Securing Your Azure Environment: Minimizing the Attack Surface

With cybercrime on the rise every day, it’s more important than ever to have an effective security system in place to protect your data. With Microsoft, cyber security has always been a top priority so unsurprisingly there are many tools and features available to build an adequate infrastructure for Azure.

One of the ways to increase security on Azure is to better protect your identity infrastructure and one way to do that is by reducing the attack surface area. There are a variety of ways to do this that vary in complexity. According to Tech Quarters which provides expert IT Support Services in London, organizations should be embracing Zero Trust security principles and disabling older, less secure protocols, limiting access entry points, gaining more control of administrative access to any resources and moving to cloud authentication.

In this article, you will find all the ways your organization can reduce their attack surface area and increase security with the capabilities of Azure Active Directory.

Use Alternative Authentication

Using cloud authentication methods should be the first thing an organization puts into place. The reality is that usernames and passwords are the primary target. Having weak and easy-to-guess passwords is the highest risk for a data breach in an organization.

By using cloud authentication, enabling multi-factor authentication, and using password less authentication methods, it can significantly reduce the attack surface and overall increase security. Popular authentication methods that any good IT Support Company would suggest are Windows Hello for Business, Microsoft Authentication and FIDO security keys.

Block Legacy Authentication

Organizations using apps like POP3, IMAP4 or SMTP clients that use their own legacy authentication methods and then have access to company data pose a security risk. This is an issue because these apps authenticate for the user but actually prevent Azure AD from doing any advanced security evaluations. It’s preferred to use modern authentication methods to support conditional access and multi-factor authentication.

To block legacy authentication, organizations can discover any legacy authentication with Azure AD sign-In logs and Log Analytic workbooks and further set up SharePoint Online and Exchange Online.

Block invalid authentication entry points

This is a small and simple method but effective in its own way. Using Conditional Access on Azure AD, you can define specific conditions to better control how authorized users access their apps and resources. This essentially looks at which devices, groups, networks and elements are authorized and blocking those that are not recognized.

Review and govern admin roles

By carefully controlling the amount of privilege an account has it will minimize the likelihood of an account getting compromised that operates with too much control. Organizations can use Azure AD Roles to ensure that identities are assigned with the least amount of privilege needed.

Further, Microsoft 365 Consulting providers recommend that privileged roles should be cloud only to further isolate the accounts from any on-premises environments and also don’t use on-premises password vaults to store credentials

Implement Privilege Access Management

Privileged Identity Management helps organizations be aware of any excessive, unnecessary or misused access permissions to important resources in Azure AD, Azure or other Microsoft Online Services like Microsoft Intune or Microsoft 365.

PIM can identify and manage administrative roles, identify which unused or excessive privileged roles should be removed, set up rules that establish that privileged roles have multi-factor authentication and also establish rules to grant privileged roles only long enough to complete a privileged task.

Restrict user consent operations

And finally, it’s recommended that organizations restrict user consent for apps so that only verified publishers and selected permissions will be allowed. Future consent operations must only be performed by an administrator or for restricted cases, those that request admin consent through an admin consent request workflow. Once consent operations are regulated, only administrators should be auditing consent permissions and apps regularly.

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