AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies – Study Guide

Updated February 2021

Azure has a sole security focused exam, AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies. Passing this single exam will allow you to earn a Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate certification.

So, if you’re interested and wondering if you should take this exam? Here is what Microsoft have to say:

Candidates for this exam are Microsoft Azure security engineers who implement security controls, maintain the security posture, manages identity and access, and protects data, applications, and networks. Candidates identify and remediate vulnerabilities by using a variety of security tools, implements threat protection, and responds to security incident escalations. As a Microsoft Azure security engineer, candidates often serve as part of a larger team dedicated to cloud-based management and security and may also secure hybrid environments as part of an end-to-end infrastructure.

Candidates for this exam should have strong skills in scripting and automation, a deep understanding of networking, virtualization, and cloud N-tier architecture, and a strong familiarity with cloud capabilities, Microsoft Azure products and services, and other Microsoft products and services.

Below, I’ve put together a collection of links relevant to the sections highlighted as being part of the skills measured for this exam. As always, these are only guide links, sometimes you need to explore a topic much more deeply if you are not familiar with it.

If you spot something, or have a better link for a topic, get in touch! I will update this post as regularly as possible and always appreciate any feedback.

A good place to start is the Azure Security Documentation page. This site includes most of the key concepts and services covered in this exam, as well as several best practice approaches you should consider.

Manage Identity and Access (30-35%)

Manage Azure Active Directory identities
Configure secure access by using Azure AD
Manage application access
Manage access control

Implement Platform Protection (15-20%)

Implement advanced network security
Configure advanced security for compute

Manage Security Operations (25-30%)

Monitor security by using Azure Monitor
Monitor security by using Azure Security Center
Monitor security by using Azure Sentinel
Configure Security Policies

Secure Data and Applications (20-25%)

Configure security for storage
Configure security for databases
Configure and manage Key Vault

Azure – Protect My App

If you’ve taken a path to adopt public cloud and part of that adoption is a public facing application, you need to review how you are protecting it within Azure. When your application was on-premises, there was most likely only a single well managed solution to granting external access. In Azure, there are several various solutions available and each carries its own set of functionality and risk.

Rather than try define that entire list, let us look at how best to protect your application, regardless of how you have deployed it. With Azure, these are my three preferred options:

  1. Azure AD Application Proxy
  2. Azure Application Gateway
  3. 3rd Party Network Virtual Appliance

These arguably run from least to most secure. An important tip is to treat each application as unique, because it is. There is not a single best solution for all of your applications and as Azure is a shared model of security it is up to you to protect your data!

Awkward stuff out of the way, let’s look at Application Proxy, we’ve already had a post on setting this up here. The key point with this service is that you do not have your site exposed externally at a network level. Of course, the application itself will be and therefore possibly your server and data, but there is not an open endpoint accepting traffic.

Next is Application Gateway. This is actually a load-balancing solution but you can enable the Web Application Firewall tier easily. This provides protection of your applications from common exploits and vulnerabilities. However, this protection is based on rules from the OWASP core rule set and while it is configurable, this only means you can disable certain rules, not add custom ones. Application Gateway can seamlessly integrate into your environment whether you are running PaaS or IaaS solutions and is economical from a cost perspective. However, that point regarding customisation can often be the deciding factor in choosing our third option instead.

Finally, a 3rd party appliance. Azure offers solutions from the majority of the major providers in this space. Easily deployable from the Azure Marketplace within minutes. Integration options are good but require some work, (See post on routing here) and cost can be a factor to meet required availability levels. But if you need maximum protection and customisation, this is your best option.

Overall, I think there is definitely a solution in Azure that will meet your requirements. Take the time to understand your application, consult with your SMEs and you won’t go wrong!