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Leveraging Azure AD Audit Data for Compliance and Reporting. Authenticity of systems and data is a constant challenge for enterprises in the constantly changing world of digital security and compliance regulations. This article delves into the proactive utilization of Azure AD audit logs, offering insights into how organizations harness this valuable resource to enhance their compliance posture and streamline reporting processes.

By actively engaging with Azure AD audit data, businesses bolster their security measures and gain a comprehensive understanding of user activities, facilitating the seamless fulfilment of regulatory obligations.

Leveraging Azure AD Audit Data for Compliance and Reporting

In cloud computing, maintaining and regulating user identities and their access to resources is called identity governance. Cloud computing is affordable, scalable, and flexible. However, managing identities and access to cloud resources is challenging and complex. Especially with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

Identity governance in the cloud typically involves the following points:

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) involves setting up policies and procedures to manage user identities and access to cloud resources. IAM includes user authentication, authorization, and access control. Risk assessment and mitigation involve identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities in the cloud environment and developing mitigation strategies. 
  • For many firms, regulatory compliance is crucial, and cloud identity governance must abide by rules and industry standards.  
  • Identity governance on the cloud involves monitoring and reporting user activities and access to cloud resources to detect suspicious activity or unauthorized access.

Azure AD Access Review Overview

Regularly, organizations scrutinize and validate access to resources through access reviews. Azure AD Identity Governance (or now called as Microsoft Entra ID Governance) facilitates that in straightforward and practical approach. It centralizes access management for applications and resources, Entitlement Management with Azure AD Identity Governance establishes and enforces policies based on user roles and entitlements.

Given the susceptibility of Privileged Identity Management accounts to cyberattacks, Azure AD Identity Governance equips organizations with robust tools. They are just-in-time access, privileged access approvals, and session monitoring. Furthermore, Azure AD Identity Protection enhances security by offering advanced threat detection and protection capabilities, monitoring user activity, and alerting administrators to suspicious behaviour or security breaches.

Azure AD Identity Governance delivers comprehensive audit and reporting needs to monitor user access and activities effectively. 

Planning Our Azure AD Identity

Deploying Microsoft Azure AD Identity Governance, access reviews help organizations regularly review and certify access to critical resources, enforce policies, and meet regulatory compliance requirements. Here are some essential points to plan and deploy an access review deployment:

  • Identify the critical resources requiring access reviews. 

  • Specify reviewers, such as managers or compliance officers, who understand the resources under review and the user roles within the organization.

  • Establish access review policies, detailing the review frequency, scope, and criteria for approving or denying resource access. 

  • Configure Azure AD Identity Governance to automate access reviews by creating campaigns defining resources, reviewers, and review criteria.

  • Execute access reviews through Azure AD Identity Governance, ensuring that notifications prompt reviewers to complete assessments regularly for critical resources.

  • Analyze review results to identify discrepancies or potential security issues. Take appropriate actions to revoke access and address identified problems.

  • Leverage Azure AD Identity Governance’s detailed auditing and reporting capabilities to monitor access reviews, identify improvement areas, and refine policies based on feedback and regulatory changes for ongoing compliance.

By following these steps, you successfully plan and deploy an Azure AD Identity Governance access reviews deployment, enabling regular review and certify access to critical resources, enforcing policies, and meeting regulatory compliance requirements.

Azure AD guest objects represent individuals invited to access resources in Azure AD who aren’t employees or members of the organization. When we invite a guest user, Azure creates an AD guest object containing information like email address, display name, and the guest user’s organization. These objects are manageable through Microsoft Graph API.

In addition, Azure AD offers various features for managing guest users, including conditional access policies, identity protection, and multi-factor authentication. When a Team owner adds a guest user, an Azure AD B2B (Guest) generates an account to manage access permissions for the external guest in the Team and group resources. However, when a Team owner removes a guest from their Team, the guest’s Azure AD B2B account persists, potentially leading to redundant accounts over time.

In summary, Azure AD guest objects facilitate collaboration with external users while providing control over resource access. 

Disadvantages of Guest Objects

While guest users are valuable resource for collaborating with external partners and contractors, they pose potential security risks to an organization. Here are a few examples of security issues: 

  • Compromised guest account: An attacker may obtain sensitive data or resources within the company if a guest user’s account is compromised ( phishing attack). 
  • Insider threat: A guest user granted access to sensitive information or resources may pose an insider threat if they abuse their privileges or accidentally expose sensitive information.
  • Compliance and regulatory risks
  • Shadow IT: Guest users may use their devices and applications when accessing organizational resources, creating a potential security risk. Companies should set up guidelines and protocols for handling visitor devices and software, such as mandating anti-malware software and limiting access to particular programs.
  • Credential Theft: Attackers may target guest user accounts seeking to steal credentials. Organizations should educate guest users on best practices for password management an advanced security features such as passwordless authentication or conditional access policies. 
  • Data leakage: Guest users may inadvertently expose sensitive data by saving it to unsecured cloud storage services or sending it over unencrypted email. Organizations should provide guest users with guidelines on handling sensitive data and enforce data loss prevention (DLP) policies to prevent accidental exposure.

The Microsoft 365 Scope, designed for access reviews involving guest users, empowers organizations to periodically assess access granted to resources in their Microsoft 365 framework. With the Microsoft 365 Scope for guest access reviews, organizations scrutinize guest user access to specific resources (SharePoint sites or Teams).

This feature is accessible through the Azure AD Premium P2 and Microsoft 365 E5 licensing plans. To initiate an access review campaign for guest users, organizations can use Azure AD Access Review, tailoring the campaign to specific guest user groups or resources. Designated reviewers assess access for each guest user, reviewing a list of guest users and their corresponding access rights. Following the review, the organization implement decisions made by reviewers, such as revoking access for guest users no longer requiring it.

The Microsoft 365 Scope for guest access review oversees user access to Microsoft 365 resources. It ensures access is granted only for tasks necessitated by guest users. Azure AD access reviews for guest users extend to Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups, covering all groups with guest users, eliminating the need for individual access reviews for each group, and providing automatic coverage for existing and newly created groups in the environment.

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Create an Access Review

Employees’ and visitors’ access to groups and applications is subject to change. Administrators can create access reviews for group members or application access using Azure AD, which lowers the risk associated with stale access assignments.

If the Global or User administrator activates the setting through the Access Reviews Settings pane, Microsoft 365 and Security group owners can also use Azure AD to create access reviews for group members.

The following examples are a specific scenario for Microsoft 365 groups for guest users:

Review Type

  • What to Review: Select Teams + Groups
  • Review scope: All Microsoft 365 groups with guest users
  • Group: Not needed in this scenario
  • Scope: Guest users only
  • Group: Select a dynamic security group that contains a list of all the Guests in your company. 
  • Inactive users: When guests didn’t sign in either interactively / non-interactively.


  • Select reviewers: The owner or group who decides on the access reviews. 
  • Duration: How long a review is open for input from reviewers. 
  • Review recurrence: The duration recurrence sets to the aggregate of the period of days. 
  • Start date: Choose start date. 
  • End: Choose end date.


  • Review recurrence: Repeat reviews at every chosen time. 
  • Select reviewers: Users review their access. Each guest self-reviews and decides if they still need access. 
  • Group owners: This option is only available when you review a team or group.

Admins employ a multi-stage review by assigning two or three sets of reviewers consecutively. In contrast to one-stage reviews, where decisions are simultaneous, multi-stage reviews involve separate groups making decisions in each stage, with progression contingent on completing the preceding stage’s findings. This approach eases the workload across stages, supports reviewer escalation, and enables independent groups to reach consensus on judgments.


  • Auto-apply results to resource: Select if you want access to denied users removed automatically after the review duration ends. If the option is disabled,  manually apply the results when the review finishes. 
  • If reviewers don’t respond: Use this option to specify what happens for users not reviewed by any reviewer within the review period. This setting doesn’t affect users whom a reviewer reviewed. 
  • Action to apply on denied guest users: Block sign-in for 30 days and then remove a user from the tenant – this automates deleting the guest user’s Azure AD B2B account. 
  • No sign-in within 30 days: Not needed in this example. 
  • Justification: Allow you to capture why the guest still needs access. 
  • Email notifications: It  sends the email to the guests. 
  • Reminders: The system reminds the guests if no response.

If reviewers don’t respond: Use this option to specify what happens for users not reviewed by any reviewer within the review period. This setting doesn’t affect users whom a reviewer reviewed. The dropdown list shows the following options:

  • No change: Leaves a user’s access unchanged. 
  • Remove access: Removes a user’s access. 
  • Approve access: Approves a user’s access.

Once done, click on Review+Create, to confirm all settings.

Leveraging Azure AD Audit Data for Compliance and Reporting Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of digital security and compliance, prioritizing the integrity of organizational systems is crucial. The middle reveals Azure Access Review’s pivotal role in fortifying defences, extending beyond mere fortification to proactive leverage of Azure AD audit data for compliance and reporting requirements. In conclusion, the fusion of Azure Access Review’s tactical prowess and strategic insights from Azure AD audit logs empowers organizations, providing a dynamic compliance toolkit for resilience in evolving regulatory landscapes.


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Marion Mendoza

Marion Mendoza

Windows Server and VMware SME. Powershell Guru. Currently working with Fortune 500 companies responsible for participating in 3rd level systems support across the enterprise. Acting as a Windows Server engineer and VMware Specialist.

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