COVID has ushered in unprecedented cybersecurity risk. Throughout the past two years of the global pandemic, data hacking incidents have increased by 600% according to industry reports.
With statistics like those, it’s no surprise that data and information security are more in demand than ever before. Organizations are leveraging the built-in security features of cloud platforms like Azure, but they also recognize that security is a joint responsibility between the cloud platform and the application owner. To assist organizations with this shared responsibility, Microsoft published its Well-Architected Azure Framework, a set of best practices for effectively managing in Azure. One of the core pillars of the framework is security.
What Drives Security?
As applications and technologies increase in size and scale, so do opportunities for exploitation. Advances in information security are a necessary response to this growing application complexity and subsequent risk.
In other words:
“Attackers now freely exploit vulnerabilities in system configurations, operational practices, and the social habits of the systems’ users. As system complexity, connectedness, and the variety of users increase, attackers have more opportunities to identify unprotected edge cases and to ‘hack’ systems into doing things they were not designed to do.”
According to a recent report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.68 million. Another alarming statistic from that report stated that in 20% of these data breaches, secure credentials were compromised. Cybercrime is not only an issue of money and interruption of business processes. It is also an issue of identity theft and access to secure information.
Microsoft Azure and the application or system owners have both a responsibility and the means to help you mitigate security risks and keep data safe.
Security: A Key Component of Microsoft Azure
Microsoft has a number of pillars which make up the structure of its Well-Architected Azure framework. This article focuses on one of those pillars — security.
The role of security in Azure is quite complex. Recognizing how IT solutions interact with their surrounding environment is one way to prevent unauthorized activity and identify weaknesses that could present as a future security threat. Another factor in success is adopting a mindset assuming failure of a security measure and designing controls based on that assumption of failure, thereby limiting risk.
So, once we have the correct mindset, what steps do we take to ensure the security is appropriately designed to fortify against threats?
Microsoft’s security design principles help do just that. By adopting these principles in your cloud management setup, you’ll be best prepared for impending attacks. Here are some of the most important principles in developing a strong security posture:
- Align Security Priorities to a Mission – No matter the industry, security resources are typically limited. Prioritize efforts and assurances by aligning security strategy and technical controls to the business using classification of data and systems. NOTE: Azure recommends security resources be focused on people and assets (systems, data, accounts, etc.) first, prioritizing those systems of intrinsic business value and those people with administrative privileges over business-critical assets.
- Build a Comprehensive Strategy – Consider investments in culture, processes, and security controls across all systems and business units. This strategy should also take into consideration security for the full lifecycle of system components. This includes the supply chain of software, hardware, and services.
- Drive Simplicity – Complexity should never be a benchmark for success. Complexity can actually lead to more confusion, human error, automation delays, and the inability to recover. Opt for simple, consistent structure, governance and implementations.
- Design for Attackers, Design for Resiliency – Design as if there is an impending attack on the horizon. Actively test, measure, and then adjust and reduce the risk of any potential attacks that surface. Similarly, assume failure during the design process and you’ll be one step ahead if and when failure occurs. This includes routine, ongoing maintenance-caused failures, which often lead to weak spots.
- Leverage Native Controls – Particularly when it comes to Microsoft programs, it’s always a good idea to favor native security controls already built into cloud services over third-party external controls.
- Drive Continuous Improvement – Both existing systems and future developments should be regularly evaluated and constantly improved on to ensure they remain effective against attackers. With so much change and technological innovation happening constantly, no system can remain secure without being constantly improved.
- Assume Zero Trust – When considering requests for access, all requesting users should be considered untrusted until their integrity can be validated. Access requests should be granted conditionally based on the requestor’s trust level and the target resource’s sensitivity.
Cybersecurity Drives Success
It’s impossible to run a successful business that’s connected to the internet without considering and planning for cybersecurity threats. With an ever-increasing reliance on technology, cybersecurity attacks aren’t just a consideration but an inevitable event to plan for.
By adopting the correct processes and considering ways to protect your organization as outlined above, you can start to take control of security and reduce the risk of cybersecurity threats.
If you still find yourself looking over one shoulder for the next threat, Microsoft Azure and the VIAcode team can help. VIAcode is proud to offer a virtual Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) solution to customers, which includes a framework for improving security and better managing internal teams and Azure itself. This CCoE guide offers leaders in any organization the advice and tools needed to establish a multidisciplinary team of experts to maximize outcomes and speed up solutions.
VIAcode is a Microsoft gold-certified partner. It is one of the few companies to earn advanced specialization in Windows and SQL Server migration to Azure. VIAcode is well-equipped to help you migrate to Azure or optimize your Azure management costs and experience. If you are at all concerned with cracks in your security strategy or believe your Azure experience isn’t performing to the best of its ability, get in touch with a VIAcode representative.
You can also get started yourself with this fast, free Azure Snapshot assessment. This assessment provides you with a health score for security and monitoring and helps identify potential cost savings.