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AWS security best practices

AWS Security Best Practices You Should Know

Looking out for the AWS security best practices? Here we bring the most common and simple best practices of AWS security that will strengthen the security of your AWS cloud infrastructure. 

Cloud computing has become a staple requirement for enterprises in almost every sector, with a growing emphasis on resource effectiveness. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions by public cloud providers help various businesses reduce costs as well as streamline resource procurement.

Therefore, the demand for renowned cloud service providers such as AWS increases as a consequence of the need for organizations to shift to the cloud. On the other hand, enterprises should also be cautious about various aspects regarding the adoption of AWS Cloud services.

One of the most crucial aspects pertaining to the use of AWS Cloud refers to AWS security best practices. For the best implementation of the security practices, the professionals with the AWS Certified Security Specialty certification are in high demand. These practices will also help you in your AWS Security Specialty certification preparation, so let’s get ahead.

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Security of AWS Infrastructure

Security is undoubtedly one of the foremost concerns of enterprises because they will store sensitive business information and conduct critical business transactions on the cloud. However, proper awareness of the best practices of AWS security can help you strengthen the foundation of your AWS security infrastructure.

Prior to an outline of the AWS security best practices checklist, let us take a look at some recent numbers regarding cloud security.

Highlights of AWS Security Report 2019

The statistics about cloud security can provide helpful insights regarding the significance of emphasizing on AWS security best practices. The key takeaways from the 2019 AWS Security Report can provide clear insights regarding the existing status of AWS cloud security.

Existing Status of AWS Cloud Security

Almost 91% of organizations surveyed for the report indicated concerns for cloud security. Among them, 60% were extremely concerned with generally nine out of 10 cybersecurity professionals concerned regarding public cloud security from moderate to extreme levels.

Increasing Perception of Vulnerabilities in Cloud Security

The prominent vulnerabilities that exist presently in the AWS environment; according to cybersecurity, professionals are compliance and visibility into infrastructure security. Almost 44% of cybersecurity professionals indicated that visibility into infrastructure security is one of the prominent setbacks in cloud security operations.

The next critical threats that enforce the importance of AWS security best practices include unauthorized access, the inappropriate configuration of cloud platform and insecure interfaces or APIs. Furthermore, it is also essential to note that 49% of cybersecurity professionals also perceive formidable threats in the form of the hijacking of accounts, traffic or services.

Restrictions on Capabilities of Legacy Security Solutions

Another crucial factor that draws attention towards security best practices on AWS refers to limitations of legacy security solutions on the AWS cloud. Legacy security solutions are not capable of addressing the requirements of dynamic and distributed virtual environments in the cloud. Almost 85% of respondents in the AWS Security Report have stated that legacy solutions either have limited functionality or nothing at all in terms of AWS cloud security.

List of AWS Security Best Practices

So, you can clearly notice the urgency of reflecting on the necessity of AWS security best practices. Here are the different notable best practices for different aspects of AWS cloud such as architecture, VPC, security groups and IAM (Identity and Access Management).

AWS Security Group Best Practices

First of all, let us reflect on the AWS security group best practices. The security group serves as a virtual firewall, for instance, to help in controlling inbound and outbound traffic. With the launch of an instance in a VPC, users can assign a maximum of five security groups to the specific instance. It is essential to note that security groups do not act at the subnet level.

On the contrary, security groups work at the instance level. So, you could assign every instance in a subnet in your VPC to a different set of security groups. With launching an instance during the use of a command-line tool or Amazon EC2 API, the instance automatically associates with a default security group for the VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), if the user does not specify the security group for instance.

Users should use the option for creating a new security group, for instance, by launching instance through the Amazon EC2 console. The next important mention of AWS security best practices regarding security groups is the specification of rules. Rules can control inbound traffic to various instances alongside a set of rules for controlling outbound traffic.

Resource Access Authorization

One of the prominent entries among AWS architecture best practices refers to resource access authorization. Resource access authorization is highly important for supporting IAM infrastructure on AWS cloud security. Users can facilitate resource authorization through resource policies and capability policies for safeguarding AWS security infrastructure.

It provides the opportunity for determining privileges for access to different resources in the AWS architecture. Resources policies are a critical addition in AWS security best practices for their role in moderating AWS resource security. They are ideal in cases that involve the creation of resources by users and then permitting other users for accessing the resources.

The resource policy associated with an AWS resource could clearly indicate the privileges of users and the actions they can take with it. It is also essential to note that the root AWS account always has access for management of resource policies. The root AWS account also owns all resources created in the account.

Furthermore, you could also provide permissions for explicit access to users for the management of permissions regarding a resource. Another significant element that should come to the forefront in terms of AWS architecture best practices is capability policies. Capability policies can help in establishing company-wide access policies.

An IAM user involved in using an IAM group, either directly or indirectly, is assigned a capability policy. Capability policies define the specific actions that a user is permitted or denied to perform. As a result, you can ensure improved accountability for different modifications in your AWS security infrastructure.

AWS Identity and Access Management Security Management Best Practices

Another crucial aspect of AWS cloud security refers to AWS IAM best practices. Identity and Access Management is one of the foundational pillars of AWS cloud security. It provides assurance for ensuring that users gain reliable levels of permissions for accessing the resources they need. IAM helps in moderating the access of users to resources in AWS according to the permissions allocated to them, thereby strengthening the cloud security infrastructure on AWS.

You can start by creating IAM users under your AWS account, followed by assigning permissions directly to them. On the other hand, you can also choose to assign users to groups and then allocate permissions for the group. With the help of AWS IAM, you can create multiple users.

Then, you can ensure that every one of them has prominent singular security credentials. Most important of all, all users are under the control of a single AWS account. IAM users could also be a person, application or service requiring access to AWS resources. The path of requested access could be through the management console, CLI or directly through APIs.

The best AWS security best practices recommendations for AWS IAM imply the creation of individual IAM users for each individual. Another promising recommendation for AWS cloud security using IAM is the creation of highly articulated permissions for AWS account resources. Furthermore, it is also important to note the best practices of refraining from the use of shared user identities.

VPC Security Best Practices on AWS

Most important of all, AWS VPC Security best practices are also critical additions for AWS cloud security. Amazon Virtual Private cloud allows the creation of a private cloud on the AWS public cloud platform. VPC utilizes IP address space assigned by the customer, and you could use private IP addresses for Amazon VPCs. Therefore, you can build private clouds and other associated networks in the cloud.

The private clouds would not have any way of routing to the Internet. The Network Layer IP routing, i.e. layer three isolation helps in preventing exposure of private cloud information to the internet. In addition, it also offers protection against the access of other customers in the private cloud. AWS officially recommends some best practices for the use of AWS VPC. First of all, it is essential to ensure encryption of application and administrative traffic with SSL or TLS certificates.

On the other hand, you could use custom user VPN solutions. One of the critical AWS security best practices, in this case, is focus on carefully planning routing and server placement. Proper server placement in public and private subnets and use of security groups are also AWS VPC Security best practices. In the case of IPSec over the Internet use cases, you should create a private IPSec connection.

For this, you can use the IKEv1 and IPSec by using standard AWS VPN facilities. On the other hand, you can establish customer-oriented VPN software infrastructure on the cloud as well as on-premises. However, in the case of use cases involving AWS Direct Connect without IPSec, you would need only private peering.

Ready to Implement AWS Security Best Practices?

There is a wide range of AWS security best practices to explore for creating the perfect AWS security infrastructure. AWS cloud platform provides various effective tools and guidance for establishing the security of data and assets in AWS. AWS also provides the assurance of support and reliable service management that can align with modern information protection requirements.

If you want to learn more about best practices for AWS security, then you can explore the official AWS documentation. The outline of best practices for using different AWS tools and technologies can help in addressing AWS security skill gaps. 

If you’re an AWS Security professional, it is important to understand the best practices and other concepts of AWS security. You can also enroll for the AWS Certified Security Specialty online course and practice tests to prepare and pass the AWS Security Specialty exam. Take the first step to explore more about AWS cloud security right now!  

About Pavan Gumaste

Pavan Rao is a programmer / Developer by Profession and Cloud Computing Professional by choice with in-depth knowledge in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform. He helps the organisation figure out what to build, ensure successful delivery, and incorporate user learning to improve the strategy and product further.
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