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Azure Security Best Practices: 10 Best Practices

Around 70% of businesses globally use Microsoft Azure, a renowned cloud hosting platform. Azure offers a versatile way to operate up to 200 cloud applications and is a popular hosting environment for SQL databases. For a lot of businesses, this flexibility is revolutionary. But there’s a problem. It’s crucial to have a secure Azure environment […]

Sharon R.

Written by Sharon R.

September 20, 2023 | 7 min read

Around 70% of businesses globally use Microsoft Azure, a renowned cloud hosting platform. Azure offers a versatile way to operate up to 200 cloud applications and is a popular hosting environment for SQL databases.

For a lot of businesses, this flexibility is revolutionary. But there’s a problem. It’s crucial to have a secure Azure environment to operate successfully. Databases and cloud apps may leak important information otherwise. Credentials could be in danger, and organizations could face severe compliance fines.

In this blog, Azure Security Best Practices will be covered in this blog post to help you secure your cloud environment. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Azure Security?
  2. Why is Azure Security Important?
  3. 10 Azure Security Best Practices
    1. Use multiple authentication
    2. Database and Storage Security
    3. Secure Access for Administrators
    4. Network Security
    5. Watch activity log notifications
    6. Key Management
    7. Control the Workstations
    8. Protection for virtual machines and workloads
    9. Storage Security
    10. Combine WAF and ATM
  4. How will PingSafe help with Azure Security?
  5. Conclusion

What is Azure Security?

Microsoft offers a set of native security components named Azure Security to protect an Azure cloud environment. This protection comprises built-in controls and services for identity, data, networking, and apps. It also covers the physical infrastructure and network components. However, as a client, you must be conscious of your duties in further tightening the security of the confidential information you manage on an Azure cloud. 

Why is Azure Security Important?

Because Microsoft’s cloud platform houses numerous important assets, Azure security is important. Azure is used by businesses to host.DevOps for gaming or web applications using the internet. In Azure storage accounts, SQL databases store customer data, while Kubernetes clusters support private cloud architecture.

Regardless of which Azure services businesses use, security is a top concern. Insecure Azure apps can cause data leaks and act as a gateway for online criminals. Additionally, you can’t rely on Microsoft to address all security issues.

Azure clients are responsible for several different aspects of securing their cloud environment. Following Azure Security best practices will make that process easier. Clients must restrict access to sensitive data. Users must control access and block bad actors. They must also control the transfer of data between cloud apps. An Azure security policy is necessary.

10 Azure Security Best Practices

Here are the top 10 Azure Security best practices:

1. Use multiple authentication

To prevent hackers from attempting any phishing or brute force assaults, it is always a security issue to tighten the authentication procedure as Azure Security best practices.  Your system can be made much stronger, but there is no way to make it totally secure. Your basic authentication procedure can be strengthened and safer by using multi-factor authentication and difficult passwords. To protect your authentication, Azure allows you to use their directory service, Azure Active Directory. Multi-factor authentication should also be enabled by the person who has administrator access to Azure Active Directory.

2. Database and Storage Security

An essential component of your entire security posture is protecting your databases. Additionally, from a compliance standpoint, it is frequently a need. You should follow these Azure Security best practices regarding database security in Azure.

  • Restrict user access to storage and databases. Use firewalls and access controls to restrict the level of access that individuals, machines, and services have to your databases and storage blobs.
  • Utilize auditing. For your Azure databases, enable auditing. You can get visibility into all database updates by doing this.
  • Set up Azure SQL’s threat detection. By turning on threat detection, you may quickly identify security risks and reduce dwell time using Azure SQL.

3. Secure Access for Administrators

Accounts with full access are particularly vulnerable to dangers. Accounts with administrative rights should be examined frequently and frequently. These accounts need to be protected from any unwanted access. You can manage, monitor, and control access in your business with the aid of Azure Active Directory’s Privileged Identity Management function. Users must go through an activation process to utilize this, which will momentarily grant administrator rights.

4. Network Security

To keep your Azure workloads secure, network security is crucial. The following are the Azure Security best practices to follow for your cloud networks:

  • Transmit data in encrypted form. Encryption of data in transit (and at rest), as we indicated in the section on encryption and data security, is essential. Utilize cutting-edge encryption techniques for all network communication.
  • Adopt a policy of zero trust. Unless there is an explicit rule that allows access, network policies should,  by default deny access.
  • Limit the number of open ports and Internet-facing endpoints. Don’t allow a port to be open or a workload to be Internet-facing unless there is a clear business justification.
  • follow up on device access. Monitoring device and workload access with a SIEM or Azure Monitor, for example, enables you to take preventative action.

5. Watch activity log notifications

Activity logs are essential to identify any dangers in the system. It is important to recognize those in advance because each unrecognized incident can potentially cause serious problems. Create activity log alerts in your system that warn you of security threats. The following situations are critical for your security. The best thing to do would be to create notifications for them following

Activity logs are essential to identify any dangers in the system. It is important to recognize those in advance because each unrecognized incident can potentially cause serious problems. Create activity log alerts in your system that warn you of security threats. The following situations are critical for your security. The best thing to do would be to create notifications for them following.

Activity logs are essential to identify any dangers in the system. It is important to recognize those in advance because each unrecognized incident can potentially cause serious problems. Create activity log alerts in your system that warn you of security threats. The following situations are critical for your security. The best thing to do would be to create notifications for them following Azure Security best practices.

  • Security solution, security policy, and policy assignment alterations or changes.
  • Any deletions or adjustments to the Network Security Group.
  • Network Security Group Rule alterations or adjustments, including elimination.
  • Any alterations to the firewall and the regulations.
  • Alterations to the SQL Server Firewall rule.

6. Key Management

All sensitive data, including passwords, is encrypted into keys. These provide greater security and serve as a password for all security checks. But to avoid any misuse and loss of keys, they must be securely encrypted and protected. Secure key management as Azure Security best practices is necessary to protect cloud data.

HSM (Hardware Security Modules) is a secure way to store encryption keys thanks to Azure Key Vault. Microsoft uses the ‘FIPS 140-2 Level 2’ standard while processing keys in HSM. In order to further detect threats, keep an eye on key usage and submit logs to Azure or Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).

7. Control the Workstations

A person needs to use the Internet every day to view several websites. Let’s say you are gaining access to some private data. You are simultaneously opening an unknown file from the public internet that contains malware. How will it affect your company? Hackers may find it simple to infect you with software and access your private information. Utilizing specialized workstations for delicate and routine everyday jobs is the only solution.

Microsoft offers Privileges Access Workstations (PAW) on Azure to protect users from all security risks for the same reason. An enterprise can use this workstation to manage sensitive data and Azure management following Azure Security best practices.

8. Protection for virtual machines and workloads

This portion of our best practices for Azure security checklist covers virtual machines and other workloads. Other Azure Security best practices that can assist you in safeguarding your Azure resources include: 

  • Enforce complicated passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA can reduce the threat posed by compromised credentials. Brute force password attempts are less effective when passwords are complex.
  • Use virtual machine access that is just-in-time (JIT). Role-based access controls (RBAC) and time-bound access to virtual machines can be added using JIT access in conjunction with NSGs, the Azure firewall, and other security measures.
  • Establish a patching procedure. All of your previous efforts can be in vain if you aren’t patching your workloads. One unpatched vulnerability is all it takes for a breach. 

9. Storage Security

An essential component of your entire security posture is protecting your databases. Additionally, from a compliance standpoint, it is frequently a need. Regarding database security in Azure, you should follow Azure Security best practices.

  • Restrict user access to storage and databases. Use firewalls and access controls to restrict the level of access that individuals, machines, and services have to your databases and storage blobs.
  • Utilize auditing. For your Azure databases, enable auditing. You can get visibility into all database updates by doing this.
  • Set up Azure SQL’s threat detection. By turning on threat detection, you may quickly identify security risks and reduce dwell time if you use Azure SQL.

10. Combine WAF and ATM

The Azure Web Application Firewall (WAF), which is based on the Application Gateway service, protects Azure SQL databases from OWASP 3.0 assaults. You can reduce the possibility of an attack by restricting the public internet access to your components. Use a geolocation filter in Azure Traffic Manager (ATM) to shut down your online application if you don’t require access from other nations. Ensure your ATM has policies to accept certain types of traffic and block undesired or foreign traffic. Create a Web Application Firewall that only accepts Azure Traffic Manager (ATM) traffic. Follow all these Azure Security best practices to get efficient security.

How will PingSafe help with Azure Security?

PingSafe is a Cloud-Native Application Protection (CNAPP) platform that combines various unique enterprise features with Azure security tools. It can scan orchestration modules like ECS, AKS, Fargate, Kubernetes, and Docker images. It can also scan server-based and serverless containers.

Features:

  • In the cloud, configuration problems are automatically handled and rectified. Graphs display the impact radius, lateral movement pathways, and resource misconfigurations.
  • Monitoring the continuing security posture of new or current cloud services, paying close attention to security concerns and recommended procedures, and raising the alarm on security defaults.
  • Comparing the configuration and implementation of IaC to other standards like PCI-DSS and the CIS benchmark is known as “Building as a Code.” CI/CD integration support can be used to stop merge and pull requests with hardcoded secrets.
  • Find the cloud resources and assets with CVEs known to be susceptible (data from ten or more reliable sources with in-depth coverage). 
  • Threat Watch: A dashboard for keeping track of any zero-day security vulnerabilities in the environment.
  • Bill of materials (BOM) reporting and security vulnerability analysis for virtual machine snapshots are used in agentless apps.

Conclusion

Azure security can provide numerous distinct difficulties. It can, however, be just as secure as any top-notch data center if done correctly. These Azure Security Best Practices can help you get started, but you’ll need technical know-how and practical experience to understand Azure Security properly.