Organizations in an increasingly digital world require secure and efficient methods to grant access to their on-premises applications. Microsoft Entra Application Proxy emerges as a valuable solution to address this challenge. This overview introduces the concept and importance of leveraging Microsoft Entra Application Proxy for secure on-premises application access.
The Microsoft Entra Application Proxy is a solution that ensures secure remote access to on-premises web applications. With a single sign-on to Microsoft Entra ID, users can access a wide range of applications, whether in the cloud or hosted on-premises, using an external URL.
This versatile tool can enable seamless remote access and single sign-on for various applications, including but not limited to Remote Desktop, SharePoint, Teams, analytics, and line-of-business (LOB) applications such as Tableau and Qlik.
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What is a single sign-on in Microsoft Entra ID?
Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication approach that allows users to log in with a single set of credentials across multiple software systems.
The choice of an SSO method is determined by how an application is set up for authentication. In the case of cloud applications, you can opt for federation-based solutions like OpenID Connect, OAuth, and SAML. Alternatively, the application might be configured to support password-based SSO, link-based SSO, or SSO functionality could be turned off entirely.
Features of Microsoft Entra Application Proxy
Microsoft Entra Application Proxy offers:
- User-Friendly: It provides a straightforward user experience, allowing users to access your on-premises applications like they access Microsoft 365 and other Microsoft Entra ID-integrated SaaS apps. No application modifications or updates are required.
- Enhanced Security: Your on-premises applications can leverage Azure’s robust authorization controls and security analytics. This includes features like Conditional Access and two-step verification. Notably, Application Proxy doesn’t require opening inbound connections through your firewall, enhancing security.
- Cost-Efficiency: Unlike traditional on-premises solutions that often demand the setup and maintenance of demilitarized zones (DMZs), edge servers, or complex infrastructure, Application Proxy operates in the cloud. This simplifies its use and eliminates the need to alter your network infrastructure or install additional appliances in your on-premises environment.
Components of Application Proxy
- Endpoint: The endpoint serves as a URL or an end-user portal for accessing applications. Users can access these applications from outside your network via an external URL. Meanwhile, the application can be reached through a URL or an end-user portal for users within your network. When users access these endpoints, they authenticate using Microsoft Entra ID and are directed through the connector to reach the on-premises application.
- Microsoft Entra ID: Microsoft Entra ID performs the authentication using the tenant directory stored in the cloud.
- Application Proxy service: The Application Proxy service operates in the cloud as an integral component of Microsoft Entra ID. It facilitates the transfer of the user’s sign-on token to the Application Proxy Connector. Additionally, the Application Proxy conveys any applicable request headers and adjusts the headers according to its protocol, linking them to the client’s IP address. If the incoming request to the proxy already contains that particular header, the client IP address is appended to the end of the comma-separated list, forming the header’s value.
- Application Proxy Connector: The connector is a lightweight agent designed to run on a Windows Server within your network. It serves as a mediator, handling communication between the Application Proxy service in the cloud and the on-premises application. Notably, the connector exclusively establishes outbound connections, eliminating the need to open inbound ports or position anything in the demilitarized zone (DMZ). These connectors operate statelessly and fetch required information from the cloud as needed.
- Active Directory (AD): Active Directory operates on-premises to authenticate domain accounts. In the case of a single sign-on configuration, the connector communicates with AD to handle any supplementary authentication processes as needed.
- On-premises application: Now, the user can access an on-premises application.
In the digital age, secure remote access to on-premises applications is essential for organizations to maintain productivity while ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of their data. It explores how Microsoft Entra Application Proxy provides a robust solution for securing remote access to on-premises applications. It highlights the importance of cybersecurity in today’s world and showcases how this technology can help organizations maintain the highest standards of security and compliance.
Drop a query if you have any questions regarding Microsoft Entra Application Proxy and we will get back to you quickly.
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1. How does Microsoft Entra Application Proxy enhance security?
ANS: – It enhances security by providing features like Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for user authentication. It also enforces pre-authentication of applications, protecting them from unauthorized access.
2. What types of applications can be accessed through the Microsoft Entra Application Proxy?
ANS: – Microsoft Entra Application Proxy can access a wide range of on-premises applications, including web applications, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and other Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA) applications.
3. Is Microsoft Entra Application Proxy suitable for small businesses?
ANS: – Yes, Microsoft Entra Application Proxy is scalable and can be used by businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can benefit from its security and remote access capabilities.
WRITTEN BY Sridhar Andavarapu
Sridhar works as a Research Associate at CloudThat. He is highly skilled in both frontend and backend with good practical knowledge of various skills like Python, Azure Services, AWS Services, and ReactJS. Sridhar is interested in sharing his knowledge with others for improving their skills too.