IT Hub

Microsoft Entra for Identity and Access Management Overview

Reco Security Experts
May 23, 2024
May 24, 2024

A Comprehensive Overview of Microsoft Entra for Identity and Access Management 

In today's digital landscape, robust security measures for Identity & Access Management (IAM) are paramount. With the proliferation of cloud services and remote work, organizations face increasing challenges in safeguarding sensitive data and resources. Microsoft Entra emerges as a comprehensive solution designed to address these challenges, offering a suite of features to streamline IAM processes and strengthen security protocols.

Introduction to Microsoft Entra

Microsoft Entra represents a paradigm shift in IAM solutions, leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide a seamless and secure access management experience. Built on Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Entra seamlessly integrates with existing Microsoft services, empowering organizations to centralize and streamline their IAM operations.

Deployment and Adoption

Microsoft Entra is a subscription-based service through Microsoft Azure, offering flexible licensing options to meet the diverse needs of organizations of all sizes. The deployment process is streamlined, with intuitive configuration wizards and documentation to guide administrators through setup and integration with existing infrastructure.

Key Features and Capabilities

1. Single Sign-On (SSO):
Microsoft Entra simplifies user authentication with its robust SSO capabilities, allowing users to access multiple applications and services with a single set of credentials. This not only enhances user experience but also reduces the risk associated with password fatigue and unauthorized access attempts.

Users can login once to access their Microsoft apps and other cloud, SaaS, and on-premises apps with the same credentials by enabling SSO with Microsoft Entra ID. Let’s learn more about Microsoft Entra ID Single sign-on methods.

Choose an SSO method based on how your application is configured.

Steps to Configure SSO in Microsoft Entra ID:

  • Sign in to your Microsoft Entra ID portal on entra.microsoft.com
  • Go to the Manage section in the left menu.
  • Select Enterprise applications to manage your applications.
  • Choose the specific application for which you want to enable SSO.
  • In the Manage section of the left menu, select Single sign-on to open the SSO configuration pane.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Security is further fortified through Entra's support for MFA, which adds an extra layer of verification beyond passwords. By requiring additional factors such as biometrics or one-time passcodes, Entra mitigates the risk of unauthorized access attempts, safeguarding sensitive data and resources.

Manage Security Default:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Entra admin center as a Conditional Access Administrator, Security Administrator, or Global Administrator.
  • Browse Identity > Overview > Properties.
  • Select Manage security defaults and set it to Enabled. Save your changes.

Security default automatically enables MFA for all users at once.

Configure the MFA Registration Policy:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Entra admin center as a Security Administrator.
  • Go to Protection > Identity Protection > MFA registration policy.
  • Under Assignments > Users, choose All Users or Select Individuals and Groups if you want to limit the rollout.
  • Set Policy enforcement to Enabled and save your configuration.

You can register MFA for selected users or multiple users at once using the MFA Registration policy. 

Manage Authentication Methods for Users:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Entra admin center as at least an Authentication Administrator.
  • Navigate Identity > Users > All users.
  • Select the user for whom you want to add an authentication method.
  • Click on Authentication Methods and choose either a phone number or an email as the method.

When you click on the user, you get the pop-up and select the authentication method.

This is the page where the user can manage the authentication method. Here, you can re register your phone number and change the authentication method to email or any preferred modality.

3. Conditional Access Policies: Microsoft Entra enables organizations to enforce granular access policies based on various conditions, such as user location, device health, and sign-in risk. This dynamic approach to access management ensures that security measures adapt to evolving threats and compliance requirements, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.

Steps to Set up Conditional Access Policy:

To set up Conditional Access in Microsoft Entra ID, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Entra Admin Center:
    • Sign in to the Entra Admin Center as a security administrator or a higher privileged admin.
  2. Navigate to Identity Settings:
    • Go to Identity > Overview > Properties.
  3. Enable Security Defaults:
    • Select Manage security defaults and enable them. This step ensures that basic security settings are in place.
  4. Create Conditional Access Policies:
    • Conditional Access policies are if-then statements that determine access controls based on specific conditions.
    • Configure policies based on signals such as user or group membership, IP location, device type, application, and risk detection.
    • For example, you can create a policy that requires MFA when accessing Microsoft 365 applications.
  5. Access the Conditional Access Settings:
    • In the Entra Admin Center, navigate to Protection > Conditional Access.
    • Here, you can view policy summaries, users, devices, applications, and security alerts.

4. Identity Governance: With Entra, organizations gain comprehensive visibility and control over user identities and permissions. Through features such as role-based access control (RBAC) and entitlement management, administrators can efficiently manage user access rights, streamline onboarding/offboarding processes, and maintain regulatory compliance.

5. Privileged Identity Management (PIM): Entra offers robust capabilities for managing privileged identities, reducing the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access to critical resources. By implementing just-in-time access, approval workflows, and session monitoring, organizations can mitigate the risk associated with elevated privileges and ensure accountability.

To set up Privileged Identity Management (PIM) in Microsoft Entra ID, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft Entra Admin Center:
  2. Navigate to Privileged Identity Management:
    • Expand Identity governance and select Privileged Identity Management.
  3. Activate Your Roles:
    • Click on Microsoft Entra roles.
    • Under Roles, click Add Assignments.
    • Select the role you want to assign to a member or a group.
    • Choose the member or group for which you want to activate the role .
  4. Assign Roles:
    • Configure role settings in PIM for groups or individual users.
    • Assign eligibility for a group or user in PIM.
    • Activate eligible group owners or members in PIM.
  5. Approve Activation Requests:
    • Review and approve activation requests for group members and owners.

This feature allows users to manage roles and responsibilities.

6. Identity Protection: Microsoft Entra leverages advanced threat intelligence and machine learning algorithms to detect and respond to suspicious activities in real time. By analyzing user behavior and sign-in patterns, Microsoft Entra can identify anomalies and trigger adaptive security measures to prevent unauthorized access attempts and data breaches.

7. Integration with Microsoft 365: As part of the Microsoft ecosystem, Entra seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365 applications and services, providing a unified IAM experience in the productivity suite. This integration facilitates seamless collaboration while ensuring consistent security protocols and compliance standards.

Benefits of Using Microsoft Entra

  • Enhanced Security: By adopting Microsoft Entra, organizations can significantly enhance their security position through robust authentication mechanisms, access controls, and threat detection capabilities.
  • Improved User Experience: Microsoft Entra's SSO capabilities and seamless integration with Microsoft 365 enhance user productivity and satisfaction by simplifying access to essential resources and applications.
  • Streamlined Operations: With centralized identity management and automated provisioning/deprovisioning processes, Microsoft Entra enables organizations to streamline IAM operations and reduce administrative overhead.
  • Compliance Readiness: Microsoft Entra's comprehensive identity governance features help organizations maintain regulatory compliance by enforcing access controls, auditing user activities, and managing privileged access effectively.


In an era of digital transformation and evolving security threats, Microsoft Entra emerges as a comprehensive solution for modern identity and access management. By leveraging advanced technologies and seamless integration with Microsoft services, Entra empowers organizations to enhance security, streamline operations, and ensure compliance in an increasingly complex IT landscape. With its excellent features, intuitive interface, and strong ecosystem support, Microsoft Entra is the cornerstone of IAM strategies for organizations seeking to safeguard their digital assets and empower their workforce in the digital age.

Explore More
See more articles from our Hub