Microsoft Azure Bare Minimum Security Checklist

Azure Bare Minimum Security Checklist by Tim Layton

In this brief article, I share the absolute bare minimum Microsoft Azure security recommendations that all organizations should review and consider before launching a new Azure cloud subscription. These recommendations can also be used as a checklist for existing Azure subscriptions.

Who should review this list of recommendations?

Cloud developers and cybersecurity professionals should review this list and double check that all of the items have been considered. Enterprise stakeholders can use this list to make sure they are asking the right questions when discussing Azure cloud security fundamentals.

If you are unfamiliar with the terms or technologies listed in the recommendations below, consult an Azure security engineer for help.

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  • Enable MFA on privileged accounts and strongly consider layering in some conditional access policies (e.g., geo, IP address, device state, etc.)
  • Use role based Access Control for all admin accounts instead of assigning all privileged accounts Global Administrator privileges.
  • Enable Privileged Identity Management for privileged roles
  • Enable JiT Access For IaaS VM’s
  • Encrypt IaaS VM Hard Disks
  • Enable Azure Security Center & have your cloud security SME’s review recommendations and implement remediations accordingly. The Free tier of Azure Security Center is surprisingly useful and definitely worth enabling and reviewing as a good starting point. The standard fee-based tier obviously provides additional value and granularity.
  • Review Azure Sentinel (AI security analytics at cloud scale) and consult your Azure cloud security SME’s for use cases and scenarios where Sentinel could help the organization manage active and future threats.
  • Have qualified external Azure cloud security experts review your subscriptions at regular intervals and audit your policies.

Tim Layton specializes in demystifying the complexities and technical jargon associated with cloud computing security and risk management for business stakeholders across the enterprise. Tim is a cloud security thought leader defining actionable and defensible strategies to help enterprise stakeholders make risk-based decisions and prioritize investments in the new digital frontier.

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Threat: Any circumstance or event with the potential to adversely impact organizational operations (including mission, functions, image, or reputation), organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, or the Nation through an information system via unauthorized access, destruction, disclosure, or modification of information, and/or denial of service. (NIST 800–30)

Threat: potential cause of an unwanted incident, which can result in harm to a system or organization. (ISO 27001)

Vulnerability: Weakness in an information system, system security procedures, internal controls, or implementation that could be exploited by a threat source. (NIST 800–30)

Vulnerability: weakness of an asset or control that can be exploited by one or more threats. (ISO 27001)

Likelihood: A weighted factor based on a subjective analysis of the probability that a given threat is capable of exploiting a given vulnerability or a set of vulnerabilities. (NIST 800–30)

Likelihood: chance of something happening. (ISO 27001)

Risk: A measure of the extent to which an entity is threatened by a potential circumstance or event, and typically a function of (i) the adverse impacts that would arise if the circumstance or event occurs; and (ii) the likelihood of occurrence. (NIST 800–30)

Risk: effect of uncertainty on objectives. (ISO 27001)

Security Controls: The management, operational, and technical controls (i.e., safeguards or countermeasures) prescribed for an information system to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the system and its information. (NIST 800–30)

Compensating Security Control: A management, operational, and/or technical control (i.e., safeguard or countermeasure) employed by an organization in lieu of a recommended security control in the low, moderate, or high baselines that provides equivalent or comparable protection for an information system. (NIST 800–30)

Impact Level: The magnitude of harm that can be expected to result from the consequences of unauthorized disclosure of information, unauthorized modification of information, unauthorized destruction of information, or loss of information or information system availability. (NIST 800–30)

Residual Risk: Portion of risk remaining after security measures have been applied. (NIST 800–30)

Security Posture: The security status of an enterprise’s networks, information, and systems based on information assurance resources (e.g., people, hardware, software, policies) and capabilities in place to manage the defense of the enterprise and to react as the situation changes. (NIST 800–30)

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Tim Layton

Tim Layton

Get Tim Layton's Free Cloud Security Journal so you can remain current with the latest cloud security trends and updates. Tim is a cloud security thought leader defining actionable and defensible strategies to help organization's make risk-based decisions and prioritize investments.

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