Category: Security


How to Update AWS CloudHSM Devices and Client Instances to the Software and Firmware Versions Supported by AWS

by Tracy Pierce | on | in How-to guides, Security | | Comments

As I explained in my previous Security Blog post, a hardware security module (HSM) is a hardware device designed with the security of your data and cryptographic key material in mind. It is tamper-resistant hardware that prevents unauthorized users from attempting to pry open the device, plug in any extra devices to access data or keys such as subtokens, or damage the outside housing. The HSM device AWS CloudHSM offers is the Luna SA 7000 (also called Safenet Network HSM 7000), which is created by Gemalto. Depending on the firmware version you install, many of the security properties of these HSMs will have been validated under Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, a standard issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for cryptography modules. These standards are in place to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the data stored on cryptographic modules.

To help ensure its continued use, functionality, and support from AWS, we suggest that you update your AWS CloudHSM device software and firmware as well as the client instance software to current versions offered by AWS. As of the publication of this blog post, the current non-FIPS-validated versions are 5.4.9/client, 5.3.13/software, and 6.20.2/firmware, and the current FIPS-validated versions are 5.4.9/client, 5.3.13/software, and 6.10.9/firmware. (The firmware version determines FIPS validation.) It is important to know your current versions before updating so that you can follow the correct update path.

In this post, I demonstrate how to update your current CloudHSM devices and client instances so that you are using the most current versions of software and firmware. If you contact AWS Support for CloudHSM hardware and application issues, you will be required to update to these supported versions before proceeding. Also, any newly provisioned CloudHSM devices will use these supported software and firmware versions only, and AWS does not offer “downgrade options.

Note: Before you perform any updates, check with your local CloudHSM administrator and application developer to verify that these updates will not conflict with your current applications or architecture. (more…)

How to Visualize and Refine Your Network’s Security by Adding Security Group IDs to Your VPC Flow Logs

by Guy Denney | on | in How-to guides, Security | | Comments

Many organizations begin their cloud journey to AWS by moving a few applications to demonstrate the power and flexibility of AWS. This initial application architecture includes building security groups that control the network ports, protocols, and IP addresses that govern access and traffic to their AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). When the architecture process is complete and an application is fully functional, some organizations forget to revisit their security groups to optimize rules and help ensure the appropriate level of governance and compliance. Not optimizing security groups can create less-than-optimal security, with ports open that may not be needed or source IP ranges set that are broader than required.

Last year, I published an AWS Security Blog post that showed how to optimize and visualize your security groups. Today’s post continues in the vein of that post by using Amazon Kinesis Firehose and AWS Lambda to enrich the VPC Flow Logs dataset and enhance your ability to optimize security groups. The capabilities in this post’s solution are based on the Lambda functions available in this VPC Flow Log Appender GitHub repository.

Solution overview

Removing unused rules or limiting source IP addresses requires either an in-depth knowledge of an application’s active ports on Amazon EC2 instances or analysis of active network traffic. In this blog post, I discuss a method to:

  • Use VPC Flow Logs to capture information about the IP traffic in an Amazon VPC.
  • Enrich the VPC Flow Logs dataset with security group IDs by using Firehose and Lambda.
  • Demonstrate how to visualize and analyze network traffic from VPC Flow Logs by using Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES).

Using this approach can help you remediate security group rules to necessary source IPs, ports, and nested security groups, helping to improve the security of your AWS resources while minimizing the potential risk to production environments. (more…)

Amazon QuickSight Now Supports Audit Logging with AWS CloudTrail

by Craig Liebendorfer | on | in Announcements, Security | | Comments

QuickSight diagram

Amazon QuickSight democratizes business intelligence, making it easier and cheaper for you to provide advanced business analytics capabilities to everyone in your organization. Amazon QuickSight also enables you to understand your business better and helps you make data-driven decisions more quickly. However, determining who has access to which data in your organization can still be an administrative challenge.

Today, we are happy to announce that Amazon QuickSight now supports AWS CloudTrail, which enables you to log Amazon QuickSight events across your account. Amazon QuickSight administrators can now quickly and accurately answer questions such as who changed an analysis last or who connected to a sensitive database. CloudTrail support in Amazon QuickSight gives your administrators better governance, auditing, and risk management of your company’s Amazon QuickSight usage.

To learn more, see the full AWS Big Data Blog post.

– Craig

Manage Access to Your RDS for MySQL and Amazon Aurora Databases Using AWS IAM

by Craig Liebendorfer | on | in Announcements, Security | | Comments

RDS service image

Starting today, Amazon RDS enables you to use AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to manage database access for Amazon RDS for MySQL database instances and Amazon Aurora database clusters. By using IAM, you can manage user access to all AWS resources from a single location, without needing to manage users in the database. This includes expanding and restricting permission levels, associating permissions with different roles, and revoking access. IAM authentication also allows easier and safer integration with your applications running on Amazon EC2.

To learn more, see the full announcement.

– Craig

New Whitepaper Available: AWS Key Management Service Best Practices

by Matt Bretan | on | in Announcements, Best Practices, Encryption, Security | | Comments

AWS KMS service image

Today, we are happy to announce the release of a new whitepaper: AWS Key Management Service Best Practices. This whitepaper takes knowledge learned from some of the largest adopters of AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) and makes it available to all AWS customers. AWS KMS is a managed service that makes it easy for you to create and control the keys used to encrypt your data and uses hardware security modules to protect the security of your keys.

This new whitepaper is structured around the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) Security Perspective. The AWS CAF provides guidance to help organizations that are moving to the AWS Cloud and is broken into a number of areas of focus that are relevant to implementing cloud-based IT systems, which we call Perspectives. The Security Perspective organizes the principles that help drive the transformation of your organization’s security through Identity and Access Management, Detective Control, Infrastructure Security, Data Protection, and Incident Response. For each of the capabilities, the new whitepaper provides not only details about how your organization should use KMS to protect sensitive information across use cases but also the means of measuring progress.

Whether you have already implemented your key management infrastructure using KMS or are just starting to do so, this whitepaper provides insight into some of the best practices we recommend to our customers across industries and compliance regimes.

– Matt

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…)

Register for and Attend This March 29 Tech Talk—Best Practices for Managing Security Operations in AWS

by Craig Liebendorfer | on | in Announcements, Best Practices, Compliance, Security | | Comments

AWS webinars logo

Update: This webinar is now available as an on-demand video and slide deck.


As part of the AWS Monthly Online Tech Talks series, AWS will present Best Practices for Managing Security Operations in AWS on Wednesday, March 29. This tech talk will start at 9:00 A.M. and end at 10:00 A.M. Pacific Time.

AWS Global Cloud Security Architect Armando Leite will show you different ways you can use AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to control access to your AWS services and integrate your existing authentication system with IAM.

You also will learn:

  • How to deploy and control your AWS infrastructure using code templates, including change management policies with AWS CloudFormation.
  • How to audit and log your AWS service usage.
  • How to use AWS services to add automatic compliance checks to your AWS infrastructure.
  • About the AWS Shared Responsibility Model.

The tech talk is free, but space is limited and registration is required. Register today.

– Craig

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…)

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…)