Many organisations are recognising that after their people, data and the way this is utilised are their most important assets – and this means their protection and security in the cloud must be a priority. Nick Isherwood, our Azure Product Director, takes a look at how Azure can support your data management, security and compliance requirements in the cloud.
According to this year’s Flexera State of the Cloud report, one of the top cloud challenges for organisations continues to be security. The usual cyber security concerns have increased in volume and complexity, exacerbated by economic and political turmoil we see at a wider scale.
It’s becoming easier for threat actors to compromise our data – and that data is becoming more valuable, increasing its vulnerability to a breach or attack. With all the digital imperatives and initiatives organisations are facing, it’s easy to look past security, but it must be prioritised to keep valuable data and assets safe. Indeed, Microsoft lists prioritisation of security as one of five digital imperatives facing all organisations.
How secure is the public cloud?
In the past, security might have been a more prominent concern for organisations adopting the public cloud, but this is no longer the case. Now, organisations of all sizes trust Azure due to its advanced physical and logical security architecture while being able to rapidly adapt to changes with the scalable, sustainable, globally distributed platform for applications and data.
Based across Azure’s data centre regions, your cloud environment is protected by resilient layers of physical and virtual security measures that Microsoft continually invests in, to the tune of well over $1bn per year. Simply by using Azure, you are also benefiting from over 100 compliance certifications, including International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS).
With the sheer investment and volume of security measures that go into defending the Microsoft cloud, with more than 3,500 cyber security professionals working to keep the platform secure, the fact of the matter is that the public cloud is protected far more comprehensively than what the typical organisation could feasibly achieve independently.
Microsoft’s investments for security in the cloud
Microsoft has launched a number of frameworks tailored to the range of security demands of organisations right across the board. There is a solution for everything ranging from hybrid or multi-cloud environments to sector-specific governance.
One such solution for security with Azure is Azure Sentinel, which gives you a bird’s eye view over your organisation’s entire network, with intelligent security analytics built upon decades of Microsoft’s security experience. Sentinel was the first cloud-native security information and event management (SIEM) platform, making your investment go further and cutting the amount spent on infrastructure setup and maintenance.
With Sentinel, you can collect data at cloud scale to detect threats, including those that were previously uncovered, and minimise false positives. Investigating threats is easy with artificial intelligence, while automation makes for an immediate response.
Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) that helps you stay ahead of threat actors with integrated security solutions. It’s designed to simplify security by removing the need to manage multiple standalone solutions. Consolidating your security with Defender for Cloud can reduce your costs by up to 60%, as well as closing coverage gaps and preventing sophisticated attacks, upon which you cannot place a value. Defender for Cloud protects your resources in Azure, on-premises, and multi–cloud (Amazon AWS and Google GCP).
The Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty has been designed specifically to meet the stringent security, compliance and policy requirements of the public sector. It enables organisations to build and transform workloads in the Microsoft cloud with greater control over their data and transparency over operational processes.
Keeping visibility and control with Azure
For many organisations, data is the most important asset after their people. It’s continued to grow exponentially, not only in volume but also in the range of services available for the growing variety of data-related needs, from file storage and relational databases to text searching and time-series data In doing so it has also increased in its appeal to threat actors. Azure confidential computing and Azure SQL are just two examples of cloud technology that helps organisations navigate this challenge around business and consumer data.
With Azure confidential computing, organisations can support growing business and consumer datasets from privacy and security vulnerabilities. Data is encrypted in memory, only being processed once the cloud environment is verified to prevent cloud operators, malicious admins and other software from accessing it.
With Azure SQL, we can benefit from multiple layers of security, including advanced threat protection, access management and data protection such as encryption at rest and in use, with row-level database security and dynamic data masking. All this comes with advanced auditing and reporting capabilities through an integrated set of monitoring tools. With all these benefits, we might assume that running SQL in Azure would be expensive. However, comparatively speaking Azure remains by far the lowest cost public cloud for SQL workloads coupled with the highest levels of performance as noted by independent testing research and testing company Gigaom.
A common concern for those operating in the cloud is lack of visibility. While this might have been the case in the early days of the cloud, it need no longer be a worry. Azure provides a high level of visibility of your resources, from cost and capacity to performance utilisation. This can also be extended to multi-cloud and hybrid environments with Defender for Cloud or managing hybrid operating models through Azure Arc.
With the complex digital imperatives facing your organisation, it’s important that security remains a top priority. Microsoft Azure can deliver both immediate benefits and long-term solutions to keep your applications and data secure as your organisation develops. Find out how you can tackle your security challenges in Azure by signing up to a cloud solution assessment with our experts.
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