AWS Cloud Security: A Few Best Practices to Help You Take Control
Before releasing products to the market, manufacturers go through rigorous testing to make sure they’re safe for public use. The number one reason for the thorough evaluation and testing is, obviously, to protect customers. But safe and trustworthy products also provide a number of business benefits too: they boost a manufacturer’s reputation, help them cement customer relationships and drive sales.
This same concept must be applied when building your Amazon Web Services (AWS) environments. Before you launch production workloads in AWS, you must test, test and test again to make sure your infrastructure is properly secured. Failing to do so can put your customers’ data and your own assets at risk. Even a small breach can result in reputational damage, regulatory fines, loss of customers and reduced sales.
Given these consequences, why do some companies rush to the cloud, leaving security as an afterthought? For some organizations, business demands trump security concerns. For others, there may be a lack of understanding on how to effectively manage cloud security. And for others still, there’s confusion about what they are responsible for securing versus the cloud service provider (CSP). According to a report from Palo Alto Networks, “73% of companies struggle to clearly delineate between their CSP’s security responsibilities and their own.”
While it’s true that there is a lot to learn about cloud security and a lot to prepare before releasing workloads, applications and services to the cloud, there are some fundamental concepts and best practices that can help even the busiest IT teams make AWS security more manageable. And the upfront time you put in to get things right will pay dividends later when you’re securely up and running on AWS.
It Starts with the Shared Responsibility Model
The first step in mastering AWS security is having a clear understanding of the Shared Responsibility Model—what you are responsible for securing on the cloud and what AWS is responsible for securing. Neglecting to take the time to clarify roles and responsibilities can leave your business vulnerable to data breaches, cyberattacks and other threats. In fact, according to Gartner, through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.
Taking the time to clarify responsibilities enables you to put the right security controls in place, significantly reduce risk and fully reap the rewards of the cloud. So, let’s break down who owns what in the world of cloud security.
At a high level, the Shared Responsibility Model follows this general guideline: The cloud provider is responsible for the security and management of the cloud infrastructure. For example, Amazon takes care of its AWS infrastructure, which includes the security configurations of its managed services like Amazon WorkSpaces. This includes the physical security of their data centers, security of the underlying hardware and storage, and the patching of the virtual host servers underlying all Amazon services.
On the other hand, the customer is responsible for the security of its applications and workloads running on the cloud, including databases, operating systems and modern application components.
Here’s where it can get a little tricky. The level of responsibility changes depending on the cloud environment you choose to use—infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or software as a service (SaaS). For more details, read our eBook: Shared Responsibility for Cloud Security.
Four AWS Security Best Practices
Additionally, there are several foundational best practices that you can follow to ensure a strong AWS security posture:
- Take an inventory of where your data and assets reside to understand what SaaS applications are in use and who is using them, and then establish security controls and parameters to keep usage in line with security policies and procedures.
- Create a data governance framework that not only remediates security gaps but also provides guidance and specific direction on how to maintain a secure environment.
- In addition to standard passwords, add layers of protection, such as the use of credentials such as hardware tokens, numerical codes, biometrics, time and location.
- As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to understand your roles and responsibilities related to the cloud—and they should be clearly defined in your security policies and procedures, along with a comprehensive incident response (IR) plan that provides direction on how to respond in various scenarios. And remember, just like product manufacturers go through rigorous testing processes, you too should continuously test—and improve—your IR plan.
Trusted Security Guidance Can Ease the Burden
Ultimately, the responsibility is on you to take charge of your AWS security—and this isn’t a job that should be taken lightly. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. As a trusted partner to growing and established global brands, Navisite brings decades of experience helping companies eliminate threats and reduce risk across on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure, platforms and applications. Our experts work closely with IT teams to implement a dynamic and adaptive security program based on technical and budgetary requirements, along with best practices and strategic guidance that are customized to the business.
To learn how Navisite can help you migrate, manage, optimize and secure your AWS environments, contact us today.