Manage security policies

Note

Azure Security Center and Azure Defender are now called Microsoft Defender for Cloud. We've also renamed Azure Defender plans to Microsoft Defender plans. For example, Azure Defender for Storage is now Microsoft Defender for Storage.

Learn more about the recent renaming of Microsoft security services.

This page explains how security policies are configured, and how to view them in Microsoft Defender for Cloud.

To understand the relationships between initiatives, policies, and recommendations, see What are security policies, initiatives, and recommendations?

Who can edit security policies?

Defender for Cloud uses Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC), which provides built-in roles you can assign to Azure users, groups, and services. When users open Defender for Cloud, they see only information related to the resources they can access. Which means users are assigned the role of owner, contributor, or reader to the resource's subscription. There are also two specific Defender for Cloud roles:

  • Security reader: Has rights to view Defender for Cloud items such as recommendations, alerts, policy, and health. Can't make changes.
  • Security admin: Has the same view rights as security reader. Can also update the security policy and dismiss alerts.

You can edit security policies through the Azure Policy portal, via REST API or using Windows PowerShell.

Manage your security policies

To view your security policies in Defender for Cloud:

  1. From Defender for Cloud's menu, open the Environment settings page. Here, you can see the management groups, subscriptions, and the initiatives applied to each.

  2. Select the relevant subscription or management group whose policies you want to view.

  3. Open the Security policy page.

  4. The security policy page for that subscription or management group appears. It shows the available and assigned policies.

    Defender for Cloud's security policy page

    Note

    If there is a label "MG Inherited" alongside your default policy, it means that the policy has been assigned to a management group and inherited by the subscription you're viewing.

  5. Choose from the available options on this page:

    1. To work with industry standards, select Add more standards. For more information, see Customize the set of standards in your regulatory compliance dashboard.

    2. To assign and manage custom initiatives, select Add custom initiatives. For more information, see Using custom security initiatives and policies.

    3. To view and edit the default initiative, select it and proceed as described below.

      Effective policy screen.

      This Security policy screen reflects the action taken by the policies assigned on the subscription or management group you selected.

      • Use the links at the top to open a policy assignment that applies on the subscription or management group. These links let you access the assignment and edit or disable the policy. For example, if you see that a particular policy assignment is effectively denying endpoint protection, use the link to edit or disable the policy.

      • In the list of policies, you can see the effective application of the policy on your subscription or management group. The settings of each policy that apply to the scope are taken into consideration and the cumulative outcome of actions taken by the policy is shown. For example, if in one assignment of the policy is disabled, but in another it's set to AuditIfNotExist, then the cumulative effect applies AuditIfNotExist. The more active effect always takes precedence.

      • The policies' effect can be: Append, Audit, AuditIfNotExists, Deny, DeployIfNotExists, Disabled. For more information on how effects are applied, see Understand Policy effects.

      Note

      When you view assigned policies, you can see multiple assignments and you can see how each assignment is configured on its own.

Disable security policies and disable recommendations

When your security initiative triggers a recommendation that's irrelevant for your environment, you can prevent that recommendation from appearing again. To disable a recommendation, disable the specific policy that generates the recommendation.

The recommendation you want to disable will still appear if it's required for a regulatory standard you've applied with Defender for Cloud's regulatory compliance tools. Even if you've disabled a policy in the built-in initiative, a policy in the regulatory standard's initiative will still trigger the recommendation if it's necessary for compliance. You can't disable policies from regulatory standard initiatives.

For more information about recommendations, see Managing security recommendations.

  1. From Defender for Cloud's menu, open the Environment settings page. Here, you can see the management groups, subscriptions, and the initiatives applied to each.

  2. Select the subscription or management group for which you want to disable the recommendation (and policy).

    Note

    Remember that a management group applies its policies to its subscriptions. Therefore, if you disable a subscription's policy, and the subscription belongs to a management group that still uses the same policy, then you will continue to receive the policy recommendations. The policy will still be applied from the management level and the recommendations will still be generated.

  3. Open the Security policy page.

  4. From the Default policy, Industry & regulatory standards, or Your custom initiatives sections, select the relevant initiative containing the policy you want to disable.

  5. Open the Parameters section and search for the policy that invokes the recommendation that you want to disable.

  6. From the dropdown list, change the value for the corresponding policy to Disabled.

    disable policy.

  7. Select Save.

    Note

    The change might take up to 12 hours to take effect.

Enable a security policy

Some policies in your initiatives might be disabled by default. For example, in the Azure Security Benchmark initiative, some policies are provided for you to enable only if they meet a specific regulatory or compliance requirement for your organization. Such policies include recommendations to encrypt data at rest with customer-managed keys, such as "Container registries should be encrypted with a customer-managed key (CMK)".

To enable a disabled policy and ensure it's assessed for your resources:

  1. From Defender for Cloud's menu, open the Environment settings page. Here, you can see the management groups, subscriptions, and the initiatives applied to each.

  2. Select the subscription or management group for which you want to enable the recommendation (and policy).

  3. Open the Security policy page.

  4. From the Default policy, Industry & regulatory standards, or Your custom initiatives sections, select the relevant initiative with the policy you want to enable.

  5. Open the Parameters section and search for the policy that invokes the recommendation that you want to disable.

  6. From the dropdown list, change the value for the corresponding policy to AuditIfNotExists or Enforce.

  7. Select Save.

    Note

    The change might take up to 12 hours to take effect.

Next steps

This page explained security policies. For related information, see the following pages: