Recovering from a rough Monday morning: An Amazon GuardDuty threat detection and remediation scenario
Amazon GuardDuty is a managed threat detection service that continuously monitors for malicious or unauthorized behavior to help you protect your AWS accounts and workloads. Given the many log types that Amazon GuardDuty analyzes (Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Flow Logs, AWS CloudTrail, and DNS logs), you never know what it might discover in your AWS account. After enabling GuardDuty, you might quickly find serious threats lurking in your account or, preferably, just end up staring at a blank dashboard for weeks…or even longer.
A while back at an AWS Loft event, one of the customers enabled GuardDuty in their AWS account for a lab we were running. Soon after, GuardDuty alerts (findings) popped up that indicated multiple Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances were communicating with known command and control servers. This means that GuardDuty detected activity commonly seen in the situation where an EC2 instance has been taken over as part of a botnet. The customer asked if this was part of the lab, and we explained it wasn’t and that the findings should be immediately investigated. This led to an investigation by that customer’s security team and luckily the issue was resolved quickly.
Then there was the time we spoke to a customer that had been running GuardDuty for a few days but had yet to see any findings in the dashboard. They were concerned that the service wasn’t working. We explained that the lack of findings was actually a good thing, and we discussed how to generate sample findings to test GuardDuty and their remediation pipeline.
This post, and the corresponding GitHub repository, will help prepare you for either type of experience by walking you through a threat detection and remediation scenario. The scenario will show you how to quickly enable GuardDuty, generate and examine test findings, and then review automated remediation examples using AWS Lambda.
The instructions and AWS CloudFormation template for setting everything up are provided in a GitHub repository. The CloudFormation template sets up a test environment in your AWS Account, configures everything needed to run through the scenario, generates GuardDuty findings and provides automatic remediation for the simulated threats in the scenario. All you need to do is run the CloudFormation template in the GitHub repository and then follow the instructions to investigate what occurred.
The scenario presented is that you manage an IT organization and Alice, your security engineer, has enabled GuardDuty in a production AWS Account and configured a few automated remediations. In threat detection and remediation, the standard pattern starts with a threat which is then investigated and finally remediated. These remediations can be manual or automated. Alice focused on a few specific attack vectors, which represent a small sample of what GuardDuty is capable of detecting. Alice has set all this up on Thursday but isn’t in the office on Monday. Unfortunately, as soon as you arrive at the office, GuardDuty notifies you that multiple threats have been detected (and given the automated remediation setup, these threats have been addressed but you still need to investigate.) The documentation in GitHub will guide you through the analysis of the findings and discuss how the automatic remediation works. You will also have the opportunity to manually trigger a GuardDuty finding and view that automated remediation.
The GuardDuty findings generated in the scenario are listed here:
You can view all of the GuardDuty findings here.
You can get started immediately by browsing to the GitHub repository for this scenario where you will find the instructions and AWS CloudFormation template. This scenario will show you how easy it is to enable GuardDuty in addition to demonstrating some of the threats GuardDuty can discover. To learn more about Amazon GuardDuty please see the GuardDuty site and GuardDuty documentation.
If you have feedback about this blog post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this blog post, start a new thread on the Amazon GuardDuty forum or contact AWS Support.
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