Manage security policies

This article explains how security policies are configured, and how to view them in Security Center.

Introduction to security policies

A security policy defines the desired configuration of your workloads and helps ensure you're complying with the security requirements of your company or regulators.

Azure Security Center makes its security recommendations based on your chosen policies. Security Center policies are based on policy initiatives created in Azure Policy. You can use Azure Policy to manage your policies and to set policies across Management groups and across multiple subscriptions.

Security Center offers the following options for working with security policies:

  • View and edit the built-in default policy - When you enable Security Center, the initiative named 'Azure Security Benchmark' is automatically assigned to all Security Center registered subscriptions. To customize this initiative, you can enable or disable individual policies within it. See the list of built-in security policies to understand the options available out-of-the-box.

  • Add your own custom policies - If you want to customize the security initiatives applied to your subscription, you can do so within Security Center. You'll then receive recommendations if your machines don't follow the policies you create. For instructions on building and assigning custom policies, see Using custom security policies.

  • Add regulatory compliance policies - Security Center's regulatory compliance dashboard shows the status of all the assessments within your environment in the context of a particular standard or regulation (such as Azure CIS, NIST SP 800-53 R4, SWIFT CSP CSCF-v2020). For more information, see Improve your regulatory compliance.

Manage your security policies

To view your security policies in Security Center:

  1. In the Security Center dashboard, select Security policy.

    The policy management page

    In the Policy management screen, you can see the number of management groups, subscriptions, and workspaces as well as your management group structure.

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

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

    Security Center's security policy page


    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.

  4. Choose from the available options on this page:

    1. To work with industry policies, select Add more standards. For more information, see Update to dynamic compliance packages.

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

    3. To view and edit the default policy, select View effective policy 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.


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

Who can edit security policies?

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

Security Center 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 Security Center, 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 Security Center roles:

  • Security reader: Has rights to view Security Center 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.

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 Security Center'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. In Security Center, from the Policy & Compliance section, select Security policy.

    Starting the policy management process in Azure Security Center

  2. Select the subscription or management group for which you want to disable the recommendation.


    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. Select View effective policy.

    How to open the effective policy assigned to your subscription

  4. Select the assigned policy.

    select policy

  5. In the PARAMETERS section, search for the policy that invokes the recommendation that you want to disable, and from the dropdown list, select Disabled

    disable policy

  6. Select Save.


    The disable policy changes can take up to 12 hours to take effect.

Next steps

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