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How to Create a Monitoring Dashboard for Your Azure-hosted VM or Website

Creating a monitoring dashboard on Azure for your Virtual Machine (VM) or website is essential to detect and respond to potential security threats effectively. This blog post will guide you through setting up your monitoring dashboard using Azure Monitor, integrating Azure DDoS Protection, and leveraging Azure Security Center for comprehensive security insights.

Step 1: Enable Azure Monitor
First, enable Azure Monitor to collect essential metrics and logs from your VM or website services.

Navigate to Azure Portal: Log in to your Azure account and select the Azure Monitor service.
Add Resources: Ensure your VM and any related services like Azure Application Gateway are added to Azure Monitor for tracking.
Step 2: Define Key Metrics for Monitoring
Focus on several critical metrics to help identify potential security issues:

Network Metrics:
Network In/Out: Monitor for high volumes of traffic which may indicate a DDoS attack or other malicious activities.
Packet Drops: High numbers might suggest network issues or security measures activating against attacks.
Performance Metrics:
CPU Usage: Spikes may show stress on the VM, possibly from an attack.
Memory Usage: Like CPU usage, a rise in memory consumption could signal an attack.
Disk I/O and Disk Operations/Sec: Increases might indicate excessive writing to the disk, possibly due to an attack.
If you suspect DDoS attacks, and if you are subscribed to Azure DDoS Protection Standard, monitor specific DDoS metrics such as:

Under DDoS Attack: Shows whether the service is currently under attack.
DDoS Attack Metrics: Includes packet rate, bit rate, and attack volume.
Step 3: Set Up Alerts
Configure Azure Monitor to alert you to abnormal activities:

Create Alert Rules: Based on the metrics above, set thresholds that, when exceeded, will trigger an alert.
Notification Options: Choose how to receive alerts, whether by email, SMS, or another method.
Step 4: Utilize Log Analytics
For deeper insights:

Set Up Log Analytics Workspace: Connect your resources to a Log Analytics workspace to analyze and query logs.
Query for Suspicious Activity: Look for signs like failed login attempts, or unusual access patterns.
Step 5: Enable and Configure Azure Security Center
For enhanced security measures:

Activate Azure Security Center: Turn on standard or enhanced security features for additional threat protection and recommendations.
Review Security Recommendations: Follow Azure Security Center’s guidelines to strengthen your security posture.
Step 6: View and Customize Your Dashboard
Access Metrics: In Azure Portal, navigate to your VM or service, go to the Metrics section to view real-time data.
Custom Dashboards: Customize and pin specific metrics or logs that you need quick access to on your dashboard.
For websites hosted on Azure VMs:

Integrate Azure Application Gateway with WAF: This provides additional security against web-based attacks and offers specific metrics and logs related to HTTP traffic.
By following these steps, you can set up a robust monitoring system on Azure that helps you stay ahead of potential security threats. Regularly review and adjust your monitoring and alert systems to adapt to new threats and changes in your operational environment.

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