To succeed in today’s professional landscape, companies must be nimble and ready. They must be responsive in the face of constantly evolving technology and changing consumer preferences. To achieve this, many organizations turn to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
AWS enables companies to rapidly deploy and scale technology to meet their growing (or shrinking) demand without having to invest in expensive IT infrastructure. It’s an efficient and cost-effective solution that makes it easier for businesses of all sizes to drive innovation.
By now, most organizations are aware of the value AWS delivers –– but many of those same organizations have an alarmingly low awareness of cloud security. Let’s look at the challenges organizations face when working with AWS and similar cloud services, and how they can protect important data from attacks.
The Biggest Challenges of Working With AWS
Despite all of its undeniable benefits, there are two common challenges organizations face when building on AWS:
Understanding their cybersecurity role
Maintaining cloud visibility
Did you know that roughly 99% of cloud security issues are the customers’ fault?
A large portion of these incidents can be prevented by simply understanding the AWS Shared Responsibility Model. This model states that AWS will ensure the security of the cloud infrastructure, and the customer is responsible for ensuring the security within the cloud. Unfortunately, there’s this misconception that AWS is responsible for other aspects of security, such as access management, safeguarding customer data, and protecting network traffic. These are all responsibilities of the customer. Understanding that your cybersecurity is a shared responsibility is important for knowing the role you play in running a safe AWS environment. The other challenge organizations commonly have is with maintaining visibility within AWS. Visibility is an essential component of a good cloud security strategy –– because you can’t secure what you don’t know about. What’s more, the techniques used for on-premises security (like endpoint security solutions) aren’t always effective with cloud infrastructure.
In order to keep your cloud environment protected against threats, you must update your security policies to your AWS cloud services. This will help you increase visibility and keep your cloud systems protected against the evolving threat landscape. In this post, we’re going to look at 9 AWS security best practices to help you with that.
6 AWS Security Best Practices
Become Acquainted with the AWS Well-Architected Framework
While AWS isn’t responsible for the security in your cloud environment, they do offer ample resources to help you protect your AWS workloads.
If you’re new to building on AWS, one of the first things you should read is the Well-Architected Framework. This will help you learn how to get the most out of your cloud services. The Security Pillar is especially important, as this section of the framework covers a wide range of AWS security best practices to keep you protected from cloud security threats.
Plan Your Cybersecurity Strategy
Having an AWS cloud security strategy is important. If this is your first cloud migration, traditional security solutions won’t offer you the protection you need to safeguard your cloud assets. So, you need to develop an up-to-date cloud migration security strategy that allows for consistent protection.
If you’re already building on AWS, designing a clear-cut cloud security strategy will help keep your organization protected in the fast-paced world of Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).
You want to make sure everyone within your organization is briefed on your AWS cloud security strategy and trained accordingly. This approach lets you bake cloud security into all stages of your development process. This will help you maintain compliance and be more proactive with preventing attacks. When your cybersecurity strategy comes first, every action you take will be determined by your security positioning.
Implement and Enforce Cloud Security Controls
Remember, it’s you who bears the responsibility of protecting your cloud workloads––not AWS. This means it’s up to you to have measures in place to ensure customer and company data is protected from malicious attacks. Below are some clouds security controls and procedures that will help you minimize the risk of a data breach:
- Clearly define user roles: Don’t grant users extensive privileges beyond what’s needed –– only grant them the necessary privileges required for them to complete their tasks
- Conduct privilege audits: Revoke privileges once users no longer need them. You can do this by conducting scheduled privilege audits that compare your employees’ privileges with their ongoing assignments
- Implement a strong password policy: Your password policy shouldn’t only require using strong passwords, it should also include password expiration. That way, users have to change passwords every couple of weeks or every month
- Use Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and permission time-outs: MFA and session time-outs add an extra layer of security by making it harder for malicious parties to access accounts within your AWS environment
Make Your AWS Security Policies Accessible
The secret to implementing a good cybersecurity strategy is making sure everyone is on the same page. Create a document with your security policies and controls and share it on an internal drive where everyone within your organization can access it –– including stakeholders, external collaborators, and third-party vendors. You also want to treat your security strategy as a living document –– meaning it’s updated when needed. Technology is constantly changing, and your policies need to reflect that.
Encryption is important. Not only are certain types of sensitive data required to be encrypted for regulatory compliance, encryption also acts as another safety barrier that strengthens your security positioning.
Ideally, you should encrypt all of your data –– even if you’re not required to for compliance reasons. This means using encryption for data in transit and data stored on S3.
AWS makes it easy to encrypt data within their cloud environment. Simply enable their native encryption feature that protects data stored on S3. It’s also a good idea to use client-side encryption to protect your data before it goes to the cloud. That way, you’re getting extra protection by using server-side and client-side encryption.
AWS offers a Key Management Service (AWS KMS) that gives you centralized control over your encryption keys. If you’re using client-side encryption in conjunction with server-side encryption, this will make managing your keys much easier.
Backup Your Data
You never know if you’re going to need to restore data after a breach, so back up your data regularly. You can do this by using AWS Backup. This app makes it easy to automate backups across your AWS environment, so you never have to worry about losing important information. Also, consider enabling multi-factor authentication delete. This will require users to include two forms of authentication before they delete or modify the versioning state of a bucket in S3.