YubiKey Lifecycle Management Best Practices with Microsoft Azure AD Passwordless

Deploying phishing-resistant authentication is an important decision for the enterprise. It provides users with strong authentication that protects them from phishing attacks. In addition, the user experience can also be friendly, easy to use, simple, durable, and elegant. These are the advantages of the YubiKey as an authenticator for the enterprise. YubiKeys have been around for a few years now, and are the authenticator of choice for tech giants and companies big and small across all industries.  Microsoft Entra is the new product family that encompasses all of Microsoft’s identity and access capabilities. The Entra family includes Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), as well as two new product categories: Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) and decentralized identity. When YubiKeys are combined with Microsoft Azure AD, they really shine, providing a great user experience and state-of-the-art security that enables companies to achieve the highest levels of assurance on the authentication front.


In addition to weaker MFA methods, Microsoft Azure also provides several YubiKey compatible phishing-resistant authentication options, such as FIDO2 and smart card (PIV), enabling enterprises to achieve the highest known levels of security. Even so, such deployments must be properly configured with appropriate lifecycle management techniques and sound organizational policies, to maximize effectiveness and ensure employees do not fall back to weaker options which re-introduce familiar attack vectors.


The process of deploying phishing-resistant authentication using YubiKeys with Microsoft Azure AD is simple from a technical standpoint, and it can be carried out in a very efficient way when the necessary planning is done and the required lifecycle management processes are defined and implemented. This includes user training, creation of guides and communications materials, distribution logistic plans, help desk scripts and instructions, etc. This article touches on several aspects of the lifecycle management process and is intended to provide the reader with a high-level overview of the best practices for deploying phishing-resistant authentication with YubiKeys.  


The following diagram illustrates the main areas of the YubiKey phishing-resistant authentication lifecycle in a Microsoft Azure AD environment.




Attached below are four PDFs that provide a high level overview of the main points illustrated in the diagram above. These points are very closely related to the deployment process as discussed in the Forrester study “The Total Economic Impact Of Yubico YubiKeys”, where the main tasks are: YubiKey delivery, system/technology deployment, ongoing management and end-user training. The study uses Forrester’s Total Economic Impact method to assess the costs and benefits of using YubiKeys. Regarding costs, the study touches on the deployment process and highlights the associated costs. This document set focuses on the YubiKey lifecycle management best practices that help organizations manage those costs and keep them to a minimum in order to get the best return on the investment made by the organization.