AWS Config Best Practices for Compliance

Use AWS Config the Right Way for Successful Compliance

It’s well-known that AWS Config is a powerful service for monitoring all changes across your resources. As AWS Config has constantly evolved and improved over the years, it has transformed into a true powerhouse for monitoring your deployment’s compliance. Monitoring for compliance — whether for HIPAA, CIS, internal auditors, etc. — is a detailed and complicated process, and it’s of utmost importance to provide a clear history of all actions so that auditors can easily assess and approve your organization. With that in mind, let’s check out the following three best practices to use AWS Config for Compliance.

1. Strive for the Goal of Clear Compliance Reporting

Why do you want to use AWS Config, and what are the main benefits of taking the time to learn about a new service, devise processes around implementing it, and enforce new policies within your organization? To put it succinctly, using AWS Config to monitor your compliance needs will give you a customized and organized ledger of all changes to your deployment, indicating how each resource meets compliance over time.

By running through one of Cloud Academy’s Labs, you can see that at the fundamental level, AWS Config sets up recorders to capture all resource changes in your deployment. This is very powerful because you’re going to have a programmatic log of all changes, and this huge amount of data can be used to refer back to when you get audited.

In addition, as organizations shift from monolithic applications to microservices, they start to implement the tenets of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). AWS Config provides a valuable trail of actions that further support reporting on your internal processes — for DevOps, Security, and Financial stakeholders — at every step of the rapid CI/CD process.

This all adds up to a wealth of data that can be architected in an organized and searchable fashion to meet the needs of your compliance frameworks, making your internal stakeholders and external auditors happy.

2. Automate Rule Enforcement with Compliance-as-Code

Starting with a particular compliance framework as a reference, you can use the Config rules functionality for your own Compliance-as-Code implementation. In a nutshell, you’re going to leverage Config rules (many of which exist out-of-the-box from AWS) to report on the state of specific controls in your particular framework, whether it’s ensuring that an S3 bucket is encrypted or making sure all resources are given a specific type of name.

The power in Config rules is its out-of-the-box ease, simple customization — from type of resource to frequency of reporting — along with a clear indication of your resource’s pass/fail state. Once implemented, you have a great foundation to take your AWS Config functionality to the next level: automatic remediation of issues.

3. Use AWS Config to Automate the Remediation of Problems

In March 2019, AWS announced the ability to use AWS Config rules to automate the remediation of noncompliant resources. Using either the console or API, you have the ability to add a rule to automatically fix a noncompliant resource when it is found. This functionality is enabled within AWS by the use of AWS Systems Manager Automation documents, a set of instructions which are referenced by the Config rules and provide guidelines for actions taken on resources. Just like the Config rules, AWS System Manager Automation documents provide many default templates, as well as customizable functionality.


When you invest the time to create and implement a plan to work with your compliance requirements, using AWS Config will simplify your work and save tons of time and effort after implementation. Your compliance — as well as security and financial — needs will be met much easier because your resources will be created and maintained in an orderly way, even in the most dynamic and chaotic development and production environments.

To learn more about AWS Config in general, how to utilize it in your organization, and how to manage compliance with AWS Config, try out Cloud Academy’s AWS Config: An Introduction course. The short video below is part of the course and will give you an overview of how to best manage the compliance you need to adhere to within your AWS environment.

Joe Nemer

Written by

Joe Nemer

Joe is a Technical Researcher at Cloud Academy and works to help readers connect concepts in ways they haven't thought of before. Side interests include all sorts of waves — ocean waves, sine waves, just not goodbye waves.

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