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Azure AD Sync for Duo Users and Admins

Last Updated: September 7th, 2023

Learn how to synchronize Duo users and groups or Duo administrators from your existing Azure Active Directory (AAD) domain.

Overview

Import Duo Duo end-users or administrators directly from your Azure Active Directory (AAD) cloud service into Duo with Duo Security's Directory Sync feature.

Duo Directory Sync is a one-way operation. No information from Duo is imported into your user directory.

Scheduled user synchronization of your full directory runs twice a day, and runs every 30 minutes for administrators. Run either type of full sync on-demand from the Duo Admin Panel. You can also run an individual user or administrator syncs on-demand from the Admin Panel or programmatically via Admin API.

The Directory Sync feature is part of the Duo Premier, Duo Advantage, and Duo Essentials plans.

Prerequisites

Before setting up Azure AD sync, ensure you have the following:

  • A supported Azure or Office 365 subscription. Duo supports importing users into Duo from Azure commercial and government tenants, but not from Azure GCC High tenants.
  • A designated Azure admin service account to use for authorizing the sync. This account needs the Azure Global Administrator role during Duo setup, but you can reduce the service account's role privileges later. This service account may or may not require Azure MFA for admins at login (learn more about the baseline MFA policy for Azure admins).
  • Azure AD groups populated with users to sync.
  • You must have the Owner, Administrator, or User Manager admin role to set up and manage directory sync of users into Duo. Duo Admin directory sync setup and management requires the Owner admin role.
  • An application where users sign in with an Azure AD UPN as their username.

Role required: Owner, Administrator, or User Manager.

Directory Sync Updates Existing Users

Before executing any directory synchronization with Duo, understand the effect that synchronization can have on accounts with the duplicate Duo usernames. Suppose that you already have some active Duo users, and one or more of these users have the same username in Azure. Performing a synchronization will cause the existing Duo users' information to be merged with, and in some cases overwritten by the Azure AD information, such as email addresses present in Duo changing to match the value stored in the synced directory.

Likewise, if you synchronize multiple directories and there are non-unique usernames among those directories, the net result is that there will be only one Duo user created with that username, and each sync will update that Duo user with different information.

Multiple directory syncs that use non-unique user names or the same selected groups may also produce undesired results, as each sync process could overwrite the user with different information or update the group memberships for a given user unexpectedly.

Set Up User Sync

Create or Choose a Connection for User Sync

To start setting up a user directory sync:

  1. Log in to the Duo Admin Panel.

  2. Locate Users in the left side bar and then click Directory Sync on the submenu or click the Directory Sync link on the "Users" page.

  3. Click the Add New Sync button and select Azure AD from the list.

  4. If this is the first Azure AD sync you've created for users or admins then you must first create a new connection to use for this sync. With Add new connection selected, click Continue to proceed to the next step.

    New Azure AD Sync Connection

    If you have previously created an Azure AD sync for users or administrators you can either create another new connection or reuse an existing connection to that directory for this new sync. User syncs and admin syncs can share connections to the same source directory.

    If you want to use an existing connection choose Reuse existing connection and use the drop-down to select one from the list, then click Continue.

    Reuse Azure AD Sync Connection

    You will not be asked to perform the Azure app authorization steps again. Instead, you'll proceed directly to the new sync's properties page, where you'll select groups to sync and configure the synced attributes.

  5. If you chose to add a new connection for this Azure AD user sync then after clicking Continue you'll be redirected to the Azure AD portal to authorize use of Duo Azure AD Sync in your tenant. Sign in with the designated Azure service administrator account that has the global administrator role for this Azure Active Directory. If required, complete Azure MFA for that service account admin user.

    Sign in to Azure

    Duo does not see or store your Azure Active Directory administrator credentials.

    If you are already signed into to the Azure portal as the Duo service account, you may not be prompted to log in again here.

  6. Once you've signed in to Azure, you must click Accept to grant Duo the read rights needed to import users from your Azure AD domain.

    Grant Azure Permissions
  7. Authorizing the Azure application redirects you back to the details page for your new Azure AD user directory sync in the Duo Admin Panel. The new directory's name defaults to your Azure AD's organization name. Click the Rename link if you'd like to change the directory sync's name to something different, clicking Save to apply the new name.

  8. The "Azure AD Connection" should show as Connected. If the page lists the wrong Azure AD domain and you need to authorize the connection with a user from a different Azure tenant, click the Reauthorize button to begin again.

    Azure AD Sync Connection with Connected Status

If the sync shows as "Connected" and the domain authorization information is correct, finish configuring the directory sync on this page with your selected Groups and Synced Attributes information.

Groups

Do not configure the same selected groups from your source directory in multiple Duo directory syncs. Each sync process may update the group memberships for a given user with undesirable effects on your configured custom application group policies, permitted groups restrictions, or administrative unit assignments.

Click in the Groups box and start typing an Azure AD group name; the list of available groups to sync returned will match the filter. If you have a very large number of groups in your Azure directory, Duo limits the search results to 100 groups, so you may need to type in most if your desired sync group's name to locate it.

If you don't see any of your groups listed, review the previous setup steps and correct your configuration.

Once you see your intended group (or a list of groups), click to select the desired group to sync. Repeat this until you've added all the groups you want to import. You can select up to 400 groups to sync from the source directory. Members of the groups you choose here will be synced as users into Duo.

Nested groups are supported; Duo sync imports users from groups nested within your sync group, but creates only the top level group in Duo (the group explicitly selected for directory sync), with all nested group members as direct members of that Duo group.

If you delete and recreate any of the Azure groups saved in the sync properties (even if you reused the same group name and members), then you'll need to return to the directory sync property page for your Azure domain on the Duo Admin Panel and delete the recreated group from your sync configuration, then re-add the group, and save the directory.

If you save the sync without selecting any groups, or if you remove all the groups selected from the sync config in the future, Duo pauses your scheduled sync upon detecting the missing information and updates the sync status to alert you that no groups have been selected. Correct the issue by selecting one or more groups to sync from the source directory and resuming scheduled synchronization.

Synced Attributes

Make changes here if you want to customize which Azure AD attribute values get imported to Duo. The Duo attributes that have default Azure AD attributes defined indicate those defaults as helper text. You can change these default attributes to custom attributes of your choice. Some Azure AD attributes have a different property name in Microsoft Graph that you may need to specify instead to use that attribute; see a list of Microsoft Graph property name differences here. Return to using the default attributes by clicking Revert all attributes to default.

You may customize the Azure AD source attributes for these Duo user properties:

Username

Required. The source attribute for the Duo username. The attribute selected should match the primary authentication login name your users submit to Duo. This attribute cannot be customized after the first directory synchronization occurs.

Default: userPrincipalName

Limitation: The onPremisesSamAccountName and onPremisesDistinguishedName Azure AD attributes aren't allowed as source attributes for the username. If your users log in to Duo-protected applications with those username formats, you can specify them as username alias source attributes to import them into Duo.

Normalize usernames

When creating a new user from Azure, Duo defaults to using the entire Azure userPrincipalName (UPN) as the Duo username (e.g. "narroway@example.onmicrsoft.com"). Enable the username normalization option to use only the unique username portion of the UPN as the Duo username ("narroway" in the example). This setting has no effect on username aliases, only the username.

If you enable this option after performing your first sync, the next sync updates all managed users to remove the UPN suffix from their usernames.

Specifying a different source attribute for Username removes the normalization option.

Note that you still need to specify the user's full UPN Azure username to perform a sync of individual users from the Admin Panel. The Duo username remains normalized.

Username Aliases

Specify up to eight directory attributes to import as additional usernames for each Duo user by clicking Add a username alias attribute, choosing which alias number to define, and entering the desired source attribute from your directory.

For example, if the Username source attribute is userPrincipalName and Username alias 1 is set to mail, then the resulting Duo user may log in with either username format while consuming a single Duo user license.

Be sure to choose directory attributes that have unique values (email address, employee ID, etc.). If any of the username or username alias attribute values is the same for two or more users, those users will be skipped by the sync process.

Unlike the Username, the attributes used for username aliases may be changed after the first directory synchronization.

Default: No aliases imported. Aliases may be defined manually from the Admin Panel or programmatically via Admin API on a per-user basis.

Full Name

Required. The user's name.

Default: displayName

Email

Required. The user's email address. This is used as the destination address for enrollment emails from Duo.

Default: mail

Notes

Additional information about the users.

Default: No notes imported. Notes information may be defined manually from the Admin Panel or programmatically via Admin API on a per-user basis.

Import phones

Enable this option if you want Directory Sync to create phones in Duo using your Azure AD users' Office Phone and Mobile Phone property values. Imported devices default to the "Generic Smartphone" platform. Directory sync does not send SMS activation messages to imported phones; see User Enrollment and Activation for activation steps.

If you enable both the Enrollment email and Import phones options, enrollment links are only sent to users with email addresses who do not have phone information populated in Azure AD.

Default: Import no phone information from Azure AD.

Primary phone

Required. Create a phone in Duo with the attribute value as the phone number, attached to the imported user as a generic smartphone 2FA device. Non-US numbers must be stored in Azure using the format +(country code)(phone number) e.g. +442079460316 for a United Kingdom phone number.

To import a landline with an extension, append x and the extension to the number stored in the source directory; +7345559876x123 when imported creates a landline with phone number 734-555-9876 and extension 123.

Only configurable if Import phones is selected.

Default: businessPhone

Secondary phone

Create a phone in Duo with the attribute value as the phone number, attached to the imported user as an additional generic smartphone 2FA device. Non-US numbers must be stored in Azure using the format +(country code)(phone number) e.g. +442079460316 for a United Kingdom phone number.

To import a landline with an extension, append x and the extension to the number stored in the source directory; +7345559876x123 when imported creates a landline with phone number 734-555-9876 and extension 123.

Only configurable if Import phones is selected.

Default: mobilePhone

Enrollment Email

Select the Enrollment Email option if you want imported users to automatically receive an enrollment link email when the sync process completes. Only users imported with active status, a valid email address, and who do not already have any enrolled authentication devices in Duo receive an emailed link. The email address is populated by Azure AD sync.

Default: Do not send enrollment emails to imported users.

The enrollment link sent when the sync first imports a user is valid for 30 days. Duo sends an emailed enrollment reminder if the user hasn't yet completed enrollment after two days, and then a second reminder if the user remains unenrolled eight days after the first reminder.

If the user does not complete the enrollment process after 30 days has elapsed, the original enrollment link expires and a new enrollment link is generated at the next sync and sent to the user. This entire 30 day cycle repeats until the user completes Duo enrollment.

The contents of the enrollment email subject and body can be changed on the global Settings page. The enrollment email body should contain the placeholder text "<enrollment-link>", which will be replaced by the link to the enrollment form when the email is sent. The sent message will have a non-editable header added, informing the user it's an automated message sent by Duo and to contact their organization's Duo admins or IT support group with any questions.

If your organization uses e-mail filtering, be sure to allow the sender no-reply@duosecurity.com.

Duo Premier and Duo Advantage Plan Users: Global Policy settings affect access to the enrollment portal. Do not apply any global restrictions that could prevent user enrollment. For example, if you configure the User Location policy setting to deny access to a country, then the policy will also block any of your users who attempt to enroll in Duo from that country via an emailed enrollment link. The New User Policy setting for the enrollment portal is always "Require Enrollment".

Finish User Sync Setup

Click Complete Setup to finish creating the new Azure AD sync in Duo.

The directory page shows the status as "Connected to Duo" and the "Sync status" indicates when the next scheduled sync will now that all directory configuration steps have been completed successfully. If you wish you can click the Sync Now button to perform the first import of users from your directory into Duo.

Configured Azure AD Directory Sync

Note that once you import users from Azure into Duo you may not change the Azure username source attribute, but you can enable or disable username normalization. See the FAQ for more information.

Reduce Privileges for the Service Account

When setup is complete you may edit the Duo service account in Azure that you used to authorize the Duo application to drop the account's role privileges to any role with lesser privileges. Once you've authorized the sync the account no longer requires the Global Administrator role.

User Enrollment and Activation

After importing users from your directory into Duo, your next step is to have them activate their devices for Duo authentication (if you chose not to send enrollment emails to synced users when creating your directory in Duo). On the Users page you'll see a notification bar indicating that users have not yet activated the Duo Mobile smartphone app. Click the link in the notification bar to begin the process of sending these users activation links via SMS message or email.

Activation Links

For more information on user activation, see Activating Duo Mobile After Enrollment.

If you did choose to send enrollment emails to synced users automatically, the Pending Enrollments table shows which users created by directory sync (or bulk enrollment) have not yet completed enrolling their 2FA devices in Duo, along with the user's email address and the expiration date for the enrollment link previously sent.

If you need to send a user another copy of the enrollment link email, click the Resend button on the right of that user's information, or click Resend All to send the email again to all users with outstanding enrollment links. Resending the email does not change the current enrollment link's expiration date and uses the same email address that was used when the original enrollment was sent.

Click Delete to remove a pending enrollment. Deleting a pending enrollment immediately invalidates any unexpired enrollment link previously sent to that user. The next time directory sync runs, a new enrollment link will be emailed to that users, as long as they remain a member of a synced group and the sync configuration still has the "Enrollment Email" option enabled.

Pending Enrollments

Manage User Sync

Role required: Owner, Administrator, or User Manager except where noted in the sections below.

Once configured, you can run manual syncs, update the sync settings, and perform other sync management operations.

To access your configured sync:

  1. Log in to the Duo Admin Panel. Locate Users in the left side bar and then click Directory Sync on the submenu or click the Directory Sync link on the "Users" page.

  2. The "Directory Sync" tab lists all your configured syncs and shows their type, scheduled sync status, and the time a full sync was last run. Select the sync you want to manage by clicking on its name in the list.

  3. Perform your management actions from the sync's properties page.

Perform a Full Sync

A full users directory sync runs automatically twice a day (at a set 12-hour interval chosen at random).

Perform a manual full sync of the users in your directory to Duo by clicking Sync Now in the "Sync Controls" section. This immediately imports all members of your selected AD groups into Duo, creating and updating users and groups as necessary.

When the full sync completes, you'll see a count of users and groups synced into Duo.

Cancel a Full Sync

If you need to cancel a full sync in progress then click the Cancel sync action that appears while the sync is running. This will stop the sync, but any user and group updates already applied by the sync before you canceled it remain in place.

We recommend running another full sync at the earliest opportunity to address any user or group inconsistencies from the canceled sync.

Sync Individual Users from the Duo Admin Panel

Role required: Owner, Administrator, User Manager, or Help Desk.

When you just need to import information for a few users from Azure AD you can interactively sync selected users instead of syncing the entire directory. For example, you may have some new employee accounts in Azure who need a corresponding Duo account, or you might have just disabled an Azure user and need that status carried over to Duo. Syncing these individual user accounts updates Duo immediately.

To sync individual users:

  1. Type up to 50 Azure user names as a comma-separated list into the Sync individual users text box found in the "Sync Controls" section on the directory's properties page. If you used userPrincipalName as the Duo username source attribute (the default), then you must enter each username in full UPN format, such as "narroway@example.onmicrosoft.com", even if you enabled username normalization in the sync configuration. If you used a different source attribute for the Duo username, you must type each username exactly as it is shown (or will be shown) in Duo i.e. if you opted to use mail as the username attribute, you must enter the values of the mail attribute as the usernames to sync.

    Additionally, individually synced users must be members of a group specified in your directory's sync configuration. If you try to sync an individual user who is not a member of a selected group then no update of that user occurs.

  2. Click the Sync Users button to import information about the specified user or users.

When initiated, the individual user sync verifies that each specified user is a member of a group currently synced with Duo and then imports information for that user into Duo. If a specified user doesn't already exist in Duo, the sync creates them using the information imported from the source directory. If you enabled the option to send enrollment emails and the new user has the email address attribute populated, then a new user created by the individual user sync receives an emailed enrollment link.

Individual user sync updates an existing specified user with information from the source directory. The sync can change attribute values (except the username), modify group memberships, or disable the user in Duo if they are disabled in the source directory.

If you include a specified user that is no longer a member of any group synced into Duo, then the sync marks the user for deletion.

In addition to syncing individual users by username from the directory's details page, you can also perform an individual sync on an existing Duo user by visiting that user's properties page in the Duo Admin Panel and clicking the Sync This User link at the top-right. If you enabled the "Normalize usernames" option when configuring the Azure sync in Duo, (so that the usernames don't include the Azure domain information) then user pages won't show the option to sync, and you'll need to visit the directory sync page to perform the individual sync as previously described.

Sync Single User

Individual User Sync using Admin API

Use the AdminAPI directory key from the "Directory Sync" section of the page to perform a sync operation on an individual user using Duo's Admin API.

Pause Directory Sync

Should you want to put your directory sync on hold to prevent it from making changes to your imported users, you can do so without removing your Azure AD configured sync from Duo. Use the pause functionality to stop scheduled syncs from running until you want to resume them.

To pause or resume synchronization of a directory:

  1. From the Directory Sync page click on the directory for which you want to pause or resume scheduled syncs to view its configuration page.

  2. Click the Pause automatic syncs or Resume automatic syncs action in the "Sync Status" section to perform the stated action. The sync status updates to reflect the effective state of the scheduled sync.

You can perform manual full and individual syncs at any time from the Admin Panel or via Admin API while the scheduled sync remains paused.

If your Azure AD sync has no selected groups in the configuration then we'll pause scheduled syncs right away and the sync's status will show an alert for no groups selected. Select a group or groups and save the change to resume the sync.

Sync Failure Notifications

Duo tracks failures of your scheduled directory synchronizations. We'll send a notification email to all Duo administrators with the Owner, Administrator, or User Manager roles after three (3) days of consecutive sync failures. If the failure persists, we'll send additional notification emails after seven (7) and 14 days. Duo will send a final email notification after 30 days of consecutive sync failures and pause the scheduled sync automatically.

Visit your Azure AD sync's page in the Admin Panel to correct the issues preventing sync success, or delete the directory sync if you no longer wish to use it.

To resume the paused sync after correcting any issues, click the Resume automatic syncs action in the "Sync status" section.

Update Sync Connection

To view or modify the connection used by a given Azure AD directory sync, view its properties in the Duo Admin Panel and click the Reauthorize button shown on the right side of an admin sync's properties page, in the "Azure AD Connection" information. Use a different Azure authorization user to change the connection.

Reauthorizing the Sync

If the Duo Sync application's authorization in Azure expires then scheduled syncs stop running. We'll automatically pause the scheduled sync and send an "Action required" email to all the Duo administrators with the "Owner" role to let them know.

When you visit your Azure directory sync configuration page in the Duo Admin Panel, the Azure AD Connection information on the right shows you the state of your directory connection.

If the status says "Could not connect to Azure: Reauthorization required", then click the Reauthorize button to repeat the authorization step you performed when you originally configured the sync. If the Azure account you'll use to reauthorize the sync had its privileges reduced after the first authorization, temporarily apply the Global Administrator role again before clicking Reauthorize.

You will need to manually resume scheduled syncs after completing reauthorization of the Duo Azure AD Sync application.

Delete Synced Directories

Deleting a directory sync from Duo doesn't delete or disable any of the previously imported objects. When you delete a synced directory from Duo, then the users, phones, and groups formerly managed by that sync remain available and get converted to unmanaged Duo objects that can be manually updated or deleted.

  • Users previously synced remain available and retain the status previously assigned, whether applied to the synced group or to the individual user. Any authentication devices associated with the user remain available. The users retain their former group memberships.

  • Groups previously synced remain available and retain the same members and status assigned when they were managed by the sync. The group name changes from Group name from type of sync "name of sync" to Group name (formerly from "name of sync").

  • Phones previously synced remain in Duo attached to the same users. Activation status remains unchanged.

When you delete a directory sync and the connection used by that sync is not used by any other sync you can optionally delete the connection at the same time.

To delete a synced directory, click the Delete Directory Sync link at the top-right of that sync's details page and confirm that you want to delete that directory. If this is the last or only directory sync using the associated connection and you don't want to delete that connection, be sure to uncheck the Delete connection box before clicking the Delete button (option not shown if the connection is used by another sync).

Delete a Directory Sync

Manage Synced Users and Groups

Update Synced User Information

User attributes synced from an external directory cannot be edited in Duo via the Admin Panel, Admin API, or CSV import. This always applies to the required attributes username, full name, email address, plus phone numbers (if you chose to import phones), and group memberships. Changes to these user attributes should be made in the external directory and then synced over to Duo.

You may edit Duo user properties that aren't synced from Azure via the Admin Panel, Admin API, or CSV import, including those that correspond with optional Azure AD sync attributes you chose not to import. However, if you update your Azure AD sync to begin importing values for a previously unconfigured optional attribute, the sync will overwrite any previously configured values with the information imported from Azure.

Examples:

  • You do not specify a source attribute for Notes when you create your Azure AD directory sync. The sync imports the username, email, and name from Azure, but imports no notes information. You can edit the "Notes" field for synced Duo users. but you may not edit the "Username", "Full Name", or "Email" properties for synced users.

  • You specify a source attribute for Username alias 1 but not for the remaining aliases. The sync imports values for "Username Alias 1" from Azure, and no other aliases. You can't edit "Username Alias 1" for a synced user, but you can edit additional aliases beyond the first.

  • You do not specify a source attribute for Username alias 1. The sync creates users with no aliases, and you manually add values for "Username Alias 1" to some Duo users from the Admin Panel. You update your configured Azure AD sync to add a source attribute for Username alias 1. The next sync updates the "Username Alias 1" value for all synced users to match the value in Azure, overwriting the aliases you added manually.

Bypass Status for Synced Users

Users synced from an external directory may have bypass status assigned individually or at the group level. See the Using Groups and User Status Administration documentation for more information.

Disabled Status for Synced Users

Admins can't disable individual Duo users managed by directory sync from the Duo Admin Panel, Admin API, or CSV import. Directory sync checks the user account status in the source directory and uses that information to determine whether the corresponding Duo account should remain enabled.

If a synced user account is disabled in the source directory, on the next sync Duo updates the user's status to "Disabled" but does not send that user to the Trash, and retains the user's group memberships. The user remains read-only, and cannot be manually enabled. Disabling a user invalidates existing remembered device sessions.

You can restore the disabled Duo account to active status by enabling the account in the source directory and running a sync.

You may disable a group of synced users by changing the status of that group to Disabled. This prevents any user who is a member of that group from logging in with Duo, regardless of that individual user's status. See the Using Groups and Group Status Administration documentation for more information.

Delete Synced Users

You may not delete a synced user from Duo as long as directory sync is actively managing that user. If a synced directory user is removed from all external directory groups that sync to Duo (or if the user account is deleted from the source directory), the user is sent to the Trash and marked as "Pending Deletion" at the next full directory sync or individual sync for that user, and the user can no longer authenticate to Duo. The user's properties are read-only and you are no longer billed for that user.

Locate users pending deletion in the Trash view, accessed by clicking the Trash count shown at the top of the Users page.

Users in Trash Pending Deletion

If the user marked for deletion is not reconnected to an external directory account via the sync within seven days the user is automatically deleted from Duo. The user's properties show the target date for deletion. A Duo admin can manually delete a synced user from the Trash via the Permanently Delete link at any time during those seven days.

User in Trash

Manage Synced Groups

Duo groups created by directory sync may only be managed by the sync. You can't change the group's members interactively from the Admin Panel interface, via CSV import, or programmatically with the Admin API.

To update the members of a sync-managed group, make the necessary changes in the source directory and import them into Duo by running a full or single-user sync.

Groups managed by Azure AD sync are identified as such in the Admin Panel and Admin API output. When viewing groups in the Admin Panel, you'll see from Azure Sync "name of sync" appended to the group's name or as the group's description. In Admin API output the sync information is appended to the group's name.

Group Managed by Azure Sync

You can have multiple syncs managing groups with the same name (such as a "Duo Users" group managed by AD sync and also a "Duo Users" group managed by Azure sync), or even a manually created "Duo Users" group not managed by any sync. Each sync-managed group only contains Duo user members managed by the same directory sync, and an unmanaged group can only contain users also not managed by any directory sync.

Removing a group from the directory's configuration in Duo marks any members of that group for deletion if they are not members of another synchronized group, and converts the group to unmanaged so it can be modified or deleted from the Duo Admin Panel or Admin API. Duo updates the group's name to indicate it was once managed by directory sync, changing from Group name from Azure Sync "name of sync" to Group name (formerly from "name of sync").

Frequently Asked Questions

Be sure to review frequently asked questions and answers before using Duo's Azure AD synchronization.

Troubleshooting

Need some help? Take a look at the Azure Directory Sync Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page or try searching our Azure Directory Sync Knowledge Base articles or Community discussions. For further assistance, contact Support.

On the details page of your Azure sync there is a Troubleshooting section under the "Sync Now" button. Here you'll find tips to help your sync run as intended. If you are still having issues and need to open a support case with Duo, you can click Sync Full Directory with Diagnostics to provide Duo Support with more information about your sync.

Additionally, a sync reference code is now provided on every sync. This will be included on every Azure sync event captured in the Administrator Actions Log, as well as within any emails Duo sends you about sync errors. Duo Support will request this code to locate logs associated with your sync.

Set Up Admin Sync

Role required: Owner.

Review the Prerequisites information before setting up Admin Directory Sync.

Directory Sync Updates Existing Admins

Before executing any Azure AD synchronization with Duo, understand the effect that synchronization can have on accounts with Duo admin duplicate email addresses. If you have some active Duo administrators, and one or more of these admins have the same email address attribute values in your Azure AD tenant, then performing a synchronization will cause the existing Duo admins' information to be merged with, and in some cases overwritten by the Azure AD information, such as names present in Duo changing to match the value stored in the synced directory.

If you synchronize multiple directories and there are non-unique email addresses among those directories, the net result is that there will be only one Duo admin created with that email address username. Only the sync that created the admin will be able to modify that admin, while additional syncs ignore it.

Create or Choose a Connection for Admin Sync

To start setting up an admin directory sync:

  1. Log in to the Duo Admin Panel.

  2. Navigate to Administrators in the left side bar and then click Admin Directory Sync on the submenu or click the Admin Directory Sync link on the "Administrators" page.

  3. Click the Add New Sync button and select Azure AD from the list.

  4. If this is the first Azure AD sync you've created for users or admins then you must first create a new connection to use for this sync. With Add new connection selected, click Continue to proceed to the next step.

    New Admin Azure AD Sync Connection

    If you have previously created an Azure AD sync for users or administrators you can either create another new connection or reuse an existing connection to that directory for this new sync. User syncs and admin syncs can share connections to the same source directory.

    If you want to use an existing connection choose Reuse existing connection and use the drop-down to select one from the list, then click Continue.

    Reuse Admin Azure AD Sync Connection

    You will not be asked to perform the Azure app authorization steps again. Instead, you'll proceed directly to the new sync's properties page, where you'll perform role mapping and configure the synced attributes.

  5. If you chose to add a new connection for this Azure AD admin sync then after clicking Continue you'll be redirected to the Azure AD portal to authorize use of Duo Azure AD Sync in your tenant. Sign in with the designated Azure service administrator account that has the global administrator role for this Azure Active Directory. If required, complete Azure MFA for that service account admin user.

    Sign in to Azure

    Duo does not see or store your Azure Active Directory administrator credentials.

    If you are already signed into to the Azure portal as the Duo service account, you may not be prompted to log in again here.

  6. Once you've signed in to Azure, you must click Accept to grant Duo the read rights needed to import admin users from your Azure AD domain.

    Grant Azure Permissions
  7. Authorizing the Azure application redirects you back to the details page for your new Azure AD admin directory sync in the Duo Admin Panel. The new directory's name defaults to your Azure AD's organization name. Click the Rename link if you'd like to change the directory sync's name to something different, clicking Save to apply the new name.

  8. The "Azure AD Connection" should show as Connected. If the page lists the wrong Azure AD domain and you need to authorize the connection with a user from a different Azure tenant, click the Reauthorize button to begin again.

    Azure AD Sync Connection with Connected Status

If the sync shows as "Connected" and the domain authorization information is correct, remain on the directory sync page to perform role mapping and configure the synced attributes.

Duo Roles and Azure AD Groups

Admin directory sync imports admins and assigns Duo admin roles to your imported Duo admins based on their membership in the groups you define for each admin role in your admin sync's properties.

Check the box next to each role you would like to assign via sync. For each selected role, click in the Select AD groups field and start typing a group name; the list of available groups to sync returned will match the filter. If you have a very large number of groups in your directory, Duo limits the search results to 100 groups, so you may need to type in most of your desired sync group's name or enter a complete DN for the group (like CN=Duo-Admins,OU=Groups,DC=domain,DC=local) to locate it.

If you don't see any of your groups listed, review the previous setup steps and correct your configuration.

Once you see a list of groups, click to select the desired group or groups to sync. Members of the groups you choose here will be synced into Duo as administrators, with their assigned admin role corresponding to the selected mapping. You can sync multiple groups to the same role, and admins who are members of subgroups of the selected groups will also be synced.

If an existing administrator has the same email as an administrator in your selected groups, that administrator will be taken over by sync.

If an admin is a member of multiple synced groups that are mapped to multiple roles, the admin will receive the higher level role, for example, a user who is a member of both a group you select for the Administrator role and a group you select for the Help Desk role receives the Administrator role.

The available roles are listed in descending order of role precedence from Administrator to Read-only on the admin sync page. Admin directory sync cannot create new admins with the Owner role, nor can it update existing Duo admins with the Owner role.

Nested groups are supported; Duo sync imports users from groups nested within your sync group, but creates only the top level group in Duo (the group explicitly selected for directory sync), with all nested group members as direct members of that Duo group.

If you delete and recreate any of the AD groups saved in the sync properties (even if you reused the same group name and members), then you'll need to return to the admin directory sync property page for your AD domain in the Duo Admin Panel and delete the recreated group from your sync's role-mapping selections, then re-add the group and save the directory.

If you save the sync without selecting any groups, or if you remove all the groups selected from the sync config in the future, Duo pauses your automatic syncs upon detecting the missing information and updates the sync status to alert you that no groups have been selected. Correct the issue by selecting one or more groups to sync from the source directory and resuming scheduled synchronization.

Admin Synced Attributes

Make changes here if you want to customize which Azure AD attribute values get imported to Duo. The Duo attributes that have default AD attributes defined indicate those defaults as helper text. You can change these default attributes to custom attributes of your choice. Return to using the default attributes by clicking Revert all attributes to default.

You may customize the AD source attributes for these Duo admin properties:

Email

Required. The admin's email address. The attribute selected should match the primary authentication login name your admins use to log in to the Duo Admin Panel. This attribute cannot be customized after the first directory synchronization occurs.

Default: userPrincipalName

Full Name

Required. The admin's name.

Default: displayName

Import phones

Enable this option if you want Directory Sync to import a phone for your admins. Imported devices default to the "Generic Smartphone" platform, capable of phone call and SMS messaging. Directory sync does not send SMS activation messages to imported admins; see Admin Activation for details.

If you enable both the Admin Activation and Import phones options, activation emails are only sent to admins with email addresses who do not have phone information populated in AD.

Default: Import no phone information from AD.

Phone

Required. Create a phone in Duo with the attribute value as the phone number, attached to the imported admin as a generic smartphone 2FA device. Directory sync will only add a phone number if the admin being synced does not already have one.

Non-US numbers must be stored in AD using the format +(country code)(phone number) e.g. +442079460316 for a United Kingdom phone number.

To import a landline with an extension, append x and the extension to the number stored in the source directory; +7345559876x123 when imported creates a landline with phone number 734-555-9876 and extension 123.

Only configurable if Import phones is selected.

Default: businessPhones

Communication Preferences

Use the "Communications Preferences" to determine what sync information is emailed to Duo Owner admins.

Choose one of these options in the Sync notifications section:

  • Every time an administrator change occurs: receive separate, immediate notifications whenever a sync creates, deletes, or updates an administrator.

  • Only if the sync stops working: receive an email only when a sync fails to run (default).

The Contact info setting lets you select certain Duo administrators with the Owner role to receive notifications. By default, Directory Sync sends notifications to all active admins with the Owner role.

Admin Activation

Select the Send activation emails to synced admins option in the "Admin Activation" section if you want imported admins to automatically receive an admin activation email with a link to set up a password and 2FA device. Emails are sent to the email address associated with the newly created admin.

The setup links contained in these emails are valid for seven (7) days. If the admin does not complete the setup process after seven days have elapsed, the original setup link expires and a new email is generated at the next sync and sent to the admin.

The pending admin setup link is displayed on an administrator’s page and can be directly provided to new admins. Admin activation emails can also be resent or pending admin activation links invalidated and recreated from the administrator’s details page.

Default: Send activation emails to imported admins.

If your organization uses e-mail filtering, be sure to allow the sender no-reply@duosecurity.com.

Finish Admin Sync Setup

Click Complete Setup to finish creating the new Azure AD admin sync in Duo.

Configured Admin Azure AD Directory Sync

The directory page shows the status as "Connected to Duo" and the "Sync status" indicates when the next automatic sync will run once all directory configuration steps have been completed successfully.

If you wish you can click the Sync Now button to perform the first import of admins from your directory into Duo. Whether you run your first sync immediately after setup or not, admin directory sync runs automatically around every 30 minutes. You can always return to the Duo Admin Panel to initiate a manual sync.

Note that once you import admins from Azure AD into Duo you may not change the Email source attribute.

Manage Admin Sync

Role required: Owner.

Once configured, you can run manual admin syncs, update the sync settings, and perform other sync management operations.

To access your configured admin sync:

  1. Log in to the Duo Admin Panel.

  2. Navigate to Administrators in the left side bar and then click Admin Directory Sync on the submenu or click the Admin Directory Sync link on the "Administrators" page.

  3. The "Directory Syncs" tab lists all your configured admin syncs and shows their type, automatic sync status, and the time a full sync was last run. Select the sync you want to manage by clicking on its name in the list.

  4. Perform your management actions from the admin sync's properties page.

Perform a Full Admin Sync

A full admin directory sync runs automatically every 30 minutes.

Perform a manual full sync of the admins in mapped admin groups in your directory to Duo by clicking Sync Now in the "Sync Controls" section. This immediately imports all members of your selected Azure AD groups into Duo, creating and updating admins as necessary.

When the full sync complete, you'll see a count of admins and groups synced into Duo. Note that the groups synced by an admin sync are only used for admin role mapping, and do not show up on the Groups page in the Duo Admin Panel.

Cancel a Full Admin Sync

If you need to cancel a full admin sync in progress then click the Cancel sync action that appears while the sync is running. This will stop the sync, but any admin updates already applied by the sync before you canceled it remain in place.

We recommend running another full sync at the earliest opportunity to address any inconsistencies from the canceled sync.

Sync Individual Admins from the Duo Admin Panel

When you just need to import information for a few admins from Azure AD you can interactively sync selected admins instead of syncing the entire directory. For example, you may have some new employee accounts in Azure AD who need a corresponding Duo admin account, or you might have just disabled an Azure user and need that status carried over to their administrator account in Duo. Syncing these individual admin accounts updates Duo immediately.

To sync individual admins:

  1. Type up to 50 email addresses as a comma-separated list into the Sync individual admins text box found in the "Sync Controls" section on the directory's properties page.

    Additionally, individually synced admins must be members of a group specified as a role group in the "Duo Roles and Azure AD Groups" section of your directory sync's configuration. If you try to sync an individual admin who is not a member of a synced group then no update of that admin occurs.

  2. Click the Sync Admins button to import information about the specified admin or admins.

When initiated, the individual admin sync verifies that each specified admin is a member of a group currently synced with Duo and then imports information for that admin into Duo. If a specified admin doesn't already exist in Duo, the sync creates them using the information imported from the source directory.

If you enabled the option to send activation emails then a new admin created by the individual admin sync receives an emailed activation link.

Individual admin sync updates an existing specified admin with information from the source directory. The sync can change attribute values, modify the assigned Duo admin role, or disable the admin in Duo if they are disabled in the source directory.

If you include a specified admin that is no longer a member of any group synced into Duo, then the sync marks the admin for deletion](#delete-synced-admins). Admins pending deletion will be deleted in seven (7) days. In that time, if the admin is re-added to a synced group, the admin will be restored.

In addition to syncing individual admins by email from the directory's details page, you can also perform an individual sync on an existing Duo admin by visiting that admin's properties page in the Duo Admin Panel and clicking the Sync This Admin link at the top-right.

Individual Admin Sync using Admin API

Use the AdminAPI directory key from the "Sync Controls" section of the page to perform a sync operation on an individual admin using Duo's Admin API.

Pause Admin Sync

Should you want to put your directory sync on hold to prevent it from making changes to your imported admins, you can do so without removing your Azure AD configured sync from Duo. Use the pause functionality to stop scheduled syncs from running until you want to resume them.

To pause or resume synchronization of a directory:

  1. From the Admin Directory Sync page click on the directory for which you want to pause or resume scheduled syncs to view its configuration page.

  2. Click the Pause automatic syncs or Resume automatic syncs action in the Directory Sync "Status" section to perform the stated action. The sync status updates to reflect the effective state of the scheduled sync.

You can perform manual full and individual syncs at any time from the Admin Panel or via Admin API while the scheduled sync remains paused.

If your admin sync has no mapped role groups in the configuration then we'll pause scheduled syncs right away and the admin sync's status will show an alert for no groups selected. Select a group or groups and save the change to resume the sync.

Sync Failure Notifications

Duo tracks failures of your automatic admin directory synchronizations. We'll send a notification email to the Duo Owners specified in the sync's Communication Preferences after one (1) day of consecutive sync failures. If the failure persists, we'll send additional notification emails after three (3). Duo will send a final email notification after seven (7) days of consecutive admin sync failures and pause the sync automatically.

Visit your admin sync's page in the Admin Panel to correct the issues preventing sync success, or delete the admin directory sync if you no longer wish to use it.

To resume the paused sync after correcting any issues, click the Resume automatic syncs action in the "Sync status" section.

Update Sync Connection

To view or modify the connection used by a given Azure AD admin directory sync, view its properties in the Duo Admin Panel and click the Reauthorize button shown on the right side of an admin sync's properties page, in the "Active Directory Connection" information. Use a different Azure authorization user to change the connection.

Reauthorizing the Sync

If the Duo Sync application's authorization in Azure expires then scheduled syncs stop running. We'll automatically pause the scheduled sync and send an "Action required" email to all the Duo administrators with the "Owner" role to let them know.

When you visit your Azure directory sync configuration page in the Duo Admin Panel, the Azure AD Connection information on the right shows you the state of your directory connection.

If the status says "Could not connect to Azure: Reauthorization required", then click the Reauthorize button to repeat the authorization step you performed when you originally configured the sync. If the Azure account you'll use to reauthorize the sync had its privileges reduced after the first authorization, temporarily apply the Global Administrator role again before clicking Reauthorize.

You will need to manually resume scheduled syncs after completing reauthorization of the Duo Azure AD Sync application.

Delete Admin Syncs

Deleting a directory sync from Duo doesn't delete or disable any of the previously imported objects. When you delete a an admin sync from Duo, then the admins formerly managed by that sync remain available and get converted to unmanaged Duo admins that can be manually updated or deleted.

  • Admins previously synced remain available and retain the status and role previously assigned.

  • Any 2FA methods associated with the admin remain available.

When you delete an admin directory sync and the connection used by that sync is not used by any other sync you can optionally delete the connection at the same time.

To delete an admin sync, click the Delete Directory Sync link at the top-right of that sync's details page and confirm that you want to delete that directory. If this is the last or only directory sync using the associated connection and you don't want to delete that connection, be sure to uncheck the Delete connection box before clicking the Delete button (option not shown if the connection is used by another sync).

Delete a Directory Sync

Manage Synced Admins

Update Synced Admin Information

Admin attributes synced from an external directory generally cannot be edited in Duo via the Admin Panel or Admin API. This applies to the attributes email, full name, role, and status. Changes to these attributes should be made in the external directory and then synced over to Duo.

You may edit Administrative units and 2FA devices, including phone numbers, for synced admins. Synced administrators may update their own password and 2FA devices from the "Edit Profile" page in the Duo Admin Panel.

Change a Synced Admin's Role

To update an admin’s assigned role, either update the admin’s group membership in your source directory to add the admin to a group which has been mapped to the desired role in the admin sync config, or modify the role-to-group mapping on the admin sync's details page to include the desired group.

To update a synced admin’s role to the Owner role, go to the properties page for that administrator and check the Upgrade to Owner checkbox in the "Role" section, and then click Save. This converts the synced admin to an unmanaged admin with the Owner role. Admins with the Owner role assigned in this manner cannot be managed or modified by Directory Sync, regardless of group membership.

Disabled Status for Synced Admins

Duo Owner admins can't disable individual Duo admins managed by directory sync from the Duo Admin Panel or Admin API. Directory sync checks the admin's user account status in the source directory and uses that information to determine whether the corresponding Duo admin should remain enabled.

If a synced admin is disabled in the source Azure AD, on the next sync Duo updates the user's status to "Disabled" but does not delete the admin. The Duo admin account remains read-only, and cannot be manually enabled.

You can restore the disabled Duo admin account to active status by enabling the account in the source directory and running a sync.

Delete Synced Admins

You may not delete a synced admin from Duo as long as directory sync is actively managing that admin. If a synced directory admin is removed from all external directory groups that sync to Duo (or if the admin's user account is deleted from the source directory), the admin is marked as "Pending Deletion" at the next sync, and the admin can no longer log in to the Duo Admin Panel.

View a list of admins pending deletion by navigating to the Administrators page in the Admin Panel and applying the "Pending Deletion" filter.

If the admin marked for deletion is not reconnected to an external directory account via the sync within seven (7) days, the admin is automatically deleted from Duo. The admin's properties show the target date for deletion. A Duo admin with the Owner role can manually delete a synced pending deletion admin via the Permanently Delete button at any time during those seven days. Synced Duo admins pending deletion can also be restored using the Restore Admin button, but will no longer be synced unless an account with the same email is added back to a synced admin group in the source directory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Be sure to review frequently asked questions and answers before using Duo's Azure AD synchronization for users or admins.

Troubleshooting

Need some help? Take a look at the Azure AD Sync Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page or try searching our Azure AD Sync Knowledge Base articles or Community discussions. For further assistance, contact Support.

On the details page of your directory sync there is a Troubleshooting section under the "Sync Now" button. Here you'll find tips to help your sync run as intended. If you are still having issues and need to open a support case with Duo, you can click Sync Directory with Diagnostics to provide Duo Support with more information about your sync.

Additionally, a sync reference code is now provided on every sync. This will be included on every directory sync event captured in the Administrator Actions Log, as well as within any emails Duo sends you about sync errors. Duo Support will request this code to locate logs associated with your sync.

Network Diagram

Azure Sync Network Diagram
  1. Duo requests directory information from Azure.
  2. Users and groups imported to Duo's service.