Despite public cloud being as popular as ever, questions like, ‘is it more secure than my data center?’ still remain.
In October, Amazon Web Services released a white paper outlining best practices for using its cloud. Sections include how to control costs, enable fault-tolerant infrastructure and get the best performance. Perhaps most importantly, it has advice on how to secure an AWS cloud environment.
Here are five tips from Amazon’s own best security practices.
1. Apply security at all layers
Instead of just having a firewall at the edge of the infrastructure, place virtual firewalls (available in the AWS Marketplace) on each virtual network that is created.
2. Enable traceability, and enforce privilege management
Use tags to indicate which users created and accessed which data when, then use permissions to define which users have access to do what functions. Use the strictest access controls to limit the ability to change root settings, which control the master controls for the environment. Add authorization and multi-factor authentication to the root access controls and any other highly sensitive functions.
3. Monitor and log all actions, changes and points of ingress/egress in your AWS environment
Set up alerts if unusual activity is detected. CloudTrail is AWS’s product to record API call logs, including identifying the time, user who accessed it, and/or source of the IP address.
4. Create custom image templates of virtual servers
Use these images automatically when a new server is launched. Amazon Machine Image (AMI) service will automatically create re-usable templates for any EC2 instances that are spun up, with security setting already pre-installed. The goal should be to create an entire environment that is managed through a template.
5. Encrypt all sensitive data in your AWS environment in transit and in rest
If desired, customers can choose to encrypt data on their own premises then send only encrypted data to the cloud and store the keys to the encryption behind their own on-premises firewall using AWS’s Hardware Security Module.
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