Microsoft Azure and Cyber Security

The importance of cyber security is crucial to the success of any business that operates online and manages customer data.  With more of the world moving to digital and more sensitive data being collected, keeping this data secure from evolving cyber-attacks is paramount. Microsoft are leading the way with their cloud technology where built-in security services are available on the Microsoft Azure platform. Businesses can strengthen their security defenses with Microsoft Azure to protect data, apps and infrastructure. In this article we will explore key tools that are available in Microsoft Azure to strengthen your position on Cyber Security.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security is how individuals or organisations reduce the risk of cyber-attacks. It is the application of technologies, processes and controls needed to protect systems, networks, programs, devices and data from cyber-attacks. As the cyber world grows, cyber attacks become more sophisticated, the levels and techniques of security need to improve accordingly, an area that Microsoft Azure is widely recognised as a leader in.

Why is Cyber Security Important?

Customer Confidence 

Any business that suffers from a cyber attack can lead to customers losing trust and confidence which can result in customers taking their business elsewhere. Customers will seek businesses who will protect their data, accounts and devices from cyber criminals. 

Compliance and Meeting Industry Regulations

Businesses of all sizes are often collecting data and/or managing sensitive data where they need to comply fully with GDPR. This includes communicating any data breaches which can lead to reputational damage. Furthermore, in highly regulated industries such as Financial Services, security standards, compliance and protection is paramount to be able to operate within the industry. 

Ever Changing Workloads

While you can now do more on the cloud, the services you use change all the time. Therefore it is important to continually manage security standards and best practices to keep your data and products protected.

Increasingly Sophisticated Attacks

As more workloads are run on the public cloud, attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Businesses must ensure that they also secure their workloads, but doing so could expose them to more vulnerabilities if they don't follow security best practices.

Microsoft Azure Cyber Security Tools

Microsoft Azure offers a wide variety of tools and products to ensure your data is kept secure.

Azure Security Center - Azure Security Center provides unified security management across hybrid cloud workloads. It offers threat protection for data centers within both cloud workloads and on-premises.

Application Gateway - Azure Application Gateway is a web traffic load balancer that enables you to manage traffic to your web applications.

Azure Active Directory - Azure Active Directory is a cloud-based identity and access management service. I‑Finity have created an easy to follow guide about how to protect an API using Azure Active Directory

Azure DDoS protection - DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Protection enables you to protect your Azure resources from denial of service (DoS) attacks with always-on monitoring and automatic network attack mitigation.

Azure Key Vault - Azure Key Vault is a cloud service for securely storing and accessing secrets. 

Azure Information Protection - Azure Information Protection (AIP) is a cloud-based solution that enables organizations to discover, classify, and protect documents and emails by applying labels to content.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud - Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and cloud workload protection solution that finds weak spots across your cloud configuration and helps strengthen the overall security posture of your environment.

Microsoft and The Largest Cyber Attack

Microsoft Azure has been proven to be one of the safest places to house your data and it contiunes to successfully defend against Cyber Attacks. In this recent blog posted in January 2022 it describes the DDoS attack trends and within this article it mentions that a UDP (User Data Protocol) attack launched against Microsoft Azure in November 2021 had a throughput of 3.47 Tbps (TeraBytes Per Second) and a packet rate of 340 million packets per second. This is reportedly the largest cyber-attack ever in history.

The attack was distributed from 10,000 sources from multiple countries, and had an intense level of sophistication. The Azure platform was able to withstand this magnitude of attack when many other platforms in the gaming industry and Voice over IP services suffered heavily in 2021 due to similar attacks of smaller magnitude. The article states a further 2 attacks were successfully defended in December 2021 and that there has been an increase in the number of DDoS attacks throughout the year.

Microsoft Azure Best Practices

  • Upgrade your Azure subscription to Azure Security Center Standard
  • Store your keys in the Azure Key Vault
  • Install a web application firewall
  • Use Azure MFA (Multi-factor Authentication), especially for admin accounts.
  • Encrypt virtual hard disk files.
  • Connect Azure VMs (Virtual Machines) to other networked devices by placing them on Azure virtual networks.
  • Use Azure’s DDoS services to prevent and mitigate DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.
  • Have security policies in place to prevent abuse. To help you get started, Azure can auto-generate a security policy per an Azure subscription.
  • Regularly review the Azure Security Center dashboard. The dashboard provides a central view of your Azure resources and recommends actions.
  • Implement Azure Security Center’s Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). 

Summary

Cyber Security is becoming one of the most important parts of cloud infrastructure, with more common and sophisticated attacks the protection of your data and services should be at the forefront of your planning and preparation.

By using Microsoft Azure you gain access to many solutions and strategies with which your data is more secure. The list of best practices above is a good place to start when increasing your systems security and the Azure Security Center offers lots of out-of-the-box services.

Microsoft Azure fast becoming arguably the safest place to keep your data after defending against several DDoS and UDP attacks this year which includes what is likely the largest cyber attack in history.

At I‑Finity we safeguard business assets and customer data in Azure, it’s a platform that is continuously worked on by over 3,500 global cybersecurity experts. This shows in the capability that is available to us within Azure with all its security controls integrated into both hardware and firmware components, along with added protections against threats such as DDos.