In Microsoft Entra ID, there are two types of permissions that can be assigned to an application: delegated permissions and application permissions.

Let’s delve deeper into the differences between delegated permissions and application permissions in Microsoft Entra ID, outlining their key aspects and usage scenarios.

Delegated Permissions

These are permissions that are granted by users when they sign in and consent to an application. They are usually used when the application needs to act on behalf of a signed-in user.

Delegated permissions are limited to the scope of the signed-in user and are typically used for scenarios where the application needs to access or perform operations on behalf of the user.

For example, if an application needs to read a user’s profile information or access their email, it would request delegated permissions to do so. These permissions are only effective when a user is logged in and has consented to the application.

Application Permissions

These permissions are granted directly to the application and are not tied to a specific user. They allow the application to perform actions without a signed-in user.

Application permissions are typically used in scenarios where the application needs to access resources or perform operations that don’t require a specific user’s context.

For example, if an application needs to read data from all users’ calendars in an organization or manage users’ permissions within the directory, it would request application permissions.

Considerations

When configuring permissions for an application in Microsoft Entra ID, it’s important to understand the distinction between these two types. Delegated permissions are user-centric and limited by the scope of the user’s access, while application permissions are more about what the application itself can do independently of any specific user.

Security and Least Privilege

Delegated permissions offer a more granular and secure approach by limiting access based on user consent.

Application permissions, being broader in scope, should be carefully managed to ensure the principle of least privilege.

User Experience

Delegated permissions provide a seamless experience for users as they control and grant access during authentication.

Application permissions might require administrative consent and are not tied to a specific user’s actions.

Use-Case Alignment

Choosing between delegated and application permissions should align with the specific requirements of the application. Consider the nature of the tasks the application needs to perform and the level of access required.

Understanding these distinctions is crucial when designing applications that interact with Microsoft Entra ID. Balancing the need for access with security and user experience is key to implementing effective permission strategies within an Microsoft Entra ID environment.

You can find a detailed video showing all the settings with spoken commentary describing each configuration option in detail on my Patreon. By subscribing you also support my work. Thank you!