Microsoft introduces Azure Bastion, a new way to connect to virtual machines more securely and easily

Kip Kniskern

Microsoft has just released a preview of a new service for Azure called Bastion, a new way to connect to Azure virtual machines that is not only easier, but more secure. Currently, connecting to virtual machines has meant traversing corporate firewalls, opening ports, and/or assigning IP addresses, but Bastion provides users of the Azure Portal a quick, easy, and secure connection to all VMs in a resource using RDP/SSH over SSL. Here are some of the key features, as noted in the Azure blog post announcing the new service:

  • RDP and SSH from the Azure portal: Initiate RDP and SSH sessions directly in the Azure portal with a single-click seamless experience.
  • Remote session over SSL and firewall traversal for RDP/SSH: HTML5 based web clients are automatically streamed to your local device providing the RDP/SSH session over SSL on port 443. This allows easy and securely traversal of corporate firewalls.
  • No public IP required on Azure Virtual Machines: Azure Bastion opens the RDP/SSH connection to your Azure virtual machine using a private IP, limiting exposure of your infrastructure to the public Internet.
  • Simplified secure rules management: Simple one-time configuration of Network Security Groups (NSGs) to allow RDP/SSH from only Azure Bastion.
  • Increased protection against port scanning: The limited exposure of virtual machines to the public Internet will help protect against threats, such as external port scanning.
  • Hardening in one place to protect against zero-day exploits: Azure Bastion is a managed service maintained by Microsoft. It’s continuously hardened by automatically patching and keeping up to date against known vulnerabilities.

As you may know, we’re running on an Azure VM, and while we don’t often need to connect directly to the installation, having a ready to use connection that’s more secure sounds like an all around win-win. You can read more about Bastion on the services Azure web page. Pricing for the service is free for the first 5GB of use, and starts at 12.2¢ per hour after that, with a 50% discount during the preview.