Restricting Managed Disk Export

One of the big benefits of Managed Disks in Azure is that a VM’s VHD(s) are stored in a storage account which is managed by Azure and no longer has a public endpoint like page blobs did in the unmanaged disk model. One potential downside to this old approach was that anyone with the primary or secondary access key to the storage account where the VM’s VHDs were stored could simply connect to the storage account and download the VHD. Without encryption technologies like ADE or DMCrypt, this meant that person had a working copy of your VM’s disks and full access to the data on them.

With Managed Disks, VHDs no longer have a public blob endpoint but the console does provide the ability to export the managed disk which creates a temporary SAS URI and the ability to connect to the blob and download via your browser or via the Azure Storage REST API.


The concern that some might have is that any administrator with access to the Managed Disk resource(s) can simply export the VHDs and run off with the data. First, you should be always auditing actions such as these via the Activity Log. Second, you can block the ability to do this in the first place by using RBAC in Azure. Here is the full list of Azure Role-Based Access Control operators. The two operations specific to Managed Disk export are:

  • Microsoft.Compute/disks/beginGetAccess/action (Get Disk SAS URI)
  • Microsoft.Compute/disks/endGetAccess/action (Revoke Disk SAS URI)

To block these operations, you need to add them to the NotActions for a custom role and then assign that custom role to your administrators. For example, this is the JSON definition for a custom role that is equivalent to a contributor but blocks managed disk export and snapshot operations specifically. Full documentation for creating custom roles here:


Here’s a simple PowerShell script which will list all of the RBAC roles in the current selected subscription and identify whether or not these operations are listed either in the Action or NotAction. You can run this against a specific subscription to see if there’s a role defined to block these operations and then look at that role in the Web Portal to see who is assigned that role.



Azure Application Gateway SSL Policies

A client recently ran Qualys SSL Server Test against their web applications published through the Azure Application Gateway. The test graded the SSL security on the site as a “B” mainly because the server supported weak Diffie-Hellman (DH) key exchange parameters.

Diffie-Hellman key exchange is a popular cryptographic algorithm that allows Internet protocols to agree on a shared key and negotiate a secure connection. SSL sites that support export cipher suites and don’t use 2048-bit or stronger Diffie-Hellman groups with “safe” primes are susceptible to attacks like LogJam. Luckily, a feature known as SSL Policy in the Azure Application Gateway allows you to reduce the potential for these types of attacks.

The SSL handling in Azure Application Gateway (used for things such as SSL offloading and centralized SSL handling) allows you to specify a central SSL policy that’s suited to your organizational security requirements. The SSL policy includes control of the SSL protocol version as well as the cipher suites and the order in which ciphers are used during an SSL handshake. Application Gateway offers two mechanisms for controlling SSL policy: either a predefined policy or a custom policy. Here’s a link to the documentation for SSL policy with Azure Application Gateway. Changing the SSL policy for a new Application Gateway deployment can be accomplished using PowerShell and changing an existing deployment’s SSL policy is also easily done via the cmdlets. Below is an example of how to do this with a few lines of PowerShell.

One “gotcha” is that the predefined SSL policy which disables the weaker cipher suites also sets a minimum TLS version of v1.2 and breaks most older browsers. If that’s not a concern, use the latest predefined SSL policy – otherwise you’ll have to use a custom policy and specify a lower minimum TLS version to support older IE browsers running on Windows 7, for example.

# Get Configuration of AppGW
$appgw = Get-AzureRmApplicationGateway -Name $GWName -ResourceGroupName $GWResourceGroupName
# Set SSL Policy on AppGW to Custom Policy based on Most Recent Security Policy w/TLSv1.0 Support. FYI: Will work on any version of IE > 8.0 running on Windows 7. No Windows XP support!
# Set SSL Policy on AppGW to Most Recent Policy w/TLSv1.2 Minimum Support. FYI: Becuase TLS v1.0 is not supported, this will break any browser earlier that IE 11!
Set-AzureRmApplicationGatewaySslPolicy -ApplicationGateway $appgw -PolicyType Predefined -PolicyName “AppGwSslPolicy20170401S”
# Update the gateway with validated SSL policy
Set-AzureRmApplicationGateway -ApplicationGateway $appgw