Conditional access policies are a key component of intelligent information security infrastructure and integral to strategies like passwordless authentication and Zero Trust. Properly leveraging conditional access policies positions businesses to provide a more productive and secure experience for employees. In this article, we explain what conditional access policies are and offer tips on how to use them effectively.  

What are conditional access policies?

Let’s start with the basics. Conditional access policies are rules and regulations that dictate how and when users can access specific resources or systems.

Factors such as your identity, device, location, and internet connection determine the rules. These factors determine access to specific locations for certain individuals. They are typically implemented to ensure the security and integrity of sensitive information and systems.

Examples of conditional access policies include requiring two-factor authentication for accessing sensitive data, blocking access from certain IP addresses, and requiring the use of encrypted connections.


When should you use conditional access policies?

Conditional access policies are most efficiently used when a business wants to restrict access to sensitive or critical data or systems to only sanctioned users. This can include limiting access based on factors such as user location, device type, or network. These policies can also be used to implement strategies like multi-factor authentication for enhanced security.


How long does it take for a conditional access policy to apply?

It typically takes about an hour for a conditional access policy to take effect after it is applied. However, the exact time may vary depending on the complexity of the policy and the size of the business.


How do you configure conditional access policies in Azure?

  1. Sign into the Azure portal.

  2. In the search bar, type “conditional access” and select the “Conditional Access” option from the search results.

  3. Click on the “New Policy” button to create a new policy.

  4. In the “Create a new policy” page, provide a name for the policy and select the users or groups who will be affected by the policy.

  5. In the “Conditions” section, specify the conditions that need to be met for the policy to be applied. For example, you can specify the location, device, and network conditions.

  6. In the “Access controls” section, select the type of access that will be granted to the users. For example, you can choose to allow access, block access, or require multi-factor authentication.

  7. Click on the “Create” button to save the policy.

  8. The policy will now be applied to the selected users or groups. You can view and manage the policy on the “Conditional Access” page.


How to check a conditional access policy in Azure

To check the conditional access policy in Azure, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Azure portal and navigate to the Azure Active Directory service.

  2. In the left-hand menu, select Conditional Access.

  3. Select the policy that you want to view and click on it to open the policy details.

  4. In the policy details, you can view the policy settings, such as the user groups and applications that the policy applies to, the conditions for accessing the applications, and the required authentication methods.

  5. To verify that the policy is being enforced, you can select the Monitor tab and view the policy events and logs. This will show you the user access attempts and whether they were allowed or denied based on the policy.

  6. To make changes to the policy, click on the Edit policy button at the top of the page and modify the settings as needed. Be sure to save your changes before exiting the policy editor.


Examples of common uses of conditional access policies

  • Protecting sensitive data by restricting access to privileged users only.

  • Enforcing different levels of access based on users’ roles or permissions.

  • Implementing multi-factor authentication to enhance security.

  • Monitoring and auditing user access to ensure compliance with security policies.

  • Providing temporary access to external users, such as contractors or partners, while limiting their access to specific resources.


What are five common mistakes people make with conditional access policies?

  1. Not properly defining the scope of the policy, which leads to it being applied to too broad or too narrow of a group of users.

  2. Not properly configuring the conditions and requirements of the policy, resulting in either overly restrictive or overly lenient access.

  3. Not regularly reviewing and updating the policy to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

  4. Not properly training users on the policy and its requirements, which leads to confusion and non-compliance.

  5. Not properly enforcing the policy and ensuring compliance, allowing prohibited access to potentially sensitive resources.



In conclusion, conditional access policies are an essential aspect of security in any business. These policies help to control access to sensitive information and systems based on a set of predefined conditions. By implementing these policies, businesses can ensure that only privileged users can access specific resources, and that access is granted only when certain conditions are met. This helps to prevent users that do not have privileged access and protect against potential security threats. Overall, implementing effective conditional access policies is crucial for ensuring the security and integrity of a business’s data and systems.



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