AWS Security Hub Operation
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4h 50m

This section of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional learning path introduces the key identity management, security, and encryption services within AWS relevant to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional exam. Core to security is AWS Identity & Access Management commonly referred to as IAM. This service manages identities and their permissions that can access your AWS resources, so understanding how this service works and what you can do with it will help you to maintain a secure AWS environment. IAM is an important service in ensuring your resources are secure.

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Learning Objectives

  • Learn about identity and access management on AWS, including users, groups & roles, IAM policies, MFA, identity federation, and cross-account access
  • Learn the fundamentals of AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), including what it is, when to use it, how it works, and why use it
  • Understand how to configure and monitor AWS WAF
  • Learn about AWS Firewall Manager and its components
  • Learn how to configure AWS Shield
  • Learn the fundamentals of AWS Cognito

In addition to best practices, the information generated by security services is significant in terms of volume and categories. Gathering security findings in a single place is difficult and the information requires close attention and analysis in order to guarantee a secure and compliant environment at all times. This is where AWS Security Hub becomes essential by providing a single point of access to your security implementation and automatically verifying you are applying best practices as defined by AWS security experts. Let's discuss some of these foundational best practices for new AWS accounts. 

Whether you're just getting started or have some experience already with AWS, there's no doubt you have to interact with the AWS Identity and Access Management service. This is the service to provision users, define access controls for those users including passwords and access keys. Identity and Access Management is one of the many security services provided by AWS in order to assist you in the provisioning of a secure and compliant implementation.

This diagram represents three best practices regarding AWS Identity and Access Management. As you can see, it seems a little complicated. Let's break it down step by step into some of the foundational best practices that Security Hub verifies.

Number one, the Root User is the owner of AWS account, and it has access to everything including the credit card used to pay for services. As a best practice, always assign a multifactor authentication to the root user. That way, the root account is protected at all times. After that, create a group and apply administrator permissions to it. Then create a user, also assign an MFA to that user and provision keys if needed. Finally, add the user to the group, sign off the root account, and try never to use it again unless strictly necessary.

Your implementation will begin by leveraging the administrator user that you just created. Groups are an efficiency mechanism to apply permissions. It is easier to define a group, apply permissions, and then add or remove users as needed. You should rarely have to apply permissions to a user directly. If required, you can also provision keys to a user. Finally, also if required, you can allow the user to assume roles. For item number three, roles represent a way to gain permissions on a temporary basis.

The primary use of roles is to allow services to interact with each other. Users can also assume a role if needed. The permissions attributed to a role should be what is needed and nothing in addition to that. This is called the principle of least privilege, sometimes also called the principle of maximum security. Roles are commonly associated with EC2 instances and services. As a general security best practice, never store access keys in your code on EC2 instances or Amazon S3 buckets.

Fortunately for us, AWS offers a variety of tools for automating provisioning, monitoring, and auditing, many of them using machine learning in order to help us get our Cloud Security compliant with best practices. We just implemented some of the foundational security best practices checked by AWS Security Hub. We're gonna see the results later on.

About the Author
Learning Paths

Danny has over 20 years of IT experience as a software developer, cloud engineer, and technical trainer. After attending a conference on cloud computing in 2009, he knew he wanted to build his career around what was still a very new, emerging technology at the time — and share this transformational knowledge with others. He has spoken to IT professional audiences at local, regional, and national user groups and conferences. He has delivered in-person classroom and virtual training, interactive webinars, and authored video training courses covering many different technologies, including Amazon Web Services. He currently has six active AWS certifications, including certifications at the Professional and Specialty level.