Seven ways to secure your Azure Virtual Machines
The public cloud is here to stay! We all have our views on the risk, issues, advantages, and disadvantages of the public cloud, but we can all agree that it will get more prominent.
Azure is fast becoming the preferred choice of public cloud for those typically classed as “Microsoft houses”. We see companies test the waters with Azure by either adopting Office 365 and Azure Active Directory and then moving on to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) virtual machines.
However, what we also observe is fast adoption with a limited understanding of security and configuration. This brings about security issues and management overhead for IT teams, which hinders some of the benefits the public cloud offers.
Microsoft offers several ways in which to begin your Azure journey, and assistance is freely available off their website. Help around architectural blueprints, best practice guides, automated scripts are a few examples to get you underway. Ultimately, Azure IaaS adoption is about understanding the capabilities within the Azure platform and then leveraging the best-practice security configuration to ensure your implementation and service is secure and performant.
Let us now look at the seven key strategies you can review and implement to secure your Azure virtual machines.
Seven Security Strategies to Protect your Azure Work Loads
1. Network access control: To manage your Azure virtual machines, you should put in place controls that mean only specific IP networks can connect to the VMs. VPN’s, IP white listing and NSGs (network security groups) are all methods to restrict and control access.
2. User access control: Virtual machines need user credentials to be able to log in and operate them. Your user access model will be determined by how you want to integrate your server into your network. You can leverage Azure AD and IAM to provide access to services across your Azure tenant.
3. Password policies: Always put in place a robust password policy across your organisation. Enforcing complex passwords and routine password changes reduces the risk of cyber threats.
4. Patching: Keeping your software and servers patched to the latest levels is critical in ensuring you remove identified vulnerabilities. Azure offers several ways in which to do this.
5. Threat detection and monitoring: Azure has several features that can help secure your workloads. Azure Security Centre is one capability that allows you to view threats across your workloads. It leverages machine learning to analyse activity across the service, and when it recognises an issue, it alerts you.
6. Azure Backups: No service is reliable if it cannot recover from an outage. Backups and backup recovery is probably the most overlooked process in technology today. Many have none or one of the two and, unfortunately, only realise its value when it’s too late.
7. Azure Firewall: A recent addition to Azure, Azure Firewall should be in every Azure tenant’s arsenal. It is easily deployed and integrated across your tenant, and allows for reporting and alerting across a number of services.
The above seven strategies should go a long way in keeping your Azure virtual machines safe(r).