Azure Active Directory
Azure Active Directory is a managed service that lets you define identities and permissions, controlling actions that users can take across your cloud environment.
Azure Active Directory doesn’t detect or address security threats. Instead, it’s a solution for configuring the proper access controls to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, applications, and other resources. As such, Azure Active Directory is one of the foundational tools you can use to build a secure Azure cloud environment.
It’s important not to confuse Azure Active Directory with standard Active Directory, an identity management service that has been a part of the Microsoft Windows ecosystem for decades. Azure Active Directory uses many of the same concepts and access control definitions as conventional Active Directory. You can even extend an on-premises Active Directory installation to manage your cloud environment. Still, Azure Active Directory and standard Active Directory are distinct tools with important differences like the management of external user identities and support for SaaS services.
Azure Web Application Firewall
While defining strong access controls is one step toward preventing attacks against Azure, you should also deploy protection to mitigate the risk of such incidents, like code injection or cross-site scripting.
For this purpose, the best Azure security tool is Azure Web Application Firewall. Azure Web Application Firewall lets you define application security rules and enforce them automatically. However, Azure Web Application Firewall is only designed to secure applications; it doesn’t protect other parts of your Azure environment, such as virtual machines or databases. If you build host applications in Azure, Web Application Firewall should be one tool in your cybersecurity arsenal.
Azure DDoS Protection
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are difficult to predict, and they can be even harder to stop. Although some DDoS disruptions target specific vulnerabilities, they can also strike at random.
No matter what the source of a DDoS attack, Azure DDoS Protection can help to keep your workloads operational. You can use the service to deploy anti-DDoS protections for virtually any resource hosted in the Azure cloud. Once deployed, Azure DDoS Protection automatically monitors for and responds to attempts by botnets or other malicious parties to disrupt access to your applications or data. Azure DDoS Protection also offers the benefit of deep integration with Azure services and turnkey deployment, which can be an advantage over third-party anti-DDoS solutions.
Azure Virtual Network
Creating an isolated virtual network minimizes the exposure of your resources to the Internet and may reduce the risk of DDoS attacks and other security incidents by making it harder for malicious actors to find and target your workloads. Azure Virtual Network lets you configure and manage isolated virtual networks. You can minimize the risk of unwanted exposure by defining where and how workloads interface with the Internet.
Azure Key Vault
It’s likely that your Azure cloud environment includes a variety of secret information that applications and services use to authenticate each other, like passwords and encryption keys. To minimize the risk of exposing those secrets to unauthorized third parties, you should leverage a security tool like Azure Key Vault.
Azure Key Vault lets you store secrets securely and share them as needed with other Azure resources. It supports features like end-to-end encryption in Azure databases, which add another layer of protection to your data.
Internal vs. external Azure security tools
So far, we’ve only discussed internal Azure security tools. There are also a variety of third-party security tools that support Azure. While Azure’s native security tooling can help you to establish a strong security posture and protect against some types of risks, external tools can help you fill in the gaps in Azure security. They can scan and validate your network configurations and Azure Active Directory to detect security risks you might have overlooked when building those services. You can also use external security tools to ingest data from native Azure services and leverage different features than those that are available from Azure itself.
A holistic approach to Azure security
To secure Azure, you need a broad approach. Even for relatively simple Azure workloads, no one type of security tool will suffice. You’ll need a diverse set of Azure security solutions–some from Azure, and some from external vendors–that reinforce and complement each other to deliver end-to-end Azure security.