Microsoft Previews a 'Premium' Version of Azure Bastion

A public preview of a new, more feature-rich SKU of Microsoft's Azure Bastion virtual machine (VM) security product is now available.

Azure Bastion lets organizations use a protected Internet connection to access Azure VMs. As RCP Magazine's Kurt Mackie previously wrote, "With the Azure Bastion service, organizations can start an RDS or Secure Shell (SSH) remote connection session from the Azure Portal using an HTML5-based Web browser. They connect via a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection to the Azure Bastion service located in a subnet using Port 443. The Azure Bastion service then permits the user to access an Azure VM using a private Internet Protocol address."

The new "Premium" edition that Microsoft announced last week adds several more layers of security, ideal for organizations that have particularly stringent security and compliance requirements to meet, or that run highly sensitive workloads in their Azure VMs.

For instance, Azure Bastion Premium has a "Private Only" feature. This will let users access their Azure VMs via a private endpoint instead of a public IP address, which is the entry method used by the other Azure Bastion SKUs.

"We see this offering as a must-have feature for customers who want to minimize the use of public endpoints," Microsoft said in its announcement blog. "For customers who have strict policies surrounding the use of public endpoints, Private Only Azure Bastion ensures that Azure Bastion is a compliant service under organizational policies."

If a user is trying to connect to their Azure VMs from an on-premises network, they can combine this Private Only capability with Azure ExpressRoute private peering for a practically air-gapped way to access their VMs.

Azure Bastion Premium also has more monitoring and recording capabilities than other versions. A "graphical session recording" feature lets organizations log every VM session activity that's initiated via an Azure Bastion connection. Organizations can decide where to store these recordings and for how long. Such recordings can be valuable for organizations trying to detect anomalous user behaviors, which might be precursors to a security incident.

"With this feature enabled, if an anomaly within the virtual machine session happens, customers can go back and review the recording to see what exactly happened within the session," Microsoft said.

Microsoft plans to announce more Azure Bastion Premium features in the coming months. This is the fourth Azure Bastion SKU, in addition to Developer, Basic and Standard. More information about each SKU's capabilities is available here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.