Using Best Practices & Cloud Native AWS Services to Strengthen Security Posture


Protect your cloud infrastructure and keep your data secure with comprehensive AWS cloud security practices and solutions.

According to Sophos, over 70% of organizations hosting their workload on the cloud faced a security incident in 2020. With the increasing number of threats on the horizon, cloud security is becoming more crucial for organizations of all sizes to keep their data secured. 

These threats are avoidable by utilizing cloud-native AWS services to enhance the overall security infrastructure of your business through a top down leadership implementation. However, before we move onto AWS security services, let us first understand the risks associated with the cloud along with mitigation or prevention practices.

Top 10 AWS Cloud Security Risks

Although AWS offers a range of security options, organizations that don’t leverage the comprehensive nature of the solutions available can face various vulnerabilities; here are some of them:

1. Lack of Visibility

Cloud resources often have a shorter lifespan, and it is difficult for organizations to keep track of everything hosted on their cloud infrastructure. Hence, many challenges arise due to decentralized visibility that makes threat detection difficult.

2. Excessive S3 Bucket Permissions

By not limiting access to the S3 buckets at a granular level, administrators can allow too much unauthorized user access. Many security issues arise when these users upload their private data to these public buckets. Also, users can override access options using the AWS console unless administrators also implement permissions of least privilege across such assets.

3. Exposed Access to Root Accounts

Attackers often use root accounts to get unauthorized access to your cloud services. Such scenarios occur if root API access is not properly disabled. Hackers often use it as a gateway to get root user access over the system.

4. Unchanged IAM Access Keys

Leaving IAM Access keys unrotated for a prolonged period of time leaves users' accounts and groups vulnerable. Hence, attackers have more time to obtain these keys and gain unauthorized access to root accounts.

5. Poor Authentication Practices

It is common for attackers to use phishing and other social engineering techniques to steal account credentials. Attackers use these credentials to gain unauthorized access to Public Cloud Environments that are easily accessible without any verification of the user. 

6. Weak Encryption

Weak encryption often leaves the network traffic unsecured. Weak encryption allows intruders to get access to sensitive data, such as data in the storage arrays. For complete data security, networks must encrypt their weak links.

7. Unnecessary Privileges

If AWS IAM is not properly deployed to manage user accounts and access permissions given to the other users. Additionally, some administrators give users too much access, which causes problems due to stolen credentials of sensitive accounts.

8. Public AMIs 

AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) act as templates, which contain the software configuration, such as operating system, application server, and applications used with launched instances. Public AMIs often expose sensitive data to other users, which can be dangerous.

9. Broad IP Ranges for Security Groups

Security Groups act as firewalls to filter and control traffic over any AWS environment. Administrators often assign a broad range of IPs to security groups that are not necessary. 

10. Lack of Audits

The cloud security audit is often overlooked, however, security audits are extremely helpful to track access privileges, insider threats, and other potential risks. Unfortunately, there is no proper check and balance for user activities over the network. 

AWS Cloud Security Practice

It is possible to enhance AWS Cloud Security by just following a few security practices defined below:

1. Using Security Solution for Visibility

Implement an AWS Security Visibility Solution to monitor all resources, including virtual machines, load balancers, security groups, and users. Also, it is important to understand your AWS environment for implementing better visibility policies.

2. Limit Root Account Access

Root accounts should be limited to a few very authorized users inside an organization. Place a multi-factor authentication system for every root account to prevent any unauthorized access.

3. Rotate IAM Access Keys

Rotate IAM access keys at least every 90 days to minimize the risk of unauthorized access, even if a hacker acquires any old IAM access key. Also, users with the necessary privileges can rotate IAM keys on their own.

4. Strong Authentication Policies

Establish authentication policies in place where all administrators and users enforce multi-factor authentication on their accounts. Amazon AWS highly recommends enabling MFA on all those accounts with console enabled. If attackers have compromised credentials, they will not be able to log in to sensitive accounts due to a strong authentication process.

5. Principle of Least Privilege

The IAM configuration in any cloud environment should comply with the principle of the least privilege to prevent any unauthorized access due to excessive permissions. The users and groups should only be given the required permissions without any excessive privilege.

6. Limit IP ranges

Limit Security Group IP ranges to ensure the network runs smoothly without any unnecessary open gateways that might be exploited by attackers. 

7. Have an Audit History

AWS CloudTrail provides a history of the activities associated with your AWS account, including actions taken through the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command-line tools, and other AWS services. CloudTrail simplifies monitoring of resource changes and troubleshooting.

Cloud Security Posture Management with AWS

Carefully manage cloud assets to prevent gaps and vulnerabilities for a stronger overall security posture. In a cloud environment, AWS and users both share the responsibility of protecting their cloud infrastructure and applications.

AWS is responsible for securing the whole cloud infrastructure, but users also have a huge responsibility of securing the inside operations to prevent any major threats from penetrating the environment.

There are two major ways to strengthen the security infrastructure of your Cloud:

  • By leveraging AWS Security Services 
  • By leveraging Managed Security Services
AWS Security Services

AWS uses a strategic security approach to protect the cloud environment from various threats. The process can be broken down into four steps including Prevention, Detection, Response, and Remediation.

AWS offers integrated security solutions for applications, cloud infrastructure security, cloud security posture management, endpoint security, identity, and access management, etc. 

Managed Security Services

This includes all the Cloud security posture management (CSPM) tools available on AWS Marketplace. These tools include Pervasio, CrowdStrike, Sophos, and CloudGuard, etc. Some of these tools come with built-in vulnerability scanners, while other tools such as Sophos check your cloud environment against major threats to ensure the use of all best practices.

Other third-party solutions such as Rapid7 allow automated remediation of all cloud misconfigurations. Netskope is another managed services provider affiliated with AWS to offer real-time data and threat protection while working in a cloud environment.  

To Conclude

From all cloud security risks, it is evident that organizations need to ensure the use of the best security practices before they rely on any type of security solution, irrespective of its provider. Cloud infrastructures are susceptible to threats, so strengthening the entire comprehensive security posture of a business’ infrastructure is a top priority for any successful company. 

Caylent provides a critical DevOps-as-a-Service function to high growth companies looking for expert support with Kubernetes, cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and CI/CD pipelines. Our managed and consulting services are a more cost-effective option than hiring in-house, and we scale as your team and company grow. Check out some of the use cases, learn how we work with clients, and read more about our DevOps-as-a-Service offering.

Mauricio Ashimine

Mauricio Ashimine

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