Jorge's Quest For Knowledge!

All About Identity And Security On-Premises And In The Cloud – It's Just Like An Addiction, The More You Have, The More You Want To Have!

(2019-10-29) Azure AD Password Protection (A.k.a. Banned Password List) – From Audit Mode To Enforce Mode (Part 7)

Posted by Jorge on 2019-10-29


If you are implementing this correctly, you should configure Azure AD with the banned words and set it initially to AUDIT MODE, install the Azure AD Password Protection Proxy Service on 1 or 2 member servers within the targeted/registered AD forest, install AD Password Protection DC Agent on all the writable DCs in the targeted/registered AD forest. At some point in time you need to move from AUDIT MODE to ENFORCE MODE, but when do you do that?

At its core Azure AD Password Protection will prevent the usage of specific passwords that use words from the global Microsoft list and the custom per tenant list and that have a score that’s lower than the threshold. Therefore putting it in ENFORCE MODE right will hurt your users! Why? If your users have the habit of using weak words and/or words related to your business (that are or end up on the banned lists), you need to educate and communicate to those users NOT to use weak (pass)words. The strength of a password is not related to the number of characters substituted by special or numeric characters. The strength of a password is related to the length of the password. Therefore “mYc00lco3p@ny!” is really not as strong as something like “I really like to w0rk at my cool company!”.

So, while running in AUDIT MODE and at the same time educating/communicating to your users, you already can get some statistics about what users are doing with their passwords when changed or reset (admin or self-service). All new passwords will go throw the password filter and be evaluated. If the password should be blocked, in AUDIT MODE it will not block the password but it will specify in the DC Agent Admin Log (“\Applications and Services Logs\Microsoft\AzureADPasswordProtection\DCAgent\Admin”) it would have been blocked in ENFORCE MODE. The user itself is not notified of such potential blocking. After having everything setup and up and running after a week or 2 or so, check the statistics. Compare the amount of “bad passwords” with the amount of “good passwords”. Your eyes will pop out when you see the results! So educate and communicate first! Do not for get to also inform your service desk(s) before moving to ENFORCE MODE

As soon as you move to ENFORCE MODE, it will impact any account in the AD forest that tries to change or reset the password when running in ENFORCE MODE. It will NOT have an impact on existing passwords! With impact I mean: if the provided password is not accepted by Azure AD Password Protection, it will block the user from using it and the user will be notified as such. Unfortunately, the user gets the default “Unable to update the password. The value provided for the new password does not meet the length, complexity, or history requirements of the domain” when updating the password through the GINA. The message may differ however, when using other intermediate systems/

One of the things that I have seen or heart when implementing Azure AD Password Protection, is that people want to understand why a password is not accepted. That is valid because with that in mind they can make a better choice for a new password. Following up that, you might hear something like: “can we publish somewhere which words we do not allow to be used in passwords?”. With this question in mind, please remember that it is not forbidden to use words on the global Microsoft list and/or the custom per tenant list. You just need to make sure the password with one or multiple words is accepted by the scoring algorithm (score of 5 or higher). For more information on that please check (2019-10-28) Azure AD Password Protection (A.k.a. Banned Password List) – Optimizing The Custom Per Tenant List (Part 6).

So to answer the question: “can we publish somewhere which words we do not allow to be used in passwords?”, the answer is: “yes, but it will not help you!”. Why? Because there are 2 lists! The custom per tenant list is managed by you and therefore known to you, but the global Microsoft list is managed by Microsoft and its contents is unknown to the outside world. Nevertheless, the blog post (2019-10-28) Azure AD Password Protection (A.k.a. Banned Password List) – Optimizing The Custom Per Tenant List (Part 6) does provide information on how to check if a password is blocked by the custom per tenant list or the global Microsoft list or both. In other words, there is no value in publishing your list, as it only tells you half of the truth. Nevertheless, you may of course decide different as you see fit.

Cheers,

Jorge

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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights!
Always evaluate/test everything yourself first before using/implementing this in production!
This is today’s opinion/technology, it might be different tomorrow and will definitely be different in 10 years!
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