Azure Security Center and Azure Virtual Machines

Azure Security Center helps you prevent, detect, and respond to threats. It provides integrated security monitoring and policy management across your Azure subscriptions, helps detect threats that might otherwise go unnoticed, and works with a broad ecosystem of security solutions.

This article shows how Security Center can help you secure your Azure Virtual Machines (VM).

Why use Security Center?

Security Center helps you safeguard virtual machine data in Azure by providing visibility into your virtual machine’s security settings. When Security Center safeguards your VMs, the following capabilities will be available:

  • Operating System (OS) security settings with the recommended configuration rules
  • System security and critical updates that are missing
  • Endpoint protection recommendations
  • Disk encryption validation
  • Vulnerability assessment and remediation
  • Threat detection

In addition to helping protect your Azure VMs, Security Center also provides security monitoring and management for Cloud Services, App Services, Virtual Networks, and more.


See Introduction to Azure Security Center to learn more about Azure Security Center.


To get started with Azure Security Center, you’ll need to know and consider the following:

Set security policy

Data collection needs to be enabled so that Azure Security Center can gather the information it needs to provide recommendations and alerts that are generated based on the security policy you configure. In the figure below, you can see that Data collection has been turned On.

A security policy defines the set of controls which are recommended for resources within the specified subscription or resource group. Before enabling security policy, you must have data collection enabled, Security Center collects data from your virtual machines in order to assess their security state, provide security recommendations, and alert you to threats. In Security Center, you define policies for your Azure subscriptions or resource groups according to your company’s security needs and the type of applications or sensitivity of the data in each subscription.

Security policy


To learn more about each Prevention policy available, see Set security policies article.

Manage security recommendations

Security Center analyzes the security state of your Azure resources. When Security Center identifies potential security vulnerabilities, it creates recommendations. The recommendations guide you through the process of configuring the needed controls.

After setting a security policy, Security Center analyzes the security state of your resources to identify potential vulnerabilities. The recommendations are shown in a table format where each line represents one particular recommendation. The table below provides some examples of recommendations for Azure VMs and what each one will do if you apply it. When you select a recommendation, you will be provided information that shows you how to implement the recommendation in Security Center.

Recommendation Description
Enable data collection for subscriptions Recommends that you turn on data collection in the security policy for each of your subscriptions and all virtual machines (VMs) in your subscriptions.
Remediate OS vulnerabilities Recommends that you align your OS configurations with the recommended configuration rules, e.g. do not allow passwords to be saved.
Apply system updates Recommends that you deploy missing system security and critical updates to VMs.
Reboot after system updates Recommends that you reboot a VM to complete the process of applying system updates.
Install Endpoint Protection Recommends that you provision antimalware programs to VMs (Windows VMs only).
Enable VM Agent Enables you to see which VMs require the VM Agent. The VM Agent must be installed on VMs in order to provision patch scanning, baseline scanning, and antimalware programs. The VM Agent is installed by default for VMs that are deployed from the Azure Marketplace. The article VM Agent and Extensions – Part 2 provides information on how to install the VM Agent.
Apply disk encryption Recommends that you encrypt your VM disks using Azure Disk Encryption (Windows and Linux VMs). Encryption is recommended for both the OS and data volumes on your VM.
Vulnerability assessment not installed Recommends that you install a vulnerability assessment solution on your VM.
Remediate vulnerabilities Enables you to see system and application vulnerabilities detected by the vulnerability assessment solution installed on your VM.


To learn more about recommendations, see Managing security recommendations article.

Monitor security health

After you enable security policies for a subscription’s resources, Security Center will analyze the security of your resources to identify potential vulnerabilities. You can view the security state of your resources, along with any issues in the Resource security health blade. When you click Virtual machines in the Resource security health tile, the Virtual machines blade will open with recommendations for your VMs.

Security health

Manage and respond to security alerts

Security Center automatically collects, analyzes, and integrates log data from your Azure resources, the network, and connected partner solutions (like firewall and endpoint protection solutions), to detect real threats and reduce false positives. By leveraging a diverse aggregation of detection capabilities, Security Center is able to generate prioritized security alerts to help you quickly investigate the problem and provide recommendations for how to remediate possible attacks.

Security alerts

Select a security alert to learn more about the event(s) that triggered the alert and what, if any, steps you need to take to remediate an attack. Security alerts are grouped by type and date.

See also

To learn more about Security Center, see the following: