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Companies are still learning about the best AWS security practices despite adopting AWS cloud solutions across various organizations. Considering the exponential growth of data, use cases, compliance mandates, and so on, companies often struggle to understand how to protect and secure their customers’ data.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud service provider on almost every company’s priority. But AWS customers still wonder about the best approach to security and how to safeguard the infrastructure. While the concerns and issues vary across different companies and industry to industry, each business must be able to answer three fundamental questions:
- Who can access which applications, when, and how?
- How can we monitor for file changes and get alerted for the same?
- How to be notified and overcome scheduling issues when?
Cloud Security Strategy
A most asked question across AWS security is about the approach towards cloud security. More importantly, how do you put checks and balances or establish your security strategy?
For any organization, security strategy is the topmost priority. This strategy should come first, so when giving access or permission to anyone, follow the strategy of ‘Grant least privilege.’ For example, read access for any person who wants to have a look at the environment. Implementing this strategy also enables you to integrate security into all business functions — especially all other departments such as operations and development team workflows. It can also be of massive help with continuous deployment. For example, if your organization uses configuration management tools to automate software updates and patches, having an overarching security strategy can help you implement security monitoring across these tools from day one. The same approach applies to any business process or device you use across your organization.
1. Strict Scrutiny, Security Visibility in the Cloud
Considering the total number of cloud applications that companies use over AWS today, as well as different logs and controls, it is almost impossible always to know who is accessing what and where in the organization (and, most importantly, if any work is cruel or weird). The lack of security visibility is exacerbated when there is no security strategy to support the implementation and management of these applications.
2. Achieve better visibility on AWS with the following methods
- Take an all-around view
If you do not know what is happening to the host or workload, you need more information than the IDS log can provide. You need to know more than just an overview, for example. What is needed is a solution that displays certain events over time on specific servers, such as the one we built in Cloud That.
- Deep dive logs
Although logs are necessary, they often give a glimpse of what is happening. In other words, its Conventional network-based detection (NIDS) does not offer you much to work on after compromise because the ability to identify behaviors that lead to an attack is limited. With the security attached to the handling level, you get information on what, when, and where, before, during, and after the attack.
- Protect against internal threats
When an incident occurs, it is essential to track the breach – unfortunately, it can sometimes be internal. Other key indicators are that an internal threat detects unusual network activity, unauthorized installation, unusual login attempts or failures, or critical file changes.
3. Improve Confidence in Cloud Provider Security
AWS offers many useful out-of-the-box security tools and configurations, such as AWS CloudTrail and Amazon Cloud Watch for logging and monitoring. It is crucial to know where their responsibility lies and where yours begins – especially regarding security for data within critical operational loads.
We even see companies start thinking about the security of their data in AWS before they decide to move to AWS. It is very common for companies to talk about both AWS and cloud security providers so that all their questions can be answered in advance, asking things like:
- How do we ensure compliance with the law?
- How will we deal with the incident response?
- How can we get log data?
These are all instrumental questions that are asked even by the biggest and most famous companies that use AWS. By asking questions like the one above, as well as those that apply to your application and industry, you will be able to move to AWS more confidently.
4. Zero Liabilities
Legal obligation is a very hot topic in cloud protection. That is because, in a security incident, you need to know who is responsible for taking appropriate action.
Today, providers like AWS take on a much larger, more integrated security response to everything beyond the realm of the virtual machine. But users still have to commit to access control, monitoring, and login research to determine who has access to that, how apps and data are monitored, and how alerts will be handled. By quickly defining access standards and network-wide monitoring functions, companies can be confident that they can pinpoint credit with laser-like accuracy if something goes wrong in their AWS environment.
5. Understanding Why Attackers are Attracted to the Cloud
Companies rely on a lot of sensitive data from cloud service providers. But that also means they became the biggest victims of the attackers. However, most security incidents occur due to data theft and not the intractable zero-day attacks against the cloud providers themselves.
Verification is a gold mine of invaders for one very important reason: They are the keys to the state, which gives access to multiple data through a single data source.
Here is a sneak peak at the traditional methods used:
- Code Spaces was unfairly fired 12 hours after the attackers compromised their entire AWS account. By the time the company recovered its dashboard, the attackers had created another AWS login, questioning the system’s overall security. It left them with nothing to do but shut down.
- Recently, Time hop experienced a significant breach of customer information due to the theft of corporate cloud service providers’ management information. The robber was not seen for more than six months before he was found.
There are several ways to protect your credentials and data:
- Turn on Multi-factor authentication (MFA) for everything you control.
- Beware of unsolicited logins using continuous security monitoring.
- Use the logging service at the handling level.
- Use the AWS Privacy Manager or a separate privacy management system like Hashicorp Vault to process information.
6. Defending Against Curious Onlookers in Multi-Tenant Infrastructures
In theory, multiple leases lead to a higher risk of a data breach, but in reality, it depends on how secure your infrastructure is.
Here are the real dangers of overworking: When untrained employees or immature processes are used to operate and rent visible systems, a company is at risk. Many companies fear that, with so many leases, their details may be unknowingly disclosed to their competitors. And that doesn’t make sense at all. While providers like AWS are well aware of these concerns and use security layers to ensure that you – and only you – see your data, you can and should take additional security measures yourself. We recommend that you measure your maturity in defense and make efforts to improve in five key areas:
- System access and users
- Payment management and risk
- Access control system
- Hours of operation and services
Learn more about Security Practices for Designing AWS Multi-Tenant SaaS environments here.
7. Compliance/Governance Regulations
Concerns about compliance in the Cloud are most felt in companies large and small in the regulated industry. In particular, with the latest GDPR, AWS has introduced services to ensure data privacy. While cloud providers like AWS provide companies with a certain level of protection, they cannot cover all compliance aspects.
AWS can provide PII encryption-like protection at rest and on the go. Still, it does not continuously detect abnormal behavior data, providing host-level information that can detect the source of the problem and so on. However, it is not an easy task to find out where the compliance features of AWS end and where another solution needs to be put in place to fill the gaps. Due to the lack of time breach, some companies choose the current situation by sticking to their local solution.
Moving to the Cloud is a smart choice for companies looking to stay competitive in today’s world. There are plenty of cloud security providers like CloudThat that can help you meet your compliance obligations.
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Overall, here is AWS’s Cloud Security Mantra: Trust, But Verify
The good news is that many companies no longer have to worry about moving to the Cloud entirely. Instead, they have realized they can utilize the many benefits of the Cloud and satisfy their security and compliance needs. AWS has proven itself a strong cloud partner to many of today’s big, fast, and highly innovative companies. You can be confident, but as with anything else, you should always be confident. It is where your responsibility as a cloud user lies. And with the seven tips mentioned above, you should be on your way to defining your safety and compliance needs and finding out how to meet them in the clouds successfully.
Amazon’s Cloud Security solutions will help you improve workflow security and performance in cloud infrastructure and transform your business.
Learn more about Automated Security Service – AWS Inspector here.
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WRITTEN BY Shivang Singh
Shivang is a certified AWS Security Specialist, AWS Solution Architect Associate, Microsoft Azure Administrator, and Google Associate Cloud Engineer, and working as a Research Associate at CloudThat. He is part of the Cloud Infrastructure and Security team and is skilled at building cloud solutions for multiple customers. He is keen on learning new technologies and publishing blogs for the tech community.