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Virtual Network Security with Microsoft Azure

At a time when hacking and cybercrime have reached historical levels, it has never been more important for businesses of all sizes to secure their network access. As many firms are turning to the cloud for more efficient storage and operations, network security is becoming a paramount concern, and businesses are relying on vendors to provide advanced solutions that can keep their data safe.

One vendor leading the way in this space is Microsoft. Their Azure Network Security suite of solutions focuses on keeping networks secure, keeping unwanted intruders out, and ensuring all your cloud operations are safe.

For those unfamiliar with Azure Network Security and how it can protect your network, let’s break it down a bit.

Azure Virtual Network

If you’ve ever worked remotely using a platform like Azure or WMware, then you’ve used a virtual network (also called a VNet). VNets allow us to form a link between one device and another without being physically connected via wires and hardware.

These VNets are at the heart of the Azure Network Security solution and are the fabric upon which Microsoft has implemented a wide range of security applications. With Azure, each customer sets up their own virtual network and configures an array of options to ensure security. These include private IP address ranges, route tables, network security groups, access control lists, gateways and virtual appliances – all to give customers full control over access to their networks.

Azure VNets are also isolated, which means each customer has access to their own, and no other customers (or hackers) can get in from outside the network. The use of security groups within the VNets allows customers to control all traffic entering and exiting virtual machines and subnets on the network, thus limiting access only to approved parties, and ensuring overall security.

Azure Virtual Networks are the basis for Microsoft’s network security solution, but they’ve built many other security-enhancing functions on top of the VNets. Let’s look at some more.

Azure Network Watcher

Network Watcher is a recently-developed monitoring and diagnostic tool that will log and analyze access data for a network and help users identify and troubleshoot security problems. This functionality makes it easier to find and address any network vulnerabilities by providing enhanced visibility and an easy user experience.

When applied to Azure’s VNet’s, the Network Watcher brings together a comprehensive view of your Azure Network performance and puts you in command of easy-to-use dashboards that will help you control network security groups and IP flows with just a few clicks.

Access Control

Another key security functionality built into the Azure suite is access control. As Microsoft outlines in this helpful overview, Azure offers several different ways to ensure that only your specified users can access subnets, services, or virtual machines on your network. These are network layer control, route control and forced tunneling, and virtual network security appliances.

Network layer control is a way of allowing your virtual machines to communicate only with other necessary devices while blocking out connection attempts from everywhere else. Route control is another way to prevent your applications from connecting to other devices or networks that you do not want them to, and forced tunneling directs all internet access through your on-premises gateway, further limiting access to your network. Finally, virtual network security appliances offer ways to improve security from above the network level. Functionality such as URL filtering or additional DDoS protection are provided as VNet security appliances from one of many Azure partners through the Azure Marketplace.

Implementation

The level of advanced security provided by Microsoft Azure can really help lock down access to your virtual network. But it’s not always the easiest to implement without the right know-how. If you are looking to get started with Azure’s Network Security but don’t have the personnel to do the job, or don’t know where to begin, we can help.

Fast Lane offers a range of resources and classes that will get you educated on Azure solutions and prepare you for deployment of Azure within your own operation. Together, we can help you and your team build a more secure network and keep your data safe.