It is important for organizations to ensure optimal configuration of their cloud environment while embarking on the digital transformation journey. With Azure cloud, organizations have been experiencing a consistent experience backed by ever-evolving technologies, customizable configurations, and robust security. Following best practices with built-in features have helped organizations to evade any Azure misconfigurations that might significantly impact their infrastructure.

While Azure cloud comes with pre-configured features that enable organizations to operate out of the box, without extra security efforts, organizations easily become vulnerable to some common Azure misconfigurations. These misconfigurations are further aimed by cyberattacks to disrupt the infrastructure vulnerabilities of organizations. For a secure set up of Azure cloud, significant efforts, sound knowledge on different technological spaces, and in-depth understanding of Azure ecosystem is a must for organizations to prevent misconfigurations.

Common Azure Misconfigurations

  1. Absence of Multifactor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is for ensuring the elimination of rogue devices that are added to Azure Active Directory through credentials of compromised user accounts. Lack of multi-factor authentication leads to risks such as attackers joining potentially malicious, non-compliant, and unmanaged devices of organizations, in turn accessing resources and applications.

  1. Improper Encryption of Data Disks

Improper encryption of data disks impacts the performance of Azure environment along with additional costs, when it comes to unattached, data, and operating system disks. This Azure misconfiguration can be prevented by making encryption a standard in all production environments on servers as well as workstations.

  1. Missing Email Notifications

A major mishap in security is misconfiguration of email notifications while running production environments on Azure cloud. This further leads to absence of alerts about incidents or compromisation of resources. This misconfiguration is something that organizations must continuously keep an eye on with high priority.

  1. Configuring Network Security Groups with ‘ANY’

An often observed Azure misconfiguration is defining rules of Network Security Groups (NSG) by using the ‘ANY’ protocol, source, or destination. This leads organizations to the risk of enabling greater traffic toward unintended leakage of details for attackers to exploit and breach into the cloud environment of organizations. 

  1. Anonymous Access to Blob Storage

In production environments, all blob storages must be set as confidential, thereby preventing anonymous access. If this is not done, then it naturally poses a threat of unauthorized data exfiltration and leakage.

  1. Insecure Settings of Guest Users

A key Azure Misconfiguration is keeping guest users in the active directory, which provides them with high privileges. These include, enumerating other users, reading properties of enterprise applications, and inviting external users into the organization. This poses an extreme security risk and such a misconfiguration must be avoided and changed soon possible. It is recommended that organizations have no guest users.

  1. Insecure Access to Active Directory Administration Portal

The Administration portal of the Azure Active Directory comprises a significant amount of confidential and sensitive data and any user can access it. This poses significant risk to organizations in terms of security and must therefore be restricted.

  1. Disabled Identity Protection

Organizations often fail to enable Identity Protection that adds a layer of security for user entitlements in Azure Active Directory. This leads to vulnerabilities, which include IP addresses linked with malware, leaked user credentials, and atypical travel of users. However, this is a premium feature, which is a trouble for organizations as it leads to additional costs.

  1. Improper Monitoring of Metrics to Track Resource Utilization

It is commonly observed that organizations get over-provisioned with resources while their applications are only using a fraction of these resources. This results in a significant rise in their monthly cloud expenditures. Improper monitoring of metrics in tracking the use of resources is a common Azure misconfiguration, which leads organizations to spend more than necessary for keeping their applications running in Azure.

  1. Improper Monitoring of Activity Logs

Insights are provided by activity logs on the occurrences in Azure subscription based on management and access of resources. This helps organizations track every activity related to creation, deletion, and actions performed on the ARM model’s resources. Integrating these activity logs with multiple monitoring solutions enables organizations to perform advanced analysis. In case the monitoring is incorrect, there are possibilities of deviations in best practices, thereby implying an Azure misconfiguration and hampering security of the environment.

To Conclude

Maintaining the security and compliance posture of Azure environments is a complex procedure. This needs organizations to have adept expertise and knowledge about a wide range of areas as the ecosystem continues to evolve with new features and requirements. Being aware of the Azure misconfigurations helps organizations evade unnecessary security risks while focusing their resources to organizational growth and productivity.

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