Building secure applications: Key insights on authentication and authorization from Cerbos and Microsoft Entra

Published by Martin Gjoshevski & Alex Olivier on April 03, 2024
Building secure applications: Key insights on authentication and authorization from Cerbos and Microsoft Entra

Understanding the critical roles of authentication and authorization is essential in safeguarding data and ensuring system security across various software applications. Our latest collaborative effort between Cerbos and Microsoft sheds light on these critical components, focusing on the powerful synergy between Microsoft Entra External ID and Cerbos for securing applications. This blog post, authored by Martin Gjoshevski, Senior Customer Engineer at Microsoft, and Alex Olivier, Chief Product Officer from Cerbos, a Microsoft Partner, serves as a primer to the indispensable roles played by authentication (AuthN) and authorization (AuthZ), offering insights into their distinct functions and the necessity for a comprehensive security strategy.

Read full article on Microsoft's blog

At the heart of this piece is the differentiation between authentication and authorization - two terms often intertwined but fundamentally different in their roles within cybersecurity. Authentication verifies user identity, acting as the first line of defense against unauthorized access. Authorization, on the other hand, determines what an authenticated user is allowed to do, thereby controlling access to resources and data. This blog post, the first in a series of three, delves into the intricacies of choosing the right authorization approach, exploring both coupled and decoupled AuthN and AuthZ models. It provides a foundational understanding for developers and IT professionals on structuring their security protocols effectively.

Importance of navigating authentication and authorization

Understanding the nuances of authentication and authorization is paramount for anyone involved in software development and cybersecurity. The collaboration between Cerbos and Microsoft illustrates not only the theoretical underpinnings but also practical considerations in selecting and implementing these security measures. The blog offers a comprehensive guide to navigating the complexities of AuthN and AuthZ, making it an essential read for developers looking to bolster their applications' security.

To dive deeper into the intricacies of authentication and authorization and to understand how Microsoft Entra External ID and Cerbos can be leveraged to secure your applications, we highly encourage reading the full article on Microsoft's blog. This will equip you with a thorough understanding and practical insights into integrating these solutions into your security framework.

Key takeaways

  • Authentication and authorization, while often used interchangeably, serve distinct and critical roles in cybersecurity.
  • Choosing the right authorization approach, whether it's RBAC, ABAC, or a policy-based model, depends on the specific needs and structure of your application.
  • Selecting between coupled or decoupled AuthN and AuthZ for your application depends on various factors, such as size, complexity, and nature of the application, security requirements, and so on.
  • The synergy between Microsoft Entra External ID and Cerbos offers a robust framework for implementing both authentication and authorization, providing flexibility, scalability, and enhanced security for applications.

Stay connected

For those eager to explore Cerbos and its capabilities further, we invite you to try out Cerbos Hub and book a meeting for a more detailed discussion by clicking the buttons below. For a comprehensive exploration of the topics discussed and more insights into authentication and authorization, make sure to read the full article on Microsoft's blog.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of our series, where we'll guide you through the process of integrating Microsoft Entra External ID with Cerbos. We'll delve into how External ID empowers SaaS applications to seamlessly federate identities from a multitude of identity providers, and how Cerbos enhances this ecosystem by facilitating the definition and enforcement of fine-grained authorization policies within applications. 


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