Data Theft and AWS Deployments

Data theft: no one’s immune

Because, in conformance with their Shared Responsibility Model, AWS does such a good job protecting their physical infrastructure, many of the kinds of data theft that plague locally-hosted operations aren’t likely to threaten your cloud-based servers.

data theftConsider, as an example, the unauthorized individual who just sat down in front of that workstation over there… the one right behind the room divider. See how easily he’s able to bypass network checkpoints by posting his freshly encoded data to social networking accounts or fax-to-email services? I’ll bet you’ll never see anything like that happening inside an Amazon server farm.

But not so fast with the smug grin: this definitely doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Not even close. After all, the kind of disaster that recently hit Morgan Stanley – and 350,000 of its customers – could just as easily have happened on an AWS-hosted system. Data theft (sometimes called “data exfiltration”) is a serious threat to all networked systems, and you’ve got responsibilities to your customers, investors, and society at large to do your part to prevent it.

Data theft: preventative solutions

Here’s a checklist of steps you can – and should – take to both harden your deployment and, in general, tighten the way you interact with your cloud resources:

  • IAM. The less access to your resources you provide to team members and applications, the lower the chances that your data will go missing. Through their Identity and Access Management (IAM) service, AWS allows you to expose your individual compute and data resources to specific purpose-built users and roles, rather than to all and sundry who might be associated with your account. Use it.
  • Penetration-testing. When asked in advance, AWS will provide permission for you to launch simulated attacks against your cloud infrastructure. Using specialized operating system distributions like Kali Linux, you’ll get a first-hand look at how well your ACLs, security groups, and VPCs are configured, and how easy it will be for the bad guys to blow past them.
  • Anti-phishing training. All the stealth technology in the world won’t do much good if someone on your team clicks on the “fix the problem” link in the fake “your account needs resetting” email he just received.
  • Secure your own local infrastructure. You can’t very well blame Amazon if the gentleman at Data Theft Incorporated got your account authentication data through a keystroke tracker installed on the compromised PC you’re using, can you?
  • Log monitoring. System access and event logs exist for a reason. Hint: it might have something to do with keeping track of system access and events.
  • CloudWatch. Haven’t got the time or patience to properly monitor your logs? Once you set them to trigger alarm notifications upon detection of unusual activity, the friendly electrons at Amazon’s CloudWatch will be only too happy to do it for you.

Data Leak Prevention technology

Besides those more integrated approaches, there’s also Data Leak Prevention (DLP) technology, an entire class of software solutions aimed at data theft protection. DLP systems use machine learning heuristics, user activity monitoring, and sometimes honeypots to monitor a network.

They’ll particularly focus on analyzing data when it’s in motion (network), at rest (archived), and in use (endpoints). Should you feel the need is pressing enough, there’s no reason you can’t install such a package on part of your cloud infrastructure to keep watch over your account resources.

Of course, DLP systems are available from many of the usual suspects like Symantic and McAfee. But it’s the Linux-based open source packages, MyDLP and, perhaps, OpenDLP that should interest us the most because they’re likely to be flexible (and Linux-friendly) enough to fit comfortably into the AWS environment.

The bottom line? The tools we’ll need to defend our cloud deployments against data theft are available. We’ve just got to decide to use them.

Avatar

Written by

David Clinton

A Linux system administrator with twenty years' experience as a high school teacher, David has been around the industry long enough to have witnessed decades of technology trend predictions; most of them turning out to be dead wrong.


Related Posts

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
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs