Amazon Web Services Security: Using the Built-in Features

Do your part to make the most of Amazon Web Services security

While Amazon designed their cloud platform infrastructure to be highly available and scalable, Amazon Web Services security features also comply with industry standards. AWS Data centers are built like fortresses and staffed 24×7, and remote access is permitted strictly according to the principle of least privileged.

AWS infrastructure is designed and managed in full compliance with security best practices and a wide range of IT security standards, including SOC 1/SSAE 16/ISAE 3402 (formerly SAS 70 Type II), SOC2, SOC3, FISMA, DIACAP, FedRAMP, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, ITAR, HIPPA, and Cloud Security Alliance.

So Amazon has done their part to ensure that Amazon Web Services security is up to the challenge. But you’ve got to do your part, too. We’re going to focus on how you can leverage some of AWS’s built-in security features to meet specific business requirements and protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data in the cloud.

Shared Security Responsibility

When you host your application in the cloud, you agree to share responsibilities with AWS. It’s the job of Amazon Web Services Security to take care of host operating systems, visualization layer, network, and physical Security.  But it’s up to you to secure anything you deploy on the top host operating systems.

Customer Data vs AWS Shared Responsibility
Amazon Web Services Security

Amazon Web Services Security built-in features

You have a responsibility to become familiar with each security-related AWS service. Here’s a quick rundown.

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Using Identity and Access Management (IAM), you can create users, groups, and roles, and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources such as EC2, RDS, and VPC. IAM enables you to grant unique credentials to every user within your AWS Account, allowing individual access only to the AWS services and resources required.

With IAM Mutifactor Authentication enabled, a user trying to access an AWS resource will be prompted for normal authentication (user name and password), but also for an authentication code available only through their MFA-configured device.

IAM can be used to grant your employees and applications access to the AWS Management Console and AWS service APIs. IAM is also compatible with your existing Active Directory.

Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs)

Amazon’s VPCs allow you to provision compute resources, like EC2 instances and RDS deployments, inside isolated virtual networks. VPCs give you complete control over all inbound and outbound network traffic. You can (and should) use VPCs to secure your application by restricting, where appropriate, access to and from the Internet. Using Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections, you can connect on-premise servers directly to your cloud-based VPC, bypassing public networks.

Security Groups and Network  ACL’s

Using Security Groups, you can create firewall rules controlling incoming and outgoing traffic at the instance level. You can restrict traffic by protocol type (TCP, UDP, ICMP), IP address, and port.

Access Control Lists (ACLs) work at the network subnet level. Network ACLs can be especially useful in the prevention of DDOS attacks when you have a particular need to blacklist traffic from specific IP addresses.

Data Encryption

AWS provides Data encryption for EBS volumes, S3 buckets, and Relational Database Service (RDS) and Glacier data stores.

When you create an encrypted EBS volume and attach it to an instance, data on the volume, disk I/O, and snapshots created from the volume, are all encrypted. When so configured, AWS encrypts each S3 object with a unique key. Amazon S3 server-side encryption uses one of the strongest block ciphers available – 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256).

RDS generates an SSL certificate for each DB Instance. Once an encrypted connection is established, data transferred between the DB Instance and your application will be encrypted during transfer.

Direct Connect

You can use AWS Direct Connect to establish a private virtual interface between your on-premise network and your Amazon Virtual Private Cloud. Direct Connect provides a private and secure high-bandwidth network connection.

AWS Cloud Trail

CloudTrail provides you with a history of all API calls made against your account resources, including API calls made via the AWS Management Console, SDKs, and command line tools.

Trusted Advisor

AWS Trusted Advisor inspects your AWS environment and makes recommendations for saving money, improving system performance and reliability, or closing security gaps.

Even without upgrading to a paid support plan, Trusted Advisor will warn you about weaknesses like security groups allowing unrestricted access (0.0.0.0/0) to specific ports or S3 buckets with open access permissions. Trusted Advisor can provide a highly effective summary of your overall Amazon Web Services security profile.

Amazon Web Services Security: the next step

Besides the built-in Amazon Web Services security services, there are many open source and commercial software packages available through the AWS MarketPlace.

But all these powerful tools will have no value if you don’t take the time to learn how to use them properly to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your cloud data.

Avatar

Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— April 9, 2021

New Content: Platforms, Programming, and DevOps – Something for Everyone

This month our team of expert certification specialists released three new or updated learning paths, 16 courses, 13 hands-on labs, and four lab challenges! New content on Cloud Academy You can always visit our Content Roadmap to see what’s just released as well as what’s coming soon....

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming
  • Security
Luca Casartelli
Luca Casartelli
— March 31, 2021

Mastering AWS Organizations Service Control Policies

Service Control Policies (SCPs) are IAM-like policies to manage permissions in AWS Organizations. SCPs restrict the actions allowed for accounts within the organization making each one of them compliant with your guidelines. SCPs are not meant to grant permissions; you should consider ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Organizations
  • SCP
Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— March 12, 2021

New Content: Focus on DevOps and Programming Content this Month

This month our team of expert certification specialists released 12 new or updated learning paths, 15 courses, 25 hands-on labs, and four lab challenges! New content on Cloud Academy You can always visit our Content Roadmap to see what’s just released as well as what’s coming soon. Ja...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming
Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— February 12, 2021

New Content: Get Ready for the CISM Cert Exam & Learn About Alibaba, Plus All the AWS, GCP, and Azure Courses You Know You Can Count On

This month our team of intrepid certification specialists released five learning paths, seven courses, 19 hands-on labs, and three lab challenges!  One particularly interesting new learning path is Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Foundations. After completing this learn...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cism
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— January 31, 2021

Which Certifications Should I Get?

The old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and companies. With all that in mind, the s...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— January 31, 2021

The 12 AWS Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?

As companies increasingly shift workloads to the public cloud, cloud computing has moved from a nice-to-have to a core competency in the enterprise. This shift requires a new set of skills to design, deploy, and manage applications in cloud computing. As the market leader and most ma...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— January 29, 2021

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

Want to take a really impactful step in your technical career? Explore the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certificate. Its new version (SAA-C02) was released on March 23, 2020. The AWS Solutions Architect - Associate Certification (or Sol Arch Associate for short) offers some ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling