What is an Application Security Group in Azure?

Azure application security groups (ASGs) let you organize your virtual machines (VMs) based on their specific network security policies. These security policies will determine what traffic is or is not permissible on your virtual machine. As such, it’s important to understand application security groups so you can prevent unauthorized traffic to your VMs.

What is a Virtual Machine?

Virtual machines (VMs) are basically small pseudo-computers that run within your cloud environment. Just like a physical computer, a VM has its own operating system (e.g. Windows or Linux) and can run applications. However, it has no physical hardware and operates entirely on software.

By using ASGs, you can reuse your security policies at scale without manually maintaining explicit IP addresses. This makes network security management much simpler and less time-consuming. However, one important thing to remember is that all VMs within an ASG must be within the same virtual network.

To get started with ASGs, read on.

The Importance of Azure Application Security Groups in Network Security

Network security has become increasingly important as the digital threat landscape continues to evolve. Businesses currently face an unprecedentedly large attack surface due to the increased usage of online networks and IoT devices.

ASGs offer a simple yet effective way for business owners to rise to this challenge. By setting explicit security rules on who can access what, you can decrease your attack surface significantly.

ASGs can also let you control how users communicate on your network. This is a great way to curb suspicious activity and block improper usage.

4 Benefits of Azure ASGs

1. Consistent Security Policies

With ASGs, you can ensure all VMs within a group follow the same security policies. This is a crucial benefit considering that 66% of organizations are struggling with inconsistent cybersecurity policies across their networks.

2. Granular Control

ASGs allow for granular control over traffic within your network. You can create detailed network security policies based on workloads, applications, or environments. It also helps you isolate parts of your network to prevent spread if a breach occurs.

3. Scalability

ASGs can automatically handle an increase in VMs without the need for additional configuration. Therefore, there’s no need to spend additional time reconfiguring your security settings every time you add a new VM.

4. Ease of Use

Because ASGs are integrated with Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to use them alongside other Azure features. You don’t need to learn a separate tool to manage security, nor do you need to worry about compatibility issues.


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How to Set Up an Application Security Group in Azure

1. Log in to Azure

  1. Open your browser
  2. Go to the Azure Portal
  3. Enter your credentials and log in

2. Navigate to The Application Security Groups Interface

  1. Once you’ve logged in, click on the hamburger icon (☰) in the top left corner
  2. Scroll down and click on “All services”
  3. In the “All services” search box, type “Application Security Groups” and select it from the dropdown

3. Create a New Security Group

  1. Click on the “+ Add” button at the top of the page
  2. The “+ Add” button will automatically redirect you to the “Create an Application Security Group” page


4. Configure the Group

  1. Configure the settings of your security group
    1. Subscription: Select the Azure subscription you want to use
    2. Resource Group: Select an existing resource group from the dropdown list or create a new one by clicking on “Create new”
    3. Name: Enter a unique name
    4. Region: Select the region where you want to deploy the security group

5. Review & Create

  1. Review your settings to make sure everything is correct
  2. Click on the “Review + create” button at the bottom of the page
  3. After reviewing your settings, click on the “Create” button to create the Application Security Group (it may take a few minutes)

6. Verify

  1. Once you’re done, you can go back to the “Application Security Groups” page and check to see if your new Application Security Group is listed

Azure NSG vs. ASG: What’s The Difference?

Another feature in Azure is Azure Network Security Groups (NSGs). Both features help users control traffic on their network. So, what exactly are the main differences between ASGs and NSGs?

Azure ASGs Azure NSGs
Purpose To logically group VMs and define network security policies To filter network traffic to and from Azure resources in an Azure virtual network
Use Case When you want to apply a network security policy to a specific group of VMs To control inbound and outbound traffic to resources like subnets and network interfaces
Granularity ASGs allow for granular security policies within an NSG NSGs provide a broader level of security at the subnet and network interface levels

Leverage Application Security Groups Like a Pro

This article was only the beginning of all the things you can do with Azure security groups. There’s a lot to learn and understand, which is great if you have the time and interest. If not, there’s help.

Atmosera provides managed Azure services so you can take security group configuration off your plate. We’ll show you how to use ASGs like a pro, and take care of all the management and maintenance tasks involved so you don’t have to.

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