Belitsoft > 6 Best Practices to Guarantee Your Data Security and Compliance When Migrating to Azure

6 Best Practices to Guarantee Your Data Security and Compliance When Migrating to Azure

To ensure a secure and compliant data migration process to Azure, our cloud team has created a checklist of best practices. It's tailored for top managers overseeing Azure migrations, focusing on crucial aspects like preventing unauthorized system access, defending against malware attacks, safeguarding sensitive data, and complying with legal standards. Central to this approach is data migration testing, which is essential for the secure, accurate, and compliant transfer of data, helping to mitigate legal and reputational risks.

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To protect your business from legal risks and maintain trust and reputation with customers, stakeholders, and investors, we rigorously follow regional compliance laws during cloud migration. For businesses in the EU, we adhere to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and in California, the US, we comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

In our migration strategy, we prioritize key provisions, such as granting users the right to delete their personal data upon request, and strictly processing only the necessary amount of data for each purpose. We meticulously document every step and keep detailed logs to uphold GDPR's accountability standards. This thorough preparation allows us to navigate data protection audits by data protection authorities (DPAs) successfully, without penalties.

2. Responding to threats fast by adopting a cybersecurity framework

To enhance response to threats, it is recommended to adopt a proven cybersecurity framework. These frameworks, such as NIST, CIS, or ISO/IEC 27001 and 27002, provide a structured approach for quickly detecting risks, handling threats, and recovering from incidents. They act as comprehensive manuals for threat response, which is especially vital for sectors dealing with sensitive data or under stringent regulatory requirements, such as finance, healthcare, and government sectors.

We can adapt frameworks such as NIST and incorporat your own criteria to measure security program effectiveness. Intel’s adoption of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework highlights that it "can provide value to even the largest organizations and has the potential to transform cybersecurity on a global scale by accelerating cybersecurity best practices".

NIST CSF can streamline threat responses, but success depends on meticulous implementation and regular updates by an experienced cloud team to keep up with emerging threats.

3. Minimizing the risk of unauthorized breaches with firewalls and private endpoints

Restricting IP address access with firewall

We secure your data by implementing firewalls that restrict access to authorized IP addresses during and after the migration.

For that, we create an "allow list" to ensure only personnel from your company's locations and authorized remote workers can access migrating data. The user's IP address is checked against the firewall's white list when connecting to your database. If a match is found, the client can connect; otherwise, the connection request is rejected.

Firewall rules are regularly reviewed and updated throughout the migration process. This adaptability is key, as the migration stages might require different access levels and controls. To manage this, our proven approach involves using Azure Portal to create, review, and update firewall rules with a user-friendly interface. PowerShell provides more advanced control through scripting, allowing for automation and management of firewall settings across multiple databases or resources.

Limiting external access to your data with Azure Private Endpoints

When your company migrates to Azure, your database might be accessible over the internet, creating security risks. To limit public access and make network management more secure, we employ tools like Azure Private Endpoint. This service creates a private connection from your database to Azure services, allowing access without exposing them to the public internet.

Our specialists implement it by setting up Azure services like SQL databases directly on a Virtual Network (VNet) with a private IP address. As a result, access to the database is limited to your company's network.

4. Identifying users before granting access to sensitive data with strict authentication

Firewalls and private endpoints are the initial steps in securing your data against external threats. Our next security layer involves user authentication to ensure authorized access to your sensitive business data and services.

We suggest using Azure Active Directory (AD) for user authentication. Azure AD offers different authentication methods, such as logging in with Azure credentials or Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). MFA requires additional verification, like a code sent via SMS, phone call, or email.

While Multi-factor authentication enhances security, it can inconvenience users with extra steps and a complex login process, or by requiring confirmation on another device. We choose MFA techniques that balance top security with ease of use, like push notifications or biometrics, and integrate them smoothly into daily operations.

With authentication complete, we assign specific roles to the users through Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). This allows precise permission for accessing and managing Azure services, including databases.

5. Proactively detecting threats with regular automated audits

With your cloud environment secured through access controls and compliance protocols, the next step is to establish robust threat detection. To automate analysis and protection of your Azure data, we use tools from the Azure Security Center, such as Advanced Threat Detection and Vulnerability Assessment.

For instance, our team configures threat detection to alert on unusual activities—such as repeated failed login attempts or access from unrecognized locations—that could indicate attempted breaches. When an alert is triggered, it provides details and potential solutions via integration with the Azure Security Center.

We also automate the detection and fixing of weak points in your database with the Vulnerability Assessment service. It scans your Azure databases for security issues, system misconfiguration, superfluous permissions, unsecured data, firewall and endpoint rules, and server-level permissions.

Having skilled personnel is the key to benefitting from automated threat detection tools, as their effectiveness depends on proper configuration and regular review of alerts to ensure they are not false positives.

6. Extra security layers for protecting data during and after migration

Protecting sensitive data by encrypting it

When businesses migrate data to Azure, allocating resources to encryption technologies is key to protecting your data throughout its migration and subsequent storage in Azure, ensuring both security and compliance.

This includes encrypting data during transfer using Transport Layer Security (TLS), which is like adding an extra layer of security. Azure SQL Database also automatically encrypts stored data, including files, backups, with Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), keeping your data secure even when it is in storage.

Also, the Always Encrypted method protects sensitive data even while it's processed by applications, enhancing security throughout its lifecycle.

Setting access and controls to a shared database for multiple clients

For multiple clients sharing the same database, we implement Row-Level Security (RLS) policies to control data access, ensuring that each client interacts only with data relevant to their roles. This control mechanism streamlines data management and enhances data privacy and security.

Our team also creates custom access rules based on user roles to segregate data visibility, keeping shared databases secure. For instance, access can be tailored so that the HR department views only employee-related data, while the financial department accesses solely financial records.

RLS rules manage data visibility and actions with precision. The RLS rules work in two ways: they enable viewing and editing permissions tailored to user roles and issue error messages for unauthorized actions, like preventing junior staff from altering financial reports.

Disguising sensitive data

Security experts emphasize internal staff is a significant source of data breaches. To address this issue, we employ Dynamic Data Masking (DDM) and RLS to add an extra layer of protection.

DDM is a crucial security feature that shields sensitive information, including credit card numbers, national ID numbers, and employee salaries, from internal staff, including database administrators. It replaces this critical data with harmless placeholders in query results while keeping the original data intact and secure. This approach avoids the complexity of managing encryption keys.

We customize DDM to suit specific needs, offering full, partial, or random data masking. These masks apply to selected database columns, ensuring tailored protection for various data types.

By deploying DDM, we protect sensitive information from internal risks, preventing unintentional security breaches caused by human error or susceptibility to phishing attacks.

To ensure your data migration to Azure is secure and compliant, reach out to our expert cloud team. Our expertise lies in implementing encryption, compliance rules, and automating threat detection to safeguard your sensitive data.

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Partner / Department Head
"I've been leading projects and managing teams with core expertise in ERP development, CRM development, SaaS development in HealthTech, FinTech and other domains for 15 years."
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