Securing Your Azure Environment

Securing Azure is an essential part of using Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Azure provides a range of security features and tools to help protect your data, applications, and infrastructure from threats. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key steps you can take to secure your Azure environment.

  1. Use Azure Active Directory (AD) for identity and access management: Azure AD is a cloud-based identity and access management service that provides single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for Azure resources. You can use Azure AD to manage user accounts and control access to your resources. See Identity and access management best practices.

  2. Enable network security: Azure provides several options for securing your network, including virtual private networks (VPNs), network security groups (NSGs), and Azure Firewall. VPNs (also called VPN gateway) allow you to securely connect your on-premises network to your Azure resources, while NSGs allow you to control inbound and outbound traffic to your Azure resources. Azure Firewall is a cloud-based network security service that provides protection against external threats.

  3. Use Microsoft Defender for Cloud: Defender for Cloud is a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) for all of your Azure, on-premises, and multicloud (Amazon AWS and Google GCP) resources. It provides a centralized dashboard for monitoring your security posture score, provides recommendations and alerts you to potential threats.

  4. Implement data security: Azure provides several options for securing your data, including Azure Storage Service Encryption, Azure Disk Encryption (you should be using managed disks), and Azure Key Vault. Azure Storage Service Encryption automatically encrypts your data at rest in Azure Storage, while Azure Disk Encryption encrypts your virtual machine (VM) disks. Azure Key Vault is a secure, cloud-based service for storing and managing sensitive information, such as cryptographic keys and secrets.

  5. Use Azure Identity Protection: Azure Identity Protection is a security service that helps you protect your users from identity-based threats. It provides features such as risk-based multifactor authentication, suspicious sign-in alerts, and passwordless authentication.

  6. Enable Azure Monitor: Azure Monitor is a monitoring service that helps you understand how your resources are performing and enables you to diagnose and resolve issues. It provides alerts and notifications when issues arise, so you can take action to prevent them from becoming major problems.

  7. Use Azure Policy: Azure Policy is a tool that helps you ensure compliance with your organization’s standards and best practices. It allows you to define policies that enforce rules on your resources, such as requiring VMs to have the latest patches or prohibiting the use of certain types of resources. Again, the number one reason cloud projects fail is because of lack of governance.

  8. Enable Azure Backup: Azure Backup is a cloud-based backup service that helps you protect your data and recover from data loss. It provides features such as scheduled backups, point-in-time recovery, and the ability to restore data to any point in time. 

  9. Use Azure Site Recovery (ASR): Azure Site Recovery is for disaster recovery, not to be confused with Azure Backup which is for backups. ASR is used for snapshots and restoring your physical and virtual machines during a disaster.  

In conclusion, securing your Azure environment is an essential part of using the platform and the items listed here are really just the tip of the iceberg. But by following best practices and using the security features and tools provided by Azure, you can protect your data, applications, and infrastructure from threats. It is important to regularly review and update your security measures to ensure that they are effective in protecting your resources.

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Cloud Adoption Framework – Planning

The third phase in the Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is Planning. During this phase the topics covered are:

  • Digital Estate
  • Initial Organization Alignment
  • Skills Readiness Plan
  • Cloud Adoption Plan

There are three assets used to track the output of this phase that are critical to use.

Resource Description
Cloud journey tracker Identify your cloud adoption path based on the needs of your business.
Strategy and plan template Document decisions, as you execute your cloud adoption strategy and plan.
Cloud adoption plan generator Standardize processes by deploying a backlog to Azure Boards using a template.

The first two of these were introduced in the previous phases but the cloud adoption plan generator is new to the planning phase. This uses Azure DevOps to build a backlog of items that will align your cloud adoption efforts to a standardized process. The use of this asset is covered in more detail in the slide deck and the notes section of the slides.  

Extra Content and verbose slides

As always there is a ton of additional content in the notes sections of most slides to help prep you in using the deck. The content of the slides is quite verbose, far more verbose than what I would typically build. I prefer to use slides as guide for a conversation to keep myself on course as well as the audience. I tend to go deep when answering questions and usually encourage questions live during a presentation so I can end up down a rabbit hole and the slides are a great tool to get the presentation back on topic and to ensure I cover all the material. So, feel free to reduce the content of the slides if it works better for you. Typically, I would have someone attend a couple of presentations along with me when presenting this content, so they got a feel for the content and the flow of the presentations as well as get more knowledge of the subject before doing it themselves since we don’t have that opportunity I have included more content so that anyone can feel comfortable presenting this content after reviewing the slides a few times.