What is risk?

Risk detections in Azure AD Identity Protection include any identified suspicious actions related to user accounts in the directory. Risk detections (both user and sign-in linked) contribute to the overall user risk score that is found in the Risky Users report.

Identity Protection provides organizations access to powerful resources to see and respond quickly to these suspicious actions.

Security overview showing risky users and sign-ins

Note

Identity Protection generates risk detections only when the correct credentials are used. If incorrect credentials are used on a sign-in, it does not represent risk of credential compromise.

Risk types and detection

Risk can be detected at the User and Sign-in level and two types of detection or calculation Real-time and Offline. Some risks are considered premium available to Azure AD Premium P2 customers only, while others are available to Free and Azure AD Premium P1 customers.

A sign-in risk represents the probability that a given authentication request isn't authorized by the identity owner. Risky activity can be detected for a user that isn't linked to a specific malicious sign-in but to the user itself.

Real-time detections may not show up in reporting for five to 10 minutes. Offline detections may not show up in reporting for 48 hours.

Note

Our system may detect that the risk event that contributed to the risk user risk score was a false positives or the user risk was remediated with policy enforcement such as completing multi-factor authentication or secure password change. Therefore our system will dismiss the risk state and a risk detail of “AI confirmed sign-in safe” will surface and it will no longer contribute to the user’s risk.

Premium detections

Premium detections are visible only to Azure AD Premium P2 customers. Customers without Azure AD Premium P2 licenses still receives the premium detections but they'll be titled "additional risk detected".

Sign-in risk

Premium sign-in risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Description
Atypical travel Offline This risk detection type identifies two sign-ins originating from geographically distant locations, where at least one of the locations may also be atypical for the user, given past behavior. Among several other factors, this machine learning algorithm takes into account the time between the two sign-ins and the time it would have taken for the user to travel from the first location to the second, indicating that a different user is using the same credentials.

The algorithm ignores obvious "false positives" contributing to the impossible travel conditions, such as VPNs and locations regularly used by other users in the organization. The system has an initial learning period of the earliest of 14 days or 10 logins, during which it learns a new user's sign-in behavior.
Anomalous Token Offline This detection indicates that there are abnormal characteristics in the token such as an unusual token lifetime or a token that is played from an unfamiliar location. This detection covers Session Tokens and Refresh Tokens.

NOTE: Anomalous token is tuned to incur more noise than other detections at the same risk level. This tradeoff is chosen to increase the likelihood of detecting replayed tokens that may otherwise go unnoticed. Because this is a high noise detection, there's a higher than normal chance that some of the sessions flagged by this detection are false positives. We recommend investigating the sessions flagged by this detection in the context of other sign-ins from the user. If the location, application, IP address, User Agent, or other characteristics are unexpected for the user, the tenant admin should consider this as an indicator of potential token replay.
Token Issuer Anomaly Offline This risk detection indicates the SAML token issuer for the associated SAML token is potentially compromised. The claims included in the token are unusual or match known attacker patterns.
Malware linked IP address Offline This risk detection type indicates sign-ins from IP addresses infected with malware that is known to actively communicate with a bot server. This detection is determined by correlating IP addresses of the user's device against IP addresses that were in contact with a bot server while the bot server was active.

This detection has been deprecated. Identity Protection will no longer generate new "Malware linked IP address" detections. Customers who currently have "Malware linked IP address" detections in their tenant will still be able to view, remediate, or dismiss them until the 90-day detection retention time is reached.
Suspicious browser Offline Suspicious browser detection indicates anomalous behavior based on suspicious sign-in activity across multiple tenants from different countries in the same browser.
Unfamiliar sign-in properties Real-time This risk detection type considers past sign-in history to look for anomalous sign-ins. The system stores information about previous sign-ins, and triggers a risk detection when a sign-in occurs with properties that are unfamiliar to the user. These properties can include IP, ASN, location, device, browser, and tenant IP subnet. Newly created users will be in "learning mode" period where the unfamiliar sign-in properties risk detection will be turned off while our algorithms learn the user's behavior. The learning mode duration is dynamic and depends on how much time it takes the algorithm to gather enough information about the user's sign-in patterns. The minimum duration is five days. A user can go back into learning mode after a long period of inactivity.

We also run this detection for basic authentication (or legacy protocols). Because these protocols don't have modern properties such as client ID, there's limited telemetry to reduce false positives. We recommend our customers to move to modern authentication.

Unfamiliar sign-in properties can be detected on both interactive and non-interactive sign-ins. When this detection is detected on non-interactive sign-ins, it deserves increased scrutiny due to the risk of token replay attacks.
Malicious IP address Offline This detection indicates sign-in from a malicious IP address. An IP address is considered malicious based on high failure rates because of invalid credentials received from the IP address or other IP reputation sources.
Suspicious inbox manipulation rules Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection profiles your environment and triggers alerts when suspicious rules that delete or move messages or folders are set on a user's inbox. This detection may indicate that the user's account is compromised, that messages are being intentionally hidden, and that the mailbox is being used to distribute spam or malware in your organization.
Password spray Offline A password spray attack is where multiple usernames are attacked using common passwords in a unified brute force manner to gain unauthorized access. This risk detection is triggered when a password spray attack has been performed.
Impossible travel Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection identifies two user activities (is a single or multiple sessions) originating from geographically distant locations within a time period shorter than the time it would have taken the user to travel from the first location to the second, indicating that a different user is using the same credentials.
New country Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection considers past activity locations to determine new and infrequent locations. The anomaly detection engine stores information about previous locations used by users in the organization.
Activity from anonymous IP address Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection identifies that users were active from an IP address that has been identified as an anonymous proxy IP address.
Suspicious inbox forwarding Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection looks for suspicious email forwarding rules, for example, if a user created an inbox rule that forwards a copy of all emails to an external address.
Mass Access to Sensitive Files Offline This detection is discovered by Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. This detection profiles your environment and triggers alerts when users access multiple files from Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft OneDrive. An alert is triggered only if the number of accessed files is uncommon for the user and the files might contain sensitive information

Nonpremium sign-in risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Description
Additional risk detected Real-time or Offline This detection indicates that one of the premium detections was detected. Since the premium detections are visible only to Azure AD Premium P2 customers, they're titled "additional risk detected" for customers without Azure AD Premium P2 licenses.
Anonymous IP address Real-time This risk detection type indicates sign-ins from an anonymous IP address (for example, Tor browser or anonymous VPN). These IP addresses are typically used by actors who want to hide their login telemetry (IP address, location, device, and so on) for potentially malicious intent.
Admin confirmed user compromised Offline This detection indicates an admin has selected 'Confirm user compromised' in the Risky users UI or using riskyUsers API. To see which admin has confirmed this user compromised, check the user's risk history (via UI or API).
Azure AD threat intelligence Offline This risk detection type indicates user activity that is unusual for the given user or is consistent with known attack patterns based on Microsoft's internal and external threat intelligence sources.

User-linked detections

Premium user risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Description
Possible attempt to access Primary Refresh Token (PRT) Offline This risk detection type is detected by Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDE). A Primary Refresh Token (PRT) is a key artifact of Azure AD authentication on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, and later versions, iOS, and Android devices. A PRT is a JSON Web Token (JWT) that's specially issued to Microsoft first-party token brokers to enable single sign-on (SSO) across the applications used on those devices. Attackers can attempt to access this resource to move laterally into an organization or perform credential theft. This detection will move users to high risk and will only fire in organizations that have deployed MDE. This detection is low-volume and will be seen infrequently by most organizations. However, when it does occur it's high risk and users should be remediated.

Nonpremium user risk detections

Risk detection Detection type Description
Additional risk detected Real-time or Offline This detection indicates that one of the premium detections was detected. Since the premium detections are visible only to Azure AD Premium P2 customers, they're titled "additional risk detected" for customers without Azure AD Premium P2 licenses.
Leaked credentials Offline This risk detection type indicates that the user's valid credentials have been leaked. When cybercriminals compromise valid passwords of legitimate users, they often share those credentials. This sharing is typically done by posting publicly on the dark web, paste sites, or by trading and selling the credentials on the black market. When the Microsoft leaked credentials service acquires user credentials from the dark web, paste sites, or other sources, they're checked against Azure AD users' current valid credentials to find valid matches. For more information about leaked credentials, see Common questions.
Azure AD threat intelligence Offline This risk detection type indicates user activity that is unusual for the given user or is consistent with known attack patterns based on Microsoft's internal and external threat intelligence sources.

Common questions

Risk levels

Identity Protection categorizes risk into three tiers: low, medium, and high. When configuring custom Identity protection policies, you can also configure it to trigger upon No risk level. No Risk means there's no active indication that the user's identity has been compromised.

While Microsoft doesn't provide specific details about how risk is calculated, we'll say that each level brings higher confidence that the user or sign-in is compromised. For example, something like one instance of unfamiliar sign-in properties for a user might not be as threatening as leaked credentials for another user.

Password hash synchronization

Risk detections like leaked credentials require the presence of password hashes for detection to occur. For more information about password hash synchronization, see the article, Implement password hash synchronization with Azure AD Connect sync.

Why are there risk detections generated for disabled user accounts?

Disabled user accounts can be re-enabled. If the credentials of a disabled account are compromised, and the account gets re-enabled, bad actors might use those credentials to gain access. That is why, Identity Protection generates risk detections for suspicious activities against disabled user accounts to alert customers about potential account compromise. If an account is no longer in use and wont be re-enabled, customers should consider deleting it to prevent compromise. No risk detections are generated for deleted accounts.

Leaked credentials

Where does Microsoft find leaked credentials?

Microsoft finds leaked credentials in various places, including:

  • Public paste sites such as pastebin.com and paste.ca where bad actors typically post such material. This location is most bad actors' first stop on their hunt to find stolen credentials.
  • Law enforcement agencies.
  • Other groups at Microsoft doing dark web research.

Why am I not seeing any leaked credentials?

Leaked credentials are processed anytime Microsoft finds a new, publicly available batch. Because of the sensitive nature, the leaked credentials are deleted shortly after processing. Only new leaked credentials found after you enable password hash synchronization (PHS) will be processed against your tenant. Verifying against previously found credential pairs isn't done.

I have not seen any leaked credential risk events for quite some time?

If you haven't seen any leaked credential risk events, it is because of the following reasons:

  • You don't have PHS enabled for your tenant.
  • Microsoft has not found any leaked credential pairs that match your users.

How often does Microsoft process new credentials?

Credentials are processed immediately after they have been found, normally in multiple batches per day.

Locations

Location in risk detections is determined by IP address lookup.

Next steps