The Complete Practical Guide to AWS Cloud Security in 2022

aws cloud security

The most used cloud infrastructure provider today is Amazon Web Services (AWS). Because of its multiple cloud services, corporations rely on AWS daily to offer services to their contractors and employees and applications to their clients.

Many companies that include LinkedIn and Netflix, rely on AWS to provide their services. They also base the core of these service infrastructures on Amazon Web Services. We have recently seen multiple attacks on large companies. It makes it paramount to protect cloud services like AWS. When a company comes up with a strategy to adopt cloud services, it should include a comprehensive security plan. It ensures that the essential parts of Amazon Web Services are protected proactively.

Practical Guide to AWS Cloud Security

CIA Triad

To explain the cybersecurity requirements, the CIA triad is used commonly. Based on their needs, various organizations can emphasize some parts of the triad more than others. There are many measures that AWS puts in place to protect your data. It is necessary to provide a global infrastructure that is secure and provides a foundation for computing, storing, and networking that is safe from various cyberattacks. A company can use AWS to build a system and architect an ISMS and leverage various AWS features. In today’s world, there are many cyber threats. AWS must be able to provide a globally secure infrastructure and withstand the different threats.

However, the essential factors of the triad are maintained by various companies, as we will see below.

The components of the CIA triad

Confidentiality

Companies must protect personal data and the sensitive information that belongs to employees and themselves from access by unauthorized parties. The confidentiality of information depends on the ability of the company to set up proper access layers to the data. Thus, the company has to segregate the information into various datasets. It forms the data sets based on the need to know access and the level of sensitivity of the information. The company must examine how much damage the information has to the company if the information falls in the hands of a malicious actor. Among the various ways a company can keep its information on the AWS confidential is through using file encryption, Access Control Lists (ACLs), and data classification.

Integrity

Integrity is the next component of the CIA triad. It ensures that the information is authentic and has undergone no alterations. Such a component makes the users trust the information you provide and the services you offer on your website. To ensure the integrity of your application, you must use file permissions and access controls.

We classify access controls into two: physical and logical access controls.

Physical access controls: these are the measures to limit access to material things on the company premises or the business.

Logical Access Controls: these access controls limit access to network connections, data, and system files.

Using a password management system like Keeper is also a suitable method to ensure integrity on your platform. They ensure that the only person who can change the passwords and usernames is who created them.

You can realize integrity on your AWS-powered platform by ensuring non-human errors do not change the data. Hence, installing surge protectors offers protection from the electromagnetic pulses that can damage your hard drives with sensitive data. A company can also use checksums for identity verification and backups. They ensure the data reverts to its original state and can detect high-level errors in transferring data. AWS today have their Secure Socket layer (SSL) and Certificate Managers (CMs). Both the SSL and the CM keeps a company’s data at high integrity. Other measures include S3 (Simple Storage Service). With it, you can do version controls on your application. It offers multi-factor authentication any time you try to delete things inside S3. Hence for a person to delete them, they have to give MFA token.

Availability

This component of the CIA triad means that only allowed users can access your information. Users must feel secure and safe knowing that they are the only ones who can see their data. To ensure availability, ensure that you have constant system updates and routine hardware maintenance. While unavailability may be fatal, most of the threats are non-malicious and related to hardware failures and downtimes that are unscheduled. AWS ensures availability through Auto-scaling, ensuring availability in multiple zones, and using Route 53 together with health checks. Using route 53, you can detect the failures and provides automatic failovers. Other ways to ensure more availability on the AWS are elastic load balancing, redundancy, and using VPCs.

Building and Amazon Web Services security

Any AWS environment requires prioritization of risks and their management. We base this on how an organization uses AWS services and the risks resulting from the services. To create a security baseline, the points below are critical.

Knowing your responsibilities

We shared the responsibility of securing the data on the AWS cloud between the provider and the client. AWS uses a shared responsibility model. It handles the security of storage and computing devices and their availability. The client handles the security of company applications, the identity of the users, and the overall security of the environment.

Understand your risks

The next critical factor in ensuring security on AWS cloud is knowing what risks a company is open to. Because most Amazon Web Services face the internet, it is crucial to understand the potential risks. Conducting a risk assessment is necessary as it offers a comprehensive understanding of its exposure to the risks. It also enlightens you on the security measures you need to put into protecting an AWS investment. For any security strategy, risk assessment is pivotal.

Thinking of defense in depth

Since various cyber threats are growing, it is necessary that your security strategy also develops. To be abreast with the developing security threats, a company must use different tools and techniques. Such tools and products help a company protect, prevent, remediate, and detect various AWS security issues. They also provide security across your infrastructure, endpoints, and storage.

If need be, a company can use external solutions on top of the AWS solutions. It gives a company better visibility and granular security. There are Multiple cloud security vendor solutions on the AWS marketplace. They include Palo Alto Networks, Checkpoint, Fortinet, and Splunk.

Using Identity Access Management (IAM) to limit access

A company uses IAM to keep the data secure. It begins by configuring the IAM strategy that uses various defined roles to ensure that users access only the resources they need to perform their duties. By using multi-factor authentication, separating user accounts, and restricting the use of service accounts to do manual admin tasks. Such measures improve the confidentiality and the integrity of your data and environment.

What areas of AWS cloud security can a company focus on?

Identity and Access Management

To ease the management of IAM resources, AWS enabled tags for IAM roles and users. It uses AWS Identity and Access Management at the account level to securely manage more refined access controls on the AWS. IAM supports Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) at its core. This paradigm defines the permissions in the policies and attaches the applicable principles. IAM also supports the ABAC (Attribute-based access control) by an optional condition policy element.

Access to AWS requires the use of a combined approach. To manage various aspects of authentication and authorization, AWS uses a central user Identity Store. Such aspects include; multi-factor authentication, Single Sign-On (SSO), user management, and comprehensive access to AWS resources.

Threat remediation and detection

There is a lot of threat intelligence sources today. A company can use them to detect various threats. Host and network detection levels are among the parts of AWS security implementation strategies.

Penetration testing

AWS rapidly tests its networks. However, customers can perform penetration tests against multiple core services in AWS like EC2, and AWS RD5 without getting permission from AWS. AWS prohibits selected types of tests, and they may require a written approval process with AWS. It ensures that the integrity of the data is intact.

Infrastructure security

Because AWS applications are internet-based, it is necessary to have various network firewalls, encryption, and Web Application Firewalls (WAFs). It protects the data in transit, at rest on your hard drives, or undergoing processing. To protect all its AWS environment, a company can use base-security services such as EDR. Infrastructure security is critical for any cloud or on-premise application.

Managing vulnerabilities

The company has a direct responsibility to conduct vulnerability assessments on its virtual resources on the AWS cloud it has deployed. It ensures the integrity of the company data and resources.

Classification of data

Understanding where your sensitive data is stored at the beginning of its defense. A company should map its critical data if its defense strategy is to be successful. Information in EBS, RDS, EC2 instances, S3, and others have critical, sensitive, and protected data. Through data classification, a company can automatically discover the data based on its contents. Thus, you ensure the confidentiality of the data in compliance with the confidentiality part of the triad.

Native security services for AWS cloud

To block traffic patterns associated with malicious activities, a company can use AWS Firewall Manager and Amazon Web Application firewall. AWS supports data encryption of data available among various database services and AWS storage. A company should use AWS KMS (Key Management Service) for supervision and use of encryption keys. Hence, the integrity of the data and applications in the AWS cloud is guaranteed.

Auditing and monitoring

Amazon CloudWatch and amazon CloudTrail are the two key services that AWS uses to fulfill this requirement. Amazon Cloud watch collects the data through metrics, events, and logs generated by multiple AWS services. CloudTrail detects the account activity on the AWS API access and the activity on an account.

For vulnerability management, a company can use the AWS Inspector service by looking at the vulnerabilities and automating the security assessment on various instances of Amazon EC2. Such technologies provide confidentiality of the data on the cloud.

Classification of data

A company should use Amazon Macie for identifying various sensitive data such as PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to ensure visibility on the access of the data. For the data the lives on S3, there are limitations to Macie. Thus, the company ensures the confidentiality of the data.

Identity and Access Management

AWS offers multiple solutions to meet the requirements of various organizations. The essential services in identity and access management are AWS-Multi-factor Authentication, AWS identity and access management (IAM), and AWS directory service. By using IAM AWS services, you offer centralized and highly secure access to various AWS resources. A company can integrate with various identity systems on-premise like Active Directory. We can also integrate them with OKTA-style identity management solutions. We base this on the cloud to grant SSO access to various applications and infrastructure services outside Amazon Web Services.

A company can use GuardDuty for monitoring AWS accounts and analyzing the account and network activity for anomalies. It uses machine learning and various set rules for identifying abnormal activities on the AWS deployment. Once it detects or identifies various threats, GuardDuty can use Amazon lambda or route findings using third-party event management SIEM apps. Thus, you ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the data.

Mitigating DDoS

AWS uses Amazon Shield to detect and respond to various DDoS attacks and reduces the response time for mitigating and reducing the scale of the attacks. The primary advantage of this is that Amazon Shield services are free. If a company has sophisticated requirements, it can use external CDNs and DDoS mitigation services like Cloudflare, DataDome, Imperva, and Akamai. This provision relates to the availability aspect of the CIA triad.

Conclusion

With many businesses and companies moving to the cloud, cloud providers must bolster the security. However, securing the cloud is a shared responsibility between the vendor and the client. AWS uses various mechanisms to ensure confidentiality, integrity and make the data available and other services that you provide to tour clients.

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