Microsoft Azure Sentinel Uses Data Analytics to Improve Security

The new tool aims to help IT pros collect and evaluate security analytics more easily across corporate hybrid cloud infrastructure.


Giving a wider range of fresh cyber-attack threats and information to IT security workers 24/7 is the aim of a new Microsoft Azure security tool—Microsoft Azure Sentinel—that was just released by the company in preview mode.

Built to streamline the collection of IT security information across business organizations, including attacks, vulnerabilities and other issues, Microsoft Azure Sentinel is designed to dramatically help security operations teams improve detection, protection and data security for companies of all sizes using intelligent security analytics.

The new tool was unveiled in a recent post by Eliav Levi, director of product management for Microsoft Azure Sentinel, on the Microsoft Azure Blog.

"Azure Sentinel makes it easy to collect security data across your entire hybrid organization from devices, to users, to apps to servers on any cloud," wrote Levi. "It uses the power of artificial intelligence to ensure you are identifying real threats quickly and unleashes you from the burden of traditional Security Information and Event Management (SIEMs) by eliminating the need to spend time on setting up, maintaining and scaling infrastructure."

The tool offers broad scaling capabilities and speed to help businesses meet their IT security requirements, wrote Levi. "Traditional SIEMs have also proven to be expensive to own and operate, often requiring you to commit upfront and incur high cost for infrastructure maintenance and data ingestion. With Azure Sentinel there are no upfront costs, you pay for what you use."

Getting to the Core of Security Problems

A key aim of Azure Sentinel is to cut through false and large numbers of alerts for IT security workers so they can focus on the real threats and get to the core of the problems facing their companies, wrote Levi.

For users, Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native service that allows users to aggregate all security data with built-in connectors, native integration of Microsoft signals and support for industry-standard log formats like common event format and syslog to better fight threats, wrote Levi. Users can also import their Microsoft Office 365 data for free and combine it with other security data for analysis, giving companies a bigger and better picture of the security threats they are facing.

"Azure Sentinel uses Azure Monitor which is built on a proven and scalable log analytics database that ingests more than 10 petabytes every day and provides a very fast query engine that can sort through millions of records in seconds," wrote Levi.

Also used by Azure Sentinel to analyze business data in new ways are artificial intelligence capabilities fueled by scalable machine learning algorithms that correlate millions of low fidelity anomalies to present a few high fidelity security incidents for analysis by IT security workers, he wrote.

"Machine learning technologies will help you quickly get value from large amounts of security data you are ingesting and connect the dots for you," he wrote. "For example, you can quickly see a compromised account that was used to deploy ransomware in a cloud application. This helps reduce noise drastically, in fact we have seen an overall reduction of up to 90 percent in alert fatigue during evaluations."

Azure Sentinel can also connect to user activity and behavior data from Microsoft 365 security products, which can be combined with other sources to provide visibility into an entire attack sequence against business users, he added.

"Graphical and AI-based investigation will reduce the time it takes to understand the full scope of an attack and its impact," wrote Levi. "You can visualize the attack and take quick actions in the same dashboard."

Once issues are found, security workers can then automate response to the issues so they don't continue to appear. "Azure Sentinel provides built-in automation and orchestrationwith pre-defined or custom playbooks to solve repetitive tasks and to respond to threats quickly," he wrote. "Azure Sentinel will augment existing enterprise defense and investigation tools, including best-of-breed security products, homegrown tools, and other systems like HR management applications and workflow management systems like ServiceNow."

Microsoft Azure Sentinel is available in preview immediately.