A Guide to Azure Shared Responsibility Model Best Practices

For organizations to protect their corporate data, reduce data theft, and meet compliance requirements, cloud security is critical. To protect your data in the cloud, including Microsoft Azure, consider the shared responsibility approach, in which the cloud provider performs some security duties while the customer oversees others. These activities differ depending on whether the hosted workload is delivered as a software as a service (SaaS), a platform as a service (PaaS), or an infrastructure as a service (IaaS).  

The shared responsibility model is a cloud security framework that defines the security requirements and responsibilities of cloud providers and clients in order to ensure accountability. In this setup, cloud providers are responsible for cloud security, while customers handle cloud security. When clients execute their workloads on Azure Virtual Machines (VM), for example, Microsoft protects the underlying compute services infrastructure, which includes the hypervisor, server hardware, and physical facilities. It is the responsibility of the customer to update guest operating systems and install security patches.  

Simply defined, cloud security is a collaborative effort between cloud providers and clients. 

This article describes the shared responsibility paradigm and gives examples of how customers may use it to secure their data in Azure and Office 365. This article also suggests best practices for deployment.

Why The Azure Shared Responsibility Model Is Important To Your Business

Security is a major problem for both large and small businesses in the modern digital age. Still, striking the right balance between security requirements and business operations can be especially difficult. 

The Azure Shared Responsibility Model is a useful tool for understanding your level of responsibility for maintaining your infrastructure. Customers using the Azure Shared Responsibility Model are responsible for the security of “anything in their cloud,” or, to put it another way, “everything they instantiate, construct, and utilize.”

Even though the Azure Shared Responsibility Model has incorporated numerous tiers of protection to prevent unauthorized access to Azure, it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that multi-factor authentication is enabled for users, particularly those with the most granular IAM permissions in Azure. 

It is crucial to know that the default security settings for the Azure cloud security framework services are typically the least secure. As a result, organizations should prioritise updating the default Azure security settings as the first step in fulfilling their Azure security responsibility. They should next evaluate the resources and services they are using in order to determine the desired security levels.

Shared Responsibility Best Practices

Many organizations are defining their partnerships with CSPs for the first time as they migrate to the cloud. As businesses traverse this challenging terrain, we recommend the following recommended practices: 

  •  Examine the SLA thoroughly. Security responsibilities will vary according to cloud model, cloud provider, and other factors. Organizations must carefully check their SLA with their cloud vendor to ensure they understand their security duties and identify any potential grey areas that need to be resolved. If the organization switches cloud providers or adopts a new delivery model, it must carefully reevaluate its contract and identify any modifications. While the SLA may appear to be very similar to a previous agreement, even minor wording changes can expose the organization to major security threats. Finally, for organizations operating in a multi-cloud environment, it is critical to analyze each SLA individually because the terms differ between suppliers. Minor differences between these agreements must be accounted for in the overall cloud security strategy and architecture.
  •  Prioritize data security. Cloud clients are always totally responsible for any data kept in the cloud or generated by cloud-based apps. As a result, organizations must build a strong data security policy that is specifically designed to safeguard cloud-based data while it is in use, at rest, or in motion.
  • Embrace DevSecOps. DevSecOps, is the practice of integrating security continually across the software and/or application development lifecycle in order to minimize security risks and increase compliance while maintaining release cycle speed. A DevSecOps or shift left mindset is a must for any IT organization using containers or the cloud, both of which necessitate new security rules, policies, practices, and technologies.
  • Identify a trusted cybersecurity partner. Cloud security is fundamentally different from on-premises network security. Updating and adapting the cybersecurity strategy and toolset to handle emerging cloud-based risks can be both overwhelming and challenging, particularly if the organization operates in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment. A cybersecurity partner can help the organization’s internal security team manage all aspects of cloud security, including selecting a CSP, understanding their specialized security obligations, and deploying and integrating the tools and solutions that will safeguard the business.


The Azure shared responsibility model is a well-defined structure that outlines your customer responsibilities in addition to Azure’s security guarantee. Risk assessments, Azure’s security tools, regular monitoring, and a simple incident response plan are all essential. Furthermore, incorporating third-party technologies such as Cloudlytics can greatly improve your security and compliance posture.