Azure security baseline for Azure Cosmos DB

This security baseline applies guidance from the Azure Security Benchmark version 2.0 to Azure Cosmos DB. The Azure Security Benchmark provides recommendations on how you can secure your cloud solutions on Azure. The content is grouped by the security controls defined by the Azure Security Benchmark and the related guidance applicable to Azure Cosmos DB.

Note

Controls not applicable to Azure Cosmos DB, or for which the responsibility is Microsoft's, have been excluded. To see how Azure Cosmos DB completely maps to the Azure Security Benchmark, see the full Azure Cosmos DB security baseline mapping file.

Network Security

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Network Security.

NS-1: Implement security for internal traffic

Guidance: When you deploy Cosmos DB resources, create or use an existing virtual network. Ensure that all Azure virtual networks follow an enterprise segmentation principle that aligns with the business risks. Any system that might incur higher risk for the organization should be isolated within its own virtual network and sufficiently secured with a network security group (NSG) and/or Azure Firewall.

Use Azure Security Center Adaptive Network Hardening to recommend network security group configurations that limit ports and source IPs based with the reference to external network traffic rules.

Based on your applications and enterprise segmentation strategy, restrict or allow traffic between internal resources based on your network security group rules. For specific, well-defined applications (such as a 3-tier app), this can be a highly secure deny by default.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: The Azure Security Benchmark is the default policy initiative for Security Center and is the foundation for Security Center's recommendations. The Azure Policy definitions related to this control are enabled automatically by Security Center. Alerts related to this control may require an Azure Defender plan for the related services.

Azure Policy built-in definitions - Microsoft.DocumentDB:

Name
(Azure portal)
Description Effect(s) Version
(GitHub)
Azure Cosmos DB accounts should have firewall rules Firewall rules should be defined on your Azure Cosmos DB accounts to prevent traffic from unauthorized sources. Accounts that have at least one IP rule defined with the virtual network filter enabled are deemed compliant. Accounts disabling public access are also deemed compliant. Audit, Deny, Disabled 2.0.0

NS-2: Connect private networks together

Guidance: Use Azure ExpressRoute or Azure virtual private network (VPN) to create private connections between Azure datacenters and on-premises infrastructure in a colocation environment. ExpressRoute connections don't go over the public internet, and they offer more reliability, faster speeds, and lower latencies than typical internet connections. For point-to-site VPN and site-to-site VPN, you can connect on-premises devices or networks to a virtual network using any combination of these VPN options and Azure ExpressRoute.

To connect two or more virtual networks in Azure together, use virtual network peering. Network traffic between peered virtual networks is private and is kept on the Azure backbone network.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

NS-3: Establish private network access to Azure services

Guidance: Use Azure Private Link to enable private access to Cosmos DB from your virtual networks without crossing the internet.

Private access is an additional defense in depth measure to the authentication and traffic security offered by Azure services.

Private access is an additional defense in depth measure to the authentication and traffic security offered by Azure services.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

NS-4: Protect applications and services from external network attacks

Guidance: Protect your Cosmos DB resources against attacks from external networks, including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, application-specific attacks, and unsolicited and potentially malicious internet traffic. Use Azure Firewall to protect applications and services against potentially malicious traffic from the internet and other external locations. Protect your assets against DDoS attacks by enabling DDoS standard protection on your Azure virtual networks. Use Azure Security Center to detect misconfiguration risks to your network related resources.

Cosmos DB is not intended to run web applications, and does not require you to configure any additional settings or deploy any extra network services to protect it from external network attacks targeting web applications.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: The Azure Security Benchmark is the default policy initiative for Security Center and is the foundation for Security Center's recommendations. The Azure Policy definitions related to this control are enabled automatically by Security Center. Alerts related to this control may require an Azure Defender plan for the related services.

Azure Policy built-in definitions - Microsoft.DocumentDB:

Name
(Azure portal)
Description Effect(s) Version
(GitHub)
Azure Cosmos DB accounts should have firewall rules Firewall rules should be defined on your Azure Cosmos DB accounts to prevent traffic from unauthorized sources. Accounts that have at least one IP rule defined with the virtual network filter enabled are deemed compliant. Accounts disabling public access are also deemed compliant. Audit, Deny, Disabled 2.0.0

NS-5: Deploy intrusion detection/intrusion prevention systems (IDS/IPS)

Guidance: Use Azure Firewall threat intelligence-based filtering to alert on and/or block traffic to and from known malicious IP addresses and domains. The IP addresses and domains are sourced from the Microsoft Threat Intelligence feed. When payload inspection is required, you can deploy a third-party intrusion detection/intrusion prevention system (IDS/IPS) from Azure Marketplace with payload inspection capabilities. Alternately, you can use host-based IDS/IPS or a host-based endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution in conjunction with or instead of network-based IDS/IPS.

Azure Cosmos DB also supports Advanced Threat Protection. Advanced Threat Protection for Azure Cosmos DB provides an additional layer of security intelligence that detects unusual and potentially harmful attempts to access or exploit Azure Cosmos DB accounts. This layer of protection allows you to address threats, even without being a security expert, and integrate them with central security monitoring systems.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

NS-6: Simplify network security rules

Guidance: Use Azure Virtual Network Service Tags to define network access controls on network security groups or Azure Firewall configured for your Cosmos DB resources. You can use service tags in place of specific IP addresses when creating security rules. By specifying the service tag name in the appropriate source or destination field of a rule, you can allow or deny the traffic for the corresponding service. Microsoft manages the address prefixes encompassed by the service tag and automatically updates the service tag as addresses change.

The AzureCosmosDB service tag is supported for outbound use and can be regional and can be used with Azure Firewall.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

NS-7: Secure Domain Name Service (DNS)

Guidance: Follow the best practices for DNS security to mitigate against common attacks like dangling DNS, DNS amplifications attacks, DNS poisoning and spoofing, etc.

When Azure DNS is used as your authoritative DNS service, ensure DNS zones and records are protected from accidental or malicious modification using Azure RBAC and resource locks.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Identity Management

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Identity Management.

IM-1: Standardize Azure Active Directory as the central identity and authentication system

Guidance: Cosmos DB uses Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) as the default identity and access management service. You should standardize Azure AD to govern your organization's identity and access management in:

  • Microsoft Cloud resources, such as the Azure portal, Azure Storage, Azure Virtual Machine (Linux and Windows), Azure Key Vault, PaaS, and SaaS applications.
  • Your organization's resources, such as applications on Azure or your corporate network resources.

Securing Azure AD should be a high priority in your organization's cloud security practice. Azure AD provides an identity secure score to help you assess identity security posture relative to Microsoft's best practice recommendations. Use the score to gauge how closely your configuration matches best practice recommendations, and to make improvements in your security posture.

Note: Azure AD supports external identities that allows users without a Microsoft account to sign in to their applications and resources with their external identity.

Azure Cosmos DB provides built-in Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) for common management scenarios in Azure Cosmos DB. An individual who has a profile in Azure Active Directory can assign these Azure roles to users, groups, service principals, or managed identities to grant or deny access to resources and operations on Azure Cosmos DB resources. Role assignments are scoped to control-plane access only, which includes access to Azure Cosmos accounts, databases, containers, and offers (throughput).

Azure Cosmos DB provides three ways to control access to your data. Primary keys are shared secrets allowing any management or data operation. They come in both read-write and read-only variants. Role-based access control provides fine-grained, role-based permission model using Azure Active Directory (AAD) identities for authentication. Resource tokens provide fine-grained permission model based on native Azure Cosmos DB users and permissions.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-2: Manage application identities securely and automatically

Guidance: Cosmos DB supports managed identities for its Azure resources. Use managed identities with Cosmos DB instead of creating service principals to access other resources. Cosmos DB can natively authenticate to the Azure services/resources that supports Azure AD authentication through a pre-defined access grant rule without using credentials hard coded in source code or configuration files.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-3: Use Azure AD single sign-on (SSO) for application access

Guidance: Cosmos DB integrates with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to provide identity and access management to its Azure resources. Azure Cosmos DB uses two types of keys to authorize users and does not support Single Sign-On (SSO) at the data plane level. However, access to the control plane for Cosmos DB is available via REST API and supports SSO. To authenticate, set the authorization header for your requests to a JSON Web Token that you obtain from Azure AD.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-4: Use strong authentication controls for all Azure Active Directory based access

Guidance: Cosmos DB uses Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), which supports strong authentication controls through multi-factor authentication (MFA) and strong passwordless methods.

  • Multi-factor authentication - Enable Azure AD MFA, and then follow Azure Security Center Identity and Access Management recommendations for best practices in your MFA setup. MFA can be enforced on all, select users, or at the per-user level based on sign-in conditions and risk factors.
  • Passwordless authentication - Three passwordless authentication options are available: Windows Hello for Business, Microsoft Authenticator app, and on-premises authentication methods such as smart cards.

For administrators and privileged users, ensure the highest level of the strong authentication method is used, followed by rolling out the appropriate strong authentication policy to other users.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-5: Monitor and alert on account anomalies

Guidance: Cosmos DB is integrated with Azure Active Directory, which provides the following data sources:

  • Sign-ins - The sign-ins report provides information about the usage of managed applications and user sign-in activities.
  • Audit logs - Provides traceability through logs for all changes done by various features within Azure AD. Examples of audit logs include changes made to any resource within Azure AD, like adding or removing users, apps, groups, roles, and policies.
  • Risky sign-ins - A risky sign-in is an indicator for a sign-in attempt that might have been performed by someone who is not the legitimate owner of a user account.
  • Users flagged for risk - A risky user is an indicator for a user account that might have been compromised.

These data sources can be integrated with Azure Monitor, Azure Sentinel, or third-party SIEM systems.

Azure Security Center can also alert you about certain suspicious activities, such as an excessive number of failed authentication attempts or deprecated accounts in the subscription.

Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a security solution that can use Active Directory signals to identify, detect, and investigate advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-6: Restrict Azure resource access based on conditions

Guidance: Cosmos DB supports Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) conditional access for a more granular access control based on user-defined conditions, such as user logins from certain IP ranges will need to use multifactor authentication for login. Granular authentication session management policy can also be used for different use cases. These conditional access policies will only apply to user accounts that are authenticating to Azure AD to access and manage the Cosmos DB service, but they will not apply to service principals, keys, or tokens used to connect to your Cosmos DB resource.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IM-7: Eliminate unintended credential exposure

Guidance: Cosmos DB is not intended to store code, however for any ARM templates related to your Cosmos DB deployments it is recommended to implement Credential Scanner on the repositories that store those templates to identify credentials within configurations. Credential Scanner will also encourage moving discovered credentials to more secure locations such as Azure Key Vault.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Privileged Access

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Privileged Access.

PA-1: Protect and limit highly privileged users

Guidance: The most critical built-in roles for Azure AD are the Global Administrator and the Privileged Role Administrator, as users assigned to these two roles can delegate administrator roles:

  • Global Administrator / Company Administrator: Users with this role have access to all administrative features in Azure AD, as well as services that use Azure AD identities.
  • Privileged Role Administrator: Users with this role can manage role assignments in Azure AD, as well as within Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM). In addition, this role allows management of all aspects of PIM and administrative units.

Note: You might have other critical roles that need to be governed if you use custom roles with certain privileged permissions assigned. You might also want to apply similar controls to the administrator account of critical business assets.

You should limit the number of highly privileged accounts or roles and protect these accounts at an elevated level. Users with this privilege can directly or indirectly read and modify every resource in your Azure environment.

You can enable just-in-time (JIT) privileged access to Azure resources and Azure AD using Azure AD PIM. JIT grants temporary permissions to perform privileged tasks only when users need it. PIM can also generate security alerts when there is suspicious or unsafe activity in your Azure AD organization.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-2: Restrict administrative access to business-critical systems

Guidance: Cosmos DB uses Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) to isolate access to business-critical systems by restricting which accounts are granted privileged access to the subscriptions and management groups they are in. Azure Cosmos DB provides 5 built-in RBAC roles which provide different levels of access: DocumentDB Account Contributor, Cosmos DB Account Reader, Cosmos Backup Operator, CosmosRestoreOperator, and Cosmos DB Operator. Ensure that you restrict access on a least privileged basis for any users that manage or have administrative access to your Cosmos DB resources.

All types of access controls should be aligned to your enterprise segmentation strategy to ensure consistent access control.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-3: Review and reconcile user access regularly

Guidance: Cosmos DB uses Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) accounts to manage its resources, review user accounts, and access assignments regularly to ensure the accounts and their access are valid. You can use Azure AD and access reviews to review group memberships, access to enterprise applications, and role assignments. Azure AD reporting can provide logs to help discover stale accounts. You can also use Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM) to create access review report workflows to facilitate the review process.

In addition, Azure AD PIM can also be configured to alert you when an excessive number of administrator accounts are created, and to identify administrator accounts that are stale or improperly configured.

Note: Some Azure services support local users and roles which are not managed through Azure AD. You will need to manage these users separately.

Azure Cosmos DB provides 5 built-in roles:

  • The DocumentDB Account Contributor can manage Azure Cosmos DB accounts.
  • The Cosmos DB Account Reader can read Azure Cosmos DB account data.
  • The Cosmos Backup Operator can submit a restore request for Azure portal for a periodic backup enabled database or a container and modify the backup interval and retention on the Azure portal.
  • The CosmosRestoreOperator can perform restore action for Azure Cosmos DB account with continuous backup mode.
  • The Cosmos DB Operator can provision Azure Cosmos accounts, databases, and containers.

For more information, see the following references:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-4: Set up emergency access in Azure AD

Guidance: Cosmos DB uses Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to manage its resources. To prevent being accidentally locked out of your Azure AD organization, set up an emergency access account for access when normal administrative accounts cannot be used. Emergency access accounts are usually highly privileged, and they should not be assigned to specific individuals. Emergency access accounts are limited to emergency or "break glass" scenarios where normal administrative accounts can't be used.

You should ensure that the credentials (such as password, certificate, or smart card) for emergency access accounts are kept secure and known only to individuals who are authorized to use them only in an emergency.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-5: Automate entitlement management

Guidance: Cosmos DB is integrated with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to manage its resources. Use Azure AD entitlement management features to automate access request workflows, including access assignments, reviews, and expiration. Dual or multi-stage approval is also supported.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-6: Use privileged access workstations

Guidance: Secured, isolated workstations are critically important for the security of sensitive roles like administrator, developer, and critical service operator. Use highly secured user workstations and/or Azure Bastion for administrative tasks. Use Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and/or Microsoft Intune to deploy a secure and managed user workstation for administrative tasks. The secured workstations can be centrally managed to enforce secured configuration including strong authentication, software and hardware baselines, and restricted logical and network access.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-7: Follow just enough administration (least privilege principle)

Guidance: Cosmos DB is integrated with Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) to manage its resources. Azure RBAC allows you to manage Azure resource access through role assignments. You can assign these roles to users, groups service principals, and managed identities. There are pre-defined built-in roles for certain resources, and these roles can be inventoried or queried through tools such as Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell, or the Azure portal. The privileges you assign to resources through the Azure RBAC should be always limited to what is required by the roles. This complements the just-in-time (JIT) approach of Azure AD Privileged Identity Management (PIM) and should be reviewed periodically.

Use built-in roles to allocate permissions and only create custom roles when required.

Azure Cosmos DB provides 5 built-in roles to help manage access to configuration and data. Give users the lowest level of access required to complete their work.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PA-8: Choose approval process for Microsoft support

Guidance: Cosmos DB doesn't support customer lockbox. Microsoft may work with customers through non-lockbox method to approval to access customer data.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Data Protection

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Data Protection.

DP-1: Discover, classify and label sensitive data

Guidance: Automatic data identification, classification, and loss prevention features are not yet available for Azure Cosmos DB. However, you can use the Azure Cognitive Search integration for classification and data analysis. You can also implement a third-party solution if required for compliance purposes.

For the underlying platform which is managed by Microsoft, Microsoft treats all customer content as sensitive and goes to great lengths to guard against customer data loss and exposure. To ensure customer data within Azure remains secure, Microsoft has implemented and maintains a suite of robust data protection controls and capabilities.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

DP-2: Protect sensitive data

Guidance: Protect sensitive data by restricting access using Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC), network-based access controls, and specific controls in Azure services (such as encryption).

To ensure consistent access control, all types of access control should be aligned with your enterprise segmentation strategy. The enterprise segmentation strategy should also be informed by the location of sensitive or business critical data and systems.

For the underlying platform (managed by Microsoft), Microsoft treats all customer content as sensitive and guards against customer data loss and exposure. To ensure customer data within Azure remains secure, Microsoft has implemented some default data protection controls and capabilities.

Cosmos DB also supports customer-managed keys for an additional level of encryption.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

DP-3: Monitor for unauthorized transfer of sensitive data

Guidance: Cosmos DB supports Advanced Threat Protection. Advanced Threat Protection for Azure Cosmos DB provides an additional layer of security intelligence that detects unusual and potentially harmful attempts to access or exploit Azure Cosmos DB accounts. This layer of protection allows you to address threats, even without being a security expert, and integrate them with central security monitoring systems.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

DP-4: Encrypt sensitive information in transit

Guidance: To complement access controls, data in transit should be protected against 'out of band' attacks (such as traffic capture) using encryption to ensure that attackers cannot easily read or modify the data.

Cosmos DB supports data encryption in transit with TLS v1.2 or greater.

While this is optional for traffic on private networks, this is critical for traffic on external and public networks. For HTTP traffic, ensure that any clients connecting to your Azure resources can negotiate TLS v1.2 or greater. For remote management, use SSH (for Linux) or RDP/TLS (for Windows) instead of an unencrypted protocol. Obsolete SSL, TLS, SSH versions and protocols, and weak ciphers should be disabled.

By default, Azure provides encryption for data in transit between Azure data centers.

All connections to Azure Cosmos DB support HTTPS. Any accounts created after July 29th, 2020 have a minimum TLS version of TLS 1.2 by default. You can request that the minimum TLS version of your accounts created before July 29th, 2020 be upgraded to TLS 1.2 by contacting azurecosmosdbtls@service.microsoft.com.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

DP-5: Encrypt sensitive data at rest

Guidance: To complement access controls, Cosmos DB encrypts data at rest to protect against 'out of band' attacks (such as accessing underlying storage) using encryption. This helps ensure that attackers cannot easily read or modify the data.

Data stored in your Azure Cosmos account is automatically and seamlessly encrypted with keys managed by Microsoft (service-managed keys). Optionally, you can choose to add a second layer of encryption with keys you manage (customer-managed keys).

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: The Azure Security Benchmark is the default policy initiative for Security Center and is the foundation for Security Center's recommendations. The Azure Policy definitions related to this control are enabled automatically by Security Center. Alerts related to this control may require an Azure Defender plan for the related services.

Azure Policy built-in definitions - Microsoft.DocumentDB:

Name
(Azure portal)
Description Effect(s) Version
(GitHub)
Azure Cosmos DB accounts should use customer-managed keys to encrypt data at rest Use customer-managed keys to manage the encryption at rest of your Azure Cosmos DB. By default, the data is encrypted at rest with service-managed keys, but customer-managed keys are commonly required to meet regulatory compliance standards. Customer-managed keys enable the data to be encrypted with an Azure Key Vault key created and owned by you. You have full control and responsibility for the key lifecycle, including rotation and management. Learn more at https://aka.ms/cosmosdb-cmk. audit, deny, disabled 1.0.2

Asset Management

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Asset Management.

AM-1: Ensure security team has visibility into risks for assets

Guidance: Ensure security teams are granted Security Reader permissions in your Azure tenant and subscriptions so they can monitor for security risks using Azure Security Center.

Depending on how security team responsibilities are structured, monitoring for security risks could be the responsibility of a central security team or a local team. That said, security insights and risks must always be aggregated centrally within an organization.

Security Reader permissions can be applied broadly to an entire tenant (Root Management Group) or scoped to management groups or specific subscriptions.

Note: Additional permissions might be required to get visibility into workloads and services.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

AM-2: Ensure security team has access to asset inventory and metadata

Guidance: Apply tags to your Azure Cosmos DB instances and related resources with relevant metadata such as tracking Azure Cosmos DB instances that store or process sensitive information. Cosmos DB does not allow running an application or installing software on its resources.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

AM-3: Use only approved Azure services

Guidance: Cosmos DB supports denying its resource deployments with Azure Policy, this enables you to restrict deployments where this service is not yet approved. Use Azure Policy to audit and restrict which services users can provision in your environment according to your security needs. Use Azure Resource Graph to query for and discover resources within your subscriptions. You can also use Azure Monitor to create rules to trigger alerts when a non-approved service is detected.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

AM-4: Ensure security of asset lifecycle management

Guidance: Establish or update security policies that address asset lifecycle management processes for potentially high impact modifications to your Cosmos DB resources. These modifications include but are not limited to: identity providers and access, data sensitivity, network configuration, and administrative privilege assignment. Outline any high-impact configurations that the customer should be aware of. Remove any of your Azure resources when they are no longer needed.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

AM-5: Limit users' ability to interact with Azure Resource Manager

Guidance: Use Azure Conditional Access to limit users' ability to interact with Azure Resource Manager by configuring "Block access" for the "Microsoft Azure Management" App.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Logging and Threat Detection

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Logging and Threat Detection.

LT-1: Enable threat detection for Azure resources

Guidance: Use the Azure Security Center built-in threat detection capability and enable Azure Defender (formerly Azure Advanced Threat Protection) for your Cosmos DB resources. Azure Defender for Cosmos DB provides an additional layer of security intelligence that detects unusual and potentially harmful attempts to access or exploit your Cosmos DB resources.

Forward any logs from Cosmos DB to your SIEM, which can be used to set up custom threat detections. Ensure that you are monitoring different types of Azure assets for potential threats and anomalies. Focus on getting high-quality alerts to reduce false positives for analysts to sort through. Alerts can be sourced from log data, agents, or other data.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

LT-2: Enable threat detection for Azure identity and access management

Guidance: Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) provides the following user logs, which can be viewed in Azure AD reporting or integrated with Azure Monitor, Azure Sentinel, or other SIEM/monitoring tools for more sophisticated monitoring and analytics use cases:

  • Sign-ins - The sign-ins report provides information about the usage of managed applications and user sign-in activities.
  • Audit logs - Provides traceability through logs for all changes done by various features within Azure AD. Examples of audit logs include changes made to any resources within Azure AD, like adding or removing users, apps, groups, roles, and policies.
  • Risky sign-ins - A risky sign-in is an indicator for a sign-in attempt that might have been performed by someone who is not the legitimate owner of a user account.
  • Users flagged for risk - A risky user is an indicator for a user account that might have been compromised.

Azure Security Center can also trigger alerts on certain suspicious activities, such as excessive number of failed authentication attempts or deprecated accounts in the subscription. In addition to the basic security hygiene monitoring, Azure Security Center's Threat Protection module can also collect more in-depth security alerts from individual Azure compute resources (virtual machines, containers, app service), data resources (SQL DB and storage), and Azure service layers. This capability allows you to have visibility on account anomalies inside individual resources.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

LT-3: Enable logging for Azure network activities

Guidance: Cosmos DB does not deploy any resources directly into a virtual network. However, Cosmos DB allows you to use private endpoints to connect securely to its resources from a virtual network. Cosmos DB also does not produce or process DNS query logs which would need to be enabled.

Enable logging on your configured Cosmos DB private endpoints to capture:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

LT-4: Enable logging for Azure resources

Guidance: Activity logs, which are automatically available, contain all write operations (PUT, POST, DELETE) for your Cosmos DB resources except read operations (GET). Activity logs can be used to find an error when troubleshooting or to monitor how a user in your organization modified a resource.

Enable Azure resource logs for Cosmos DB. You can use Azure Security Center and Azure Policy to enable resource logs and log data collecting. These logs can be critical for investigating security incidents and performing forensic exercises.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

LT-5: Centralize security log management and analysis

Guidance: Centralize the logging, storage, and analysis of Cosmos DB logs. Ensure you are integrating Azure activity logs produced by Cosmos DB management actions into your central logging solution. Ingest logs via Azure Monitor to aggregate security data generated by endpoint devices, network resources, and other security systems. In Azure Monitor, use Log Analytics workspaces to query and perform analytics, and use Azure Storage accounts for long term and archival storage.

In addition, enable and onboard data to Azure Sentinel or a third-party SIEM.

Many organizations choose to use Azure Sentinel for “hot” data that is used frequently and Azure Storage for “cold” data that is used less frequently.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

LT-6: Configure log storage retention

Guidance: Ensure that any storage accounts or Log Analytics workspaces used for storing logs created by your Cosmos DB resources have the log retention period set according to your organization's compliance regulations.

In Azure Monitor, you can set your Log Analytics workspace retention period according to your organization's compliance regulations. Use Azure Storage, Data Lake or Log Analytics workspace accounts for long-term and archival storage.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Incident Response

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Incident Response.

IR-1: Preparation – update incident response process for Azure

Guidance: Ensure your organization has processes to respond to security incidents, has updated these processes for Azure, and is regularly exercising them to ensure readiness.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IR-2: Preparation – setup incident notification

Guidance: Set up security incident contact information in Azure Security Center. This contact information is used by Microsoft to contact you if the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) discovers that your data has been accessed by an unlawful or unauthorized party. You also have options to customize incident alert and notification in different Azure services based on your incident response needs.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IR-3: Detection and analysis – create incidents based on high quality alerts

Guidance: Ensure you have a process to create high-quality alerts and measure the quality of alerts. This allows you to learn lessons from past incidents and prioritize alerts for analysts, so they don't waste time on false positives.

High-quality alerts can be built based on experience from past incidents, validated community sources, and tools designed to generate and clean up alerts by fusing and correlating diverse signal sources.

Azure Security Center provides high-quality alerts across many Azure assets. You can use the ASC data connector to stream the alerts to Azure Sentinel. Azure Sentinel lets you create advanced alert rules to generate incidents automatically for an investigation.

Export your Azure Security Center alerts and recommendations using the export feature to help identify risks to Azure resources. Export alerts and recommendations either manually or in an ongoing, continuous fashion.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IR-4: Detection and analysis – investigate an incident

Guidance: Ensure analysts can query and use diverse data sources as they investigate potential incidents, to build a full view of what happened. Diverse logs should be collected to track the activities of a potential attacker across the kill chain to avoid blind spots. You should also ensure insights and learnings are captured for other analysts and for future historical reference.

The data sources for investigation include the centralized logging sources that are already being collected from the in-scope services and running systems, but can also include:

  • Network data - use network security groups' flow logs, Azure Network Watcher, and Azure Monitor to capture network flow logs and other analytics information.

  • Snapshots of running systems:

    • Use Azure virtual machine's snapshot capability to create a snapshot of the running system's disk.

    • Use the operating system's native memory dump capability to create a snapshot of the running system's memory.

    • Use the snapshot feature of the Azure services or your software's own capability to create snapshots of the running systems.

Azure Sentinel provides extensive data analytics across virtually any log source and a case management portal to manage the full lifecycle of incidents. Intelligence information during an investigation can be associated with an incident for tracking and reporting purposes.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IR-5: Detection and analysis – prioritize incidents

Guidance: Provide context to analysts on which incidents to focus on first based on alert severity and asset sensitivity.

Azure Security Center assigns a severity to each alert to help you prioritize which alerts should be investigated first. The severity is based on how confident Security Center is in the finding or the analytics used to issue the alert, as well as the confidence level that there was malicious intent behind the activity that led to the alert.

Additionally, mark resources using tags and create a naming system to identify and categorize Azure resources, especially those processing sensitive data. It is your responsibility to prioritize the remediation of alerts based on the criticality of the Azure resources and environment where the incident occurred.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

IR-6: Containment, eradication and recovery – automate the incident handling

Guidance: Automate manual repetitive tasks to speed up response time and reduce the burden on analysts. Manual tasks take longer to execute, slowing each incident and reducing how many incidents an analyst can handle. Manual tasks also increase analyst fatigue, which increases the risk of human error that causes delays, and degrades the ability of analysts to focus effectively on complex tasks.

Use workflow automation features in Azure Security Center and Azure Sentinel to automatically trigger actions or run a playbook to respond to incoming security alerts. The playbook takes actions, such as sending notifications, disabling accounts, and isolating problematic networks.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Posture and Vulnerability Management

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Posture and Vulnerability Management.

PV-1: Establish secure configurations for Azure services

Guidance: You can use Azure Blueprints to automate the deployment and configuration of the Cosmos DB service including Azure Resources Manager templates, Azure RBAC controls, and policies, in a single blueprint definition.

Advanced Threat Protection for Azure Cosmos DB provides an additional layer of security intelligence that detects unusual and potentially harmful attempts to access or exploit Azure Cosmos DB accounts. This layer of protection allows you to address threats, even without being a security expert, and integrate them with central security monitoring systems.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PV-2: Sustain secure configurations for Azure services

Guidance: Use Azure Security Center to monitor your configuration baseline and enforce these configurations using Azure Policy [deny] and [deploy if not exist] effects to maintain secure configuration across your Cosmos DB resources.

Use Azure Policy aliases in the "Microsoft.DocumentDB" namespace to create custom policies to alert, audit, and enforce system configurations. Additionally, develop a process and pipeline for managing policy exceptions.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

PV-8: Conduct regular attack simulation

Guidance: As required, conduct penetration testing or red team activities on your Azure resources and ensure remediation of all critical security findings.

Follow the Microsoft Cloud Penetration Testing Rules of Engagement to ensure your penetration tests are not in violation of Microsoft policies. Use Microsoft's strategy and execution of Red Teaming and live site penetration testing against Microsoft-managed cloud infrastructure, services, and applications.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Backup and Recovery

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Backup and Recovery.

BR-1: Ensure regular automated backups

Guidance: Azure Cosmos DB automatically takes backups of your data at regular intervals. If database or container is deleted, you can file a support ticket or call Azure support to restore the data from automatic online backups. Azure support is available for selected plans only such as Standard, Developer, and plans higher than them. To restore a specific snapshot of the backup, Azure Cosmos DB requires that the data is available for the duration of the backup cycle for that snapshot.

If using Key Vault to store credentials for your Cosmos DB instances, ensure regular automated backups of your keys.

Responsibility: Shared

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

BR-3: Validate all backups including customer-managed keys

Guidance: Azure Cosmos DB automatically takes backups of your data at regular intervals. If database or container is deleted, you can file a support ticket or call Azure support to restore the data from automatic online backups. To restore a specific snapshot of the backup, Azure Cosmos DB requires that the data is available for the duration of the backup cycle for that snapshot.

If using Key Vault to store credentials for your Cosmos DB instances that are encrypted with customer-managed keys, ensure regular automated backups of your keys.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

BR-4: Mitigate risk of lost keys

Guidance: Ensure that you have measures in place to prevent and recover from the loss of keys. Enable soft delete and purge protection in Azure Key Vault to protect your encryption keys against accidental or malicious deletion.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Governance and Strategy

For more information, see the Azure Security Benchmark: Governance and Strategy.

GS-1: Define asset management and data protection strategy

Guidance: Ensure you document and communicate a clear strategy for continuous monitoring and protection of systems and data. Prioritize discovery, assessment, protection, and monitoring of business-critical data and systems.

This strategy should include documented guidance, policy, and standards for the following elements:

  • Data classification standard in accordance with the business risks
  • Security organization visibility into risks and asset inventory
  • Security organization approval of Azure services for use
  • Security of assets through their lifecycle
  • Required access control strategy in accordance with organizational data classification
  • Use of Azure native and third-party data protection capabilities
  • Data encryption requirements for in-transit and at-rest use cases
  • Appropriate cryptographic standards

For more information, see the following references:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-2: Define enterprise segmentation strategy

Guidance: Establish an enterprise-wide strategy to segmenting access to assets using a combination of identity, network, application, subscription, management group, and other controls.

Carefully balance the need for security separation with the need to enable daily operation of the systems that need to communicate with each other and access data.

Ensure that the segmentation strategy is implemented consistently across control types including network security, identity and access models, and application permission/access models, and human process controls.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-3: Define security posture management strategy

Guidance: Continuously measure and mitigate risks to your individual assets and the environment they are hosted in. Prioritize high value assets and highly-exposed attack surfaces, such as published applications, network ingress and egress points, user and administrator endpoints, etc.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-4: Align organization roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities

Guidance: Ensure that you document and communicate a clear strategy for roles and responsibilities in your security organization. Prioritize providing clear accountability for security decisions, educating everyone on the shared responsibility model, and educate technical teams on technology to secure the cloud.

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-5: Define network security strategy

Guidance: Establish an Azure network security approach as part of your organization's overall security access control strategy.

This strategy should include documented guidance, policy, and standards for the following elements:

  • Centralized network management and security responsibility
  • Virtual network segmentation model aligned with the enterprise segmentation strategy
  • Remediation strategy in different threat and attack scenarios
  • Internet edge and ingress and egress strategy
  • Hybrid cloud and on-premises interconnectivity strategy
  • Up-to-date network security artifacts (such as network diagrams, reference network architecture)

For more information, see the following references:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-6: Define identity and privileged access strategy

Guidance: Establish an Azure identity and privileged access approaches as part of your organization's overall security access control strategy.

This strategy should include documented guidance, policy, and standards for the following elements:

  • A centralized identity and authentication system and its interconnectivity with other internal and external identity systems
  • Strong authentication methods in different use cases and conditions
  • Protection of highly privileged users
  • Anomaly user activities monitoring and handling
  • User identity and access review and reconciliation process

For more information, see the following references:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

GS-7: Define logging and threat response strategy

Guidance: Establish a logging and threat response strategy to rapidly detect and remediate threats while meeting compliance requirements. Prioritize providing analysts with high-quality alerts and seamless experiences so that they can focus on threats rather than integration and manual steps.

This strategy should include documented guidance, policy, and standards for the following elements:

  • The security operations (SecOps) organization's role and responsibilities
  • A well-defined incident response process aligning with NIST or another industry framework
  • Log capture and retention to support threat detection, incident response, and compliance needs
  • Centralized visibility of and correlation information about threats, using SIEM, native Azure capabilities, and other sources
  • Communication and notification plan with your customers, suppliers, and public parties of interest
  • Use of Azure native and third-party platforms for incident handling, such as logging and threat detection, forensics, and attack remediation and eradication
  • Processes for handling incidents and post-incident activities, such as lessons learned and evidence retention

For more information, see the following references:

Responsibility: Customer

Azure Security Center monitoring: None

Next steps