Azure Security Center by Microsoft is a solution that provides unified security management across hybrid cloud workloads. It offers threat protection for data centers within both cloud workloads and on-premises. The platform also works with hybrid clouds that are not part of the Azure ecosystem.
The Azure Security Center is designed to resolve a pressing problem when your organization migrates to the cloud. The cloud customer has to take more responsibilities when upgrading to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) as compared to cloud solutions like Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where the cloud service providers take care of most tasks related to securing the network and the services.
What Is Azure Security Center?
When moving to an IaaS solution, securing your environment means you need to secure your network ecosystem and services moving to the cloud in a new way as you take responsibility for processes your cloud provider was taking care of within a SaaS or PaaS environment.
Azure Security Center offers a unified platform to secure and manage fast-changing workloads and cope with the challenges of securing your hybrid cloud workloads.
The platform helps your organization by:
- Enabling your team to have a clear view of the status of your resources after assessing your environment. Such an assessment gives you an insight into whether your resources are secure
- Generating security alerts and providing threat prevention recommendations. Security Center consciously monitors your workloads to detect security rules violations
- Provisioning services automatically since the Security Center is a native part of the overall Azure solution. This way, you can deploy Security Center seamlessly within your Azure-powered environments
With Azure Security Center, organizations can control the security of an ever-growing number of services under constant threat by a growing number of sophisticated malware.
How Azure Security Center Works
There is no need to specifically deploy Security Center if your organization is already using Azure. Security Center natively monitors and protects Azure PaaS services such as Service Fabric, SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance, and your storage accounts.
Security Recommendations and Alerts
The tool also protects non-Azure Windows and Linux servers, on which you run services in the cloud or on-premises. Security Center auto-protects also virtual machines running in such environments. The protection of your systems is materialized by Security Center installing the Log Analytics agent on all virtual and physical machines.
After that, Security Center processes and analyzes the events it collects from the agents and from Azure to deliver custom recommendations on how to secure your workloads. It generates security alerts for your IT security team to assess and ensure no malicious code is attempting to penetrate your perimeter.
Security Policies Enforcement
Once you have Azure Security Center up and running, you start getting security recommendations and security alerts that help you harden your network security in the cloud.
This way, your team can more easily identify the required measures to take and adopt the recommended security-hardening measures across your entire IT ecosystem, including servers, end-points, data services, and business applications you are running.
Security Center enables you to enforce your specific security policies across diverse environments consisting of non-Azure servers, Azure virtual machines, and Azure PaaS services. Thus, you can ensure that all devices and services are operating in compliance with your security policies and the recommended security best practices.
As organizations witness new subscriptions created regularly, Secure Center offers a feature that identifies and labels Shadow IT subscriptions. Such functionality enables your team to quickly spot new and uncovered subscriptions and take immediate actions to ensure those are covered by your policies to be compliant and protected.
Discovery of New Resources
A mid-size or large organization runs dynamic workloads where new resources are being deployed day in and day out. Automated resource discovery is one of the Security Center features, allowing you to check if any new resources comply with the security best practices in place.
Security Center generates lists of recommendations on what you need to fix and enhance to protect your digital assets better.
Once Security Center finds new resources deployed across your workloads, it assigns them a score for security and groups the recommendations into security controls to make it easier for you to prioritize what security measures you should implement most urgently.
Mapping Your Network
Azure Security Center creates a network map for your network, showing your workloads' topology and enabling you to check if each node is configured as required for maximum security.
Having a complex network topology requires your team to have such a tool at their disposal to have the full picture of the available network connections and evaluate the possible weak points. A network map is indispensable when you need to find network nodes where unwanted connections may enable a bad actor to penetrate your perimeter.
Pro-Active Threat Protection
Although security recommendations and network maps are considered the most powerful Azure Security Center features, the solution would not have been complete without offering capabilities to protect your digital assets against cyber threats proactively.
Secure Center can identify and prevent threats at the IaaS layer as well as PaaS in Azure. It offers the same protection for non-Azure servers across your networks.
The tool features forensics capabilities enabling your team to investigate how and where an attack originated, how it evolved to spread across your network, and how the attack affected your resources.
Security Center integrates natively with Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection to automatically protect your Windows and Linux machines. You can automate application control policies on server environments to get adaptive application controls and thus take advantage of end-to-end app approval listing across your Windows servers. The entire process is entirely automated, so you need not create rules and check for violations.
Once you have these security features running, you get protection for:
- PaaS protection: Detection of threats against Azure services such as Azure App Service, Azure SQL, Azure Storage Account, and others. Integration with Microsoft Cloud App Security's User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA) enables you to detect abnormal behavior on your Azure activity logs
- Brute force attacks protection: You can limit access to virtual machine ports and prevent unnecessary network connections. Secure Center enables you to enforce secure access policies on selected ports for specific authorized users and, in the meantime, set a limited access time period for specific IP address ranges or individual IP addresses
- Data services protection: You can assess Azure SQL and Storage services for possible security holes and get recommendations on how to mitigate security risks
- IoT and hybrid cloud workloads protection: You can take advantage of Defender for IoT for adaptive and intelligent threat protection and response. This tool protects your workloads running on edge clouds, on-premises, in Azure as well as other clouds
Since Azure Security Center is part of a broader product offering, organizations can easily integrate it with other solutions such as Microsoft Cloud App Security and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. At the same time, native integration is available for Azure Policy and Azure Monitor logs.
Summary of Azure Security Center's Core Features
In short, Azure Security Center features the following core capabilities:
- Unified security management on-premises and across various Azure and non-Azure clouds
- Threat detection for Azure services, networks, servers, and virtual machines
- Adaptive and automated application controls
- Centralized security policy management to comply with internal policies and regulatory frameworks
- Prioritization of security recommendations and alerts to take immediate measures concerning the most critical vulnerabilities
- Continuous security assessment for machines, networks, storage and data services as well as applications running across organizations' environments
Pricing tiers start from around $15 per node per month.
Azure Secure Center is suitable for small and large organizations alike. It offers pricing tiers calculated on per-node usage i.e. you pay on a pay-as-you-go basis. You can add as many as you want servers, app services, SQL databases, storage transactions, IoT devices, and other services.
What you get is a unified security control and security management center whose unique product proposition is the delivery of continuous recommendations about security vulnerabilities and security best practices across your networked resources and cloud workloads.
The integrated security solutions enable your IT security team to pro-actively detect and investigate threats and abnormal behavior while dissecting the full history and impact of a cyber-attack.
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