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Introduction to Microsoft Azure Security Center

Are you searching for reliable information on Microsoft Azure Security Center? It is one of the noticeable milestones in the world of computing that has been prominently evident in the rising popularity of cloud computing. The adoption of public cloud services has revolutionized business operations across many sectors constantly.

Among the many potential reasons for the rise in the adoption of cloud computing, the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model is the most prominent. The estimates of Gartner suggest that the public cloud services would reach a total value of $266.4 billion in 2020. The estimates suggest that the public cloud services market would experience a growth of 17% of the estimated industry value of $227.8 billion in 2019.

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However, the adoption of public cloud services has also created various vulnerabilities for breaches, cloud security risks, and attacks. Therefore, enterprises have to prepare the ideal and competent security infrastructure for addressing the security threats to their business operations.

According to Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report in the year 2017, Microsoft Azure is experiencing a staggering 300% year-on-year increase in a number of attacks. Although these numbers may seem very concerning, enterprises could utilize the functionalities of Azure security center for addressing security threats.

The following discussion would serve as an Azure security center tutorial and help you understand its architecture effectively. Most important of all, readers can understand how the azure security center works and its different advantages. Finally, you can use the following discussion to learn about some of the recommended best practices for Azure security.

What is Azure Security Center?

Azure Security Center is Microsoft’s answer to the security requirements of Azure clients. It is ideal for enterprises aiming at better standards of active security or those enterprises which have their infrastructure on Azure. Azure security center can facilitate advanced security automation and auditable documentation. The technical definition of the Azure security center suggests that it is a unified infrastructure security management system.

It helps in improving the security status of an enterprise’s data centers alongside providing exceptional threat protection. The interesting fact about Azure security center is that you can achieve protection for hybrid workloads in the cloud irrespective of whether they are on Azure or not. The tools of Azure security center help in strengthening your network security alongside securing your services.

Microsoft Azure security center primarily aims to resolve the following three security risks for better outcomes for enterprise cloud security.

  • Workloads are changing rapidly, thereby presenting prominent challenges on the cloud. While end-users gain additional capabilities for achieving more, it is highly essential to ensure compliance of new services users consume and create with the organization’s security standards and security best practices.
  • The number of alerting systems and security notifications exceeds the number of qualified and competent security administrators. Therefore, skill shortage in terms of security is one of the prominent setbacks for cloud security in present times. Maintaining track with the latest security threats is a prominent challenge that constantly ensures with time.
  • The nature of attacks is becoming sophisticated gradually with the changing nature of workloads. Public cloud workloads are basically Internet-facing workloads, thereby creating possibilities for additional vulnerabilities in the lack of security best practices.

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The Architecture of Azure Security Center

The next important aspect of understanding the Microsoft Azure Security Center is the Azure security center architecture. Understanding the architecture could help us in evaluating how it works for ensuring the security of cloud workloads. Security Center is a native component of Azure. So, the security center provides monitoring and protection for PaaS services on Azure such as SQL databases, storage accounts, and Service Fabric without the need for any deployment.

The security center also provides safeguards for non-Azure servers and virtual machines on-premises or in the cloud. Azure Security Center ensures protection for both Windows and Linux server environments through the installation of Log Analytics agent on them. Most important of all, the security center also ensures the auto-provisioning of Azure virtual machines.

The next important highlight in Azure security center architecture is the security analytics engine. Readers should note that the security analytics engine helps in correlating the events collected from Azure and from the agents. Based on the results of correlation, the security analytics engine provides reliable recommendations for strengthening the security systems.

For example, you can get recommendations for ensuring the security status of workloads or create customized security alerts. The alerts by the security analytics engine should be the foremost priority of security administrators. Quick and proactive investigation of security alerts can help in preventing any malicious attacks on your workloads.

The Azure security center architecture also depends on the in-built security policy of the security center. You can find it as an in-built initiative in Azure Policy under the Security Center category upon enabling the security center. The in-built initiative is assigned automatically to all registered Security Center subscriptions.

It is essential to note that this in-built initiative in Azure security center architecture comprises of Audit policies only. However, you don’t have to worry about leveraging the maximum potential of Microsoft Azure Security Center. You can always try the official Azure security documentation to excavate additional information about security center policies.

How Does Azure Security Center Work?

Now that you have reflected on the architecture of Azure security center it is important to know how it works. Upon activating the security center, you will have an automatic deployment of a monitoring agent to Azure virtual machines. In the case of on-premise virtual machines, you have to deploy the monitoring agent manually.

Then the security center starts assessment of security status in all your virtual machines, applications, data and networks. Reflecting upon any Azure security center tutorial in detail, you can find that the analytics engine helps in data analysis. Subsequently, machine learning helps in data synthesis and providing recommendations and threat alerts for safeguarding workloads.

Therefore, Azure security center helps in faster identification of any threat or anomalous activity. Users can aggregate their security information in Azure Monitor workspace to ensure big data querying capabilities. In addition, users can also choose for querying through PowerShell cmdlets, integration with an existing SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tool such as Azure Sentinel or REST APIs.

Advantages of Azure Security Center

The next important concern about Microsoft Azure Security Center refers to its applications. Here are some of the notable advantages that you can get by adopting Azure security center.

  • Extending the scope of security status management and threat protection for on-premises virtual machines (VMs).
  • Easy provisioning of an agent to on-premises server workloads.
  • Assessment of security through the facility of a unified view of various hybrid cloud workloads.
  • Connection with existing tools and processes such as security information and event management (SIEM) or integration of partner security solutions.
  • Reduction of investments and reallocation of resources through leveraging in-built first-party or third-party security controls.

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Best Practices for Azure Security Center

Apart from the functionalities of Azure security center, it is highly important for users to follow the best practices. The best practices enable users to apply the security center functionalities optimally according to their security requirements. Here are some of the notable Azure security best practices that can ensure the best cloud security management.

  • Know the Shared Responsibility Model of Microsoft Azure

The foremost prerequisite for operating Microsoft Azure is the knowledge of the Shared Responsibility Model of Azure. The model implies the distribution of responsibilities of cloud security between the user and Microsoft. However, the allocation of responsibility varies according to the type of Azure service in use. The user can achieve many promising outcomes from Microsoft Azure Security Center by understanding the Shared Responsibility Model of Azure.

First of all, enterprises can help in the proper migration of businesses to the cloud. In addition, you can ensure comprehensive protection for applications, users, corporate secrets, services, certificates, keys, data and other critical information. Most important of all, you can make the optimal use of all security benefits that Microsoft provides.

  • Address Identity-Related Security Concerns

Another prominent mention among azure security best practices is the resolution of identity-related security issues through Azure Active Directory. Identity has become one of the critical security issues with the rising adoption of cloud services. Therefore, it is important for users to follow the recommended best practices for securing identity through Azure Active Directory.

First of all, users can go for the centralization of identity into a single authoritative source. For example, you can use Azure Active Directory Connect for integrating cloud directories and on-premises. The Single Sign-On (SSO) option by Azure Active Directory is also a reliable best practice to boost your security posture. The next critical best practice for Azure security center would be the use of two-step multi-factor authentication.

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Final Words

So, you can clearly notice how Microsoft Azure Security Center is your best bet for cloud security. In addition to the above-mentioned functionalities and best practices related to Azure security center, readers should explore more information. Other than the optimal use of Azure security center, users can learn the cloud security best practices.

For example, you can try learning about controlling network access through a 3-layer protection approach involving firewalls and network security groups. Furthermore, enterprises should also learn about the advantages of encryption for data at rest and in transit. As you navigate the cloud security landscape, you can uncover more helpful information on the security of your cloud workloads. Start your research now and pave the path for ideal cloud security.

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