Azure Security Center Review

Good log analytics and helpful alerting, but updates should be more readily released

What is our primary use case?

I am from a Citrix background and in our organization, we implement solutions and provide them to end-users. In our past couple of deployments, we have been using hybrid cloud scenarios where the complete workload is on the Azure platform and the management is done on the Citrix cloud.

The workloads include tasks for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 devices, and they are all running on Azure. We have to make sure that they are compliant with our organization's security standards, which is why we are using the Azure Security Center.

We integrate each workload with the Azure Security Center, where we can use things like Azure Defender and use the Azure Log Analytics Workspace.

Our environment is completely virtual. We have a virtual desktop infrastructure, like a Desktop as a Service.

How has it helped my organization?

Azure Security Center has helped to improve our security posture. Before we implemented it, we used to have to install the agent manually for each and every workload. For example, if I have 40 machines in my environment, I have to go to all of them and install the agent. This manual process not only required a lot of human effort but created more opportunities for error. By using the Azure Security Center, I can integrate it just by selecting the subscription. It will take care of everything.

This solution has improved our end-user experience in cases, for example, where Microsoft Defender is not implemented, Azure Defender can be integrated. When an end-user runs an EXE file or any malicious activities are running on the device, Azure Security Center will capture them and send an alert to the administrator.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features related to my involvement are Azure Defender and enabling log analytics on the workloads. This helps to integrate the workload suite with the analytics repository. For example, if I want to capture any logs from a Windows 10 workload, then this allows me to do so.

The Log Analytics Workspace acts as a repository where it captures all of the data from Windows 10 and Windows 8 workloads. In order to implement it, an agent needs to be installed. With Azure Security Center, we can configure a policy that accounts for different subscription levels. It automatically installs the agent and begins capturing data.

This product provides us with many features including auto-provisioning of dependency agents for Azure Log Analytics, as well as for Azure Defender.

We can create alerts that trigger if there is any malicious activity happening in the workflow and these alerts can be retrieved using the query language.

What needs improvement?

Azure Security Center takes a long time to update, compared to the on-premises version of Microsoft Defender. It has most of the features for monitoring end-user machines for security updates or malicious activity but, for example, the latest DAT files are slow to arrive compared to Microsoft Defender.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would rate the stability a four out of five. Once we enable it, the Azure Security Center will push security updates to all of the end-user machines and start capturing the logs. It helps in many ways.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There is no limitation to the scalability. For example, if I have 10 subscriptions in my Azure environment, it is my choice if I have to use five in production and five for non-production. If I require more, I can upgrade it as needed. It's very flexible.

The people who work with this product hands-on are our administrators. Apart from them, nobody has the access required to make changes.

How are customer service and technical support?

If we face any issue with Azure Security Center, where we are unable to solve it ourselves, we raise a support ticket with Microsoft directly. We describe the issue and they will come back to us with support.

Usually, we are happy with the support that we receive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to this product, we worked on a solution from McAfee. However, it was a legacy application and when it came time to upgrade, we opted to use one from Azure because we were using Azure already.

In the case of an on-premises workload, we instead use a SQUAM solution by Microsoft.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a straightforward process. We just need to go into the security center and select the substrates. The deployment takes less than one hour to complete.

In terms of an implementation strategy, we simply follow the Microsoft documentation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There is a helpful cost-reducing option that allows you to integrate production subscriptions with non-production subscriptions. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anyone who is considering Azure Security Center is that it has similar features to the on-premises Microsoft Defender, as well as other software security tools. If you are already using an Azure environment then I recommend implementing Azure Security Center versus having security solutions from different vendors.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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