AWS Architecture Blog
Detect Adversary Behavior in Milliseconds with CrowdStrike and Amazon EventBridge
By integrating Amazon EventBridge with Falcon Horizon, CrowdStrike has developed a real-time, cloud-based solution that allows you to detect threats in less than a second. This solution uses AWS CloudTrail and EventBridge. CloudTrail allows governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing of your AWS account. EventBridge is a serverless event bus that makes it easier to build event-driven applications at scale.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the challenges presented by using traditional log file-based security monitoring. We will also discuss how CrowdStrike used EventBridge to create an innovative, real-time cloud security solution that enables high-speed, event-driven alerts that detect malicious actors in milliseconds.
Challenges of log file-based security monitoring
Being able to detect malicious actors in your environment is necessary to stay secure in the cloud. With the growing volume, velocity, and variety of cloud logs, log file-based monitoring makes it difficult to reveal adverse behaviors in time to stop breaches.
When an attack is in progress, a security operations center (SOC) analyst has an average of one minute to detect the threat, ten minutes to understand it, and one hour to contain it. If you cannot meet this 1/10/60 minute rule, you may have a costly breach that may move laterally and explode exponentially across the cloud estate.
Let’s look at a real-life scenario. When a malicious actor attempts a ransom attack that targets high-value data in an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, it can involve activities in various parts of the cloud services in a brief time window.
These example activities can involve:
- AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM): account enumeration, disabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), account hijacking, privilege escalation, etc.
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2): instance profile privilege escalation, file exchange tool installs, etc.
- Amazon S3: bucket and object enumeration; impair bucket encryption and versioning; bucket policy manipulation; getObject, putObject, and deleteObject APIs, etc.
With siloed log file-based monitoring, detecting, understanding, and containing a ransom attack while still meeting the 1/10/60 rule is difficult. This is because log files are written in batches, and files are typically only created every 5 minutes. Once the log file is written, it still needs to be fetched and processed. This means that you lose the ability to dynamically correlate disparate activities.
To summarize, top-level challenges of log file-based monitoring are:
- Lag time between the breach and the detection
- Inability to correlate disparate activities to reveal sophisticated attack patterns
- Frequent false positive alarms that obscure true positives
- High operational cost of log file synchronizations and reprocessing
- Log analysis tool maintenance for fast growing log volume
Security and compliance is a shared responsibility between AWS and the customer. We protect the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the AWS Cloud. For abstracted services, such as Amazon S3, we operate the infrastructure layer, the operating system, and platforms, and customers access the endpoints to store and retrieve data.
You are responsible for managing your data (including encryption options), classifying assets, and using IAM tools to apply the appropriate permissions.
Indicators of attack by CrowdStrike with Amazon EventBridge
In real-world cloud breach scenarios, timeliness of observation, detection, and remediation is critical. CrowdStrike Falcon Horizon IOA is built on an event-driven architecture based on EventBridge and operates at a velocity that can outpace attackers.
CrowdStrike Falcon Horizon IOA performs the following core actions:
- Observe: EventBridge streams CloudTrail log files across accounts to the CrowdStrike platform as activity occurs. Parallelism is enabled via event bus rules, which enables CrowdStrike to avoid the five-minute lag in fetching the log files and dynamically correlate disparate activities. The CrowdStrike platform observes end-to-end activities from AWS services and infrastructure hosted in the accounts protected by CrowdStrike.
- Detect: Falcon Horizon invokes indicators of attack (IOA) detection algorithms that reveal adversarial or anomalous activities from the log file streams. It correlates new and historical events in real time while enriching the events with CrowdStrike threat intelligence data. Each IOA is prioritized with the likelihood of activity being malicious via scoring and mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK framework.
- Remediate: The detected IOA is presented with remediation steps. Depending on the score, applying the remediations quickly can be critical before the attack spreads.
- Prevent: Unremediated insecure configurations are revealed via indicators of misconfiguration (IOM) in Falcon Horizon. Applying the remediation steps from IOM can prevent future breaches.
Key differentiators of IOA from Falcon Horizon are:
- Observability of wider attack surfaces with heterogeneous event sources
- Detection of sophisticated tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) with dynamic event correlation
- Event enrichment with threat intelligence that aids prioritization and reduces alert fatigue
- Low latency between malicious activity occurrence and corresponding detection
- Insight into attacks for each adversarial event from MITRE ATT&CK framework
Event-driven architectures provide advantages for integrating varied systems over legacy log file-based approaches. For securing cloud attack surfaces against the ever-evolving TTPs, a robust event-driven architecture at scale is a key differentiator.
CrowdStrike maximizes the advantages of event-driven architecture by integrating with EventBridge, as shown in Figure 1. EventBridge allows observing CloudTrail logs in event streams. It also simplifies log centralization from a number of accounts with its direct source-to-target integration across accounts, as follows:
- CrowdStrike hosts an EventBridge with central event buses that consume the stream of CloudTrail log events from a multitude of customer AWS accounts.
- Within customer accounts, EventBridge rules listen to the local CloudTrail and stream each activity as an event to the centralized EventBridge hosted by CrowdStrike.
- CrowdStrike’s event-driven platform detects adversarial behaviors from the event streams in real time. The detection is performed against incoming events in conjunction with historical events. The context that comes from connecting new and historical events minimizes false positives and improves alert efficacy.
- Events are enriched with CrowdStrike threat intelligence data that provides additional insight of the attack to SOC analysts and incident responders.
As data is received by the centralized EventBridge, CrowdStrike relies on unique customer ID and AWS Region in each event to provide integrity and isolation.
EventBridge allows relatively hassle-free customer onboarding by using cross account rules to transfer customer CloudTrail data into one common event bus that can then be used to filter and selectively forward the data into the Falcon Horizon platform for analysis and mitigation.
As your organization’s cloud footprint grows, visibility into end-to-end activities in a timely manner is critical for maintaining a safe environment for your business to operate. EventBridge allows event-driven monitoring of CloudTrail logs at scale.
CrowdStrike Falcon Horizon IOA, powered by EventBridge, observes end-to-end cloud activities at high speeds at scale. Paired with targeted detection algorithms from in-house threat detection experts and threat intelligence data, Falcon Horizon IOA combats emerging threats against the cloud control plane with its cutting-edge event-driven architecture.