Security Audit

Learning AWS Security Audit is Not Difficult at All!

Updated on: July 12, 2020

Learning AWS Security Audit is Not Difficult at All!

Cloud computing is on the rise. It is now possible for businesses to implement a complex piece of software in just a few clicks. Amazon Web Services or AWS is a godsend gift for not so tech-savvy individuals. Subscribers of the AWS service experience effortless implementation and usage of different cloud computing software, leaving all complex software building in the past.

However, with great power come great responsibility. Using AWS without ensuring it’s secure can expose your data vulnerable to hackers. This is where the importance of the AWS Security Audit comes in. An AWS security audit helps you to discover all hidden vulnerabilities in your web system that can put your entire system at risk.

If you are wondering what an AWS security audit includes or where to get a SaaS security audit from, look no further.

What is AWS?

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is Amazon’s implementation of the cloud computing concept. It offers around 175 fully-featured services from data centers globally and is currently a popular choice for cloud-based hosting in the industry.In simple words, AWS will let you to host their computers (i.e servers) and thus allow you to:-

  1. Run Web and application server to host your dynamic websites.
  2. Securely store information on the cloud to access them over WAN.
  3. Host your database such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc on the cloud.
  4. Receive solutions for CDN or Content Delivery Network which can be troublesome to host on your network.
  5. Host SMTP, i.e., the mail server on cloud and send emails in bulk to your customers.

What is AWS Security Audit?

A security audit is the review of the security of the network infrastructure by evaluating the configurations, app logic, permissions, and other aspects of it to ensure it follows established security standards and is vulnerability free.

Similarly, auditing your AWS instance for vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, loopholes, security gaps is called the AWS security audit.

The AWS security audit can be divided into 2 categories:-

1. Security of Cloud

AWS manages the security of the cloud. This includes all the logic flaws or zero-days that can be used to exploit the instance of the sever. Security of the server is Amazon’s responsibility and you need to meddle with that.

2. Security in Cloud

Security in the cloud is your responsibility. You can control the security of the instance by choosing what you decide to implement and how you do it. If you configure your web app securely, it can lead hackers to gain unauthorized access to the web app.

Why perform an AWS security audit?

Data Breach is the worst thing that can happen to a company. It ruins the customers’ trust in the firm forever. There are enough instances where such a hack brought complete debacle for a business.

In real-world scenarios, security in the cloud aspect is what generally gets exploited. A vulnerable AWS instance leaves your entire business and customer data at the mercy of hackers, and if hacked, it can severely affect your brand’s reputation, customer’s trust, and revenue.

Hence, it’s crucial to do an AWS Security Audit while there is still time.

In fact, for continued security, you should carry out the AWS security audits regularly. The recommended time is as follows:

  • Reviewing System logs on a monthly basis.
  • Checking the behavior of the hosted service for abnormalities or something suspicious every 4 to 6 months.
  • Running a full scan to ensure no breach occurred any year.

There are many automated tools available to aid the process of the AWS security audit. However, using a manual enumeration is also recommended. The next segment will elaborate more on the manual AWS security audit and its pre-requisites.

AWS Security Audit 101

Identity and Access Management

The first step is to identify the assets and instances of data stores, applications, and the data itself. Assets on the public cloud are categorized under in-house environments. In some cases, the situation can be less complex to inventory as AWS provides its visibility of the assets under the management.

Some of the major points to keep in mind during asset identification are:-

  • Remove all keys for the root account
  • Do not use the root account for any automation or daily task
  • Implement 2FA authentication for the root
  • Allow only limited permissions to the service accounts
  • Allow the usage of only one key per user
  • Ensure all users have only one active access key
  • Change all ssh and PGP keys regularly
  • Remove all unused security accounts

Logical Access Control

Once you have identified all the assets that are being managed, it’s time to manage the access control on the cloud.

Logical Access Control is the process of assigning what type of actions can be performed on the resource (read, write, execute, etc) and by whom. The major part of this step involves controlling access to AWS resources, users, and processes.

The access to the AWS resources can be controlled through the AWS account or individual identify and Access Management (IAM) user accounts.

The major portion of this step focuses on identifying how users and permissions are set up for the service in AWS. It is essential to ensure that the management of the credentials associated with the AWS accounts is well secured.

S3

In simple words, the S3 is essentially a cloud folder commonly called a “Bucket”. It is a storage server that supplies you robust such as region exceptions, versioning, access logging, encryption and access control.

The factors that determine the security of the S3 bucket are as follows:-

  • Permissions for HTTP methods such as LIST, GET, PUT, DELETE, etc should only be allowed for specified users.
  • The bucket should have versioning enabled.
  • The bucket should have logging enabled.

Database Service

The database is something that is used in most of the web services. Thus, it is crucial for you to make sure that your database follows the security standards. A single flaw in your service in the cloud can cause you a data breach.

The Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) makes it easy to set up the database in just a few clicks. Additionally, consider keeping in mind the following key points during the AWS security audit:-

  • Backup your data regularly.
  • The backup retention time should be set to more than a week.
  • Use of the Multi-AZ deployment method is recommended.
  • Instance storage should have some encryption enabled.
  • Allow access to only a few specified IP addresses.
  • The Database snapshots should not be publicly accessible.

Vulnerability Scanners

Once you have finished securing your service in the cloud according to the security standards, running a vulnerability scanner is recommended. This will show you if you have any missing assets or CVE.

Popular vulnerability scanner such as CloudSploit can help you with the process.

Most hackers can gain access to your AWS instance by hiding themselves in unused regions to avoid detection. This is where CloudSploit can cover for you. It scans every public region of the AWS instance, including the ones you don’t actively use.

AWS Security Audit Provider – Astra

Astra is a Cyber-Security Company that provides protection and tests for security vulnerabilities in your Website and Infrastructure. Astra’s hacker style security testing offers real-world attacks to the website and thus, ensures no security vulnerability is exploited in the wild. We provide an in-depth AWS security audit under our VAPT program. VAPT by Astra includes a thorough audit of static code & dynamic code, business logic errors, payment security flaws, price manipulation testing, network misconfigurations, tests for known CVE’s, insecure roles and permissions, and so much more.

From the time you sign up to the completion of the audit, it’s a smooth process and can be visualized as the following picture:

AWS Security Audit
Astra’s VAPT process

Moreover, the security expert team of Astra makes sure that no damage is made to the website or your infrastructure during the audit. Astra also ensures that no security bug or vulnerability in your website goes unseen.

Further, with our collaborative VAPT dashboard you can see vulnerabilities reported live and communicate directly with the security expert working on the audit.

VAPT dashboard by Astra

Our experts not only do report the vulnerabilities but also provide remediation methods to fix the same. Not only this, Astra engineers are known to go the extra mile, so they also assist you/your developer in patching the vulnerabilities and are quick to do a re-scan for you to ensure everything in in place.

It provides rock-solid protection to your website and infrastructure from hackers. Check out the Astra VAPT services today!

Conclusion

AWS offers various security measures for the security of the cloud. However, the security in the cloud depends entirely on you. Therefore, performing an AWS security audit becomes important for your business. The sooner you know your security vulnerabilities the sooner you can fix it and protect your website from hackers.

If you have other questions regarding the AWS security audit by Astra, get in touch with one of the security experts using the chat widget 🙂

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Ananda Krishna

Ananda Krishna is the co-founder & CTO of Astra Security, a SaaS suite that secures businesses from cyber threats. He has been acknowledged by the Indian Navy, Microsoft, United Airlines, etc. for finding critical security vulnerabilities in their systems. Winner of the Best Security Product at Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017 (awarded by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India) & French Tech Ticket, Paris (awarded by François Hollande, former President of France).At Astra he's building an intelligent security ecosystem - web application firewall (WAF), malware detection & analysis, large scale SaaS applications, APIs & more. He's actively involved in the cybersecurity community and shared his knowledge at various forums & invited talks.
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