Top Azure cloud security controls you should know

Microsoft Azure is the second largest cloud service provider in the world and offers a host of IaaS, PaaS DBaaS and more. Thanks to its integration with the wider Microsoft ecosystem, its feature-rich services, and its built-in native security tools, the platform is very 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.

Cloud’s shared responsibility model places the burden of securing infrastructure, applications, data, and identities in the hands of every customer migrating to the cloud. Microsoft Azure helps secure cloud environments against emerging threats with native security tools like Microsoft Cloud Defender. Microsoft Azure also partners with third-party security services for advanced security features, often complementing native Azure tools.

Learn more about some of the key Azure cloud security settings and practices your organization can implement to meet your part of the shared responsibility model.

In addition to offering a solid cloud infrastructure, Azure provides a range of configurable controls that you can use to create a custom cloud security policy. These controls put you in the driver’s seat allowing you to customize your environment in many areas.

Azure’s advanced cloud security controls can protect your cloud environment against vulnerabilities and prevent malicious attacks from penetrating and spreading through your network. Additionally, they can monitor your account for issues such as configuration drift and data sprawl.

Why bother with security checks?

Businesses are often afraid to move to the cloud because they don’t want to lose control of their data and applications. However, cloud platforms like Azure can actually offer 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.

With Azure Control Settings, you can access the full strength and agility of the cloud while closely monitoring 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 is not something you can set and forget. Azure relies on a shared responsibility model.

In other words, Azure handles all security-related aspects of the platform and infrastructure, but requires customers to properly configure their environments and customize settings to meet desired security policies.

Key Azure controls for identity management

Azure categorizes its security tools by operations, applications, storage, networking, and compute. There is also a specific category for identity, which is now a major need for cloud businesses. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key identity management features in Azure.

Multi-factor authentication

Azure requires users to establish several identity verification methods to secure their accounts. Azure also supports single sign-on, which can reduce the number of identities and passwords in your environment.

24 hour monitoring

Azure provides real-time security monitoring, alerting, and reporting based on machine learning. Additionally, Azure also offers threat detection and remediation.

Complete identity management

Cloud-based Azure Active Directory is an IAM solution that helps secure on-premises and cloud data and simplifies groups and users. Active Directory helps engineers embed policy-based identity management protections directly into applications.

Device management

It is also possible to achieve device-level security in Azure. The platform lets you manage how cloud and on-premises devices can access your corporate data.

Security Control Best Practices

No two companies are the same, which means it’s important to assess your specific security needs and develop a custom plan.

Keep the following best practices in mind as you begin to harden your Azure cloud security strategy to prevent disruptions and security errors from affecting operations.

1. Make identity the new primary security perimeter

Migration to the cloud will expand your threat surface by introducing new human and non-human identities. It is therefore important to respect the identity as a critical security perimeter and to take active measures to protect it against attacks. Otherwise, unauthorized users and systems could end up accessing sensitive data and workflows.

2. Centralize identity management across all clouds

Most businesses today have applications and workloads spread across multiple cloud providers. Centralizing identity management across clouds is critical to eliminating blind spots and data loss.

The easiest way to do this is to invest in a purpose-built identity management platform that can integrate with multiple cloud providers to provide a central dashboard for identity control.

3. Get the least privilege and stick with it

The principle of least privilege is a security framework that limits user activity on a network. Least privilege requires users to request permission to access private cloud resources. This helps prevent threats such as dormant identity attacks and privilege escalation.

To maintain a least-privilege state, you must be relentless about continuous monitoring, understand your permissions, and be diligent about resolving security issues. It will also require close collaboration between the 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 don’t have adequate protection. To avoid this, it is important to monitor all data access.

Consider turning to an open-source Security and Information Event Management (SIEM) platform like AlienVault OSSIM. This will provide a range of services such as asset discovery, vulnerability assessment, and intrusion detection, among others.

5. Enforce Compliance

Enterprises today have an ever-increasing number of complex regulatory frameworks that govern how and where they can store data and workloads. Aligning your exact regulatory framework with Azure is key to enforcing compliance in your environment.

This is possible by using a cloud security platform. This will allow you to get a baseline regulatory assessment and run specific warrants like HIPAA and GDPR against your environment for a full audit.

6. Watch for configuration errors

Cloud misconfigurations, or errors, can allow unauthorized identities to access private resources. A cloud security platform will also be useful here, as it can track misconfigurations and send reports when they occur.

The platform should also be able to provide rapid correction of misconfigurations using smart bots, which can reduce IT load and shorten response times.

Sonrai and Azure: A Winning Combination for Cloud Security

Sonrai provides enterprise-grade security for public cloud enterprises. Our Dig platform seamlessly integrates 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 between data and identities, detects misconfigurations in the environment, and automates remediation and prevention, for a full level of support.

The final result ? A more powerful and secure cloud environment that lets you focus more on accomplishing your mission.

To see how Sonrai can help strengthen your Azure environment, request a demo today.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Blog – Sonrai Security written by Eric Kedrosky. Read the original post at: