Top 5 Azure Security Best Practices for 2023

What Is Azure Security?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure created by Microsoft for building, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides a variety of cloud services, including those for computing, storage, networking, and analytics.

Azure provides security features and technologies that are designed to help protect Azure customers' applications, data, and resources from various threats and vulnerabilities. Some examples include Azure Active Directory (AD) for identity and access management, Azure Security Center for monitoring and managing security across Azure resources, and Azure Key Vault for securely storing and managing cryptographic keys and other secrets.

This is part of a series of articles about Azure Security.

1. Implement Identity Management

Identity management helps ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data and resources. By implementing effective identity management, businesses can prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and reduce the risk of security breaches. Azure provides several options for identity management.

You can implement identity management using:

  • Azure AD—provides features such as user and group management, single sign-on (SSO), and multi-factor authentication (MFA), to help control and secure access to resources.
  • Azure AD B2B collaboration—allows businesses to securely share resources and collaborate with external partners, without the need to create and manage separate user accounts.

2. Restrict Administrator Access

Restricting administrator access helps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and resources. By limiting the number of users who have administrator privileges, businesses can reduce the risk of someone with malicious intent gaining access to sensitive information or making changes to critical systems. This, in turn, can help to protect against security threats such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other forms of cybercrime.

One way to implement this best practice with Azure Active Directory (AD) is to use the built-in role-based access control (RBAC) feature. This allows you to create custom roles that have specific permissions, and then assign those roles to users or groups of users. For example, you could create a role that has permission to manage Azure resources, but not permission to manage users or access policies. You could then assign this role to a group of users who need access to Azure resources, but not to sensitive data or systems.

Another way to implement this best practice is to use Azure AD conditional access policies. These allow you to specify conditions under which users are allowed to access specific resources. For example, you could create a policy that allows users to access Azure resources only if they are accessing from a specific IP address range or using a specific device. This can help to prevent unauthorized access, even if someone has a valid username and password.

3. Protect Secrets and Keys Using Key Vault

Azure Key Vault is a cloud service offered by Microsoft Azure that provides secure storage for secrets and keys. This service uses encryption and other security measures to protect secrets and keys from unauthorized access, even if the underlying data storage is compromised.

Key Vault is designed to help businesses protect sensitive information, such as passwords, API keys, and other secrets, and to provide features such as auditing, versioning, and the ability to revoke and rotate keys. It is integrated with other Azure services, making it easy to use and manage secrets and keys within your Azure environment.

4. Encrypt Your Data

Encryption is the process of encoding data using a secret code or key, making it unreadable to anyone who does not have the key. By encrypting your data, you can help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information, even if the data is intercepted or stolen. Azure provides several options for encrypting your data, including:

  • Azure Disk Encryption—allows you to encrypt data on Azure virtual machines and Azure managed disks. This service uses the industry-standard BitLocker encryption technology, and it integrates with Azure Key Vault for secure key management.
  • Azure SQL Database Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)—allows you to encrypt data in your Azure SQL databases. This service uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm to encrypt data at rest, providing an additional layer of protection for your sensitive data.

5. Use Microsoft Defender to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Threats

Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a cloud-based security platform that provides a range of features and services to help detect, prevent, and respond to threats.

Some of the benefits of using Microsoft Defender for Cloud include:

  • Threat protection: Microsoft Defender for Cloud uses machine learning and other technologies to detect and prevent cyber threats, such as malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
  • Vulnerability management: Microsoft Defender for Cloud helps to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities in your Azure environment, and provides recommendations for addressing those vulnerabilities.
  • Compliance monitoring: Microsoft Defender for Cloud helps you to monitor your Azure environment for compliance with various regulations and standards, such as GDPR and HIPAA.
  • Automated responses: Microsoft Defender for Cloud can automatically respond to security threats and vulnerabilities, helping to minimize the impact of those threats on your Azure environment.

Azure Security Best Practices with BlueVoyant

Organizations worldwide rely on BlueVoyant’s Azure expertise and our managed detection and response (MDR) for Microsoft's SIEM Plus XDR strategy, which combines Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft 365 Defender, and Microsoft Sentinel into one.

There are many benefits to combining Azure with Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft 365 Defender, and Microsoft Sentinel:

  • Reduce the number of alerts and security incidents
  • Respond faster to sophisticated threats
  • Eradicate threats before they do harm
  • Achieve a higher security posture with fewer resources
  • Maximize Microsoft security product investments and security capabilities (Microsoft 365 Defender, Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A5, F5, G5)

Implementing Azure and a centralized and intelligent SIEM Plus XDR strategy, managing and monitoring Microsoft Sentinel, optimizing and maintaining efficient security log ingestion, and operating a 24 x 7 SOC staffed with cybersecurity experts is expensive and complex. Many organizations have opted to use BlueVoyant MDR instead of implementing a DIY (do-it-yourself) plan.

Microsoft Sentinel Deployment Best Practices Guide

Co-sponsored with Microsoft, this newly updated guide provides pragmatic advice on what's needed to onboard Microsoft Sentinel successfully. Employ best practices to support a stable, cost-effective, and operationally effective implementation of Microsoft’s cloud-native security information and event management (SIEM) platform.

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