Category Archives: Azure Security Center

Azure Management services: What's New in April 2020

Starting from this month, the series of articles released by our community about what's new in Azure management services is renewed. They will be articles, published on a monthly basis, dedicated exclusively to these topics to have a greater level of depth.

Management refers to the tasks and processes required to better maintain business applications and the resources that support them. Azure offers many strongly related services and tools to provide a comprehensive management experience. These services are not exclusively for Azure resources, but they can potentially also be used for on-premises environments or other public clouds.

The following diagram shows the different areas related to management, which will be covered in this series of articles, in order to stay up to date on these topics and to better deploy and maintain applications and resources.

Figure 1 – Management services in Azure overview

Monitor

Azure Monitor for containers: support for monitoring the use of GPUs on AKS GPU-enabled node pools

Azure Monitor for containers has introduced the ability to monitor the use of GPUs in Azure Kubernetes Service environments (AKS) with nodes that take advantage of GPUs. They are currently supported as NVIDIA and AMD vendors.
This monitoring functionality can be useful for:

  • Check the availability of GPUs on the nodes, the use of the GPU memory and the status of GPU requests by pods.
  • View the information collected through the built-in workbook available in the workbook gallery.
  • Generate alerts on pod status

Export of alerts and recommendations to other solutions

Azure Security introduces an interesting feature that allows you to send security information generated by your environment to other solutions. This is done through a continuous export mechanism of alerts and recommendations to Azure Event Hubs or to Azure Monitor Log Analytics workspaces. This feature opens up new integration scenarios for Azure Security Center. The functionality is called Continuos Export and is described in detail in this article.

Workflow automation functionality

Azure Security Center includes the ability to have workflows to respond to security incidents. Such processes may include notifications, the initiation of a change management process and the application of specific remediation operations. The recommendation is to automate as many procedures as possible as automation can improve safety by ensuring that the process steps are performed quickly, consistent and according to predefined requirements. The Azure Security Center has been made available the functionality workflow automation. It can be used to automatically trigger the Logic Apps trigger based on security alerts and recommendations. In addition, manual trigger execution is available for security alerts and for recommendations that have the quick fix option available.

Integration with Windows Admin Center

It is now possible to include Windows Server systems residing on-premises directly from the Windows Admin Center in Azure Security Center.

Azure Monitor Application Insights: monitors Java applications codeless

The Java Application Monitor is now made possible without making changes to the code, thanks to Azure Monitor Application Insights. In fact, the new Java codeless agent is available in preview. Among the libraries and frameworks supported by the new Java agent we find:

  • gRPC.
  • Netty/Webflux.
  • JMS.
  • Cassandra.
  • MongoDB.

Retiring the solution for Office 365

For the solution “Azure Monitor Office 365 management (Preview)”, which allows you to send the logs of Office 365 to Azure Monitor Log Analytics is expected to be retired on 30 July 2020. This solution has been replaced by the solution of Office 365 present in Azure Sentinel and the solution “Azure AD reporting and monitoring”. The combination of these two solutions is able to offer a better experience in configuration and in its use.

Azure Monitor for Containers: support for Azure Red Hat OpenShift

Azure Monitor for Containers now also supports in preview the monitor for Kubernetes clusters hosted on Azure Red Hat OpenShift version 4.x & OpenShift versione 4.x.

Azure Monitor Logs: limitations on concurrent queries

To ensure a consistent experience for all users in consulting the Azure Monitor Logs, will be gradually implemented new limits of concurrency. This will help protect yourself from sending too many queries simultaneously, which could potentially overload system resources and compromise responsiveness. These limits are designed to intervene and limit only extreme usage scenarios, but they should not be relevant for the typical use of the solution.

Secure

Azure Security Center

Dynamic compliance packages available

The Azure Security Center regulatory compliance dashboard now includes thedynamic compliance packages to trace further industry and regulatory standards. The dynamic compliance packages can be added at subscription or management group level from the Security Center policy page. After entering a standard or benchmark, this is displayed in the regulatory compliance dashboard with all related data. A summary report will also be available for download for all standards that have been integrated.

Identity recommendations included in Azure Security Center tier free

Security recommendations relating to identity and access have been included in the Azure Security Center tier free. This aspect allows to increase the functionality in the cloud security posture management area for free (CSPM). Before this change, these recommendations were only available in the Azure Security Center Standard tier. Here are some examples of recommendations for identity and access:

  • “Multifactor authentication should be enabled on accounts with owner permissions on your subscription.”
  • “A maximum of three owners should be designated for your subscription.”
  • “Deprecated accounts should be removed from your subscription.”

Protect

Azure Backup

Cross Region Restore (CRR) for Azure virtual machines

Thanks to the introduction of this new feature in Azure Backup, it introduces the ability to start restores at will in a secondary region, making them fully controlled by the customer. To do this, the Recovery Service vault that holds the backups must be set to geographic redundancy; in this way the backup data in the primary region are geographically replicated in the secondary region associated with Azure (paired region).

Azure Files share snapshot management

Azure Backup introduces the ability to create Snapshots of Azure Files share, Daily, weekly, Monthly, and keep them until 10 years.

Figure 2 – Azure Files share snapshot management

Support for replacing existing disks for VMs with custom images

Azure Backup introduced support, during the recovery phases, to replace existing disks on virtual machines created with custom images.

SAP HANA backup

In Azure Backup, protection of SAP HANA DBs present in virtual machines is available in all major Azure regions. This functionality allows you to have SAP HANA database protection integrated and without having to provide a specific backup infrastructure. This solution is officially certified by SAP.

Evaluation of Azure

To test for free and evaluate the services provided by Azure you can access this page.

Azure Security Center: how to customize the solution to meet your security requirements

Azure Security Center is a cloud solution that helps prevent, detect and respond to security threats that affect resources in the Azure environment and workloads in hybrid environments. By assigning a global score to your environment, you can assess your risk profile and act to take remediation action in order to improve the security posture. The solution is based on general recommendations, but in some cases it is appropriate to customize it to better contemplate your security policies. This article describes how you can introduce this level of customization in order to increase the value provided by Azure Security Center.

Using custom security policies

The default recommendations in the solution are derived from general industry best practices and specific regulatory standards.

Figure 1 – Standard score and recommendations in Azure Security Center

Recently was introduced the ability to add your own Initiatives custom, to receive recommendations if security policies specifically set for your environment are not met. The custom initiatives that are created are fully integrated into the solution and will be covered in Secure Score and in compliance dashboards.

To create a initiative you can follow the steps below:

Figure 2 – Starting the process of creating a custom initiative

Within the Initiatives you can include Azure Policies built into your solution or your own custom policies.

In the example below, theinitiative includes the following two policies:

  • A custom that prevents peering against a Hub network that is in a given resource group.
  • A bult-in that verifies that Network Security Groups are applied to all subnets.

Figure 3 – Creating a custom initiative

Following, you need to proceed with the assignment of theinitiative custom:

Figure 4 – Starting the assignment process

 

Figure 5 – Assigning the custom initiative

 

Figure 6 – Displaying the assigned custom initiative

The display of the recommendations in Security Center is not immediate, but currently it takes about 1 hour and you can see it in the following section:

Figure 7 - Custom initiative in the Regulatory Compliance section

 

Disable default security policy

Under certain circumstances it may be desirable to disable certain controls present by default in the Azure Security Center solution, as they are not appropriate for your environment and you do not want to unnecessarily generate the events. To do this, you can take the following steps::

Figure 8 - Access to the Security Center default policy

 

Figure 9 – Selecting the default Security Center policy assignment

 

Figure 10 – Disabling a specific policy that is present by default

 

Conclusions

Azure Security Center natively provides a series of controls to constantly check for conditions that are considered anomalous and can have a direct impact on the security of your environment. The ability to introduce a level of customization into your solution, makes it more flexible and allows you to verify and apply security compliance policies on a large scale that are specific to your environment. To improve security postures it is essential to evaluate the adoption of this solution and applying a good level of customization it greatly increases its value.

Azure Security: how to do a Vulnerability Assessment using azure Security Center

Azure Security Center, the cloud solution that helps prevent, detect and respond to security threats affecting Azure resources and workloads in hybrid environments, recently enhanced with the ability to integrate a Vulnerability Assessment for Virtual Machines in Azure. This article explains how you can complete a vulnerability assessment process by using the Azure Security Center, examining the characteristics of the solution.

Vulnerability scanning included in Azure Security Center (ASC) is done through the solution Qualys, which is recognized as a leading tool for real-time identification of potential vulnerabilities in the systems. In order to use this feature you must adhere to the standard tier of Security Center, and in this case you will need to not incur additional licensing fees. The Standard tier also adds advanced threat detection (including threat intelligence), behavioral analysis, anomaly detection and security incidents and reports of conferral of threats.

If you wish to keep the tier free of ASC you can still make the deployment of solutions to perform a vulnerability assessment, which Qualys and Rapid7, but it is necessary to provide the management of the licensing costs, the distribution and configuration. For more details about the cost of Azure Security Center and for a comparison between the Free and the Standard tier, see the Microsoft's official documentation.

The most immediate and rapid method to scan for vulnerabilities in Azure is using the integrated solution Qualys in the Standard Tier of Azure Security Center. To enable it, simply go to the ASC Recommendations and select “Enable the built-in vulnerability assessment solution on virtual machines (powered by Qualys)“, come mostrato dall’immagine seguente:

Figure 1 - Recommendation of Azure Security Center to enable vulnerability assessment solution

Selecting this option Azure virtual machines are divided into the following categories:

  • Healthy resources: systems where the extension has been deployed to complete a vulnerability scan.
  • Unhealthy resources: machines where you can enable the extension to scan for vulnerabilities.
  • Not applicable resources: systems where the extension is not present and that it is not possible to enable it because they belong to the ASC tier free or because the operating system is among those not supported. Among the supported operating systems are: RHEL 6.7/7.6, Ubuntu 14.04/18.04, Centos 6.10/7/7.6, Oracle Linux 6.8/7.6, SUSE 12/15, and Debian 7/8.

Figure 2 - Enabling the solution

Selecting the machines of interest and pressing the button Remediate will be onboarded to the built-in Vulnerability Assessment solution. As a result, the specific extension will be installed on the systems and the first scan will be automatically started at the end of the installation.. The extesion is based on the Azure Virtual Machine agent and therefore runs in the Local Host context on Windows systems, and Root on Linux ones.

The names of the extension that will be present on the enabled systems are listed, for which the provider will always be Qualys:

  • Linux Machines: “LinuxAgent.AzureSecurityCenter”
  • Windows Machines: “WindowsAgent.AzureSecurityCenter”

As for extension updates, the same rules apply to other extensions, so the fewest versions of Qualys' scanner will be automatically deployed following an in-depth testing phase.. In some cases, you may need manual actions to complete the upgrade.

After the scan is complete, any vulnerabilities detected on the systems will be reported in the Recommendations by ASC.

Figure 3 – ASC notification reporting the presence of recommendations for intercepted vulnerabilities

Selecting the recommendation provides details of all vulnerabilities detected, severity and its status:

Figure 4 – List of detected security vulnerabilities

By selecting the single vulnerability you can see the details, potential impacts, remediation actions and affected systems.

Figure 5 – Information reported for each individual vulnerability detected

Conclusions

To strengthen the security posture of your environment you definitely should consider adopting Azure Security Center in the standard tier, that among the various functionality it allows to check that they are applied in a strict manner all safety criteria and allows to constantly monitor the compliance criteria. The inclusion in the solution of a vulnerability assessment tool, provided by Qualys, industry leader, adds further value to the solution, also be able to draw on the knowledge gained by this vendor in the discovery of vulnerabilities.