Creating a Load Balancer in the Microsoft Cloud: Azure

WHAT IS AZURE LOAD BALANCER?

Azure Load Balancer secures high availability and network performance to your applications/frontend/backend.

It is a Layer 4 load balancer (TCP/UDP) that distributes traffic among instances of services defined in the load-balanced set.

You can load-balance web applications, Virtual Machines, and so-on by routing traffic based on NAT rules that you configure on the load-balancer.

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Connect to Microsoft Azure with Powershell

In this article I’ll walk you through the steps needed to connecting to your Microsoft Azure environment, as well as giving you a glimpse of how you can manage it by starting up a IaaS virtual machine.

There is endless potential, to what you can manage and automate of Azure resources with PowerShell, but from here to there, first step is connecting it!

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Installing Azure PowerShell Module

First off we are going to install the Azure PowerShell module

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The installer takes a few minutes, once installed we will connect to your Azure subscription.

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Microsoft Azure: Azure PowerShell – ForbiddenError: The server failed to authenticate the request.

Hey, so if you are getting this error I’ll walk you through the easiest ways to remedy it.

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PS C:\> Get-AzureVM
Get-AzureVM : ForbiddenError: The server failed to authenticate the request. Verify that the certificate is valid and i
s associated with this subscription.
At line:1 char:1
+ Get-AzureVM
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : CloseError: (:) [Get-AzureVM], ComputeCloudException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Commands.ServiceManagement.IaaS.GetAzureVMCommand

or

Set-AzureSubscription : ForbiddenError: The server failed to authenticate the request. Verify that the certificate is valid and is associated with this subscription.

The solution often is easier then you’d think, just like how browsers have their cache so does your Microsoft Azure PowerShell so you’ll want to input this:

Clear-AzureProfile

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This will clear your current Azure profile.

You should also consider deleting the content of this folder:

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Windows Azure Powershell

After which you can run

Add-AzureAccount / Login-AzureRMAccount

and then you can execute any Azure PowerShell commands that you’d like to run. For a more detailed walkthrough check my article on connecting and managing Microsoft Azure via PowerShell.

 

PS: If you are still getting errors, you should check whether the mode you are running in is incorrect you can input 

Switch-AzureMode AzureResourceManager

Important to note that “Switch-AzureMode” is deprecated and will be removed in a future release. However doing so seemed to import the certificate and removed the “ServiceManagement” modules that were loaded with this install and installed the correct certificate.

So now to see if it’s working we can run Get-AzureVM or Get-AzureRMvm

which outputs:

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As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @UlvBjornsson or follow me on here, if you have tips for articles you’d like to read or topics you want to hear more about, hit me up.

Ulv

Watch out bad guys, here comes Windows Defender ATP

Busy days, we had WannaCry remind us about the importance of patch compliance and mitigation (add political pun about encryption and weapons) and we saw IT and business rally to mitigate, patch and get their heads over water.

NotPetya spread over the same attack vector and utilized PsExec with the SMBv1 vulnerability but had a much more complicated payload, which turned out to not be ransomware, but a wiper prompting for a ransom, allowing no way to decrypt essentially rendering the data lost.

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So with that in mind I decided to write a post about the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, touching on Windows Defender ATP and security in general, and my thoughts surrounding it..

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First off, it integrates Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) into Windows 10 essentially unifying the Windows threat protection stack.

To sum it up, it’s built in and not added on. 

Security is complicated, it involves layer upon layer, there is exterior security, interior security, network, information, os hardening, user training and so on.

One of the best things with ATP?

It integrates with cloud intelligence and the rest of your security, giving you a single pane of glass for administration.

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Windows Defender ATP dashboard view

Now what is the ATP? It covers a range of features such as:

Windows Defender Exploit Guard

Windows Defender Explot Guard (WDEG) uses information from the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph (ISG) and provides a heavy set of intrusion rules and policies to assist and prrevent advanced threats, as well as zero day exploits.

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Machine timeline from Exploit Guard

 

Windows Defender Application Guard

A real winner here I believe, we’ll see how it turns out when it goes live for everyone, but I like the idea of Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) because even if the OS stack, network stack is secure, does not necessarily mean your third-party applications for example your browser is. Example and point: when Tim in accounting accidentally downloads malicious malware or Rambo in security triggers a zero-day worm whilst researching in the wrong container, WDAG will isolate and contain the threat. Keeping your device, apps and data secure. At least in theory.

Windows Defender Device Guard

Also integrated into ATP, Device Guard allows whitelisting of applications on a per-device basis and if anything it gives the Security Operations Center better insight, and automated application control as well as implementation of DDG into ATP gives organizations an easy implementation.
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Well improved detection, response capabilities and a growing detection dictionary that includes more indicators of attacks (IoA) with a large suite being gathered into one product in the Windows threat protection stack will allow you to remedy, as well as spot weaknesses far faster then before, and reduces the overhead required and the custom implementations required to make all the systems “talk“.

 

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So what is my take from this? I thoroughly believe that the creator of a product (Microsoft) is most likely the best to create a security solution best suited for their product (Windows and surrounding services).

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To sum it up ATP integrated with Windows 10, and Cloud Intelligence (Office 365, Microsoft Azure) will be a huge step in the right direction, and be a valuable asset to any Service Operations Center or IT operation team.

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As always if you have any suggestions about topics, articles, how-to’s and what not hit me up here or on twitter at @UlvBjornsson

Microsoft Azure: Configuring auto-shutdown

So, in Azure you pay for what you use. If it’s on (or if it is allocated), you are paying for it, until it is deallocated.

So what can we do to save costs? We can configure automatic shutdown.

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So if we enter “Auto-shutdown” on the left panel in the VM:

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So let’s enable it, and set our preferred time for shutdown. Ensure that you have configured the timezone correctly so that it shutsdown when you expect it to.

 

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There you go, you’ve configured automatic shutdown on a schedule.

Next up, we’ll be looking at runbooks and the possbility of turning your virtual machines off, but also on again on a fixed schedule.

Stay tuned for more, and always you can reach me here or over on twitter at @UlvBjornsson.

If you are curious about the Azure exam 70-533, you can check out my write up on it over here.

Until next time!

Ulv

70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – Preparing and taking the exam

As some of you know I have a background with private cloud and as of late been moving more and more towards the hybrid cloud, to take advantage of Microsoft Azure.

I’ve been preparing for multiple exams as of late and wanted to take the 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure
Infrastructure Solutions
 due to the sheer volume of growth Microsoft is having with Azure.

So I realized, I best stay updated and formalize my knowledge.

Figured it was time to sit the 70-533 exam which covers:


Preparing

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I took advantage of Microsoft’s focus on Azure, they provide free training and heavily discounted practice tests as well as exam vouchers.

Here are the resources I took advantage of in the time going towards the exam itself:

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One of the challenges with the exam is that it is quite broad and to understand the width you need hands on experience, thankfully the hands on labs from Microsoft were great.

The exam also covers Powershell as well as JSON examples, that you have to plot in the right cmdlet for – so get used to it, throw up an editor, or run through the practice test.

A strong suggestion that I urge you to follow through with it, get an Azure trial, the best way to familiarize yourself with Azure is by using it, and also to understand the basics of the ARM deployments and the Powershell scripts.

GitHub has many great repositories that let you get a full infrastructure up and running in no time, however to maximize your trial, remember to turn things off or deleting them so you can get the most out of your thirty day trial.

Some workplaces also have free trials up and running, so ask a colleague you might already have an environment dedicated for Azure testing.

 

 

 

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Conclusion

I am happy to announce that I did pass the 70-533 exam, it was a challenge, and really happy to have passed it. These days a lot of my time is spent on researching new Azure features, looking at ways I can implement them and also quality assurance, ensuring they have a place in a customers production environment.

I would recommend the exam to anyone wanting to formalize their knowledge, but also wanting to dive deeper into Microsoft Azure. Let me know how your preparation or exam is going in the comments, and as always hit me up here or on twitter at @UlvBjornsson if you have any ideas for future articles or thoughts you’d like to share.