Overview of the security pillar

Information Security has always been a complex subject, and it evolves quickly with the creative ideas and implementations of attackers and security researchers. The origin of security vulnerabilities started with identifying and exploiting common programming errors and unexpected edge cases. However over time, the attack surface that an attacker may explore and exploit has expanded well beyond that. Attackers now freely exploit vulnerabilities in system configurations, operational practices, and the social habits of the systems’ users. As system complexity, connectedness, and the variety of users increase, attackers have more opportunities to identify unprotected edge cases and to “hack” systems into doing things they were not designed to do.

Security is one of the most important aspects of any architecture. It provides confidentiality, integrity, and availability assurances against deliberate attacks and abuse of your valuable data and systems. Losing these assurances can negatively impact your business operations and revenue, as well as your organization’s reputation in the marketplace. In the following series of articles, we’ll discuss key architectural considerations and principles for security and how they apply to Azure.

To assess your workload using the tenets found in the Azure architecture framework, see the Azure architecture review.

These are the topics we cover in the security pillar of the Azure Architecture Framework

Security Topic Description
Role of security Security is one of the most important aspects of any architecture. Security provides confidentiality, integrity, and availability assurances against deliberate attacks and abuse of your valuable data and systems.
Security design principles These principles support these three key strategies and describe a securely architected system hosted on cloud or on-premises datacenters (or a combination of both).
Types of attacks to resist An architecture built on good security practices should be resilient to attacks. It should both resist attacks and recover rapidly from disruption to the security assurances of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Regulatory compliance Governments and other organizations frequently publish standards to help define good security practices (due diligence) so that organizations can avoid being negligent in security.
Reduce organizational risk Much like physical safety, success in information security is defined more as an ongoing task of applying good security practices and principles and hygiene rather than a static absolute state.
Administration Administration is the practice of monitoring, maintaining, and operating Information Technology (IT) systems to meet service levels that the business requires. Administration introduces some of the highest impact security risks because performing these tasks requires privileged access to a very broad set of these systems and applications.
Applications and services Applications and the data associated with them ultimately act as the primary store of business value on a cloud platform.
Governance, risk, and compliance How is the organization’s security going to be monitored, audited, and reported? What types of risks does the organization face while trying to protect identifiable information, Intellectual Property (IP), financial information? Are there specific industry, government, or regulatory requirements that dictate or provide recommendation on criteria that your organization’s security controls must meet?
Identity and access management Identity provides the basis of a large percentage of security assurances.
Info protection and storage Protecting data at rest is required to maintain confidentiality, integrity, and availability assurances across all workloads.
Network security and containment Network security has been the traditional lynchpin of enterprise security efforts. However, cloud computing has increased the requirement for network perimeters to be more porous and many attackers have mastered the art of attacks on identity system elements (which nearly always bypass network controls).
Security Operations Security operations maintain and restores the security assurances of the system as live adversaries attack it. The tasks of security operations are described well by the NIST Cybersecurity Framework functions of Detect, Respond, and Recover.