Microsoft Entra

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management: A Practical Guide

What Is Microsoft Entra Permissions Management? 

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management is a Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution designed to manage user permissions across Microsoft applications, Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and also third-party cloud providers and identity providers (IdPs). It is part of the Microsoft Entra suite of identity solutions, formerly known as Azure AD.

Microsoft Entra provides a centralized platform where administrators can manage access rights, enforce the principle of least privilege, and ensure compliance with organizational policies and industry regulations. This helps organizations minimize the risk of data breaches, unauthorized access, and other security incidents.

The platform also offers auditing and reporting capabilities, allowing organizations to keep a close eye on user activities and identify potential security risks.

In this article:

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management Features 

Here are some of the core capabilities of the Permissions Management platform in Microsoft Entra.

Automates the Principle of Least Privilege

According to the principle of least privilege, users should only have the minimum necessary permissions to perform their tasks. By automatically enforcing this principle, Entra Permissions Management reduces the risk of unauthorized access and reduces the administrative burden of managing permissions. 

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management lets you set up policies that automatically grant, modify, or revoke access rights based on predefined conditions. This ensures that users always have the appropriate level of access, and nothing more.

Unifies Cloud Access Policies

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management also allows you to unify cloud access policies across various platforms and services. This is particularly useful for organizations that use a mix of cloud solutions, as it ensures consistent access control across all services.

With unified cloud access policies, you can establish a single set of rules that apply to all cloud services and identity providers, making it easier to manage and enforce access control. Additionally, Microsoft Entra Permissions Management supports multi-factor authentication (MFA), further enhancing the security of your cloud resources.

Integration with Microsoft Defender for Cloud

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management integrates with Microsoft Defender for Cloud, offering an enhanced layer of security for cloud environments. This integration enables continuous monitoring and management of cloud entitlements, reducing the potential for security breaches caused by excessive permissions or configuration errors. 

By combining Entra Permissions Management and Defender for Cloud, organizations can better protect their cloud-native applications, including containers, microservices, and serverless applications, ensuring that access rights are strictly aligned with the necessary tasks and minimizing the attack surface.

Integrations with Third-Party Identity Providers

In addition to Microsoft services, Microsoft Entra supports integration with other identity management platforms, including AWS IAM Identity Center, Okta, and ServiceNow. This means you can manage permissions for these platforms directly from Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, providing a unified management experience across all your services.

Related content: Read our Microsoft Entra admin center (coming soon)

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management Use Cases

Here are some examples of how Microsoft Entra Permissions Management can be used to enhance security.

Evaluate Gap Between Permissions Granted and Permissions Used

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management can be used to assess permission risks by identifying over-privileged users. This helps reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

By monitoring user activities and comparing them with their assigned permissions, Microsoft Entra can identify instances where users have more access rights than they need. You can then take corrective action, such as revoking unnecessary permissions or adjusting the user’s role.

Right-Size Permissions Based on Usage and Just-In-Time Access

Right-sizing permissions means adjusting user access rights to ensure they align with their actual usage. With Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, you can monitor user activities, identify patterns, and adjust permissions accordingly. 

The platform also supports just-in-time permission granting, which allows you to temporarily grant additional permissions to users when needed. This can be particularly useful in situations where a user needs to perform a task that is outside their usual responsibilities.

Detect Anomalous Activities and Generate Detailed Forensic Reports

By analyzing user activities and comparing them with normal patterns, the platform can identify suspicious behavior and raise an alert. Microsoft Entra Permissions Management also provides detailed forensic reporting, allowing you to investigate security incidents thoroughly. 

These reports include information such as who accessed what resource, when, and from where, providing you with the insights you need to respond effectively to security incidents.

Using Microsoft Entra for Multi-Cloud Permission Management

One of the key capabilities of Microsoft Entra Permission Management is the ability to manage permissions across multiple clouds. Here is how this works for the three leading cloud providers: Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.

Microsoft Azure

To effectively manage permissions within Microsoft Azure through Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, organizations are required to onboard their Azure subscriptions. Upon successful onboarding, an application is created within the tenant. This application is granted ‘reader’ permissions across the subscriptions for general oversight and ‘User Access Administrator’ permissions for more granular control, such as creating and implementing right-sized roles.

The onboarding process has some prerequisites: 

  • The organization must have a Microsoft Entra user account and an Azure subscription. 
  • Specific permissions, like ‘Microsoft.Authorization/roleAssignments/write’, are required at either the subscription or management group level to perform the onboarding tasks.

There are three main options available for managing Azure subscriptions within Permissions Management:

  1. Automatically Manage: This option allows for the automatic detection and monitoring of Azure subscriptions, significantly reducing the administrative workload by automatically onboarding any current or future subscriptions discovered.
  2. Enter Authorization Systems: Organizations can choose to manage and monitor specific subscriptions by granting the ‘Reader’ role to the Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management application for each selected subscription.
  3. Select Authorization Systems: This method identifies all subscriptions accessible by the Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management application, offering a broad oversight capability.


For integrating Amazon Web Services (AWS) accounts with Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, several components across AWS and Azure need configuration prior to onboarding. This involves setting up a Microsoft Entra OIDC App, an AWS OIDC account, and optionally, AWS Management and Central logging accounts.

The onboarding procedure for AWS accounts in Permissions Management includes creating an OIDC app in Azure for secure communication, configuring an OIDC account in AWS, and setting up connections with AWS Management and Central logging accounts if necessary.

Three management options are offered for AWS accounts:

  1. Automatically Manage: Automatically detects and adds AWS accounts to the monitored list, simplifying the process for organizations by ensuring all current or future accounts are included without additional configuration.
  2. Enter Authorization Systems: Allows for the management and monitoring of specific AWS accounts by specifying up to 100 account IDs, providing flexibility in selecting which accounts to include in the Permissions Management scope.
  3. Select Authorization Systems: Detects all AWS accounts that can be accessed through the established OIDC role, offering a comprehensive overview of all accessible accounts.

Google Cloud

Integrating Google Cloud Platform (GCP) projects with Microsoft Entra Permissions Management involves a series of steps that configure the necessary components across GCP and Azure. 

The onboarding process includes creating a Microsoft Entra OIDC app and setting up a GCP OIDC project, among other steps, to establish a secure connection between GCP and Microsoft Entra Permissions Management.

As with other clouds, there are three main options for managing GCP projects within Permissions Management:

  1. Automatically Manage: Enables automatic detection and monitoring of GCP projects, simplifying the management process by ensuring all projects, current or future, are automatically onboarded and included in the monitoring scope.
  2. Enter Authorization Systems: Offers the flexibility to select specific GCP projects for management and monitoring, allowing organizations to specify up to 100 project IDs for inclusion in the Permissions Management framework.
  3. Select Authorization Systems: Identifies all GCP projects that can be accessed and managed through the established OIDC connection, providing a comprehensive view of all accessible projects.

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management Limitations 

While Microsoft Entra Permissions Management can be useful for managing access, it’s important to be aware of several limitations reported by users. These limitations were shared on the G2 platform.

Steep Learning Curve

Microsoft Entra offers advanced features, but these come with a significant learning curve. New users and even those familiar with Microsoft’s ecosystem may find it challenging to navigate and leverage the full suite of functions offered by the platform. 

This steep learning curve can lead to longer onboarding times for staff and may require additional training resources. It also has the potential to slow down the adoption of the tool within an organization.

Licensing Constraints

Another limitation that users encounter with Microsoft Entra Permissions Management is the licensing structure. Some advanced features that could be considered essential are locked behind additional paid licenses. This can be a barrier for organizations with limited budgets or those who are seeking a comprehensive solution without incurring extra costs.

Complex User Interface

Users have reported that the interface is complex and not intuitive, which contributes to the steep learning curve. This complexity is especially felt when users need to troubleshoot permissions issues. Navigating the UI to pinpoint problems can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating.

Slow Interface Speed Due to Security Restrictions

Some users have noted that the interface can be slow, particularly when security features are enabled. This slowdown is often due to the extensive security checks and audits that the platform performs in real-time to ensure compliance and safeguard against unauthorized access. 

High Costs

Microsoft Entra Permissions Management can be costly, especially for larger organizations with extensive cloud infrastructure. The expense includes not only the base licensing fees but also additional costs for advanced features and integrations with third-party services.

Frontegg: The Ultimate Microsoft Entra Alternative

While Microsoft Entra Permissions Management is a respected solution, some organizations find that it falls short in areas such as complexity and cost. Frontegg presents a compelling option with its emphasis on ease of use, comprehensive features, and scalability.

Frontegg provides features including:

  • Simplified user management: Frontegg provides a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process of managing user roles and permissions. Unlike Microsoft Entra, which has been criticized for its steep learning curve and complex user interface, Frontegg offers a more intuitive experience, which can significantly reduce the time required for onboarding and training.
  • Granular role and permission management: Frontegg allows for detailed and granular management of user roles and permissions. Administrators can define specific roles and assign precise permissions that align with organizational needs, while adhering to the principle of least privilege.
  • Integrated security features: Frontegg integrates essential security features such as single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). These features are easily managed through Frontegg’s centralized dashboard, providing a seamless way to monitor and enforce security protocols across the organization.
  • Customizable solution: Frontegg offers customizable plug-and-play components, including a login box that can be tailored to fit the specific needs of an organization’s front-end requirements. This flexibility allows for a more personalized user experience without the need for extensive development resources.
  • Cost-effective: While Microsoft Entra Permissions Management can become expensive, especially when factoring in additional licenses for advanced features, Frontegg provides a comprehensive suite of tools at a competitive price point.
  • Scalability: Frontegg is designed to scale with your organization. As your user base grows or your access control needs evolve, Frontegg can adapt to accommodate these changes seamlessly. This scalability ensures that you can continue to rely on Frontegg for user management, regardless of how your organizational needs expand over time.

For organizations seeking an alternative to Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, Frontegg offers a versatile, user-friendly, and cost-effective solution.


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