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A Practical Guide to Achieving Microsoft Azure Security Best Practices

Microsoft Azure and other IaaS are experiencing an increase in adoption, and this has prompted the surge in attempted security breach. While Microsoft has put in place mechanisms to secure Azure enterprise subscriptions, Azure users also have to abide by certain best practices to say secure.

The onus of security falls on Azure Security Center. However, Azure users need to be at the top of their games to ensure they get the best out of Azure Security Center. In line with this, the following are security best practices to stay alert, secure and safe;

Extend Focus Beyond VMs

The entire Azure estate needs security attention. Of course, due to the importance of the VMs, more attention is given to it. If it were 3 or 4 years ago, no one would bother about storage and databases. However, the security ecosystem is beyond what it was then.

Today, SQL databases and storage accounts are as relevant as the VMs. All cloud resources now deserve equal attention as the adversary is far more interested in the weak link. However, giving protection to storage and databases is expensive. Nonetheless, when the loss attributable to a data breach is considered, extending security to the entire architecture is worth every investment.

Define a Policy Around Remediation

Despite the strategic role of Azure Security Center in compliance and evaluation of security with the Azure environment, there’s little that can be done expect the users have well-defined security policies.

It falls on businesses to make good use of the tools provided by the Azure Security Center in monitoring and regulation. Proper use of the security center to ensure that every account has the right policies in place. More importantly, leveraging automated tools to stay abreast of any breach should be given attention.

In all of this, businesses must have a protocol for remediation in place. This will help know which step to take in the event of any action and inaction.

Disable RDP, SSH, and Telnet (Port 23)

Don’t leave your network security groups vulnerable. Start with RDP, when it has access to the internet, attackers can easily employ any form of brute-force technique to gain access to the VMs. So also is your SSH, when access is obtained, it will serve as the launch point to other VMs.

Unrestricted access should also be disallowed on your network groups. Ensure that access to TCP 23 is only granted to IPs that requires it. In all of these three, work on the principle of least privilege to ensure you are staying safe at all times.

Remember, your network security groups hold the entry point to attack your Azure resources. With this in place, Azure’s Just in Time Protection will be at its best.

Make Good Use of Azure Security Center

The functionality of Azure Security Center is built around delivering all-round security for your virtual machines. There are no other mechanisms best suitable for managing and maintain your virtual machine outside of the Azure Security Center.

Through the Azure Security Center, you can have clear visibility of every primary event surrounding the utilization of VMs. Since it is built on Linux and Windows virtual machines, spotting configuration mismatches does not come as a burden.

That’s not to neglect the alerts generated by the Azure Security Center, which provides real-time information for the development team to react.

Adopt Consistent Security Policies Across Multiple Clouds

It’s not strange for customers with native security products to utilize more than a single cloud. However, when this scenario plays out, the consistency of security policies must be maintained across all the multiple clouds.

Remember, public cloud vendors approach security differently; this could put you at risk if not aligned. From threat detection and response perspective, it is vital that similar policies are maintained.

This is now made easier with the new features and capabilities of the Azure Security Center.

Final Words

With the year over year increase in attacks on cloud services, businesses must maintain the highest form of security to prevent data breaches. It is essential to state that there are other security practices needed for Microsoft Azure. This includes establishing log analysis rules, enabling multifactor authentication, and more.

However, these five security best practices should be the starting point of your efforts to maintain a safe and secure Microsoft Azure environment. In the end, further efforts can be made to implement other forms of security measure.



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