How to Secure Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is one of the most widely-used cloud services on the market that many enterprises have used to move to the cloud. However, like any piece of infrastructure, Azure needs to be properly secured to decrease the chance of a data breach.

Here’s our list of the best Microsoft Azure monitoring tools:

  1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL) Application monitoring software with Azure IaaS/PaaS monitoring, dashboards, autodiscovery, alerts, reports, and more.
  2. Datadog Our top pick for Microsoft Azure monitoring software. Cloud monitoring software with over 400 integrations, custom dashboards, machine learning-powered alerts, full API access, and more.
  3. Dynatrace Application performance monitoring software with autodiscovery for Azure dependencies, Docker, and AWS containers, AI-driven alerts, and more.
  4. AppDynamics Application performance management solution with autodiscovery for Azure, anomaly detection, custom dashboards, graphs, charts, and more.
  5. New Relic Microsoft Azure certified application performance monitoring software with dashboards, graphs, charts, alerts, anomaly detection, and more.
  6. LogicMonitor Infrastructure monitoring software with Azure integration, a customizable dashboard, threshold-based alerts, escalation chains, and more.

Secure Azure Step-by-Step 

Microsoft Azure

Keeping Microsoft Azure secure is all about knowing what controls you’re responsible for, and those your provider should control. Microsoft has a range of security measures including a security development cycle, mandatory security training, background checks, and physical security within data centers that your security measures should complement.

To get the most out of your Azure implementation, you should be familiar with the following security measures and best practices:

1. Become Familiar with The Shared Responsibility Model 

The number one thing you need to address is understanding where Microsoft’’s security responsibilities as a provider begin and where yours as a customer begins. As a customer, you’re responsible for securing client endpoints, and accounts, and implementing controls such as access rights management.

On the other hand, Azure is responsible for maintaining and protecting the physical hosts, network, and datacenter your resources are hosted on. Other components like applications, network controls, operating systems, and identity, and directory infrastructure depend on the type of plan you’ve purchased.

Becoming familiar with the shared responsibility model is essential because it lets you know which segments of your infrastructure you need to monitor so you can cover all the bases. The shared responsibility model should be considered before completing a migration to Azure.

2. Implement the Recommendations Listed in Azure Security Center 

Azure Security Center regularly monitors the state of your Azure resources and generates recommendations that you can use to help secure them. In the Recommendations tab, you can view a list of recommendations, which you can click on to view a description of each problem, which resources are affected, and steps you can follow to resolve the problem.

Implementing the recommendations listed in Azure Security Center helps you eliminate vulnerabilities. Following the guidance provided by the platform is a very easy way to tweak your settings and improve your overall security.

3. Limit the number of subscription owners 

Every subscription owner or user with owner permissions represents a security risk if an account becomes compromised. The fewer people who have owner permissions the better. To lower your risk of exposure, limit the number of subscription owners to two or three, and no more.

4. Control Access with Temporary Permissions and Conditional Access 

One great way to limit your exposure to threats is to grant temporary permissions to users with Azure AD Privileged Identity Management so they can perform privileged tasks. Users can complete their necessary tasks and then you can revoke access so there are no opportunities to exploit that access.

Another way to control access is to give conditional access to resources based on factors such as the device’s identity, network location, and assurance. You can restrict access through Azure AD Conditional Access, where you can configure automated access control decisions with trigger conditions.

5. Use Encryption 

Microsoft Azure gives you the option to encrypt your data in transit and at rest. Encryption is essential for protecting your data from hackers. If your data is stored or transferred in an encrypted state, then a hacker can eavesdrop on the content, and steal your personal information.

With Azure disk encryption, you can protect Windows and Linux virtual machines with Windows BitLocker, and DM-Crypt to protect system disks. Using encryption adds an extra barrier of security that lowers the risk of a data breach.

6. Monitor Microsoft Azure 

One of the challenges of moving to the cloud is that you don’t have physical access to the resources, so it can be difficult to identify when there’s a performance issue. To accurately measure performance, you need a cloud monitoring tool that’s compatible with Azure.

Monitoring Azure with a cloud monitoring platform helps you to track the performance of your resources and ensure they maintain high-quality performance. We’re going to look at some of the top tools for monitoring Microsoft Azure in the next section.

The best Microsoft Azure monitoring tools

Monitoring Microsoft Azure is essential for detecting application performance issues and dependencies. A reliable cloud monitoring tool will provide you with alerts when your service experiences performance difficulties so that you can start troubleshooting and addressing the problem. Monitoring Azure not only enables you to enhance the end-user experience but also allows you to verify your infrastructure stays safe against malicious entities.

1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is an application monitoring solution you can use to monitor Azure applications. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides Azure IaaS and PaaS monitoring so you can monitor virtual machines, Kubernetes, App Service, Event Hubs, and SQL databases through a single pane of glass. You can also monitor other Windows products such as Windows, Exchange, SQL Server, and Office 365.

You can view performance data through the dashboard with the assistance of visualizations options like charts and graphs. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor automatically discovers Azure virtual machines and containers so you don’t need to manually discover everything from scratch.

An alerts system notifies you about performance issues when they occur. Dynamic baselines define normal behavior so that the software can discover anomalous activity and alert you to take action. You can also create reports to share performance trends with the rest of your team.

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is a versatile application monitoring solution that’s suitable for enterprises of all sizes. Prices start at $1,567 (£1,211). You can start the 30-day free trial.

Key Features:

  • Azure IaaS and PaaS monitoring
  • Dashboard
  • Automatically discover Azure virtual machines and containers
  • Alerts system
  • Reports
  • REST API

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor Start 30-day FREE Trial

2. Datadog

Datadog Azure Monitoring

Datadog is a cloud monitoring tool that provides real-time monitoring for Microsoft Azure. With Datadog you can automatically discover and monitor Azure services such as CosmosDB, Service Bus, and AKS, and monitor performance through the dashboard. Dashboards are drag-and-drop so you can customize your point of view.

Machine learning-powered alerts automatically notify you about performance anomalies when they occur. The AI helps eliminate false positives by factoring in periodic spikes in activity. You can customize the alerts by setting thresholds for metrics about which the software will alert you.

There are over 400 different integrations included out-of-the-box with Datadog for third-party vendors. However, if this isn’t enough, you can create your own with an API. Full API access allows you to capture events and metrics from external applications, helping the software to fit within your existing operations more easily.

Datadog is an excellent choice for enterprises searching for a cloud monitoring tool for Microsoft Azure and other applications. Prices start at $15 (£11.59) per month for the Infrastructure package. The agent is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can start the free trial.

Key Features:

  • Automatically discover Azure services
  • Dashboard
  • Machine learning-powered alerts
  • 400+ integrations
  • AP

3. Dynatrace

Dynatrace

Dynatrace is an application performance monitoring solution with Azure monitoring. The platform can automatically discover and map Azure dependencies on a dependency map. A dashboard view provides you with a run down of your entire environment providing key metrics on the availability of Hosts, Applications, Services, and Databases, alongside visualization options like graphs and charts.

Monitoring containers with Dynatrace is made easier through the autodiscovery of Docker and AKS containers in real-time. You can also use Dynatrace OneAgent Operator to deploy the OneAgent onto Kubernetes nodes automatically with less manual configuration.

AI-driven alerts automatically establish performance baselines and detect anomalies to notify you immediately. Users can configure custom alert thresholds to determine when the system will generate an alert. All events detected by custom alerts can be viewed in the Problems feed, providing a record of the latest security events.

Dynatrace is a state of the art application monitoring solution that’s suitable for enterprises looking for a solution to gain transparency over the performance of Azure applications. The Full-stack monitoring package stats at $6 (£4.64) per month per 8 Gb host. You can start the 15-day free trial.

Key Features:

  • Automatically discover and map Azure decencies
  • Dashboard
  • Graphs and charts
  • Automatically discover Docker and AKS containers
  • AI-powered alerts

4. AppDynamics 

AppDynamics

AppDynamics is an application performance management solution with Microsoft Azure monitoring. AppDynamics automatically discovers Microsoft Azure services including Azure App Service, Web Apps, WebJobs, and Azure functions, so that you can monitor issues such as performance bottlenecks.

Anomaly detection, powered by machine learning, establishes performance baselines and notifies you when resources display unusual behavior. For example, if the response time of an application is unusually high the system will notify you so you can investigate further and find the root cause. Code-level root cause analysis allows you to see the precise cause of performance issues.

Visualization options like graphs and charts provide you with an overview of your infrastructure that’s easy to understand at a glance. Dashboards are customizable so that you can build the view that displays the performance issues most relevant to your environment.

AppDynamics is a solid application performance management tool for enterprises who require a solution with anomaly detection. To view pricing information you need to request a quote from the company directly. You can start the 15-day free trial.

Key Features:

  • Automatically discover Microsoft Azure services
  • Anomaly detection
  • Code-level root cause analysis
  • Graphs and charts
  • Custom dashboards

5. New Relic

New Relic

New Relic is a Microsoft Azure certified application performance monitoring you can use to monitor the performance of Azure web apps. View performance data through the dashboard complete with graphs and charts you can use to discover important performance trends.

An Alerts system generates alerts whenever performance deteriorates. Alerts are threshold-based so you can configure trigger conditions that dictate when the software triggers an alert. There is also an applied intelligence feature that automatically detects anomalies and notifies you so that you can respond quickly and reduce your MTTR.

The platform comes with over 300 agents and integrations making it easy to monitor all of your infrastructures from one place. If you require more customization options then you can use the API to build custom apps.

New Relic is a high-quality application monitoring software you can use to monitor Azure alongside the rest of your applications. The Standard version is available for free for a single user and costs $99 (£76.52) per additional user per month. You can sign up from this link.

Key Features:

  • Microsoft Azure certified
  • Dashboard
  • Graphs and charts
  • Alerts
  • API

6. LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor screenshot

LogicMonitor is an infrastructure monitoring platform that provides monitoring for Microsoft Azure. LogicMonitor has an Azure integration that can collect Azure monitor metrics. The user interface features a customizable dashboard so you can view the Azure performance metrics most relevant to your environment.

Out-of-the-box threshold based alerts notify you whenever resources begin to perform poorly. Alerts are sent via email, SMS, and voice calls so you’re always up-to-date on the latest developments. Configure escalation chains to determine who is notified first. You have the option to configure recipient groups so that groups of users receive the same alerts.

Reports help you to record key performance trends to share with your team. Create report groups and schedule reports for automated email delivery to create regular updates on your resources.

LogicMonitor is a robust Azure and infrastructure monitoring capabilities, with lots of configuration options. You need to request a quote from the sales team for pricing information. You can get the free trial.

Key Features:

  • Microsoft Azure integration
  • Custom dashboard
  • Alerts
  • Escalation chains
  • Reports

Azure Security Guide: Monitoring Should be a Top Priority 

Moving to the cloud brings to the table new security concerns that need to be managed the same as you would for on-premises infrastructure. Adhering to the best practices listed above and implementing continuous performance monitoring will help to make sure that your applications are not only secure but also perform well.

Tools like SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, Datadog, and LogicMonitor are worth taking a look at if you want to monitor Azure performance long term. However, we recommend researching multiple tools before committing to a purchase or installation so that you find the best fit for your needs.