Leveraging Azure Security Center

July 9, 2018 Peter Day

Clouds move fast, so does cloud security – learning the latest information can be a challenge.   That challenge is much aided by a new book from Microsoft Press, “Microsoft Azure Security Center.”  The authors, Yuri Diogenes and Dr. Thomas W. Shinder, deliver a handy introduction to the current IT security landscape, and then go into more depth to explore the current and forthcoming features of the Azure cloud’s security center.  The first chapter sets the scene and reviews key ideas, such as the “assumed breach” security posture; later chapters explore Azure-specific topics.

There are two tiers of service in the Azure Security Center, free and standard.  The free tier can only monitor Azure-based resources, however, it does include security assessment and recommendations.  After the first chapter, the authors assume that you will be using the standard (paid) tier, as many of their topics are features only available to that tier.

Before upgrading to standard, first check out the potential costs involved when using that tier.  At the time of writing, you can evaluate the standard tier free for 60 days.  It is also possible to only enable Azure Security Center monitoring for a specific Azure resource group, so you could, if you wish, evaluate the service using just your non-production machines.

One of the great benefits of a cloud service such as Azure Security Center, is the ability to gain access to the bigger picture, to be part of a mutually-supporting defense against bad actors.  An organization using Azure Security Center benefits from Microsoft leveraging its vast trove of data and experience regarding security across all of its services and clients.  The Azure service uses machine learning to mine that data trove for current and emerging threats, which means your organization can obtain timely defensive advice.

Your on-premises physical and virtual machines are not excluded from these benefits.  You can choose to install a monitoring agent on those machines (Windows and Linux) and bring them into the scope of protection.  This can be essential in a hybrid scenario as you don’t wish to focus on cloud-based assets at the expense of your on-premises resources.

At 170 pages, the book is a relatively quick read, but will serve as a useful starting point for those who need to plan and implement security in Azure.

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