AWS Security Blog

Embracing our broad responsibility for securing digital infrastructure in the European Union

Over the past few decades, digital technologies have brought tremendous benefits to our societies, governments, businesses, and everyday lives. However, the more we depend on them for critical applications, the more we must do so securely. The increasing reliance on these systems comes with a broad responsibility for society, companies, and governments.

At Amazon Web Services (AWS), every employee, regardless of their role, works to verify that security is an integral component of every facet of the business (see Security at AWS). This goes hand-in-hand with new cybersecurity-related regulations, such as the Directive on Measures for a High Common Level of Cybersecurity Across the Union (NIS 2), formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Counsel of the European Union (EU) in December 2022. NIS 2 will be transposed into the national laws of the EU Member States by October 2024, and aims to strengthen cybersecurity across the EU.

AWS is excited to help customers become more resilient, and we look forward to even closer cooperation with national cybersecurity authorities to raise the bar on cybersecurity across Europe. Building society’s trust in the online environment is key to harnessing the power of innovation for social and economic development. It’s also one of our core Leadership Principles: Success and scale bring broad responsibility.

Compliance with NIS 2

NIS 2 seeks to ensure that entities mitigate the risks posed by cyber threats, minimize the impact of incidents, and protect the continuity of essential and important services in the EU.

Besides increased cooperation between authorities and support for enhanced information sharing amongst covered entities, NIS 2 includes minimum requirements for cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations, which are applicable to a broad range of AWS customers based on their sector. Examples of sectors that must comply with NIS 2 requirements are energy, transport, health, public administration, and digital infrastructures. For the full list of covered sectors, see Annexes I and II of NIS 2. Generally, the NIS 2 Directive applies to a wider pool of entities than those currently covered by the NIS Directive, including medium-sized enterprises, as defined in Article 2 of the Annex to Recommendation 2003/361/EC (over 50 employees or an annual turnover over €10 million).

In several countries, aspects of the AWS service offerings are already part of the national critical infrastructure. For example, in Germany, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon CloudFront are in scope for the KRITIS regulation. For several years, AWS has fulfilled its obligations to secure these services, run audits related to national critical infrastructure, and have established channels for exchanging security information with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) KRITIS office. AWS is also part of the UP KRITIS initiative, a cooperative effort between industry and the German Government to set industry standards.

AWS will continue to support customers in implementing resilient solutions, in accordance with the shared responsibility model. Compliance efforts within AWS will include implementing the requirements of the act and setting out technical and methodological requirements for cloud computing service providers, to be published by the European Commission, as foreseen in Article 21 of NIS 2.

AWS cybersecurity risk management – Current status

Even before the introduction of NIS 2, AWS has been helping customers improve their resilience and incident response capacities. Our core infrastructure is designed to satisfy the security requirements of the military, global banks, and other highly sensitive organizations.

AWS provides information and communication technology services and building blocks that businesses, public authorities, universities, and individuals use to become more secure, innovative, and responsive to their own needs and the needs of their customers. Security and compliance remain a shared responsibility between AWS and the customer. We make sure that the AWS cloud infrastructure complies with applicable regulatory requirements and good practices for cloud providers, and customers remain responsible for building compliant workloads in the cloud.

In total, AWS supports or has obtained over 143 security standards compliance certifications and attestations around the globe, such as ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 20000, ISO 27017, and System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2. The following are some examples of European certifications and attestations that we’ve achieved:

  • C5 — provides a wide-ranging control framework for establishing and evidencing the security of cloud operations in Germany.
  • ENS High — comprises principles for adequate protection applicable to government agencies and public organizations in Spain.
  • HDS — demonstrates an adequate framework for technical and governance measures to secure and protect personal health data, governed by French law.
  • Pinakes — provides a rating framework intended to manage and monitor the cybersecurity controls of service providers upon which Spanish financial entities depend.

These and other AWS Compliance Programs help customers understand the robust controls in place at AWS to help ensure the security and compliance of the cloud. Through dedicated teams, we’re prepared to provide assurance about the approach that AWS has taken to operational resilience and to help customers achieve assurance about the security and resiliency of their workloads. AWS Artifact provides on-demand access to these security and compliance reports and many more.

For security in the cloud, it’s crucial for our customers to make security by design and security by default central tenets of product development. To begin with, customers can use the AWS Well-Architected tool to help build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure for a variety of applications and workloads. Customers that use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) can improve cloud readiness by identifying and prioritizing transformation opportunities. These foundational resources help customers secure regulated workloads. AWS Security Hub provides customers with a comprehensive view of their security state on AWS and helps them check their environments against industry standards and good practices.

With regards to the cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations that NIS 2 mandates, existing AWS service offerings can help customers fulfill their part of the shared responsibility model and comply with future national implementations of NIS 2. For example, customers can use Amazon GuardDuty to detect a set of specific threats to AWS accounts and watch out for malicious activity. Amazon CloudWatch helps customers monitor the state of their AWS resources. With AWS Config, customers can continually assess, audit, and evaluate the configurations and relationships of selected resources on AWS, on premises, and on other clouds. Furthermore, AWS Whitepapers, such as the AWS Security Incident Response Guide, help customers understand, implement, and manage fundamental security concepts in their cloud architecture.

NIS 2 foresees the development and implementation of comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training programs for management bodies and employees. At AWS, we provide various training programs at no cost to the public to increase awareness on cybersecurity, such as the Amazon cybersecurity awareness training, AWS Cloud Security Learning, AWS re/Start, and AWS Ramp-Up Guides.

AWS cooperation with authorities

At Amazon, we strive to be the world’s most customer-centric company. For AWS Security Assurance, that means having teams that continuously engage with authorities to understand and exceed regulatory and customer obligations on behalf of customers. This is just one way that we raise the security bar in Europe. At the same time, we recommend that national regulators carefully assess potentially conflicting, overlapping, or contradictory measures.

We also cooperate with cybersecurity agencies around the globe because we recognize the importance of their role in keeping the world safe. To that end, we have built the Global Cybersecurity Program (GCSP) to provide agencies with a direct and consistent line of communication to the AWS Security team. Two examples of GCSP members are the Dutch National Cyber Security Centrum (NCSC-NL), with whom we signed a cooperation in May 2023, and the Italian National Cybersecurity Agency (ACN). Together, we will work on cybersecurity initiatives and strengthen the cybersecurity posture across the EU. With the war in Ukraine, we have experienced how important such a collaboration can be. AWS has played an important role in helping Ukraine’s government maintain continuity and provide critical services to citizens since the onset of the war.

The way forward

At AWS, we will continue to provide key stakeholders with greater insights into how we help customers tackle their most challenging cybersecurity issues and provide opportunities to deep dive into what we’re building. We very much look forward to continuing our work with authorities, agencies and, most importantly, our customers to provide for the best solutions and raise the bar on cybersecurity and resilience across the EU and globally.

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Frank Adelmann

Frank Adelmann

Frank is the Regulated Industry and Security Engagement Lead for Regulated Commercial Sectors in Europe. He joined AWS in 2022 after working as a regulator in the European financial sector, technical advisor on cybersecurity matters in the International Monetary Fund, and Head of Information Security in the European Commodity Clearing AG. Today, Frank is passionately engaging with European regulators to understand and exceed regulatory and customer expectations.