Category: How-to guides


Introducing an Easier Way to Delegate Permissions to AWS Services: Service-Linked Roles

by Abhishek Pandey | on | in Announcements, How-to guides | | Comments

Some AWS services create and manage AWS resources on your behalf. To do this, these services require you to delegate permissions to them by using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles. Today, AWS IAM introduces service-linked roles, which give you an easier and more secure way to delegate permissions to AWS services. To start, you can use service-linked roles with Amazon Lex, a service that enables you to build conversational interfaces in any application by using voice and text. Over time, more AWS services will use service-linked roles as a way for you to delegate permissions to them to create and manage AWS resources on your behalf. In this blog post, I walk through the details of service-linked roles and show how to use them.

Creation and management of service-linked roles

Each service-linked role links to an AWS service, which is called the linked service. Service-linked roles provide a secure way to delegate permissions to AWS services because only the linked service can assume a service-linked role. Additionally, AWS automatically defines and sets the permissions of service-linked roles, depending on the actions that the linked service performs on your behalf. This makes it easier for you to manage the permissions you delegate to AWS services. AWS allows only those changes to service-linked roles that do not remove the permissions required by the linked service to manage your resources, preventing you from making any changes that would leave your AWS resources in an inconsistent state. Service-linked roles also help you meet your monitoring and auditing requirements because all actions performed on your behalf by an AWS service using a service-linked role appear in your AWS CloudTrail logs.

When you work with an AWS service that uses service-linked roles, the service automatically creates a service-linked role for you. After that, whenever the service must act on your behalf to manage your resources, it assumes the service-linked role. You can view the details of the service-linked roles in your account by using the IAM console, IAM APIs, or the AWS CLI.

Service-linked roles follow a specific naming convention that includes a mandatory prefix that is defined by AWS and an optional suffix defined by you. The examples in the following table show how the role names of service-linked roles may appear. (more…)

How to Use Service Control Policies in AWS Organizations to Enforce Healthcare Compliance in Your AWS Account

by Aaron Lima | on | in Compliance, How-to guides | | Comments

AWS customers with healthcare compliance requirements such as the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Good Laboratory, Clinical, and Manufacturing Practices (GxP) might want to control access to the AWS services their developers use to build and operate their GxP and HIPAA systems. For example, customers with GxP requirements might approve AWS as a supplier on the basis of AWS’s SOC certification and therefore want to ensure that only the services in scope for SOC are available to developers of GxP systems. Likewise, customers with HIPAA requirements might want to ensure that only AWS HIPAA Eligible Services are available to store and process protected health information (PHI). Now with AWS Organizations—policy-based management for multiple AWS accounts—you can programmatically control access to the services within your AWS accounts.

In this blog post, I show how to restrict an AWS account to HIPAA Eligible Services as well as explain why you should include additional supporting AWS services with service control policies (SCPs) in AWS Organizations. Although this example is HIPAA related, you can repurpose it for GxP, a database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) solutions, or other healthcare compliance requirements for which you want to control developers’ access to a specific scope of services. (more…)

How to Monitor Host-Based Intrusion Detection System Alerts on Amazon EC2 Instances

by Cameron Worrell | on | in How-to guides, Security | | Comments

To help you secure your AWS resources, we recommend that you adopt a layered approach that includes the use of preventative and detective controls. For example, incorporating host-based controls for your Amazon EC2 instances can restrict access and provide appropriate levels of visibility into system behaviors and access patterns. These controls often include a host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) that monitors and analyzes network traffic, log files, and file access on a host. A HIDS typically integrates with alerting and automated remediation solutions to detect and address attacks, unauthorized or suspicious activities, and general errors in your environment.

In this blog post, I show how you can use Amazon CloudWatch Logs to collect and aggregate alerts from an open-source security (OSSEC) HIDS. I use a CloudWatch Logs subscription to deliver the alerts to Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES) for analysis and visualization with Kibana – a popular open-source visualization tool. To make it easier for you to see this solution in action, I provide a CloudFormation template to handle most of the deployment work. You can use this solution to gain improved visibility and insights across your EC2 fleet and help drive security remediation activities. For example, if specific hosts are scanning your EC2 instances and triggering OSSEC alerts, you can implement a VPC network access control list (ACL) or AWS WAF rule to block those source IP addresses or CIDR blocks. (more…)

Move Over JSON – Policy Summaries Make Understanding IAM Policies Easier

by Joy Chatterjee | on | in Announcements, How-to guides | | Comments

Today, we added policy summaries to the IAM console, making it easier for you to understand the permissions in your AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies. Instead of reading JSON policy documents, you can scan a table that summarizes services, actions, resources, and conditions for each policy. You can find this summary on the policy detail page or the Permissions tab on an individual IAM user’s page.

In this blog post, I introduce policy summaries and review the details of a policy summary. (more…)

In Case You Missed These: AWS Security Blog Posts from January, February, and March

by Craig Liebendorfer | on | in Announcements, Best Practices, Compliance, Encryption, How-to guides, Security | | Comments

Image of lock and key

In case you missed any AWS Security Blog posts published so far in 2017, they are summarized and linked to below. The posts are shown in reverse chronological order (most recent first), and the subject matter ranges from protecting dynamic web applications against DDoS attacks to monitoring AWS account configuration changes and API calls to Amazon EC2 security groups.

March

March 22: How to Help Protect Dynamic Web Applications Against DDoS Attacks by Using Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53
Using a content delivery network (CDN) such as Amazon CloudFront to cache and serve static text and images or downloadable objects such as media files and documents is a common strategy to improve webpage load times, reduce network bandwidth costs, lessen the load on web servers, and mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. AWS WAF is a web application firewall that can be deployed on CloudFront to help protect your application against DDoS attacks by giving you control over which traffic to allow or block by defining security rules. When users access your application, the Domain Name System (DNS) translates human-readable domain names (for example, www.example.com) to machine-readable IP addresses (for example, 192.0.2.44). A DNS service, such as Amazon Route 53, can effectively connect users’ requests to a CloudFront distribution that proxies requests for dynamic content to the infrastructure hosting your application’s endpoints. In this blog post, I show you how to deploy CloudFront with AWS WAF and Route 53 to help protect dynamic web applications (with dynamic content such as a response to user input) against DDoS attacks. The steps shown in this post are key to implementing the overall approach described in AWS Best Practices for DDoS Resiliency and enable the built-in, managed DDoS protection service, AWS Shield.

March 21: New AWS Encryption SDK for Python Simplifies Multiple Master Key Encryption
The AWS Cryptography team is happy to announce a Python implementation of the AWS Encryption SDK. This new SDK helps manage data keys for you, and it simplifies the process of encrypting data under multiple master keys. As a result, this new SDK allows you to focus on the code that drives your business forward. It also provides a framework you can easily extend to ensure that you have a cryptographic library that is configured to match and enforce your standards. The SDK also includes ready-to-use examples. If you are a Java developer, you can refer to this blog post to see specific Java examples for the SDK. In this blog post, I show you how you can use the AWS Encryption SDK to simplify the process of encrypting data and how to protect your encryption keys in ways that help improve application availability by not tying you to a single region or key management solution. (more…)

How to Help Protect Dynamic Web Applications Against DDoS Attacks by Using Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53

by Holly Willey | on | in How-to guides, Security | | Comments

Using a content delivery network (CDN) such as Amazon CloudFront to cache and serve static text and images or downloadable objects such as media files and documents is a common strategy to improve webpage load times, reduce network bandwidth costs, lessen the load on web servers, and mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. AWS WAF is a web application firewall that can be deployed on CloudFront to help protect your application against DDoS attacks by giving you control over which traffic to allow or block by defining security rules. When users access your application, the Domain Name System (DNS) translates human-readable domain names (for example, www.example.com) to machine-readable IP addresses (for example, 192.0.2.44). A DNS service, such as Amazon Route 53, can effectively connect users’ requests to a CloudFront distribution that proxies requests for dynamic content to the infrastructure hosting your application’s endpoints.

In this blog post, I show you how to deploy CloudFront with AWS WAF and Route 53 to help protect dynamic web applications (with dynamic content such as a response to user input) against DDoS attacks. The steps shown in this post are key to implementing the overall approach described in AWS Best Practices for DDoS Resiliency and enable the built-in, managed DDoS protection service, AWS Shield. (more…)

New Cloud Directory API Makes It Easier to Query Data Along Multiple Dimensions

by Mahendra Chheda | on | in How-to guides | | Comments

Amazon Cloud Directory enables you to build flexible, cloud-native directories for organizing hierarchies of data along multiple dimensions. For example, you can create an organizational structure that you can navigate through multiple hierarchies for reporting structure, location, and cost center. With Cloud Directory, you can create directories for a variety of use cases, such as course catalogs and device registries.

Today, we made available a new Cloud Directory API, ListObjectParentPaths, that enables you to retrieve all available parent paths for any directory object across multiple hierarchies. Use this API when you want to fetch all parent objects for a specific child object. The order of the paths and objects returned is consistent across iterative calls to the API, unless objects are moved or deleted. In case an object has multiple parents, the API allows you to control the number of paths returned by using a paginated call pattern.

In this blog post, I use an example directory to demonstrate how this new API enables you to retrieve data across multiple dimensions to implement powerful applications quickly. (more…)

How to Access the AWS Management Console Using AWS Microsoft AD and Your On-Premises Credentials

by Vijay Sharma | on | in Announcements, Federation, How-to guides | | Comments

AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Microsoft AD, is a managed Microsoft Active Directory (AD) hosted in the AWS Cloud. Now, AWS Microsoft AD makes it easy for you to give your users permission to manage AWS resources by using on-premises AD administrative tools. With AWS Microsoft AD, you can grant your on-premises users permissions to resources such as the AWS Management Console instead of adding AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user accounts or configuring AD Federation Services (AD FS) with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).

In this blog post, I show how to use AWS Microsoft AD to enable your on-premises AD users to sign in to the AWS Management Console with their on-premises AD user credentials to access and manage AWS resources through IAM roles. (more…)

How to Protect Your Web Application Against DDoS Attacks by Using Amazon Route 53 and an External Content Delivery Network

by Shawn Marck | on | in How-to guides, Security | | Comments

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are attempts by a malicious actor to flood a network, system, or application with more traffic, connections, or requests than it is able to handle. To protect your web application against DDoS attacks, you can use AWS Shield, a DDoS protection service that AWS provides automatically to all AWS customers at no additional charge. You can use AWS Shield in conjunction with DDoS-resilient web services such as Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53 to improve your ability to defend against DDoS attacks. Learn more about architecting for DDoS resiliency by reading the AWS Best Practices for DDoS Resiliency whitepaper.

You also have the option of using Route 53 with an externally hosted content delivery network (CDN). In this blog post, I show how you can help protect the zone apex (also known as the root domain) of your web application by using Route 53 to perform a secure redirect to prevent discovery of your application origin. (more…)

Easily Replace or Attach an IAM Role to an Existing EC2 Instance by Using the EC2 Console

by Sankaran Mariappan | on | in Announcements, How-to guides, Security | | Comments

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles enable your applications running on Amazon EC2 to use temporary security credentials. IAM roles for EC2 make it easier for your applications to make API requests securely from an instance because they do not require you to manage AWS security credentials that the applications use. Recently, we enabled you to use temporary security credentials for your applications by attaching an IAM role to an existing EC2 instance by using the AWS CLI and SDK. To learn more, see New! Attach an AWS IAM Role to an Existing Amazon EC2 Instance by Using the AWS CLI.

Starting today, you can attach an IAM role to an existing EC2 instance from the EC2 console. You can also use the EC2 console to replace an IAM role attached to an existing instance. In this blog post, I will show how to attach an IAM role to an existing EC2 instance from the EC2 console. (more…)