AWS Security: 5 Things You Need to Check Right Now

It might be unrealistic to expect your AWS security to be bullet-proof, but there is still a great deal you can do to make things a whole lot better.

AWS Security and more AWS security. We all know it’s important, but if you’re like me, there always seems to be a nagging doubt in the back of your mind that somewhere, there’s a nasty hole in your infrastructure, and that some hacker is prodding and probing away trying to find it. It sometimes seems that keeping everything 100% secure is a losing battle.
However, I do believe there are a few things that can be easily plugged that can make a big difference.

1. AWS security: delete Root Account Keys

This is something about which AWS is constantly trying to remind us – even I’ve written about AWS best practices before. It’s probably the easiest and most important security move you can make.

What you need to check

Login to your AWS console root account and click on Identity and Access Management. If you see a nice green tick next to the “Delete your root access keys” box…
AWS security - delete root access keys
…Then everything is OK and you don’t need to do anything.
However, if you see this:
AWS Security security status
Do the following:

What you need to do

  1. Click on ‘Manage Security Credentials’.
  2. Click on ‘Access Keys (Access Key ID and Secret Access Key)’.
  3. Delete any Access keys that are still Active like the one below.

AWS Security access key IDs - screen 1
AWS Security access key IDs - screen 2

2. Name everything

I originally left this until the end of the article. However, I realized that it makes a lot more sense having it right here before we remove our unused Security Groups in the next step. This is because having everything correctly named will be easier to actually see which Security Groups should, in fact, be removed.

What you need to check

Go through all your resources and check to see that everything – EC2 Instances, Security Groups, Network Interfaces, Volumes, Snapshots – has a name. Why? Because it will make keeping track of your resources so much easier and make it more likely that you will quickly spot anything being misused.

What you need to do

Give everything a name. More importantly, the name should be related to what the resource’s specific function is. Make sure you do this for all your resources in all regions.

Note: If you want to be even more thorough, then TAG everything. So instead of being restricted to just a name, you can add your own key-value pairs.  

3. Remove unused Security Groups

Now, with everything nicely named or tagged, it’s time to get rid of any unused security groups. Cleaning out your security groups eliminates the risk that a forgotten security group policy will be used to accidentally open an attack surface.

What you need to check

Open your EC2 Console and click on ‘Security Groups.’ You should see a list of all your Security Groups

What you need to do

Go through them carefully and delete any that you are certain aren’t being used or don’t belong to a default security group. If you try to delete a group that is being used, you should see a warning pop-up telling you. In any case, review the policies of all groups to make sure there are no unnecessary holes.

4. Restrict SSH access to your IP only

If you are the only one who connects to your instances via SSH, you should restrict access to sessions originating from your IP only.

What you need to check

  1. Open your EC2 Console and click on ‘Security Groups.’
  2. Click on a Security Group and then select ‘Inbound’ in the bottom window.
  3. If you see any SSH connections with a source of 0.0.0.0/0 like this:

AWS security SSH connections with a source of 0.0.0.0/0
…Do the following:

What you need to do

Click on ‘edit’ and then select the Source for SSH as MY IP, then save it as follows:
AWS Security policy SSH
Repeat for all Security Groups in all regions.

5.  Create individual IAM users (especially for yourself)

Avoid using your AWS root account credentials (ie: your original AWS login) to access AWS.

What you need to check

  1. Open the Identity and Access Management console.
  2. Click on Users.
  3. If you have a user for yourself with administrative privileges, then use that to login to AWS from now on (unless you have a really, really good reason not to).
  4. If you don’t have a user for yourself with administrative privileges, then follow these steps:

What you need to do

  1. Create an IAM user for yourself with administrative privileges, and use that IAM user for all your work.
  2. Follow this guide: Create individual IAM users.

Conclusion

AWS Security can be a little overwhelming at times, but if you make sure you get the easy stuff right from the beginning, then you should find yourself ahead of the game.

Avatar

Written by

Michael Sheehy

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.


Related Posts

Avatar
Guy Hummel
— December 12, 2019

Google Cloud Platform Certification: Preparation and Prerequisites

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has evolved from being a niche player to a serious competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In 2019, research firm Gartner placed Google in the Leaders quadrant in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service for the second consecuti...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— December 10, 2019

New Lab Challenges: Push Your Skills to the Next Level

Build hands-on experience using real accounts on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and more Meaningful cloud skills require more than book knowledge. Hands-on experience is required to translate knowledge into real-world results. We see this time and time again in studies about how pe...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • hands-on
  • labs
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— December 5, 2019

New on Cloud Academy: AWS Solution Architect Lab Challenge, Azure Hands-on Labs, Foundation Certificate in Cyber Security, and Much More

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the craziness of Black Friday has died down, it's now time for the busiest season of the year. Whether you're a last-minute shopper or you already have your shopping done, the holidays bring so much more excitement than any other time of year. Since our...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS solution architect
  • AZ-203
  • Azure
  • cyber security
  • FCCS
  • Foundation Certificate in Cyber Security
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— December 4, 2019

Understanding Enterprise Cloud Migration

What is enterprise cloud migration? Cloud migration is about moving your data, applications, and even infrastructure from your on-premises computers or infrastructure to a virtual pool of on-demand, shared resources that offer compute, storage, and network services at scale. Why d...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Data Migration
Wendy Dessler
Wendy Dessler
— November 27, 2019

6 Reasons Why You Should Get an AWS Certification This Year

In the past decade, the rise of cloud computing has been undeniable. Businesses of all sizes are moving their infrastructure and applications to the cloud. This is partly because the cloud allows businesses and their employees to access important information from just about anywhere. ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Certifications
  • certified
Avatar
Andrea Colangelo
— November 26, 2019

AWS Regions and Availability Zones: The Simplest Explanation You Will Ever Find Around

The basics of AWS Regions and Availability Zones We’re going to treat this article as a sort of AWS 101 — it’ll be a quick primer on AWS Regions and Availability Zones that will be useful for understanding the basics of how AWS infrastructure is organized. We’ll define each section,...

Read more
  • AWS
Avatar
Dzenan Dzevlan
— November 20, 2019

Application Load Balancer vs. Classic Load Balancer

What is an Elastic Load Balancer? This post covers basics of what an Elastic Load Balancer is, and two of its examples: Application Load Balancers and Classic Load Balancers. For additional information — including a comparison that explains Network Load Balancers — check out our post o...

Read more
  • ALB
  • Application Load Balancer
  • AWS
  • Elastic Load Balancer
  • ELB
Albert Qian
Albert Qian
— November 13, 2019

Advantages and Disadvantages of Microservices Architecture

What are microservices? Let's start our discussion by setting a foundation of what microservices are. Microservices are a way of breaking large software projects into loosely coupled modules, which communicate with each other through simple Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Docker
  • Kubernetes
  • Microservices
Nisar Ahmad
Nisar Ahmad
— November 12, 2019

Kubernetes Services: AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud

Kubernetes is a popular open-source container orchestration platform that allows us to deploy and manage multi-container applications at scale. Businesses are rapidly adopting this revolutionary technology to modernize their applications. Cloud service providers — such as Amazon Web Ser...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— October 31, 2019

AWS Internet of Things (IoT): The 3 Services You Need to Know

The Internet of Things (IoT) embeds technology into any physical thing to enable never-before-seen levels of connectivity. IoT is revolutionizing industries and creating many new market opportunities. Cloud services play an important role in enabling deployment of IoT solutions that min...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS IoT Events
  • AWS IoT SiteWise
  • AWS IoT Things Graph
  • IoT
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— October 23, 2019

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, 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 compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Valery Calderón Briz
Valery Calderón Briz
— October 22, 2019

How to Go Serverless Like a Pro

So, no servers? Yeah, I checked and there are definitely no servers. Well...the cloud service providers do need servers to host and run the code, but we don’t have to worry about it. Which operating system to use, how and when to run the instances, the scalability, and all the arch...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Lambda
  • Serverless