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Master AWS cloud-native security to safeguard your cloud environment

AWS Cloud-Native Security (CNS) is a pivotal aspect of digital transformation in today's tech-driven world. This guide is designed to help you understand AWS Cloud-Native Security and how to use it to protect your data within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. Author: Matthew DiBiaso | Sr. Cloud Services Engineer - Security and Automation Tony Matson | Manager, Cloud Engineering Services - Security and Automation

2024-01-25

What is AWS Cloud-Native Security?

AWS Cloud-Native Security refers to a set of practices and technologies implemented to secure applications and data deployed in the AWS cloud environment. It goes beyond traditional security measures and considers the unique characteristics of cloud-native applications, such as:

Microservices architecture

Cloud-native applications are often built using microservices, which are small, independent services that can be easily deployed and scaled. Even though it offers scalability and flexibility, microservices architecture can complicate security due to the distributed nature of services. Each microservice functions independently, necessitating individual security protocols. The challenge lies in ensuring consistent security policies across a myriad of services and safeguarding communications between them.

Containerization

Containers provide a lightweight and consistent environment, making it easier to deploy, scale, and manage applications across different environments. The ephemeral and dynamic nature of containers can lead to difficulties in continuous security monitoring and policy enforcement. Ensuring container security, particularly in a constantly changing environment, is a significant challenge.

Serverless computing

Serverless architectures simplify operations but pose security challenges in tracking and controlling code execution. The distributed, event-driven nature of serverless computing complicates the identification of potential security threats and the implementation of effective security measures.

Here are some of the key principles behind AWS Cloud-Native Security:

Shifting security left

It is crucial to integrate security measures into every step of the development cycle, starting from the planning and design phase and continuing through deployment and operations. This involves incorporating security into your code, deployment tooling, and infrastructure right from the start.

Continuous monitoring and threat detection

You should continuously monitor your cloud environment for potential threats by using intrusion detection systems, web application firewalls, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems.

Least privilege access control

You should provide the least amount of access necessary for users and applications to complete their tasks. This will reduce potential damage in the event of an account being compromised.

Data encryption

You should encrypt your data both at rest and in transit to prevent unauthorized access. AWS provides various encryption services to facilitate this.

Compliance

You need to comply with relevant security regulations and standards. AWS offers a variety of compliance programs and services to help you meet your compliance obligations.

Which AWS Services Enhance Cloud-Native Security?

Securing AWS Cloud-Native environments necessitates a blend of foundational services and advanced solutions. These are the AWS Services we recommend to create a comprehensive and robust security solution for your AWS environment:

AWS Landing Zone & Landing Zone Accelerator (LZA)

AWS Landing Zone is a basic environment that provides enhanced security and governance, which is suitable for organizations with simpler requirements. However, LZA is a more advanced setup that streamlines security configurations and automates best practices. Both solutions help with user and service authentication, access control, network security, observability, incident response, secret management, and data protection.

Amazon GuardDuty & AWS IAM

Managing access and ensuring secure operations are crucial aspects of any organization's security framework. GuardDuty, an intelligent threat detection service, plays a fundamental role in achieving these objectives. AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), particularly through AWS IAM Identity Center, is pivotal for centralized identity management. These services can integrate effortlessly with both AWS Landing Zone and LZA, further enhancing the security governance of an organization.

Amazon Inspector

This security assessment service is crucial in cloud-native environments. It identifies vulnerabilities and provides remediation recommendations to maintain continuous security and compliance.

Amazon VPC

Utilizing Amazon VPC is essential for constructing isolated networks within AWS, a critical step in reinforcing resource isolation and overall security posture. Amazon VPC allows for the implementation of industry best practices, such as the hub-and-spoke model. In this model, the central VPC (the hub) acts as a focal point for shared services, while peripheral VPCs (the spokes) host individual applications or services. This structure not only enhances security through segregation but also streamlines management and connectivity across different parts of the organization. Implementing a VPC structure effectively mitigates risk by limiting the scope of impact from potential security breaches within any single network segment.

AWS KMS

AWS Key Management Service (KMS) is a highly secure and scalable service that helps manage encryption keys. It is a crucial component of data protection strategies, providing encryption mechanisms for data both at rest and in transit. Its robustness and integration capabilities make it a cornerstone in safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring compliance with various security standards.

AWS Security Challenges

To get the most out of AWS's CNS tools, you need to have a deep understanding of each service, its features, limitations, and how they can be integrated with other services. This requires specialized expertise and the right security engineering team to work with your team to perform the initial deployment steps, such as:

  • Formulating an extensive and effective security strategy that aligns with established best practices.
  • Determining, deploying, and managing the security products that best suit the unique needs of your business and relevant compliance frameworks such as NIST 800 145, HIITRUST, HIPPA, and PCI. Allocating dedicated personnel to monitor and swiftly respond to security alerts 24x7x365.
  • Implementing a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) system to gain a holistic view of your security compliance across all environments.
  • Establishing an internal Security Operations Center (SOC) or securing the services of AWS-certified security professionals.

A deeper dive into AWS cloud-native security principles

Shift security left

"Shifting security left" is a proactive approach to implementing security measures in the entire development process of an application. This process involves integrating security measures in all stages of the development lifecycle - from planning and designing to deployment and operations. By doing so, the application becomes more robust and resistant to security threats, which ultimately makes it more secure overall.

  • Early Detection and Correction: Identifying vulnerabilities early in the development process is not only cost-effective but also reduces the risk of significant impacts post-deployment. This early intervention is crucial in mitigating common exploited tactics like code injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
  • Reduced Risk and Improved Resilience: By baking security into the very fabric of coding and infrastructure development, systems become inherently more resilient. This integrated security stance is essential in defending against prevalent cyber threats such as ransomware and DDoS attacks.
  • Agility and Innovation: Integrating security within the development lifecycle reduces bottlenecks, fostering a culture of agility and continuous innovation. This approach aligns with modern rapid deployment methodologies like Agile and DevOps.

Examples of shifting security left:

  • Threat Modeling: In the design phase, identifying potential security risks is vital. This step is critical in preventing data breaches and safeguarding sensitive information.
  • Secure Coding Practices: Using static code analysis tools and adhering to secure coding practices helps in early identification and mitigation of vulnerabilities, thwarting attacks that exploit code flaws.
  • DevSecOps Integration: Integrating security professionals into development and operations teams ensures security is a shared responsibility, enhancing overall system security.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Threat Detection: Continuous monitoring and threat detection are essential for maintaining the security of cloud environments. This involves a combination of data collection, analysis, and rapid response mechanisms.
  • Collect Data: Gathering logs, metrics, and events is crucial for maintaining visibility over the AWS environment, allowing for early detection of suspicious activities that could indicate a breach attempt or exploitation of vulnerabilities.
  • Analyze Data: Using tools IDS, WAF, and SIEM systems helps identify potential threats and anomalies. This analysis is key to detecting sophisticated cyber-attacks, including advanced persistent threats (APTs) and insider threats.
  • Alert and Respond: Timely alerts and swift incident response are vital for minimizing the impact of security incidents. Rapid response is particularly critical in countering active attacks and mitigating their effects.

Examples of monitoring and threat detection tools:

  • Amazon CloudWatch: Provides centralized monitoring for AWS resources, with capabilities for creating dashboards and setting alarms to notify about potential issues.
  • Amazon GuardDuty: Offers intelligent threat detection by continuously monitoring for malicious activity and unauthorized behavior across AWS infrastructure.
  • Amazon Inspector: An automated service for assessing application and infrastructure security, identifying vulnerabilities and deviations from best practices.

Enhanced monitoring and threat detection

In the realm of cloud-native security, harnessing the combined powers of multiple AWS native tools can lead to a significantly more robust defense mechanism. This is particularly true when integrating AWS Security Hub and Amazon OpenSearch Service to create a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solution.

Integrative approach for advanced security

AWS Security Hub serves as the cornerstone, offering a unified view of your security status across AWS services, aligning with security standards and AWS's best practices. However, its capabilities are amplified when used in conjunction with an SIEM tool like Amazon OpenSearch Service. This integration allows for an expansive and more nuanced security analysis than either tool could offer alone.

Synergistic benefits

Extended Data Retention: While Security Hub provides a snapshot of up to 365 days, integrating with Amazon OpenSearch Service allows for longer-term data retention, which is crucial for in-depth analysis and compliance.

Comprehensive account coverage

This combined approach enables the aggregation of findings across multiple AWS accounts, offering a panoramic view of the security posture for organizations managing multiple accounts.

Correlation and advanced analysis

The integrative solution provides a more layered and detailed security analysis by correlating Security Hub findings with a diverse array of AWS log sources and non-AWS elements.

Implementing the collaborative solution

The architecture of this solution involves leveraging Amazon OpenSearch Service’s prowess in search and data analytics, a field where it excels thanks to its roots in Elasticsearch and Kibana. This service, while not a traditional SIEM, becomes one through strategic customization, capable of addressing a range of use cases.

Operational workflow

Consolidation of Logs and Findings: Security Hub findings and logs from various sources are ingested into an Amazon S3 bucket. This centralization is key to achieving a unified analysis platform.

Visualization and alerting

These findings are processed for in-depth analysis once in OpenSearch Service. Users can then create tailored dashboards and alerts, pinpointing specific security concerns and trends.

Practical application

This approach is not just theoretical; it has practical applications in extended data storage for compliance, aggregation of security findings for a holistic view, and enhanced correlation for detecting subtle and complex security threats.

Least privilege access control

Imagine you are handing out keys to your cloud kingdom. With the least privileged access control, you can give each user or application only the keys they need to perform their job. This approach minimizes the potential damage in case an account is compromised.

  • IAM Roles and Policies: AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables you to assign precise permissions to users and groups, limiting access to specific resources and actions.
  • Principle of Least Privilege: Grant the minimum level of access needed to perform tasks, avoiding the temptation of assigning broad, all-encompassing permissions.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Add an extra layer of security to your login process by requiring secondary verification.

Data encryption

Think of your sensitive data as precious jewels. Encryption acts like a secure vault, safeguarding them from prying eyes. In AWS, you have multiple options:

  • AWS Key Management Service (KMS): Manage and protect your encryption keys with centralized control and audit trails.
  • Amazon S3 Server-Side Encryption: Automatically encrypt data at rest in S3 buckets with various algorithms like AES-256.
  • Amazon DynamoDB Encryption: Encrypt data at rest and in transit within your DynamoDB tables for enhanced security.

Is AWS responsible for cloud-native security?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) takes responsibility for safeguarding the security of the cloud infrastructure that hosts customer data and applications. However, it is the customers who are accountable for securing their own data and applications within this cloud environment. This means that customers must take measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their data, as well as protect against unauthorized access, usage, or modification of their applications.

Full cloud security delivered by Ollion

Designing an AWS cloud environment requires close collaboration between the architecture, operations, and security teams to ensure that new services are designed and implemented to fulfill the needs of the resource owners, as well as being in full regulatory, legal, and best practice compliance.

Working with an experienced cloud partner like Ollion’s Engineering and Security Engineering teams provides access to dedicated resources focused on the many moving pieces and challenges of an ever-expanding set of services and features. Fully securing the application stacks allows the environment owners confidence that boundaries have been placed around their internal teams and external risk is actively mitigated and monitored.

Ollion’s expertise in AWS cloud-native security

AWS Cloud-Native Security is essential for maintaining a secure, resilient cloud environment. Understanding the shared responsibility model and utilizing AWS's services effectively is key to mastering this aspect of cloud computing. With Ollion's support, your organization can confidently navigate and secure your AWS cloud assets, safeguarding them against evolving cyber threats.

Ollion is a highly specialized and experienced provider of AWS cloud-native security solutions. We offer a range of cutting-edge security services designed to protect businesses' cloud environments against a variety of threats. Our team of experts has extensive knowledge of AWS security best practices, ensuring that our clients' cloud ecosystems are secure and compliant with industry standards.

Furthermore, Ollion's security solutions are designed to provide comprehensive protection against data breaches and other cyber threats. Our services include advanced threat detection and response, data protection, access management, compliance, and more. Whether it's identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities, monitoring for suspicious activity, or ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, Ollion's experts have the skills and experience to help businesses achieve cloud-native security.

Ollion's approach is highly customized, and we work closely with clients to understand their unique security needs. Contact us today to preview our holistic view of your cloud environments to identify potential risks and develop solutions that are tailored to your specific requirements.

Contact Ollion

For additional information on the services and solutions that Ollion provides contact us.