Introduction to Azure Sentinel

Your organization wants to advance its security-management capabilities and has already started moving some workloads to the public cloud.

You’re evaluating security information and event management (SIEM) solutions that can help in both an on-premises and a multiple-cloud environment. You’ve heard about Azure Sentinel and want to find out whether it could be the right SIEM solution for your business.

Ideally, you’d select a service that provides the features and functionality that you need, with minimal administration and a flexible pricing model.

Azure Sentinel offers exactly those benefits.

In this post, we will explore Azure Sentinel and discover why and when to use it.

What is security incident and event management (SIEM)?

A SIEM system is a tool that an organization uses to collect, analyze, and perform security operations on its computer systems. Those systems can be hardware appliances, applications, or both.

In its simplest form, a SIEM system enables you to:

  • Collect and query logs.
  • Do some form of correlation or anomaly detection.
  • Create alerts and incidents based on your findings.

A SIEM system might offer functionality such as:

  • Log management: The ability to collect, store, and query the log data from resources within your environment.
  • Alerting: A proactive look inside the log data for potential security incidents and anomalies.
  • Visualization: Graphs and dashboards that provide visual insights into your log data.
  • Incident management: The ability to create, update, assign, and investigate incidents that have been identified.
  • Querying data: A rich query language, similar to that for log management, that you can use to query and understand your data.

What is Azure Sentinel?

Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native SIEM system that a security operations team can use to:

  • Get security insights across the enterprise by collecting data from virtually any source.
  • Detect and investigate threats quickly by using built-in machine learning and Microsoft threat intelligence.
  • Automate threat responses by using playbooks and by integrating Azure Logic Apps.

Unlike with traditional SIEM solutions, to run Azure Sentinel, you don’t need to install any servers either on-premises or in the cloud. Azure Sentinel is a service that you deploy in Azure. You can get up and running with Sentinel in just a few minutes in the Azure portal.

Azure Sentinel is tightly integrated with other cloud services. Not only can you quickly ingest logs, but you can also use other cloud services natively (for example, authorization and automation).

Azure Sentinel helps you enable end-to-end security operations including collection, detection, investigation, and response:

How Azure Sentinel works

Azure Sentinel helps you enable end-to-end security operations. It starts with log ingestion and continues through to automated response to security alerts.

Here are the key features and components of Azure Sentinel.

Data connectors

The first thing to do is to have your data ingested into Azure Sentinel. Data connectors enable you to do just that. You can add some services, such as Azure activity logs, just by selecting a button. Others, such as syslog, require a little configuration. There are data connectors that cover all scenarios and sources, including but not limited to:

  • syslog
  • Common Event Format (CEF)
  • Trusted Automated eXchange of Indicator Information (TAXII) (for threat intelligence)
  • Azure
  • AWS services

Log retention

After it’s been ingested into Azure Sentinel, your data is stored by using Log Analytics. The benefits of using Log Analytics include the ability to use the Kusto Query Language (KQL) to query your data. KQL is a rich query language that gives you the power to dive into and gain insights from our data.


You use workbooks to visualize your data within Azure Sentinel. Think of workbooks as dashboards. Each component in the dashboard is built by using an underlying KQL query of your data. You can use the built-in workbooks within Azure Sentinel, edit them to meet your own needs, or create your own workbooks from scratch.

Analytics Alerts

So far, you have your logs and some data visualization. Now it would be great to have some proactive analytics across your data, so you’re notified when something suspicious occurs. You can enable built-in analytics alerts within your Sentinel workspace. There are various types of alerts, some of which you can edit to your own needs. Other alerts are built on machine-learning models that are proprietary to Microsoft. You can also create custom, scheduled alerts from scratch.

Incidents and investigations

An incident is created when an alert that you’ve enabled is triggered. In Azure Sentinel, you can do standard incident management tasks like changing status or assigning incidents to individuals for investigation. Azure Sentinel also has investigation functionality, so you can visually investigate incidents by mapping entities across log data along a timeline.

Automation playbooks

With the ability to respond to incidents automatically, you can automate some of your security operations and make your SOC more productive. Azure Sentinel integrates with Azure Logic Apps, enabling you to create automated workflows, or playbooks, in response to events. This functionality could be used for incident management, enrichment, investigation, or remediation. These capabilities are often referred to a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR).

You now start to see how Azure Sentinel might help you achieve your goals. For example, you could:

  • Ingest data from you cloud and on-premises environments.
  • Perform analytics on that data.
  • Manage and investigate any incidents that occur.
  • Perhaps even respond automatically by using playbooks.

Azure Sentinel gives you an end-to-end solution for you security and compliance needs.

Contact Remedia Security if you are interested in learning more about how Azure Sentinel can improve your cybersecurity and compliance program.

Limit Information System Access

Limiting information system access is a fundamental security practice that focuses on account management.  The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) covers system access with the Access Control domain and AC.1.001 and AC.1.002 practices. This control will prevent unauthorized access to controlled unclassified information (CUI).  This control can be implemented using a combination of policy and technical mechanisms.  Access control policies and procedures are used to control access between users and the information or devices you are protecting. 

You should identify and select the types of accounts needed to support your business.  Account types include, for example, individual, shared, group, system, guest/anonymous, emergency, developer/manufacturer/vendor, temporary, and service.  New user accounts should require an approval and follow the organization’s access control policy and procedures.  An organization could create User Authorization Request forms that lists:

  • user requesting access
  • information system
  • information being accessed
  • business purpose
  • training requirements
  • user account name
  • approving signatures

An account manager should be assigned. Account managers need to be notified when an account is no longer needed, a user is terminated or transferred, and when the need-to-know changes.  Access authorization should be based on a valid need-to-know, reason to use the system, and any other business purposes. 

Temporary and/or emergency accounts are commonly used in a production environment.  These accounts should be configured to automatically expire after a defined period.  The account manager can also manually audit the system for inactive and temporary accounts no longer needed.  This process should be outlined in your access control and auditing policies. Shared/Group accounts should only be permitted when necessary.  The shared/group account credentials need to be terminated when a member leaves the group. 

An account manager could create a simple spreadsheet that lists all of the user accounts and the names of individuals associated with each account.  The list should also include disabled accounts with the names of individuals associated with each account and the dates the accounts were disabled.  This list needs to be updated and audited frequently in accordance with your continuous monitoring plan. 

Monitoring the use of accounts will help to detect inappropriate account usage and access violations.  Examples of atypical usage includes, accessing systems during non-work hours, or attempting to access information they are not authorized to access.  This overlaps with the Audit and Accountability domain of controls.

Conduct an assessment to verify if system access is limited to only authorized users, processes acting on behalf of users, and devices.  Test your processes for managing system accounts and the mechanisms used to implement your account management.  The following are objects you can use to assess your account management:

  • Access control policies
  • Account management procedures
  • System security plans
  • System configuration settings
  • System design documentation
  • Lists of active system accounts and the names of individuals associated with each account
  • Notifications of recently terminated, transferred employees
  • Lists of conditions for group and role membership
  • Lists of recently disabled system accounts along with the name of the individual associated with each account
  • Access authorization records
  • Account management compliance reviews

It is important to identify and limit who can access your information system.  Creating methods to document and track system access authorization will protect CUI, and devices like printers, and computers from unauthorized use.  Implementing an account management plan and assigning an account manager will help you identify and control system access. 

DoD Announces New Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

The Department of Defense is planning to roll out a new cybersecurity framework for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector. The Cybersercurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) will focus on protecting controlled unclassified information (CUI) within the supply chain.

CMMC will contain multiple maturity levels that range from basic cybersecurity hygiene to advanced. The required CMMC level will be identified in RFP sections L and M and used as a go/no go decision.

The first version of the CMMC will be available in January 2020. Industry should begin to see the CMMC requirements in Requests for Information in June 2020.

The CMMC will be a combination of various cybersecurity standards like NIST SP 800-53, NIST SP 800-171, ISO 27001, ISO 27032, AIA NAS9933 and others.

DoD contractors will need to coordinate with an accredited and independent third party commercial certification organization to receive a CMMC audit. The contractor will be awarded certification at the appropriate CMMC level after demonstrating to the assessor and certifier compliance with the CMMC.

One of the most exciting developments is that cybersecurity is now an allowable cost. DoD contractors will be reimbursed for costs associated with meeting the CMMC requirements.

The CMMC is currently being developed and more information will be released in the upcoming months. Remedia Security will be providing a detailed analysis of the draft CMMC and how DoD contractors can prepare for meeting the requirements.