AWS Security Essentials: Fundamental AWS Cloud Security Concepts

AWS Security Essentials: Fundamental AWS Cloud Security Concepts - blog post

Amazon Web Services has 32% of the cloud computing market, making them a leader in cloud-based technologies. The CFO of Amazon, Brian Olsavsky, says that Amazon is helping cloud customers slim down their bills, helping them achieve long-term relationships.

Upon further inspection of the AWS security essentials, why the AWS platform is so popular is not a mystery. AWS cloud security gives customers protection that is otherwise incredibly difficult to achieve independently.

In today's world of lurking cybercriminals, digital security has never been more prominent. Customers want to know you keep your data secure too. If not, it will hurt your brand image, and they will likely leave to go to your competitor.

If you understand their elements, cloud-based technologies can help your organization stay safe and compliant. With AWS, you get so much more than cloud storage space, and here's why.


AWS Cloud Security Benefits

A leading cloud service provider, AWS, or Amazon Web Services, has various security features, making the AWS platform an excellent choice for businesses developing secure and scalable cloud applications. First, you can control where you store the data. Plus, you can control who accesses your data.

That is because AWS has functionality that allows organizations to monitor their data and continuously combine access controls. No matter what time or day it is, including holidays and weekends, you can ensure proper access to the right resources.

AWS cloud security automates security tasks, which is a superior tool for reducing human configuration errors. Organizations worldwide can benefit from this, allowing their teams to focus on critical tasks. When you rely on AWS cloud security, you can innovate your business and devote time to scaling.


AWS Compliance

AWS meets global compliance requirements with third-party evaluations. They continually monitor regulatory requirements. This is so industries with strict compliance and security guidelines can operate efficiently, including finance, healthcare, etc.

Regulations and requirements like HIPAA, GDPR, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3, PCI DSS, and more can be covered using the AWS platform. Further, you get reporting tools that prove to regulators that you are compliant.


AWS Security Elements

Customers expect that AWS will provide higher security, and AWS delivers. To begin, configuring storage onsite would require encryption software and firewalls. This can create a significant cost burden for an organization to have an onsite operation and take on more security responsibilities that leave you accountable internally.

Cloud-based technologies often have built-in security protocols. There is a tremendous advantage to AWS over a traditional setup. That is because the AWS platform has tools for controlling network access and increasing privacy.

This includes connectivity options, DDoS mitigation, and network firewalls. Not only that, but businesses benefit from automatic encryption, which covers all data that flows within the worldwide network.


No Added Cost for Security

The best part is that you don't have to pay for the added security. It comes with the AWS platform.

Further, cloud-based technologies like AWS help to trim costs because you pay for what you use. You don't need to buy additional storage space until you need it. This is all while enjoying the security features.


Identity Governance

AWS's AIM (Identity and Access Management) lets users manage their permissions and user accounts. Additional services are also available, like AWS Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication.

With AIM, you can streamline your monitoring efforts. It also helps with regulatory compliance because you can manage and export records. 


Logging Tools

With their monitoring tools, you can monitor what is occurring in your AWS environment. That way, your team can identify issues before they take hold of the business. Excellent monitoring and logging tools include Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, and Amazon GuardDuty.

A logging tool is essential for configuring, identifying, and sending application and system logs and metrics. It is captured from various sources. You can analyze and search logs for problem identification, operations management, and troubleshooting. 


The Many AWS Security Tools and Products

You will want to check out the AWS Marketplace. Here, you can find, test, and buy AWS-compatible software to deploy that is sold by independent vendors. Other resources besides the AWS Marketplace include AWS Partner Network, AWS Professional Services, AWS Trusted Advisor, AWS Enterprise Support, and AWS Account Teams.


How AWS Security Works

It's transparent. AWS operates under the model of shared security responsibility. You get the agility and flexibility with the AWS setup to implement security controls designed to fit your business needs.

AWS takes responsibility for the IT infrastructure of its cloud-based technologies. This includes their virtualization technology, hardware, and physical security at their data centers.

However, customers are responsible for the work that they deploy with AWS. Any data intended for public use can have loose controls, but sensitive data need limited access.

While AWS uses best practices to offer a security solution, remember that it remains a shared responsibility. The customer is also responsible. Your organization must have exemplary security practices, including managing data and applications.


AWS Security Threats

While AWS has many security measures, it is not immune to risk. "Security in the cloud" does have some troubles for users. Here are the most common issues.

First, there are insecure S3 buckets. This is due to users being able to place private content unintentionally in a public S3 bucket. Another challenge is that you could accidentally set a private S3 bucket to public.

Both are easy mistakes, and if you do, anyone could read the content you have in your S3 bucket. Further, an intruder could use the details here to access your data.


Setting up the IAM

Another issue is if a user was to set up the IAM incorrectly. It could potentially lead to adverse effects later.

Another "oops" would be to make an AMI public accidentally. AMIs, or Amazon Machine Images, are templates that enable teams to launch an EC2, or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, quickly. This is a common vulnerability because a user could unintentionally make an AMI public.

If this happens, it will reveal the organization's inner workings within its cloud system. It would be available to catalog publicly.


Defining Your Roles Internally

It would be best to have personnel responsible for Architecting AWS's IT infrastructure and security. They should also be liable if something goes awry. Suppose you want, until after a security incident, no one will come forward, and instead, may point a lot of fingers.

It's a considerable risk. However, if you assign roles at the beginning of implementation, it will be easier to tackle incidents quickly.

Likewise, it is the responsibility of your organization and employees to protect sensitive data proactively. If you instill lax cloud security policies, you could suffer a data breach. AWS recommends proactive measures to avoid this situation, including TLS (transport layer security) and encryption.


Vulnerabilities With Misconfiguration

Many of the typical AWS security risks have cloud misconfiguration as their root cause. This means the proper controls are not in place for infrastructure, containers, applications, and other software components.

It's not just the cloud itself with AWS cloud security. The code stored in your cloud must be secure to achieve the best security posture. Attackers could access the system if they have an insecure code like an IaC misconfiguration.

Another possibility is if your open-source components or first-party code has a security issue. Attackers will capitalize on such vulnerabilities if they find them. AWS CodeCommit or Serverless Application Repository cannot protect your data if you misconfigure it.


Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) Vulnerabilities

Your organization's data and code can only be as secure as the containers you have them in. That is why Amazon ECR needs the correct configuration. Otherwise, you can be left with a significant vulnerability.

It would help to have data protection measures, infrastructure security, and proper identity and access management. A free, open-source scanner from the NVD can search for known vulnerabilities in the Amazon ECT. However, a base image must be chosen.

Unless the base image is scanned and updated, this will leave an open door for potential security risks.


AWS Security Essentials

AWS is built for cloud security. While you get many AWS security essentials with cloud technology, you cannot rely on it alone. Businesses must do their "homework" and ensure your organization takes suitable measures to ensure security.

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Published August 8, 2023