I had a great interaction with Kerry, Head of Marketing at DynamicsSmartz few weeks ago. I was offered to share my technical insights into some of the Microsoft technologies and interesting trends in the Cloud and Security areas. As a Microsoft MVP in Azure, I was really excited to share my take on Cloud Security and Governance topics using this Platfrom.
what is Microsoft Dynamics Influencer Insights?
This program provides a look at what Industry Experts and Influencers have to say about the partner benefits of pursuing Digital Transformation. It is also important to note that Microsoft MVPs are usually providing the technical insights freely for the community benefit.
Insights on Cloud Security and Governance
There are multiple questions on Microsoft tech trends and opportunities that have been addressed in my interview. In addition, I also shared my success mantra that you could check it here.
Today, on August 30th, I have been informed by DynamicsSmartz that my interview has been featured on “The Microsoft Partner Daily” publication. Thank you Kerry for notifying me and great job that you are doing.
Please, let me know your take on my shared tech insights, and what would be the question you want to ask. As usual, please connect with me on @LinkedIn or @Twitter.
The following post is going to be covered in the Azure Spring Clean 2022 event’s website too. Thus, you might be wondering what the Azure Spring Clean is?
Note:This post is not finalized yet 😉 and will include a video session too. Thus, please be patient with ongoing progress. Thanks!
Azure Spring Clean 2022 Overview
The Azure Spring Clean is a community-driven event focused on Azure management topics and gradually publishes content from March 14-18, 2022.
I would like sincerely Thank – Joe Carlyle and Thomas Thornton for putting time and effort in organizing this event. From a #cloudmarathoner ’s perspective it’s been enjoyable to contribute and be a part of this event. This topic specifically outlines how to understand the pros and cons of your initial Azure AD settings that will be aligned with your project’s expectations.
WHY azure ad security defaults are important?
Indeed, this is a very legit question and I would like to address it with the following quote from Alex Weinert:
…our telemetry tells us that more than 99.9% of organization account compromise could be stopped by simply using MFA, and that disabling legacy authentication correlates to a 67% reduction in compromise risk (and completely stops password spray attacks, 100% of which come in via legacy authentication)…
The main purpose behind these default settings is to make sure that all organizations using Azure AD have a basic level of security, and it is enabled at no extra cost according to Microsoft.
Azure AD security defaults are something you need to enable at the tenant level. Once you do this, the rules will apply to all users in your tenant without any exceptions.
If you are looking for enforce rules more selectively ( or exclude some users ) then security defaults won’t be a fit solution for you. For this scenario, you would need to look at getting some P1 or P2 licenses and use the conditional access instead.
How can I set up my Azure AD Security Defaults?
The Microsoft Azure AD team did a fantastic job by simplifying this option. You need to navigate int0 Azure AD -> Properties -> and click on link Manage Security defaults.
You will end-up with the following window on the right panel of Azure portal:
What is baked inside the security defaults in azure ad?
There are a number of things baked into the “Security Defaults” by Azure AD team. You could read about an official and detailed description here – Security defaults in Azure AD.
One of the BIG incentives for the security defaults is that it brings Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to your users for #free. Of course, there are some limitations around this which I will cover later on, but this option does allow you to get an MFA with no additional cost.
Previously, you would have to have either Azure AD P1 licenses, or pay per use for MFA functionality. Thus, this is a big game changer benefit that you are getting for free in your tenant and will bring a significant extra level of security. And this defaults includes both Azure and Office 365 services.
Along with MFA, security defaults are enforcing several policies that make your tenant more secure:
Requiring all users to sign up for MFA (for free)
Requiring those in Azure administrator roles to perform MFA
Blocking legacy authentication protocols – this includes clients that don’t use modern authentication and so don’t support MFA, and older mail protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3
Requiring MFA authentication when undertaking privileged actions using the Azure portal, PowerShell or CLI
Will Security Defaults replace my Azure AD licenses ?
In short, the answer is No. Your Azure AD licenses provide more security protection services than what you get from “Security Defaults”.
Think of a “Security Defaults” as a security design approach for users on a free Azure AD tier. Because, if you are already using P1 or P2 licenses you would want to look at using conditional access to perform this (and more) rather than security defaults.
What you need to know before deploying the Security Defaults?
Based on Microsoft security guidelines, every organization should have at least two emergency access accounts configured. These accounts are intended for use when your regular administrator account’s can not be used. A typical example is: when person with the most recent Global Admin access has left your company.
What are the emergency access accounts ? Well, following three criteria defines it pretty well:
Aren’t used on a daily basis
Are protected with a long complex password
Has an assigned Global Administrator rights in Azure AD
These emergency access accounts and credentials are very sensitive and should be stored in a secure location like a fireproof safe. And only authorized people in your organization should have access to these accounts.
What to do when switching from Security Defaults to azure ad Conditional Access Policies?
In order to provide more productivity and better security to your users, you could replicate the policies created by Azure AD Security Defaults. First, your customer’s tenant must be licensed with Azure AD Premium P2. However, the majority of policies can also be accomplished using the Azure AD Premium P1 license.
Check out the following Microsoft documented guides on how you can use Conditional Access to configure equivalent policies to the once that get set by the security defaults:
All these policies could be implemented with Premium P1 license, except the last one. The last policy requires Azure AD Identity Protection feature of the Azure AD and could be provided via Premium P2 license.
Thank you so much for reading this post and learning about the Azure AD Security defaults. I tried my best to provide my perspective on this important topic while using availiable Microsoft docs and resources.
Please, keep up the good work by securing your and customer’s cloud environments!
I am very excited to see you all in the next Omaha Azure User Group meetup. This time we will speak about the latest advancements and use cases you could apply in your Azure resource authoring toolkit.
As you may know, it is that time of a year when great content will be coming to the town! You could enjoy and learn throughout the month of December, as people behind the #festivetechcalendar will be bringing you lots of new content from different communities and people around the globe.
This year, I have submitted two sessions and have been nicely surprised yesterday. Both sessions have been accepted and I am looking forward to deliver following sessions for the community:
Session # 1: What you need to know about Azure AD security defaults?
In this session above, we will discuss about how to get started with Azure security on right foot and its challenges. We will focus on importance of a strong Identity and Access in any cloud solution that we are creating for our customers. One simple way to get started is review and adjustment of security default options in Azure AD. We will also look into the set of practices to get you started with Azure AD setup and learn about the benefits of Azure Security Benchmark.
Session # 2: All you need to know about Azure Bicep configurations
In the second session, we will talk about Azure Bicep – a new language that aims to ease Azure resource authoring and management. This new language comes with a powerful VS Code extension and config file options. In this session, we will unveil dozens of powerful features in our config file to suit your style of coding on VS Code and cheer up our productivity skills. We will apply our fresh skills by creating several Bicep demos in the process.
I sincerely hope that these sessions will spark your interest and I am looking forward to see you all during this event. But most importantly, I hope you could have lots of fun during this festive month.
Stay tuned for more Azure AD, Automation & Security related posts.
It is a pretty common situation when as a Developer you are not granted access to work with company Azure AD. And there are many reasons why corporate security / IT would be hesitant to provide that access.
However, this situation should not discourage you from experimenting and prototyping solutions that you have.
Let’s consider following two easy options to create a free Azure Active Directory with Premium (P1 or P2) trial licenses. This will enable you to install/create an app that requires Azure AD license, and start testing and validating your workloads right away:
Option # 1: Microsoft 365 Developer Program
Join a free Microsoft 365 Developer Program and get a free sandbox, tools, and other resources you need to build solutions for the Microsoft 365 platform. Resources like an Azure AD with Premium licenses, pre-configured users, groups, mailboxes and etc.
Option # 2: Create an Azure trial account
Create a new free Azure AD account with a tenant and activate your Premium licenses in your new tenant. This is a classic option for anyone who is trying to learn Azure for the first time.
The Azure trial account will give you one month to play with Azure and Azure AD services, where you will get certain credits to spend on Azure resources. You will get an option to convert this trial subscription into a paid one at the end of the trial period.
How to Join Microsoft 365 Developer Program
My recommendation would be to sign up for the free Microsoft 365 developer program that gets renewed automatically, if you are using that account. Check out the following instructions on how to set-up one:
2. Sign in with a exisiting or new Microsoft Account you already have
3. On the signup page, fill the form and accept the terms and conditions of the program, and click next
4. Continue with a subscription set-up. You should specify the region where you want to create your new tenant, create a username, domain and enter a password. This step will create a new tenant and an administrator account of the tenant.
5. Enter the security information which is required to protect the sensitive administrator account. Complete this step by setting up MFA authentication for your admin account.
6. Link your developer account with your GitHub account for an easy renewal. You should see the following GitHub account link blue banner, once the linking operation succeeds.
Congratulations! You have created a new Azure AD tenant with 25 E5 user licenses. This also includes Azure AD Premium licenses.
As an additional perk, you can also add sample data packs with users, Mail & Events and SharePoint, as sample data for your development environment.
Good Luck on your next M365 project!
Stay tuned for more Azure AD, Automation & Security related posts.
This week a new service – Fusion Detection for Ransomware has been announced. These Fusion detections correlate alerts that are potentially associated with ransomware activities that are observed at defense evasion and execution stages during a specific timeframe.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware attack is a type of attack that involves using specific types of malicious software or malware to make a network or system inaccessible for the purpose of extortion – ‘ransom’.
There is no doubt that ransomware attacks have taken a massive turn in being the top priority as a threat to many organizations. A recent report released by PurpleSec revealed that the estimated cost of ransomware attacks was $20 billion in 2020 and with downtime increasing by over 200% and the cost being 23x higher than 2019.
Preventing such attacks in the first place would be the ideal solution but with the new trend of ‘ransomware as a service’ and human operated ransomware, the scope and the sophistication of attacks are increasing – attackers are using slow and stealth techniques to compromise network, which makes it harder to detect them in the first place.
In order to help your analyst quickly understand the possible attack, Fusion provides you with a complete picture for the suspicious activities happened on the same device/host by correlating signals from Microsoft products as well as signals in network and cloud. Supported data connectors include:
”With Fusion detection for ransomware that captures malicious activities at the defense evasion and execution stages of an attack, it gives security analysts an opportunity to quickly understand the suspicious activities happened around the same timeframe on the common entities, connect the dots and take immediate actions to disrupt the attack.”
Microsoft is commited to release new multistage attack scenarios detected by Fusion in Azure Sentinel. You could keep an eye on there Azure Sentinel Fusion page and get latest updates there 🙂
Stay tuned for more Azure automation & Security related posts.
There might be some technical knowledge gaps when we start to learn a new cloud service or its features. One way to minimize it – is to study for a certification exam or read a book that has a more holistic approach into the technology.
Well, while not all of you might agree with this approach of reading the book, certain books can open a completely new perspective into your vision. Of course, there is a risk that over-time, the cloud services described in the book might be phased out, merged or re-named (like, Azure Data Warehouse service got evolution into Azure Synapse Analytics) into some other services.
In addition, hands-on learning is the recommended approach to master your knowledge and get technical depth into the subject matter area.
Anyway, no matter what approach works best for you, the “Azure Strategy and Implementation Guide 4th Edition” is an essential handbook to cloud transformation with Azure that you don’t want to miss out on.
As it is a common case in technology, there are many different scenarios for running your workloads on Azure to meet your company’s business needs. This book puts renewed emphasis on the importance of using design principles and how crucial planning is – when moving resources to Azure.
The authors of the book use the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework, and recommend to adopting best practices to improve the quality of your workloads in the cloud.
That said, let’s have a look into the chapters:
✔️ Introduction to Azure ✔️ Automation and governance in Azure ✔️ Modernizing with hybrid cloud and multicloud ✔️ Cloud migration: Planning, implementation, and best practices ✔️ Enabling secure, remote work with Microsoft Azure AD and WVD ✔️ Security fundamentals to help protect against cybercrime ✔️ Offers, support, resources, and tips to optimize cost in Azure
I hope those listing sparkled your interest to read the book. Well, without any overdue check the download link and put it on your device.
Hopefully, you could get solid Azure cloud understanding from this book and lighten-up your cloud transformation journey.
We are continuing our cloud learning journey with Azure services today. Last year Azure Active Directory has introduced many useful features and we will talk about one of them that simplifies the identity governance.
“An Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) entitlement management is an identity governance feature that enables organizations to manage identity and access lifecycle at scale, by automating access request workflows, access assignments, reviews, and expiration. ” – Microsoft Azure AD Identity Governance
Entitlement management example with one catalog and two access packages
How can entitlement management help?
There are several ways how you could leverage these features for your Azure resource management activities. The easiest one to get started with is the delegation options:
✔️ Delegate management of resources from high privileged account to managers ✔️ Govern access for users in your organization ✔️ Govern access for users outside your organization ✔️ Automate and simplify day-2-day management ✔️ View and report on resource assignments and access packages
Let’s consider following two common scenarios:
First Scenario: As administrator you want to delegate access governance from IT administrators to users who aren’t administrators. Check out the Video clip for step-by-step guidance.
Second Scenario: You would like to create an automated request process for your users to enable them request for an access package (set of Azure resources and accesses rights) to do their job.
The request process of access packages can be simply understood by a help of a following sample infographic.
When I should use access packages?
It is not a silver bullet, so access packages do not replace other mechanisms for access assignment. However, following use-cases are most appropriate in situations where you would consider them:
Employees need time-limited access for a particular task. For example, you might use group-based licensing and a dynamic group to ensure all employees have an Exchange Online mailbox, and then use access packages for situations in which employees need additional access, such as to read departmental resources from another department.
Access that requires the approval of an employee’s manager or other designated individuals.
Departments wish to manage their own access policies for their resources without IT involvement.
Two or more organizations are collaborating on a project, and as a result, multiple users from one organization will need to be brought in via Azure AD B2B to access another organization’s resources.
Thank you for reading till this point. Stay tuned for more Cloud Security and Administration related posts.
Hybrid-cloud security and protection of digital estate across cloud is very hot topic. But there are very few tools that can cover all different clouds, even though there are myriad of third party and cloud native tools to achieve this mission.
Thus, I have compiled my takeaways on perspective from the latest Microsoft Security blog post and wanted to share back set of tools on Microsoft Azure that could help you achieve management of security poster across clouds.
Microsoft’s Azure security and management tools extend protection to your multi-cloud estate (including other CSPs like AWS, GCP, IBM, etc.)
The followings are the key services that enable it:
✔️ Azure defender for Servers ✔️Azure Security Center ✔️Azure Defender for SQL
Let’s start with the Azure Defender for Servers. What is the Azure Defender for Servers ?
Well, this service leverages Azure Arc to simplify the on-boarding and security of virtual machines running in AWS, GCP, and hybrid clouds.
The Azure Arc projects non-Azure resources into Azure native objects that can be managed and secured with Azure capabilities (Secure Score, Compliance Reporting, Azure Policy, Azure Defender, asset management, etc.)
Next important service visualized on a diagram is Azure Security Center. Well, what is Azure Security Center?
This service provides a unified multi-cloud view of security posture by integrating AWS Security Hub and GCP Security Command Center detected misconfigurations and findings in Secure Score and Regulatory Compliance Experience.
And finally, let’s review the Azure Defender for SQL.
This managed service constantly monitors your SQL servers for threats, whether they are hosted on-premises, in multi-cloud deployments on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and in virtual machines on Azure.
The MCAS (Microsoft Cloud App Security) 🛡️🔐 – helps to identify and combat cyberthreats across all your cloud services. This is a cloud access security broker (CASB) that provides multifunction visibility, control over data travel, and sophisticated analytics.