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Cloud Set Up in a Few Simple Steps

Saurabh Dhariwal

Saurabh Dhariwal

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AWS cloud brings endless potential for computing, storage, and network infrastructure for enterprises. The new opportunities for data management seek an advanced level of security to avoid the breach or loss of enterprise-wide information. AWS cloud security is a hot topic these days because of the recent security breach of Capital One. It has shaken the security community and made the organizations think about key concerns and interests related to security in Amazon Web Service environments.

 

Though security is a “Shared” responsibility of Amazon Web Services and the users, many people assume that it is taken care completely cloud computing service providers  only. However, that is not reality! At the end of the day, whatever data enterprises put in the cloud computing solutions is their responsibility too. Let’s take a little closer look at what enterprises or cloud customers think of security.

 

“According to the AWS Security Report, 91% of organizations are concerned about their cloud security.

 

On the other hand, the configuration of the AWS cloud platform is considered a little complex and requires a lot of time for the cloud infrastructure management team to identify the loopholes. 35% of people believe that AWS cloud misconfiguration is the biggest security threat for the organizations.

 

Furthermore, it is also found that legacy security tools are not working seamlessly with cloud environments or offer very limited functionality to the enterprises.”

 

These findings provide you with a starting point to plan out your time to scrutinize your cloud infrastructure for the security aspect. As more and more organizations are embracing cloud computing solutions, digital engineering teams are considering cloud security a priority and checking whether their cloud computing service providers deliver the right level of security for their data or not.

 

It is the responsibility of the enterprise or business to understand and identify security loopholes, discuss with the cloud computing service provider, and establish or follow the best practices to achieve top-notch security for their AWS cloud computing solutions.

 

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Understanding how you can secure AWS cloud solutions in just 10 Steps

Even a small security vulnerability may cause a big loss for the enterprises and therefore, enterprises are considering taking precautionary steps to avoid the future implications linked with AWS cloud data security. Here’re 10 steps to help you hackproof your cloud data on the AWS platform.

Step - 1. The first thing to do is to understand “SHARED” responsibility.

One of the very first things you should consider for improving the security of your cloud data is to understand and accept the fact of shared responsibility. AWS is responsible to provide security of cloud infrastructure management, including software, hardware, and other facilities hosting AWS services.

 

But, being a customer, you are equally responsible to utilize AWS services in a secure manner. It is a must that you follow the best practices for securing your root account and credentials, design restrictive firewall policies, strengthen cloud security controls and procedures, and more.

Step - 2. Keep an eye on your “INSTANCES”

Of course, implementing restrictive firewall policies and securing your credentials are great steps towards securing your cloud computing solution. But one should also consider monitoring the AWS instances because such instances are highly resilient to security breaches from malicious software applications and users.

 

To avoid getting cracked-down by the security attacks, it is imperative to monitor activity on the AWS instances on regular basis. It will make sure that your cloud infrastructure management team is on their toes if any intrusion happens.

Step - 3. Don’t forget to “ENCRYPT” sensitive data

There are plenty of benefits businesses can leverage by floating their data on cloud computing solutions. But it brings concerns over data security. Therefore, it is essential for the enterprise to think about encrypting the sensitive data. You can start the process by classifying the data based on their type and usefulness and protect it with the help of the right type of encryption mechanism. It seems a complex activity, but it will greatly boost the security of your data.

Step - 4. Rectify security “MISCONFIGURATIONS”

As mentioned earlier, the enterprises are suffering from the wrong configuration in their AWS cloud solutions. And most of them are unnoticed, which opens the doors for so called cloud-native breach.

 

For example, in some organizations, the cloud computing solutions team often fails to attach appropriate AWS security groups with EC2 instances. On the other hand, it is often observed that many organizations lack proper implementation of CI/CD pipeline.

 

Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to identify and correct the misconfigurations to mitigate security risks and comply with internal as well as external policies.

Step - 5. Make sure you have robust “CloudTrail” security configurations in place.

With the help of CloudTrail, organizations can easily generate log files of the API calls made within the AWS cloud environment. Having proper CloudTrail security configurations in place, the organizations can easily overcome activity monitoring gaps, track the exchange of information between S3 bucket and AWS cloud, avoid unauthorized access to the cloud, and more. Therefore, it is a must to implement CloudTrail security configurations for your cloud computing solutions.

 

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Step - 6. Don’t forget to “follow identity and access management” guidelines.

IAM (Identity and Access Management) services are responsible for user provisioning and access control in AWS cloud. It helps organizations to manage access to the AWS services and resources in a secure manner. However, to get the maximum benefit from this, it is imperative for the enterprise to follow a few guidelines while configuring IAM policies:

 

  • Make sure the policies are attached to groups or roles instead of individual users to avoid unnecessary access to the cloud.
  • Define IAM roles instead of sharing an individual set of credentials to avoid unauthorized access to AWS resources.
  • Enable minimal access privileges to allow them to carry out their minimum duties from the cloud set up.
  • Don’t forget to rotate IAM access keys at regular intervals to avoid data loss.
  • Enforce strong password policies.

Step - 7. “Host-based intrusion” detection should be implemented

Once you are done with the credential checks, password policies, and firewall security to block the harmful security attacks, the next thing you must do is to implement a host-based intrusion detection system. It will help you restrict certain vulnerabilities to enter the network.

 

Implementing host-based intrusion detection will help in monitoring the content of the traffic and block intrusions if identified as a threat. Apart from firewall security checks, IPS mitigates the risk of compromising your instance’s security while keeping the data proceed in your network intact.

Step - 8. Schedule “Vulnerability” Assessment

It is always advisable to schedule a vulnerability assessment at regular intervals to detect any potential threats in the AWS cloud solution. The vulnerability assessment is part of your cloud infrastructure management and network management since these are the only two gateways from where the security attacks take place in most of the incidents.

 

You can carry out this activity manually by evaluating your instance configurations or you can leverage from cloud computing service providers offering tools to do this activity automatically. For the network part, you can also launch a network scan against your AWS infrastructure. By doing so, you can easily figure out the best approach to avoid the potential risks for your cloud set up.

Step - 9. Protect “data in transit”

Cloud applications of the organizations may exchange information to the external or public networks. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to protect the data exchanged between the cloud and external links. Make sure you don’t commit any of the following mistakes:

 

  • Information disclosure with the external links
  • Compromise of data integrity by modifying it
  • Not authenticating peer while exchanging information

 

To avoid falling in the trap while exchanging data in transit, you can leverage from HTTPS protocol to exchange information. You can also use protocols like a secure shell, remote desktop protocol, or SSL/TLS wrappers to manage database traffic. However, AWS also brings a variety of services like Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3 through which you can protect the data in transit.

Step - 10. Detect and correct workloads

While deploying the web workloads, it is always ideal to use Elastic Load Balancers. It will not only help leverage from auto-scaling but also enable encryption of traffic, store access pages, and utilize Amazon’s WAF (Web Application Firewall) services seamlessly.

 

So, there you go! Just follow these security best practices and improve the security of your AWS instances. Want to know how professional cloud computing services can help you achieve top-notch security for your AWS setup? Get in touch with our experts now!