs at RSA 2021

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This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Azure Active Directory Identity Blog articles.

Howdy folks!


We’re excited to be joining you virtually at RSA Conference 2021 next week. Security has become top-of-mind for everyone, and Identity has become central to organizations’ Zero Trust approach. Customers increasingly rely on Azure Active Directory (AD) Conditional Access to protect their users and applications from threats.


Today, we’re announcing a powerful bundle of new Azure AD features in Conditional Access and Azure. Admins can gain even more control over access in their organizations and manage a growing number of Conditional Access policies and Azure AD authentication for virtual machines (VMs) deployed in Azure. These new capabilities enable a whole new set of scenarios, such as restricting access to resources from privileged access workstations or even specific countries or regions based on GPS location. And with the capability to search, sort, and filter your policies, as well as monitor recent changes to your policies you can work more efficiently. Lastly, you can now use Azure AD login for your Azure VMs and protect them from being compromised or used in unsanctioned ways.


Here's a quick overview of the features we’re announcing today:



Public Preview

Named locations based on GPS: You can now restrict access to sensitive resources from specific countries or regions based on the user’s GPS location to meet strict data compliance requirements.

Filters for devices condition: Apply granular policies based on specific device attributes using powerful rule matching to require access from devices that meet your criteria.

Enhanced audit logs with policy changes: We’ve made it easier to understand changes to your Conditional Access policies including modified properties to the audit logs.

Azure AD login to Linux VMs in Azure: You can now use Azure AD login with SSH certificate-based authentication to SSH into your Linux VMs in Azure with additional protection using RBAC, Conditional Access, Privileged Identity Management and Azure Policy.



General Availability

Named locations at scale: It’s now easier to create and manage IP-based named locations with support for IPv6 addresses, increased number of ranges allowed, and additional checks for mal-formed addresses.

Search, sort, and filter policies: As the number of policies in your tenant grows, we’ve made it easier to find and manage individual policies. Search by policy name and sort and filter policies by creation/modified date and state.

Azure AD login for Windows VMs in Azure: You can now use Azure AD login to RDP to your Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 VMs in Azure with additional protection using RBAC, Conditional Access, Privileged Identity Management and Azure Policy.


We hope that these enhancements empower your organization to achieve even more with Conditional Access and Azure AD authentication. And as always—we’re always listening to your feedback to make Conditional Access even better.



Named locations based on GPS location (Public Preview)

This capability empowers organizations to meet strict compliance regulations that limit where specific data can be accessed. Due to VPNs and other factors, determining a user’s location from their IP address is not always accurate or reliable. GPS signals enable admins to determine a user’s location with higher confidence. When the feature is enabled, users will be prompted to share their GPS location via the Microsoft Authenticator app during sign-in.  


Conditional Access named locations is more versatile than ever with the addition of new GPS-based country locations. When selecting countries or regions to define a named location that will be used in your Conditional Access policies, you can now decide whether to determine the user’s location by their IP address or GPS location through the Authenticator App. This feature will be available in public preview later this month.


To configure a GPS-based named location for Conditional Access:

  1. Go to Azure AD -> Security -> Conditional Access -> Named locations
  2. Click + Countries location to define a new named location defined by country or region
  3. Select the dropdown option to Determine location by GPS coordinates (Preview)
  4. Select the countries you want to include in your named location and click Create.


Conditional Access.png


Once you’ve created a GPS-based country named location, you can use Conditional Access to restrict access to selected applications for sign-ins within the named location. In the locations condition of the policy, select the named locations where you want your policy to apply.

When users sign-in, they’ll be asked to share their GPS location through the Authenticator app to access applications in scope of the policy.


Share Location.PNG

At left, users are asked in the browser to share their location. At right, users are prompted to share their location.



Filters for devices (Public Preview)

Next, we’re excited to release a powerful new Filters for devices condition. With filters for devices, security admins can enhance protection of their corporate resources to the next level by targeting Conditional Access policies to a set of devices based on device attributes. This capability unlocks a plethora of new scenarios we have envisioned and heard from customers, such as restricting access to privileged resources from privileged access workstations. Additionally, organizations can leverage the device filters condition to secure use of Surface Hubs, Teams phones, Teams meeting rooms, and all sorts of IoT devices. Filters were built with a consistent and familiar rule authoring experience for admins who use Azure AD dynamic device groups or are discovering the new filters capability in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.


In addition to the built-in device properties such as device ID, display name, model, MDM app ID, and more, we’ve provided support for up to 15 additional extension attributes. Using the rule builder, admins can easily build device matching rules using Boolean logic, or they can edit the rule syntax directly to unlock even more sophisticated matching rules. We’re excited to see what scenarios this new condition unlocks for your organization! This feature will be available before end of this month.


Filters for Devices.png 



Enhanced Conditional Access audit logs with policy changes (Public Preview)

Another important aspect of managing Conditional Access is understanding changes to your policies over time. Policy changes may cause disruptions for your end users, so maintaining a log of changes and enabling admins to revert to previous policy versions is critical. Today, we’re announcing that in addition to showing who made a policy change and when, the audit logs will also contain a modified properties value so that admins have greater visibility into what assignments, conditions, or controls changed. Check it out today!


Enhanced Conditional Access.png


If you want to revert to a previous version of a policy, you can copy the JSON representation of the old version and use the Conditional Access APIs to quickly change the policy back to its previous state. This is just the first step towards giving admins greater back-up and restore capabilities in Conditional Access.



Named locations at scale (General Availability)

We’re also announcing the general availability for IPv6 address support in Conditional Access named locations. We’ve made a bunch of exciting improvements including:


  • Added the capability to define IPv6 address ranges, in addition to IPv4
  • Increased limit of named locations from 90 to 195
  • Increased limit of IP ranges per named location from 1200 to 2000
  • Added capabilities to search and sort named locations and filter by location type and trust type


Additionally, to prevent admins from defining problematic named locations, we’ve added additional checks to reduce the chance of misconfiguration:


  • Private IP ranges can no longer be configured
  • Overly large CIDR masks are prevented (prefix must be from /8 to /32)


As a result of these improvements, admins can define more accurate boundaries for their Conditional Access policies, increasing Conditional Access coverage and reducing misconfigurations and support cases.


Named Locations.png



Search, sort, and filter policies (General Availability)

We know that as you deploy more Conditional Access policies, managing a growing list of policies can become more difficult. That’s why we’re excited to give admins the ability to search policies by name, and sort and filter policies by state and creation/modified date. Also, as part of General Availability we will be gradually rolling out the feature to Government clouds. Say goodbye to scrolling through a long list of policies!






Azure AD login for Azure VMs (General Availability - Windows, Preview Update - Linux)

Organizations deploying virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud face a common challenge of how to securely manage the accounts and credentials used to login to these VMs. To protect your VMs from being compromised or used in unsanctioned ways, we are excited to announce General Availability of Azure AD login for Azure Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 VMs. Additionally, we are also announcing an update to preview of Azure AD login for Azure Linux VMs. These features are now available in Azure Global and will be available in Azure Government and China clouds before the end of this month.


With the preview update for Azure Linux VMs, you can use either user or service principal-based Azure AD login with SSH certificate-based authentication for all major Linux distributions. As a result, you don’t need to worry about credential lifecycle management since you no longer need to provision local accounts or SSH keys. And with Azure RBAC, you can authorize who should have access to your VMs and whether they get administrator or standard user permissions.

Using Conditional Access, you can require MFA or managed devices and prevent risky sign-ins to your VMs. Additionally, you can deploy Azure Policies to require Azure AD login if it wasn’t enabled during VM creation. You can also audit existing VMs where Azure AD login isn’t enabled, and track VMs when a non-approved local account is detected on the machine.


Virtual Machine.png



We hope that these new Azure AD capabilities in Conditional Access and Azure make it even easier to secure your organization and unlock a new wave of scenarios for your organization.


As always, join the conversation in the Microsoft Tech Community and share your feedback and suggestions with us. We build the best products when we listen to our customers!

Best regards,

Alex Simons (@Alex_A_Simons)

Corporate VP of Program Management

Microsoft Identity Division



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