Enabling and Scripting Azure Virtual Machine Just-In-Time Access

Last week (19 July 2017) one of Microsoft’s Azure Security Center’s latest features went from Private Preview to Public Preview. The feature is Azure Just in time Virtual Machine Access.

What is Just in time Virtual Machine access?

Essentially JIT VM Access is a wrapper for automating an Azure Network Security Group rule set for access to an Azure VM(s) for a temporal period on a set of network ports restricted to a source IP/Network.

Personally I’d done something a little similar earlier in the year by automating the update of an NSG inbound rule to allow RDP only for my current public IP Address. Details on that are here. But that is essentially now redundant.

Enabling Just in time VM Access

In the Azure Portal Select the Security Center icon.

In the central pane you will find an option to Enable Just in time VM Access. Select that link.

In the right hand pane you will then see a link for Try Just in time VM Access. Select that.

If you have not previously enabled the Security Center you will need to select a Pricing Tier. The Free Tier does not include the JIT VM Access, but you should get an option for a 60 day trial for the Standard Tier that does.

With everything enabled you can select Recommended to see a list of VM’s that JIT VM Access can be enabled for.

I’ve selected one of mine from the list and then selected Enable JIT on 1 VM.

In the Enable JIT VM Config you can add and remove ports as required. Also the maximum timeframe for the access. The Per-Request for source IP will enable the rule for the requester and their current IP.  Select Ok.

With the rule configured you can now Request access

When requesting access we can tailor the access based on what is in the rule. Select the ports we want from within the policy and IP Range or Current IP and reduce the timeframe if required. Then select Open Ports.

For the VM we can now see that JIT VM Access has been requested and is currently active.

Looking at the Network Security Group that is associated with the VM we can see the rules that JIT VM Access has put in place. We can also see that the rules are against my current IP Address.

Automating JIT VM Access Requests via PowerShell

Now that we have Just-in-time VM Access all configured for our VM, the reality is I just want to invoke the access request via PowerShell, start-up my VM (as they would normally be stopped unless in use) and utilise the resource.

The script below is a simplified version of the my previous script to automate NSG rules  detailed here. It assumes you enabled JIT VM Access as per the manual process above, and that your VM would normally be in an off state and you’re about to enable access, start it up and connect.

You will need to have the AzureRM and the new Azure-Security-Center PowerShell Modules. If you are running PowerShell 5.1 or later you can install them by un-remarking lines 3 and 5.

Update lines 13, 15 and 19 for your Resource Group name, Virtual Machine name and the link to your RDP file. Update line 21 for the number of hours to request access (in line with your policy).

Line 28 uses the new Invoke-ASCJITAccess cmdlet from the Azure-Security-Center Powershell module to request access. 


This simplifies the management of NSG Rules for access to VM’s and reduces the exposure of VM’s to brute force attacks. It also simplifies for me the access to a bunch of VM’s I only have running on an ad-hoc basis.

Looking into the Azure-Security-Center PowerShell module there are cmdlets to also manage the JIT Policies.

Migrating a VirtualBox (Linux) Windows VDI Virtual Machines to Azure


Over the years I’ve transitioned through a number of laptops and for whatever reason they never fully get put out to pasture. Two specific laptops are used semi-regularly for functions associated with a few virtual machines they hold. Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve been a big proponent of VirtualBox. It’s footprint and functionality aligned with my needs. The downside these days is needing to sometimes carry two laptops just to use an application or two contained inside a Virtual Machine on VirtualBox.

It’s 2017 and time to get with the times. Dedicate an evening of working through the process of migrating those VM’s.

DISCLAIMER and CONSIDERATIONS Keep in mind that if you are migrating legacy operating systems, you’ll need a method to remote into them once they are in Azure. Check the configuration of them before  you convert and migrate them. Do they have firewalls? Is the network interface on the VM configured for dynamic or static addressing? Do the VM have remote access configured, VNC, RDP, SSH. As they are also likely to be less secure my process below includes a Network Security Group as part of the Azure Resource Group with no rules specified. You’ll need to add some inbound rules for the method you’ll be using to remote into your Virtual Machine. And I STRONGLY suggest locking those rules down to a single host or home subnet.

The VM Conversion Process

This blog post covers the migration of a Windows Virtual Machine in VDI format from VirtualBox on SUSE Linux to Azure.

  • With the VM Started un-install the VBox Guest Additions from the virtual machine


  • Shutdown the VM
  • In VirtualBox Manager select the VM and Settings
    1. Select Storage. If the VBoxGuestAdditions CD/DVD is attached then remove it.
    2. Take note of the VM’s disk(s) location (WinXPv2.vdi in my case) and naming. Mine just had a single hard disk. You’ll need the path for the conversion utility.



  • Virtual Box includes a utility named vboxmanage. We can use that to convert the VM virtual hard disk from VDI to VHD format. Simply run vboxmanage clonehd –format VHD –variant Fixed
    • You will need to make sure you have enough space on your laptop hard disk for the VHD which will be about the same size as your VDI Hard Disk
      • If you don’t on Linux you’ll get a slightly cryptic message like
        • Could not create the clone medium (VERR_EOF)
        • VBOX_E_FILE_ERROR (0x80bb0004)
      • the –variant Fixed switch is not shown in the virtual disk conversion screenshot (three images further down the page). One of my other VM’s was Dynamic. Size needs to be Fixed for the VHD to be associated with a VM in Azure
      • Below shows determining an existing disk that is Dynamic and needs to be converted to Fixed


  • Below shows determining an existing disk that is Fixed and doesn’t need to be converted


  • Converting the VDI virtual disk to VHD


Preparing our Azure Environment for our new Virtual Machine

  • Whilst the conversion was taking place I logged into the Azure Portal and created a new Resource Group for my VM to go into. I also created a new Storage Account in that Resource Group to put the VM’s VHD into. Basically I’m keeping these specific individual VM’s that serve a very specific purpose in their own little compartment.


  • Using the fantastic Azure Storage Explorer which works on Linux, Mac and Windows I created a Blob Container in my newly created Storage Account named vhds.


Upload the Converted Virtual Hard Disk

  • By now my virtual disk had converted. Using the Azure Storage Explorer I uploaded my converted virtual disk. NOTE Make sure you have the ‘upload vhd/vhdx files as Page Blobs’ selected. 


For a couple of other VM’s I wrote a little PowerShell script to upload the VHD’s to blob storage.

Create the Azure VM

The following script follows on from the Resource Group, Storage Account and the Virtual Machine Virtual Disk we created and uploaded to Azure and creates the VM to attached to the virtual disk.

All the variables are up front, we create the Network Security Group, Subnet and Virtual Network. Then the Public IP and Network Interface. Finally we define the details for the VM with the networking and the uploaded VHD before creating the VM.

And we’re done. VM created and started.

Happy days and good bye to a number of old laptops.

How to quickly recover from a FAILED AzureRM Virtual Machine using Powershell


I have a development sandpit in Azure which I use quite a lot to test and mess with different ideas and concepts. This week when shutting it down things didn’t go that smoothly. All but one virtual machine finally stopped and de-allocated, but one virtual machine just didn’t make it. I tried resizing the VM. I tried changing the configuration of it and obviously tried starting it up many times via the portal and Powershell all without any success.

Failed VM.png

I realised I was at the point where I just needed to build a new VM but I wanted to attach the OS vhd from the failed VM to it so I could recover my work and not have to re-install the applications and tools on the OS drive.


I created a little script that does the basics of what I needed to recover a simple single HDD VM and keep most of the core settings. If your VM has multiple disks you can probably attach the other HDD’s manually after you have a working VM again.

Via the AzureRM Portal select your busted VM and get the values highlighted in the screenshot below for VM Name, VM Resource Group and VM VNet Subnet.


The Script then:

  • Takes the values for the information you got above as variables for the;
    • Broken VM Name
    • Broken VM Resource Group
    • Broken VM VNet Subnet
  • Queries the Failed VM and obtains the
    • VM Name
    • VM Location
    • VM Sizing
    • VM HDD information (location etc)
    • VM Networking
  • Copies the VHD from the failed virtual machine to a new VHD file so you don’t have the bite the bullet and kill the failed VM off straight away to release the vhd from the VM.
    • Names the copied VHD <BustedVMName-TodaysDate(YYYYMMDD)>
  • Creates a new Virtual Machine with;
    • Original Name suffixed by ‘2’
    • Same VM Sizing as the failed VM
    • Same VM Location as the failed VM
    • Assigns the copy of the failed VM OS Disk to the new VM
    • Creates a new Public IP for the VM named
    • Creates a new NIC for the VM named


With only 3 inputs using this script you can quickly recovery your busted and broken failed AzureRM virtual machine and be back up and running quickly. Once you’ve verified your VM is all good, delete the failed one.


Take this script, change lines 2, 4 and 6 for your failed or VM you want to clone to reflect your Resource Group, Virtual Machine Name and Virtual Machine Subnet. Step through it and let it loose.

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