May 31

How to Do it Yourself: Centralize Management of User Accounts

Simplify Security with Centralized User Account Management

Managing all user accounts and access controls from one place simplifies security and reduces risks. This guide will walk you through centralizing user account management, aligning with CIS Control 16.1 (Account Monitoring and Control).

Step 1: Choose a Centralized Management Tool

Select a tool to manage user accounts and access controls. For businesses using Microsoft 365, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a powerful built-in tool for user management.

Step 2: Set Up Azure Active Directory

Centralize your user accounts using Azure AD.

  1. Create Users and Groups: Set up user accounts and organize them into groups based on roles and permissions.
    • Go to the Azure Active Directory admin center.
    • Click on Users in the left-hand menu, then click New user to create individual user accounts.
    • Click on Groups in the left-hand menu, then click New group to create groups and assign users to them.
  2. Assign Roles: Define and assign roles to control access to resources and applications.
    • In the Azure AD admin center, click on Roles and administrators in the left-hand menu.
    • Select the role you want to assign (e.g., Global Administrator, User Administrator) and click Add assignments to assign users or groups to the role.

Step 3: Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Enhance security by requiring additional verification.

  1. Enable MFA: Use Azure AD to enable MFA for all user accounts.
    • In the Azure AD admin center, click on Security in the left-hand menu, then click MFA.
    • Under Additional cloud-based MFA settings, click Manage.
    • Select the appropriate MFA settings for your organization (e.g., enable for all users or specific groups).
  2. Configure MFA Settings: Set up MFA options such as authentication apps, SMS, or phone calls.
    • In the Azure AD admin center, click on Users in the left-hand menu, then select a user to configure their MFA settings.
    • Click on Authentication methods to set up and manage the user's MFA options.

Step 4: Regularly Review Access Permissions

Ensure that access permissions are up-to-date.

  1. Access Reviews: Conduct periodic access reviews to ensure users have the appropriate level of access.
    • In the Azure AD admin center, click on Access reviews in the left-hand menu.
    • Click New access review to create and configure an access review for users or groups.
  2. Audit Logs: Monitor audit logs to track changes and detect suspicious activity.
    • In the Azure AD admin center, click on Audit logs in the left-hand menu to view and analyze user and administrator activity.

Why Centralized User Account Management Matters

Centralizing user account management simplifies administration, enhances security, and helps ensure compliance with policies and regulations. By managing user accounts and access controls from a single platform, you can efficiently monitor and control access to your organization's resources and data.

This step aligns with CIS Control 16.1: Account Monitoring and Control, which focuses on managing the lifecycle of user accounts.

By following these steps, you can effectively centralize and manage user accounts. Stay tuned for more tips on managing your business's cybersecurity risk effectively.

For more details on securing your business, check out our CyberGuardian Blueprint


Azure Active Directory, Centralized User Management, Cybersecurity, User Access Control

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