The way we work has been completely revolutionized by the Internet in just a few decades. Whether it’s communication, collaboration or creation, the Internet has made it easier and faster for us to do what needs to be done.
The advancements in Cloud technology are particularly of note. For example, the “pay-as-you-go” model has been a great equalizer for small businesses. It enables them to access the same computing infrastructure that some of the biggest companies in the world use but only pay for the resources they utilize.
The on-demand software or Software as a Service (SaaS) model now supports entire industries. That’s what has enabled so many businesses to easily create a full-fledged online store without concerning themselves with server-side management or coding. Everything runs in the Cloud while users access the software using their personal devices.
As beneficial as the shift to Cloud computing can be, it’s not uncommon for organizations to be apprehensive, particularly when they have substantial legacy systems to migrate. Cloud migration is a science in its own right and often businesses may opt to not fix something that’s not broken and decide against shifting to the Cloud.
Security is also a major consideration. It’s one thing to hold your data on-premises, it’s another to entrust another company with it, even when your access to their physical infrastructure is out of the question. Cloud security extends beyond data protection. It encompasses the physical structure as well as the applications that access stored data.
The COVID19 pandemic left organizations with no choice but to embrace remote working. That presents its own set of Cloud-security challenges. Major Cloud service providers like AWS already provide robust tools that enable organizations to meet their security and compliance requirements.
The AWS approach to security
AWS offers security as an integral part of its Cloud computing service. It enables businesses to automate manual security tasks so that their time is better spent on scaling the business. AWS also happens to be the only commercial Cloud service that has its offerings and associated supply chain approved for top-secret workloads. That’s a major vote of confidence in its abilities to keep its customers safe.
The AWS Security, Identity and Compliance services are split up into six categories. Each category is suited to specific use cases and offers an AWS security service as a solution. The categories include: Identity & access management, Detection, Infrastructure Protection, Data Protection, Incident Response and Compliance. From prevention to remediation, AWS covers the full spectrum of security challenges.
Best AWS features to keep your Cloud secure
1. AWS Identity and Access Management
Access control is the first line of defense when it comes to Cloud security. You should be able to define who is able to sign in and has the necessary permissions to utilize resources. This prevents any unauthorized access to the data.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an AWS web service that provides access control. It’s used after first signing up for an AWS account. The single sign-in identity that’s used to create the account is called the root user. It has access to all AWS services and resources.
It’s highly recommended that the root user must not be used for everyday tasks. The best practice is to utilize the root user to create the first IAM user. The root user credentials should be kept safe and secure as they should only be used to perform account and service management tasks.
IAM enables you to share access to your AWS Cloud with other people. They can be given permission to administer and use the resources in the AWS Cloud without having to disclose the root user credentials. IAM also allows for granting of granular permissions, in that different permissions can be granted to different people.
IAM can be used to provide secure access to AWS resources for apps that run on Amazon EC2 instances as well. This includes S3 buckets and DynamoDB tables. Multi-factor authentication is supported so that an extra layer of security can be added. Merchants and payment service providers will also appreciate that IAM is fully compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.
2. AWS Virtual Private Cloud
Your apps and services are hosted on Amazon’s EC2 instances. These servers make up the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) which is a logically isolated virtual network that you control. AWS provides you with complete control over this environment, including the ability to select your own IP address range, configuration of route tables and network gateways.
To support remote working, most companies have to shift sensitive data to the Cloud. The risk of that data being exposed to unauthorized people can be mitigated through the Virtual Private Cloud. The AWS VPC enables you to create a private-facing subnet for databases or application servers with no Internet access.
These VPCs can also have security groups linked with them. The security group lets you decide what traffic can and can’t gain access to the VPC. Traffic flow both in and out of the VPC can be controlled using security groups. Anything that’s not allowed access will be rejected automatically. However, it’s important to note that security groups are stateful. What that means is that if a traffic request is allowed in then its response will also be allowed out.
3. AWS CloudTrail
It’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to Cloud security. Would it not be better if a potential security risk is identified before it’s exploited? AWS CloudTrail makes this possible. It allows for the operational auditing and risk auditing of an AWS account. CloudTrail enables you to continuously monitor and retain account activity across your entire AWS deployment.
The logs that CloudTrail creates can be reviewed to keep an eye on the activity. This may include the source IP address of API calls, what AWS resources were created, modified, or destroyed by which accounts, any updates to AWS services, and more.
The Amazon CloudWatch Events integration takes this level of protection one step further. It lets you define workflows that will execute when events that can result in a security vulnerability are detected. For example, a workflow can be added with a policy to an Amazon S3 bucket when an API call to make that bucket public is logged by CloudTrail.
The best part about CloudTrail is that it’s set up by default for all AWS accounts. To keep an eye on unusual activity in your AWS accounts, enable CloudTrail Insights.
4. AWS Security Hub
Utilize the AWS Security Hub to essentially get a birds-eye view of the security position across your AWS accounts. AWS provides a variety of powerful security tools, including but not limited to firewalls and endpoint protection to vulnerability scanners. However, it can often be a chore to manually switch between all of them multiple times a day.
Security Hub aggregates all of the security tools that you use for your AWS Cloud in a single place. It prioritizes security alerts from multiple AWS services in addition to AWS Partner Network solutions.
It also keeps an eye out for any risks by continuously running automated security checks based on the standards that you’ve set. These checks will then provide a quality score and also identify the specific accounts or resources that may require your attention.
The benefit of an integrated dashboard is that it presents all of the required information in a consolidated manner. Therefore, it’s easier to spot trends, review current security and compliance status, and take the necessary actions.
With its robust suite of security tools and features, AWS provides companies with the peace of mind that their Cloud infrastructure is in good hands. Evidently, security is at the forefront of what it does, and it’s only going to improve further as more organizations rely on its Cloud services to power their remote work environments.
Want to know more about the different security tools AWS provides? CloudView Partners can help! We help our clients adopt the Cloud the right way. Reach out today and we’ll be happy to discuss your AWS Cloud security needs.