Best practices for using Azure Key Vault

Azure Key Vault safeguards encryption keys and secrets like certificates, connection strings, and passwords. This article helps you optimize your use of key vaults.

Use separate key vaults

Our recommendation is to use a vault per application per environment (development, pre-production, and production), per region. This helps you not share secrets across environments and regions. It will also reduce the threat in case of a breach.

Why we recommend separate key vaults

Key vaults define security boundaries for stored secrets. Grouping secrets into the same vault increases the blast radius of a security event because attacks might be able to access secrets across concerns. To mitigate access across concerns, consider what secrets a specific application should have access to, and then separate your key vaults based on this delineation. Separating key vaults by application is the most common boundary. Security boundaries, however, can be more granular for large applications, for example, per group of related services.

Control access to your vault

Encryption keys and secrets like certificates, connection strings, and passwords are sensitive and business critical. You need to secure access to your key vaults by allowing only authorized applications and users. Azure Key Vault security features provides an overview of the Key Vault access model. It explains authentication and authorization. It also describes how to secure access to your key vaults.

Suggestions for controlling access to your vault are as follows:

  • Lock down access to your subscription, resource group, and key vaults (role-based access control (RBAC)).
  • Create access policies for every vault.
  • Use the principle of least privilege access to grant access.
  • Turn on firewall and virtual network service endpoints.

Turn on data protection for your vault

Turn on purge protection to guard against malicious or accidental deletion of the secrets and key vault even after soft-delete is turned on.

For more information, see Azure Key Vault soft-delete overview

Turn on logging

Turn on logging for your vault. Also, set up alerts.

Backup

Purge protection prevents malicious and accidental deletion of vault objects for up to 90 days. In scenarios when purge protection is not a possible option, we recommend backup vault objects, which can't be recreated from other sources like encryption keys generated within the vault.

For more information about backup, see Azure Key Vault backup and restore

Multitenant solutions and Key Vault

A multitenant solution is built on an architecture where components are used to serve multiple customers or tenants. Multitenant solutions are often used to support software as a service (SaaS) solutions. If you're building a multitenant solution that includes Key Vault, review Multitenancy and Azure Key Vault.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use Key Vault role-based access control (RBAC) permission model object-scope assignments to provide isolation for application teams within Key Vault?

No. RBAC permission model allows to assign access to individual objects in Key Vault to user or application, but any administrative operations like network access control, monitoring, and objects management require vault level permissions which will then expose secure information to operators across application teams.

Learn more