Against evolving threats, continuous technological developments, and an ever-changing business landscape, AWS security offers cost-effective solutions, and efficiency, agility, and high scalability to meet the varying demands of organizations. However, many businesses still lack awareness of cloud security and inadequately protect their cloud resources. Regarding cloud security, AWS provides a shared responsibility model between the services and the businesses.
Today, we will introduce you to essential services for cloud protection and share AWS security best practices for efficiently protecting network traffic, network assets, and cloud infrastructure. We will analyze these strategies in five main categories which include identifying, prevention, detection, responding, and remediation.
Understanding the AWS Shared Responsibility Model
The AWS shared responsibility model essentially involves dividing security and compliance processes and practices between AWS services and customers. In this model, AWS cloud security is responsible for ensuring the security of cloud environments while customers are responsible for ensuring security in the cloud services. The workload on customers varies with the AWS cloud services they choose since the amount of configuration will change. On the other hand, AWS’s responsibility covers managing and safeguarding all infrastructure layers, which are composed of hardware, software, networking, virtualization, and facilities run on the AWS cloud. Also, this model extends to IT and operating controls as well.
Some key responsibility differences for AWS cloud security and the customers are as follows:
1- Networking traffic protection, operating systems configuration, network configuration, firewall configuration, identity access management, customer data, platform and application management, server-side encryption, and client-side data encryption fall on the customers.
2- Edge locations, availability zones, regions, hardware and software, database, storage, elastic compute cloud, networking, patch management, and global infrastructure configuration fall on AWS services.
Establishing this fundamental shared responsibility model allows end-users to develop the best AWS cloud security strategy.
Essential AWS Security Services for Cloud Protection
AWS security offers a wide range of solutions for data privacy and protection, identity management, access controls, compliance, detection and response, and network protection on cloud architectures. The AWS solutions that provide IAM include AWS Identity Access Management, AWS Identity Center, Amazon Cognito, Amazon Verified Permissions, AWS Directory Service, AWS Resource Access Manager, and AWS Organizations. The available tools for detection and response are AWS Inspector, Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Security Hub, AWS Config, Amazon Detective, AWS CloudTrail, Amazon Cloud Watch, and AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery. Also, businesses can stay compliant with regulations and standards by implementing AWS Audit Manager and AWS Artifact. Most importantly, AWS offers data protection solutions with AWS KMS, CloudHSM, AWS Certificate Manager, AWS Private Certificate Authority, and AWS Secrets Manager.
Additionally, the most essential AWS tools ensure protection on the network level and these are AWS Shield, AWS Network Firewall, Web Application Firewall, and AWS Verified Access. In the sea of AWS security services, other most necessary tools involve AWS IAM, AWS Config, Amazon GuardDuty, CloudTrail, and Amazon Inspector.
AWS Identity Access Management: helps organizations define user permissions and privileges, and establishes secure access control processes for AWS resources and network assets.
AWS Network Firewall: ensures data security across your virtual private clouds and eliminates potential threats by managing network traffic and restricting access for suspicious activity.
AWS Config: helps organizations to audit and assess their resource configurations.
Amazon GuardDuty: provides advanced threat intelligence and detection for AWS account protection.
AWS CloudTrail: allows organizations to track API calls and user traffic effectively.
AWS Shield: offers automatic detection and mitigation for DDoS attacks, and maximizes application availability.
Amazon Inspector: offers highly scalable vulnerability management with automation.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) Best Practices
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a framework that enables organizations to police authentication and authorization, monitor user activity, and regulate access with granular visibility to protect network assets and sensitive data against data breaches and many other cyber attacks. Implementing an IAM tool is one of the best practices for a robust security posture, especially for a cloud environment. Also, IAM helps organizations stay compliant with industry-specific regulations and enhance productivity.
Here’s what your organization can do to achieve the full capabilities of AWS Identity Access Management services:
1- Enable Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication should be an integral part of your IAM solution since it requires users to enter multiple independent factors for identity verification. Meaning that MFA tools only grant users access if they prove their identity. This way, compromised credentials will no longer be an issue for businesses, and minimize threats. So, MFA is an essential component of any IAM tool.
2- Apply the Principle of Least-Privilege for Access
Least-privileged access allows security teams to grant users only the required access to perform daily tasks and display relevant content. This way, you can ensure a secure AWS environment and strict protection.
3- Protect Root User Credentials
Protecting root user credentials is crucial and must only be used outside daily tasks. In other words, the root user credentials should be used for the unique operations of root users. You establish root user credentials to sign into the management console.
4- Regular Audits and Reviews
Regular audits and reviews are vital for an effective IAM since outdated permissions, controls, and inactive users can lead to more vulnerabilities and security breaches.
5- IAM Roles for EC2 Instances
Managing roles in IAM tools aren’t limited to users in cloud security but are also for EC2 (elastic compute cloud) instances. AWS EC2 instances ensure smooth permission management and minimize exposure with assigned roles.
AWS Network Protections
Maintaining tight security at the network and application levels is also crucial due to the area it covers considering the cloud environment. Every traffic must be inspected and filtered thoroughly across all control points to minimize unauthorized cloud resource access. With AWS Security’s flexible solutions, organizations can enforce fine-grained security policies and prevent unauthorized access across all control points in your network and cloud environment. Also, AWS offers threat intelligence, scalable inspection, and high availability with central management.
Data Encryption Methods in AWS
AWS Security handles data encryption in two modes: at rest and in motion. While AWS CloudHSM tools use AES-256 protocol encryption for data at rest, all the AWS security services use AWS KMS for encryption. These services support FIPS 140-2 validated HSMs for storing encryption keys to avoid unauthorized use.
On the other hand, data in motion are encrypted with AWS’ implementation of TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol to minimize challenges. This encryption method ensures desired cloud security properties for data in motion and provides fast and auditable encryption.
Compliance and Security Monitoring with AWS Tools
Organizations are obliged to stay compliant with industry regulations and standards to ensure data protection and privacy. In this sense, the network or cloud environment and its compliance status must be monitored continuously. AWS security automates audits to give you a comprehensive view of compliance status per standards and practices.
Responding to Security Incidents
Incident response is a crucial component of any security strategy including the protection of cloud accounts. Detection and response duration greatly impact network integrity and cloud security. To avoid fines and harm data breaches bring, organizations must quickly recover from attacks. That’s where AWS cloud security solutions come in handy with their automated response and recovery. They shift the traditional response mindset to analyzing the root cause for agile remediation.
Keeping Up with AWS Security Updates and Best Practices
Remember that cloud protection requires a shared effort of both organizations and AWS Security. That’s why keeping up with the latest updates and continuously employing security best practices is crucial.