network security group

Azure – Audit report (Azure automation runbook)

The PowerShell script is an Azure automation runbook that pulls the below data and populates the data into a CSV file. The script then summarizes the data into an email’s body and sends an email to the recipient with the CSV files as attachments.

If the Azure automation runbook is scheduled to run every day, you will get a summary/high-level view of what is happening in your environment to your email box. The email could be the first report any organization’s high management would desire to look at.

1. Count of De-allocated Azure virtual machines

2. Count of Running Azure virtual machines

3. Count of Stopped Azure virtual machines

4. Count of Azure virtual machines that do not have native backup configured (Azure Back up and Recovery service)

5. Count of Inbound Security rules that causes vulnerability

Download the script


Sample Summary:

Screenshot from 2018-06-04 19-13-52

Email is sent via SendGrid service. You need to update the script with your SendGrid credentials.

You may choose a “Free Tier” pricing for SendGrid. Below is documentation to create a SendGrid account:

Note: The script is an Azure Automation runbook. You have to run it from an Azure Automation account.


If you would like me to add more data that would be useful as an Azure audit report, please let me know.


Click here to download my PowerShell scripts for Free !!

Click here for Azure tutorial videos !!



Azure – Unable to ping Azure Virtual Machine from outside Azure

You buy a new Azure subscription, spin up an Azure Virtual Machine. Now you want to test if it is working or not. So, you pull up the infamous Command Prompt (or powershell) and Ping the VIP (Virtual/Public IP) of your Azure Virtual Machine. Wola!! The ping fails with 100% loss. But you can see that the Azure Portal shows that your virtual machine is up and running. To double check, you even RDP to your VM and it is all good. This is one of the many situations where the Azure new comers get confused. Let me break down this for you:-

The explanation for this behaviour is that the good old, Windows Ping.exe uses ICMP protocol to communicate. But the Azure Load Balancer does not support ICMP protocol when a connection is being made from external source to Azure. This means, your local computer will not be able to “Ping” (probing using Ping.exe) the Azure virtual Machines. However Azure Load Balancer allows ICMP protocol inside the azure (internally). This means, two Azure virtual machines are able to talk to each other.

The solution is to ping the port of your Virtual Machine.

Example: Ping xx.xx.xx.xx:1234

Since Ping.exe does not support probing the port, we have to use the other tools like PSPing, TCPPing etc, to achieve this.

This explains most of it. I am going to demonstrate whatever I just explained.

Below is the details of my virtual machine:

VM Details

When I ping the VIP –, using the default Ping.exe. You can observe that we end up having 100% packet loss.


This behaviour is because the Azure Load Balancer does not allow ICMP communication between Azure and the external source. And Microsoft’s Ping.exe uses ICMP protocol.

The solution is to use PSPing (among many other options), and ping the port of the Virtual Machine. Please note that you have to add relevant entry in the NSG (Network Security Group) to allow incoming traffic to your Virtual Machine.

Since this is just a Demo, I have allowed all the traffic to my Virtual Machine via the port 3389. You have to use appropriate NSG and ACLs to your Virtual Machine and Subnet, in your production environment. 


PSPing.exe comes with a bundle – PSTools. This toolset can be downloaded here.

Copy PsPing onto your executable path. Typing “psping” displays its usage syntax.


Note: If you are using the PSPing tool for the first time, you may have to agree to the terms and conditions before using it.

Since I have my port – 3389 opened for all incoming traffic. I will go ahead and use the PSPing tool to ping the port from my local computer. And as you can see it works like a charm !!


Finally, note that you can ping only to the port for which you have enabled the incoming traffic. Since I have not enabled port 80, I expect the packets to be dropped.


Azure – RDP from Linux box to Azure Virtual Machine (Windows Server)

This topic is pretty straight forward. Once you have your Azure Windows Server spun up, you can connect to it using RDP tool if your source is a Windows operating System.

But when you are in Linux the story is different, as it does not have the RDP tool. We have plenty of open source tools that we can use to make a connection from Linux Box to Windows Server.

Since we are discussing about Azure, I am using an Azure VM. Below is the details of that machine:

VM Details

We are going to use the “RDesktop” tool to connect from Linux to Windows. Installation of RDesktop is pretty simple. You may google/bing for assistance, or check this link for the complete installation guide in RedHat/CentOS/Fedora Operating System.

Once you have your RDesktop setup. Enable the RDP port- 3389 in your Azure virtual Machine. You can achieve this by adding “Inbound Security Rules” into your Network Security Group, via the Azure Portal.

For demo purposes, I am allowing all incoming traffic for the port – 3389. However, incase of production environment, you may have to provide appropriate rules for your NSG (Network Security Group) and ACLs (Access Control List) for better security.


Once RDesktop and RDP ports are configured. You may now run the RDesktop command to connect to your Virtual Machine.

Command: sudo rdesktop <IP Address>


As you can see in the above screenshot, the connection fails. This is an expected behavior, because by default the RDP connection is set to “Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication”


In order to connect from Linux machines, we have to disable the NLA.


Now give it another try, the remote connection works like a charm !