Digitization is the gold rush of the 21st century, and data is the gold of this modern age. Digital processes generate more of it than ever before. A growing number of smart machines and devices are exchanging data via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). At the same time, processes are increasingly rarely running only in a self-contained plant. Machines and plants communicate with people and with each other. The challenge of globalization is to manage the flood of data that accumulates and to make processes comparable across countries. To create a central data basis for every company, cloud services such as Microsoft Azure are now used as standard. But is this unproblematic? What security mechanisms does Microsoft Azure use to ensure a reliable and secure system?
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that focuses on cloud-based data protection and the creation of cross-platform web and mobile applications. Users can obtain services from the areas of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) from the cloud. The main benefit for users is that they do not have to worry about cost-intensive server maintenance or the licensing of an operating system. Although Azure comes from Microsoft, the cloud platform also offers a stable and powerful platform for Linux. A more technical basis on the topic can be found on techrepublic.
Unified identity and Access Management using Azure Active Directory
Behind all the services Azure offers is the central user and group management Azure Active Directory. By integrating identity and access management, companies can ensure that only authorized users can access internal applications. Incidentally, logging in to Office 365 is also based on the same principle. Thanks to Azure multi-factor authentication, multiple authentication and verification methods are used before protected information can be accessed. Using role-based access control (RBAC), access can be restricted based on "need to know" and "least privilege" security principles. Especially for companies that want to implement internal security policies for data access, this feature is absolutely essential.
The platform provides features and security mechanisms to reliably protect Microsoft Azure and the content stored on it. The Azure Security Center provides advanced threat protection in the hybrid cloud as a central security instance. Azure Monitor Logs collects telemetry data, among other things, and provides an analytics engine to enable conclusions about the behavior of apps and resources. The Azure Key Vault allows users to secure all sensitive details such as passwords and frees them from having to worry about configuring, patching and managing HSMs or key management software. The use of all stored keys can be monitored with Azure logging. To address potential security risks in a timely manner, Azure provides easy-to-run vulnerability scans out-of-the-box. As a central defense ring, the Web Application Firewall (WAF) in Azure is designed to protect applications from the increasing threat of web-based threats such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting threats or user hijacking.
Reliable Data Storage
The Microsoft Azure Cloud and its services run in globally distributed data centers. These are designed in such a way that they can guarantee an SLA with an availability of almost 100%. The customer decides in which data center he or she wants to have the applications operated. Data centers in Northern or Western Europe are ideal for customers from the DACH region. This enables shorter access and response times and is also compliant with European data directives. Data is secure in Azure: whenever the primary site fails, it is accessible from a secondary site. Advanced local redundancy prevents business interruptions, data loss, and downtime, and ensures the system is up and running - even if an entire data center fails. Azure Site Recovery helps orchestrate backup, failover and application recovery. And thanks to the Azure Backup solution, the platform prevents failures and protects, for example, servers that are usually operated on-premise.
Worldwide, a team of more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts works to keep business assets and data secure in Azure. As a result, the software offers key advantages over an on-premise environment in addressing threats to information management. In the latter, it is up to the companies themselves to invest in security with probably limited (financial) resources. This is then often at the expense of their own security. A multi-million dollar company like Microsoft has far less difficulty keeping applications and information secure. For this reason, using Microsoft Azure helps companies operate more agilely, competitively and, above all, more securely.