Microsoft Azure is the world’s second largest cloud service provider and offers a multitude of IaaS, PaaS DBaaS services and more. Thanks to its integration with the larger Microsoft ecosystem, feature-rich services and built-in native security tools, the platform is widely popular among organizations. Along with Google and AWS, Microsoft Azure is also one of the three leaders in Gartner’s 2021 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.
The Cloud Shared Responsibility Model puts the burden of securing infrastructure, applications, data, identities in the hands of every customer migrating to the cloud. Microsoft Azure helps secure cloud environments from emerging threats with native security tools such as Microsoft Cloud Defender. Microsoft Azure also partners with third-party security services for advanced security capabilities, often complementing the Azure native tools.
To learn more about some of the top Azure cloud security settings and what practices your organization can implement to hold up your end of the shared responsibility model.
What are Azure cloud security controls?
In addition to offering strong cloud infrastructure, Azure delivers a range of configurable controls that you can use to build a custom cloud security strategy. These controls put you in the driver’s seat by allowing you to customize your environment across numerous areas.
Azure’s advanced cloud security controls can protect your cloud environment from vulnerabilities and prevent malicious attacks from penetrating and cascading throughout your network. In addition, they can monitor your account to detect issues like configuration drift and data sprawl.
Why care about security controls?
Businesses are often afraid to move into the cloud because they don’t want to lose control over their data and applications. However, cloud platforms like Azure can actually provide even more control over your digital assets. In fact, Azure can provide deep visibility into your operations and more flexibility in how you manage your environment.
Thanks to Azure’s control settings, you can access the full strength and agility of the cloud while keeping a close watch on your data and applications as they run on MIcrosoft’s hosted infrastructure. These tools can prevent data breaches, securely scale your cloud deployments, and maintain compliance with your industry’s security standards.
Who owns security controls in Azure?
When it comes to security, Microsoft Azure isn’t something that you can set and forget. Azure relies on a shared responsibility model.
In other words, Azure handles all aspects related to platform and infrastructure security, but requires customers to properly configure their environments and customize settings to meet their desired security policies.
Azure’s main controls for identity management
Azure classifies its security tools based on operations, applications, storage, networking, and compute. There’s also a specific category for identity, which is now a top need for enterprises in the cloud. Here’s a breakdown of some of the core identity management functions within Azure.
Azure requires users to establish multiple identity verification methods to secure their accounts.. Azure also supports single sign-on, which can reduce the number of identities and passwords across your environment.
Azure provides real-time security monitoring, alerts, and machine learning-based reports. Additionally, Azure also offers threat detection and remediation.
Comprehensive identity management
The cloud-based Azure Active Directory is an IAM solution that helps secure on-prem and cloud data and simplifies groups and users. Active Directory helps engineers bake policy-based identity management safeguards directly into applications.
It’s also possible to achieve device-level security within Azure. The platform lets you manage how cloud and on-prem devices can access your corporate data.
Security control best practices
No two companies are exactly alike, which means it’s important to assess your specific security requirements and form a custom plan.
Keep the following best practices in mind as you begin fortifying your Azure cloud security strategy to prevent disruptions and security blunders from impacting operations.
1. Make identity the new primary security perimeter
Migrating into the cloud will expand your threat surface by introducing new human and non-human identities. It’s therefore important to respect identity as a critical security perimeter and take active measures to protect it against attacks. Otherwise, unauthorized users and systems could wind up gaining access to sensitive data and workflows.
2. Centralize identity management across all clouds
Most businesses today have applications and workloads spread across multiple cloud providers. It’s critical to centralize identity management across all clouds to eliminate blind spots and data loss.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to invest in a purpose-built identity management platform, which can integrate with multiple cloud providers to deliver a central dashboard for identity control.
3. Get to least privilege and stay there
The principle of least privilege is a security framework that restricts user activity across a network. Least privilege requires users to ask permission in order to access private cloud resources. This helps prevent threats like dormant identity attacks and privilege escalation.
To maintain a state of least privilege, you have to be relentless about continuous monitoring, understand your permissions, and be diligent about remediating security issues. It will also require tight collaboration between cloud, security, IAM, DevOps, and audit groups.
4. Track all data access
It’s very easy to lose track of your data in the public cloud when you lack the proper protection. To avoid this, it’s important to monitor all data access.
Consider looking into an open source security and information event management (SIEM) platform like AlienVault OSSIM. This will provide a range of services like asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, and intrusion detection, among others.
5. Enforce compliance
Businesses today have an ever-growing number of complex regulatory frameworks that govern how and where they can store data and workloads. It’s critical to align your exact regulatory framework with Azure to enforce compliance across your environment.
This is possible using a cloud security platform. It will allow you to gain a regulatory baseline assessment and run specific mandates like HIPAA and GDPR against your environment for a complete audit.
6. Monitor for misconfigurations
Cloud misconfigurations — or errors — can allow unauthorized identities to access private resources. A cloud security platform will come in handy here as well, as it can track for misconfigurations and send reports when they arise.
The platform should also be able to provide fast misconfiguration remediation using intelligent bots, which can reduce IT burden and shorten response times.
Sonrai and Azure: A winning combination for cloud security
Sonrai provides premium enterprise-grade security for companies in the public cloud. Our Dig platform integrates seamlessly with Azure, providing a one-stop shop for a myriad of necessary solutions including cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM), cloud security posture management (CSPM), cloud data loss prevention (CDLP) and automation.
Sonrai monitors and identifies relationships across data and identities, detects environment misconfigurations and automates remediation and prevention, for a comprehensive level of support.
The end result? A more powerful and secure cloud environment that enables you to focus more attention on fulfilling your mission.
To see how Sonrai can help you strengthen your Azure environment, request a demo today.