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Disable basic authentication with Conditional Access

How to disable basic authentication in Office 365 with Conditional Access policy? You want to block basic authentication known as legacy authentication in Azure AD because you have modern authentication in place for Exchange Online and Exchange on-premises. Also, many attacks are coming through basic authentication, and it’s an intelligent choice to block them. This article will learn how to create a Conditional Access policy in Azure AD to disable legacy authentication.

Why you should block basic authentication

Why do you need to block basic authentication when you have Multi-Factor Authentication configured?

For MFA to be effective, you also need to block legacy authentication. It’s because legacy authentication protocols like POP, SMTP, IMAP, and MAPI can’t enforce MFA, making them preferred entry points for adversaries attacking your organization.

The numbers on legacy authentication from an analysis of Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) traffic are clear:

  • More than 99 percent of password spray attacks use legacy authentication protocols
  • More than 97 percent of credential stuffing attacks use legacy authentication
  • Azure AD accounts in organizations that have disabled legacy authentication experience 67 percent fewer compromises than those where legacy authentication is enabled

Single-factor authentication (for example, username and password) is not enough these days. Passwords are bad as they are easy to guess, and we (humans) are bad at choosing good passwords. Passwords are also vulnerable to various attacks, like phishing and password spray. One of the easiest things you can do to protect against password threats is to implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). With MFA, even if an attacker gets in possession of a user’s password, the password alone is not sufficient to successfully authenticate and access the data.

How can you prevent apps using legacy authentication from accessing your tenant’s resources? The recommendation is to block them with a Conditional Access policy. If necessary, you allow only certain users and specific network locations to use apps that are based on legacy authentication.

Block basic authentication with Conditional Access

Follow the below steps to block basic authentication, also known as legacy authentication with Azure AD Conditional Access.

Step 1. Check Azure AD Premium license

Check that you have Azure AD Premium plan 1 or 2. Sign in to Microsoft Azure. In the portal, navigate to Azure Active Directory > Overview. In the example below, there is an Azure AD Premium P2 license.

Check Azure AD Premium license

Step 2. New policy

Create a Conditional Access policy to force block basic authentication for all the users. You can select only a selected group of users. But, we recommend disabling basic authentication for all users.

Browse to Active Directory > Security > Conditional Access. Click New policy.

Create new Conditional Access policy

Step 3. Name

Give it the name [BLOCK] Legacy authentication.

Name the policy block legacy authentication

Step 4. Assignments

Click Users and groups and follow with Include. Select All users.

Select all users and groups

Step 5. Cloud apps or actions

Click Cloud apps and follow with Include. Select All cloud apps.

Select all cloud apps

Step 6. Conditions

Click Conditions and follow with Client apps. Click on Yes. Select Exchange ActiveSync clients and Other clients.

Select legacy authentication clients to apply this policy to

Step 7. Grant

Click Grant. Select Block access. Click on Select.

Block access

Step 8. Enable policy

Click the On switch to enable the policy. Select I understand that my account will be impacted by this policy. Proceed anyway. Click Create.

Select I understand and create policy

The policy shows up in the Conditional Access policies list.

Disable basic authentication policy present in list

It can take up to 24 hours for the [BLOCK] Legacy Authentication policy to go into effect.

Read more: Configure Hybrid Modern Authentication in Exchange on-premises »

Conclusion

In this article, you learned how to disable basic authentication with Conditional Access. It’s essential to create the policy and secure the organization from attacks. If some applications or printers need to connect with basic authentication, you can add the users in the exclude group or add the location to the exclusion list. That way, they can still use basic authentication.

Did you enjoy this article? You may also like Add Exchange Online License to mailbox in Exchange hybrid. Don’t forget to follow us and share this article.

ALI TAJRAN

ALI TAJRAN

ALI TAJRAN is a passionate IT Architect, IT Consultant, and Microsoft Certified Trainer. He started Information Technology at a very young age, and his goal is to teach and inspire others. Read more »

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