Modern businesses leverage data analytics through tools like Power BI for informed decisions, yet data security is a pressing concern. Self-service BI is popular but poses risks. Extracting data from operational systems and sharing reports can lead to vulnerabilities. Effective Power BI security practices include enforcing access controls, encrypting sensitive data, regular audits, and employee training to prevent data breaches and comply with regulations.

In this blog post, we look at some of the Power BI Security best practices that business can implement to secure their data.

Power BI Service architecture

Microsoft Power BI is a cutting-edge software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that operates seamlessly on the highly reliable and secure Azure cloud computing platform. The architecture of the Power BI service revolves around two key clusters: The Web Front End (WFE) cluster and the Back-End cluster. These clusters form the backbone of the Power BI service, working in tandem to deliver a seamless and efficient user experience. Let’s delve deeper into the intricacies of these clusters and understand their roles in the Power BI ecosystem.

The WFE cluster plays a crucial role in overseeing the initial connection and authentication process to the Power BI service. Once successfully authenticated, the Back-End takes charge of managing all subsequent user interactions. Power BI leverages the robust capabilities of Azure Active Directory (AAD) for the secure storage and efficient management of user identities. These identities are stored in Azure Blob, ensuring a reliable and scalable solution. Additionally, Power BI effectively handles the storage of data and metadata by utilizing Azure SQL Database. To ensure utmost security, encryption at rest is employed, allowing users to bring their own encryption key for enhanced control and protection.

Furthermore, Power BI effectively utilizes the Azure Traffic Manager (ATM) to optimize traffic routing. By leveraging the DNS record of the client, Power BI intelligently directs users to the nearest Web Front End (WFE) for seamless authentication and efficient retrieval of static content and files. Power BI leverages the robust Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) to seamlessly and optimally disseminate essential static content and files to users, taking into account their specific geographical location.

Power BI Security best practices

Use Azure AD Conditional Access for User Authentication

The authentication process in Power BI is effectively managed and regulated by the robust Azure Active Directory (AAD) system. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform leverages the customer’s unique login credentials in order to provide seamless access to the desired resource. To access the Power BI platform, users are required to log in using the email address associated with their Power BI account.

When utilizing Power BI, your login email serves as your designated username, seamlessly transmitted to resources each time you endeavor to establish connections with various data sources. The username is effectively linked to the User Principal Name (UPN) and subsequently authenticated through a Windows domain account.

The utilization of Azure AD Conditional Access enables the acquisition of additional levels of security pertaining to access authentication. In addition, it is possible to incorporate best practices, which encompass: Multi-factor authentication (MFA), Restrict access from specific Operating Systems, untrusted locations and individual utilizing mobile devices.

Set up user permissions

Workspace: Within a Workspace, users have the option to assume one of four distinct access roles: Admin, Member, Contributor, or Viewer. These roles serve as essential designations that determine the level of permissions and responsibilities granted to individuals within the Workspace environment. By assigning these roles strategically, Workspace administrators can effectively manage and control the flow of information and collaboration within their respective Workspaces. The Viewer role, carefully crafted to cater to the needs of end-users, offers the lowest level of privileges. Its primary purpose is to grant users the ability to access and view reports effortlessly. Users who possess Workspace View Access have the ability to effortlessly access and explore any reports that reside within the designated Workspace. Later in this article, we will delve into an exceptional case that deviates from the aforementioned rule.

Direct access /link: One alternative method for granting users report permission is to provide them with direct access to the report or send them a link to the report hosted in the Workspace. In this case, there is no need for Viewer permission on the Workspace, as the report access is provided through the link. By default, only users with the Workspace Admin and Member roles have the ability to share reports using this approach.

Power BI App: You have the option to publish all or a selected subset of reports from a Workspace to the Power BI App. Currently, there is a one-to-one relationship between a Workspace and an App. This means that each App can only host reports from one Workspace, and each Workspace can only publish reports to one App. Apps offer enhanced flexibility in managing user access, as the access of an App user is determined separately from the underlying Workspace. Report designers have the ability to incorporate supplementary navigation within the applications and install applications for end users within the Power BI service. By default, only users with the Workspace Admin and Member roles have the ability to publish reports into Apps.

These three methods for setting user permissions can be used together or separately. A general recommendation is to begin by clustering the themes of the report and categorizing users into groups based on their specific reporting needs. This will help in organizing the Workspaces & Apps accordingly.

Enable Row-Level Security (RLS)

Row Level Security (RLS) is a mechanism that is employed to limit the access of specific users to data at the row level. This enhanced level of security provides administrators with greater control over users’ access to data, allowing for more precise and detailed management. Row-level security allows administrators to exercise control over the specific rows or records that users or groups can access when they interact with a database allowing them to finely tune and precisely manage users’ access to critical data. This feature enables users with restricted access to securely view the database and execute queries, minimizing the potential risk of unintentionally exposing sensitive data.

Row-level security (RLS) allows you to publish a single report to your users while customizing the data exposure to cater to the unique requirements of each individual. Rather than making numerous reports with different information for different users, you can generate a single report that will only display the information that the currently logged-in user is authorized to view. Data access restrictions are implemented through the utilization of filters, which effectively limit the accessibility of data at the row level. These filters are established within designated roles, enabling precise control over data access.

In addition, Power BI Desktop offers a seamless experience for configuring Row-Level Security (RLS) across multiple data models imported into the platform. In addition, it is worth noting that Power BI offers the capability to configure Row Level Security on datasets that utilize Direct Query (DQ) functionality, such as SQL Server. This feature empowers users to enhance the security and privacy of their data by controlling access at a granular level.

Utilize Object-level security (OLS)

Object-level security functions by operating at the level of tables or columns, as opposed to individual rows. Object-level security is a security feature that enables the safeguarding of sensitive tables or columns from unauthorized access by report viewers. By utilizing the Object-level security, businesses can effectively restrict certain users from accessing sensitive information like customer credit card numbers, SSN/SIN, and other confidential data. From a user’s perspective without appropriate access privileges, the secured tables or columns are not visible or accessible. The process of generating OLS roles and authoring OLS rules in the Power BI dataset can be accomplished using Power BI Desktop and other tools that leverage the XMLA endpoint, such as Tabular Editor.

Restricted Sharing: Restrict the sharing of reports and dashboards exclusively to individuals who require access. It is imperative to refrain from publishing reports and dashboards to the general public or individuals who lack proper authorization.

Employ certified visuals

Power BI certified visuals refer to custom visuals available on AppSource that have successfully undergone comprehensive quality testing. Certified custom visuals are subjected to rigorous verification by Microsoft to ensure the presence of robust and high-performance code. Only custom visuals that have been certified are capable of being viewed in Export to PowerPoint mode and email subscriptions.

Classify report data according to business impact
Power BI sensitivity labels can be utilized to categorize data based on its level of business impact, distinguishing between high, medium, or low impact. The sharing of High Business Impact (HBI) data externally necessitates users to seek a policy exception. Data with a Low or Medium Business Impact (LBI/MBI) does not need special handling. The implementation of Power BI data sensitivity labels helps to enhance user awareness regarding security measures and proper sharing protocols for reports within and outside the organization.

Carryout Audit

Having knowledge of the individuals responsible for specific actions on items within your Power BI tenant is crucial for your organization to meet its requirements, such as regulatory compliance and records management. Power BI offers two options for tracking user activity: The Power BI activity log and the unified Office 365 audit log both provide a comprehensive record of Power BI auditing data. These logs allow you to access detailed information about all Power BI activities. The audit logs have a data retention period of 90 days. Therefore, it is recommended to store the data and generate reports using Power BI.

Utilize HTTPS: Employ the utilization of HTTPS protocol to establish an encrypted channel for secure communication between the client and the server. The implementation of this security measure guarantees the safeguarding of data against unauthorized interception and tampering.

Establish Password polices

Implement robust password policies to enforce the usage of strong passwords, thereby enhancing the security of user accounts by minimizing the likelihood of password guessing or cracking. It is highly recommended that users employ distinct passwords and changing them frequently.

User Training

Provide comprehensive information to your users regarding the significance of data security and the proper utilization of Power BI security features. Ensure that individuals have a clear understanding of the established policies and procedures pertaining to the access and utilization of reports and dashboards

Ensure Power BI is Up-to-Date

It is imperative to regularly update Power BI with the most recent security patches and updates. This practice guarantees that all identified vulnerabilities are addressed, thereby ensuring the security of your reports and dashboards.


Power BI ensures data security with Azure AD authentication, user permissions, Row-Level Security, and encryption. Best practices like restricted sharing, certified visuals, data classification, audits, HTTPS, password policies, user training, and updates enhance security, safeguarding valuable data in reports and dashboards.

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