The Azure Cloud Security Framework: An Introduction

4 mins to read

If you’re using Azure, Microsoft recommends using their version of an azure cloud security framework, the Azure Well-Architected Framework, to manage and control your cloud environment. 

What exactly is the Well-Architected Framework and how does it work? Keep reading to learn the answers to those questions and find out what the framework can do for your Azure environment.

What is the Azure Well-Architected Framework?

The Well-Architected Framework is a set of best practices that you can use to improve the security and quality of your workloads in Azure.

Most cloud providers now offer architectural guidelines for customers. For example, Google promotes the Cloud Architecture Framework while Amazon promotes the AWS Well-Architected Framework that describes key concepts and design principles.

Truth be told, you don’t have to use Azure’s Well-Architected Framework. However, it’s a useful strategy that can help you avoid pitfalls and respond to evolving threats and requirements. For example, you can use Azure’s best practices to gain better visibility into data security or understand your ability to handle issues like sudden traffic spikes and application failure. 

What are the five pillars of Azure’s framework?

The Well-Architected Framework consists of five pillars, which we’ll examine in this section.

1. Cost optimization

Cost optimization involves managing expenses to maximize the value of your cloud computing environment. The cloud contains many hidden costs, so it’s necessary to keep a close watch if you want to stay under budget — especially when deploying cloud services at scale.

2. Operational excellence

Operational excellence is all about maintaining the operations and processes that keep your system running in production as designed, and automating deployments to reduce the likelihood of human error. By maintaining operational excellence, you can ensure deployments remain fast, predictable, and reliable. 

3. Performance efficiency 

Performance efficiency is your system’s ability to adapt to workload changes. For example, this may include a sudden spike in traffic. Or, you may need to accommodate new users in a different geographical area — like London or Jakarta.

4. Reliability

Reliability refers to your system’s ability to recover from unexpected failures. Since today’s users expect high availability, it is critical to build reliable systems that can recover rapidly from events.

5. Security

Security has to do with protecting applications, data, and identities from internal and external threats. The more secure your environment is, the safer your organization and customers are.

Why you need a robust security strategy

Since security is so important, we want to emphasize the fifth pillar of this framework and dig a little deeper. 

While the Azure platform contains the full support of Microsoft’s leading security services, Microsoft only provides platform and infrastructure security. The company relies on a shared responsibility model, which means that customers have to manage things like configurations, identity access, and data governance. Basically, anything going on within your cloud is your organization’s responsibility.

As such, it’s critical to form a robust security strategy when using Microsoft Azure. Many organizations feel a false sense of security just because they’re in the cloud. By prioritizing security and clamping down on access, you can more effectively identify vulnerabilities and prevent cyberthreats from impacting your operations.

To put it bluntly, Microsoft is responsible for the security OF Azure and you are responsible for everything that you build IN Azure. So if someone tells you that you are secure because you are in the cloud, that is categorically not true. 

How do you know if your Azure framework is optimized? 

Microsoft offers the Well-Architected Review assessment tool, which examines specific workloads and provides feedback across all five pillars of the framework, including security. If you’re looking to lock down your Azure environment, this is a great place to start. 

Additionally, Microsoft also offers a list of security design principles for Azure. Some examples include aligning security goals and outcomes to your business, building a comprehensive strategy, assigning accountability, and planning for continuous improvement, among other things.

The only way to really understand whether your Azure cloud security framework is working is to build a culture around cybersecurity. You can do this by integrating security into the foundation of your development process, using real-time identity and configuration monitoring, requiring strong data governance, and educating team members about security risks. 

Remember, security is a never-ending process. But by simply prioritizing it and enforcing strong policies, you can greatly reduce your attack surface and prevent cybercriminals from exploiting your public cloud environment.

Do you need more than an Azure benchmark?

At the end of the day, Azure makes it easy to manage your environment and track your progress. But the platform is also highly flexible and capable of integrating with third-party platforms. As such, it’s definitely worth expanding beyond the Azure cloud security framework and incorporating your preferred security tools. 

For example, Sonrai Dig is a leading cloud security platform that integrates with Azure, and other clouds to provide true cross-platform security with intelligent cloud security posture management (CSPM), ensuring all the right controls and configurations are in place to secure your environment at its foundation. The Dig platform also offers cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM), which enables you to easily inventory identities, track and manage permissions, reach a state of least privilege, and then monitor and detect excessive permissions, among other things. 

Further, Sonrai Dig contains a powerful governance automation engine to help you shift left and integrate teams with analysis, alerts, and actions that align with your public cloud strategies. With Sonrai Dig, you can lock down your crown jewel data and keep a tighter watch over your data and identities in the public cloud.  

Step into the driver’s seat with Sonrai Dig

Azure provides a strong suite of cloud-native management tools. But in order to develop a secure, mature cloud environment in Azure, your team will have to take ownership and develop its own management policies.

And that’s exactly where Sonrai Dig, your one-stop shop for cloud security, can step in. Our robust platform provides a holistic approach to security across multiple clouds and integrates seamlessly with GCP, Azure and AWS. Secure your identities, data and cloud foundation all with one platform. It’s the easiest way to keep bad actors out of your Azure environment.

To experience Sonrai in action, request a demo today.