To realize the full benefit of any cloud computing platform—Azure, AWS, or any other—you need to implement best practices related to security and compliance. All too often, data center security takes a backseat to data center design, which puts businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping up with data regulations and preventing data breaches. A 2017 report from Intel Security notes that only 23% of organizations completely trust public clouds to keep their data secure. But with the right resources, it is possible for your organization to achieve both compliance and security in the cloud—without high costs, special expertise, or performance setbacks.
With security being one of the biggest barriers to cloud adoption, Microsoft has been directing many of its resources that way, including a recent expansion of its Azure Security Center. Below are some of the main features of the Security Center; compare them with other available security options on the market to find the one you feel most confident in, and comfortable with.
Azure Security Center provides unified security management and advanced threat protection across hybrid cloud workloads. Using advanced analytics, it helps you detect potentially malicious activity across your hybrid cloud workloads, and recommends potential remediation steps, which you can then evaluate, and take the necessary action.
As a security solution, it offers:
Free access (Azure Resources Only) is very limited. It gives you access to a central console that provides a birds' eye view of the security status of your Azure cloud resources. (Color indicators— red, orange, and green—make it easy to see the status at a glance.) You can also dig down into specific resources (like applications) to find out more about the severity of existing security issues. The free tier also enables access to a number of integrated partner solutions, for vulnerability assessments. These partner solutions within the Azure Security Center are easy to deploy and work seamlessly within the existing Security Center framework.
You can access the Azure Security Center through the Azure portal, from the left menu. Once you've selected it, the overview screen has three main categories: Overview, Prevention, and Detection.
The Security Center Overview provides a quick view into the security posture of your Azure and non-Azure workloads, enabling you to discover and assess the security of your workloads and identify and mitigate risk. The built-in dashboard provides instant insights into security alerts and vulnerabilities that require attention. Here you get a bird's eye view of your security picture—the number of security solutions you've enabled, the number of new alerts and security incidents in the last 72 hours, and the number of security events (a change in the usual operations of a network or service) in the last week.
It also offers prioritized recommendations for improving security on your Azure virtual machines (VMs), network, SQL databases, and applications. For example, using Azure disc encryption for your Windows and Linux IaaS VM disks, and configuring network security group (NSG) rules that force inbound traffic to your VM through a firewall. In my experience, however, understanding how to configure NSGs—like creating inbound and outbound security rules—is more complex than it should be in the Azure Security Center. If you want anything more advanced than the basic options (like creating scheduling firewall rules to turn them on and off as policy dictates), you essentially have to perform those tasks in two different places with Azure.
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The Prevention section breaks down those recommendations by area: compute, network, storage & data, and applications. Selecting a security recommendation guides you through the process of addressing the issue.
Features included in standard access are:
Microsoft Azure Security Center is an excellent tool for threat detection, but as an IT professional responsible for providing security to your organization's data, you'll likely want to investigate a number of alternate security options.
For more comprehensive security coverage that's more easily managed, take a look at 5nine's suite of products. 5nine's Smart Firewall for Azure automates the firewall configuration process by reducing it to a single step, making it faster than it would be with other security solutions (up to 5 times faster!), and less prone to human error. You can complete firewall configuration tasks in a fraction of the time.
And while hybrid cloud firewall management in Azure Security Center is fairly complex, 5nine Cloud Security simplifies your firewall configuration by allowing you to configure firewall rules and view log data across your Azure and on-premises resources from a centralized console.