Posted on October 24, 2022.

By now, just about all businesses understand the advantages of managing their workloads in the cloud.

Platforms like Amazon Web Services offer cost savings, scalability and the flexibility to quickly provision resources as needed. However, with these advantages comes increased responsibility for data security.

Organizations must take care to implement a clear cloud security policy in order to protect their data and meet compliance requirements.

In this article, we’ll share some AWS security best practices to help with crafting your cloud security strategy.

Understanding security in your cloud infrastructure

As a cloud services provider, AWS is responsible for securing the physical infrastructure that your data resides on. You are responsible for securing your data and applications that run in the cloud.

This policy is detailed in AWS’s Shared Responsibility Model.

This means that you need to have a good understanding of how your cloud infrastructure is configured and how it interacts with your on-premises systems.

In addition, it’s important to continually understand and monitor your cloud footprint. The cloud is ephemeral, and it’s possible to easily spin up and destroy AWS instances in minutes. If someone creates an AWS instance and doesn’t implement security controls following the organization’s policy, this can introduce new vectors for attack.

Many businesses find out the hard way that managing all of this is easier said than done. According to Gartner, 99% of cloud security breaches are the customer’s fault.

Amazon Web Services cloud security best practices

There are a number of steps you can take to secure your AWS environment. We’ve outlined some of the most important ones below.

1. Create strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication

One of the most basic steps you can take to secure your AWS environment is to create strong passwords for all user accounts.

You should also enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all users, especially those with administrative privileges. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a one-time code in addition to their password when logging in.

2. Use IAM roles instead of access keys

Another best practice is to use identity and access management roles instead of access keys. IAM roles are credentials that you can assign to users or applications. They provide more granular control over what actions a user can take in your AWS environment.

Keys, on the other hand, are static credentials that never expire. This makes them more vulnerable to theft. If an access key is compromised, you’ll need to generate a new one and update all applications that use it.

3. Configure least privilege

When configuring IAM roles and user permissions, always follow the principle of least privilege. This means only granting users the permissions they need to do their job.

For example, if a user only needs read-only access to an S3 bucket, don’t give them full control. By doing this, you can minimize the damage that can be done if a user’s credentials are compromised.

4. Encrypt data at rest and in transit

Another best practice is to encrypt all data both at rest and in transit. Data at rest refers to data that is stored on disk, while data in transit refers to data that is moving between systems.

AWS provides a number of tools to help with this, including S3 server-side encryption, AWS Key Management Service (KMS) and Amazon Macie.

5. Use VPC security groups

Virtual private clouds are isolated networks that you can create in the AWS cloud. By default, all traffic is blocked into and out of a VPC.

You can use VPC security groups to allow or deny traffic to your instances. When configuring security groups, always follow the principle of least privilege. Only open the ports that you need and only allow traffic from trusted sources.

6. Use a host-based firewall

In addition to using VPC security groups, you should also implement a host-based firewall on all your instances. A host-based firewall gives you more granular control over traffic than a security group.

You can use the built-in firewall capabilities of your operating system, or you can use AWS WAF, a web application firewall that sits in front of your web applications.

7. Monitor activity with CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail is a service that logs all AWS API calls made in your account. This includes calls made via the AWS console, CLI, SDKs, and other tools.

CloudTrail logs are stored in an S3 bucket, so you can use them to monitor activity and track changes made in your environment.

8. Use CloudWatch for monitoring

In addition to using CloudTrail, you can also use Amazon CloudWatch for monitoring your AWS environment.

CloudWatch is a monitoring service that collects performance and operational data from AWS resources like EC2 instances, RDS databases, and Lambda functions. You can use this data to set alarms, troubleshoot issues, and improve the performance of your applications.

9. Keep your software up to date

Another best practice is to keep all the software in your environment up to date. This includes the operating system on your instances, as well as any applications and databases running on those instances.

Outdated software is one of the most common security vulnerabilities. By keeping your software up to date, you can help reduce the risk of exploitation.

Contact Sanity Solutions About AWS Cloud Security 

Sanity Solutions offers AWS Cloud Security services partnering with businesses looking to get a better handle on their data security. Contact us to discuss AWS Cloud Security best practices and how we can help you craft the right strategy for your business.