6 AWS Cloud Security Features You Should Be Using

by Hannah Grace Holladay / December 5th, 2022

The security of your AWS cloud environment is your responsibility.

Partly. Amazon Web Services (AWS) shares security responsibility with users. They are responsible for configuring and using cloud services securely and in compliance with information security regulations and standards.

 But AWS doesn’t leave its users high and dry where security and compliance are concerned. The platform offers an array of cloud security features and tools to help users with AWS cloud security and compliance. 

In this article, we explore six AWS security tools every AWS user should know about. We recommend taking a closer look at each tool to assess whether they could help your business improve its cloud environment’s security. 

1. Identity and Access Management

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps businesses to manage who has access to cloud resources and what they can do with them. It is perhaps the most important AWS security tool and one that every business with resources on AWS should use. IAM has three main roles:

  • It governs authentication for AWS users.
  • It limits the actions those users can take.
  • It allows for the creation of identities like users and groups. 

When you first create an AWS account, it has a single user, the root user, who can access all data, resources, and services. Sharing the root users’ credentials is unsafe, so IAM is used to create subordinate identities with varying permissions. In this way, a team can manage and use AWS resources without sharing the root account. 

As a general rule, you should not use the root account for day-to-day operations—it is too powerful. Instead, use IAM to create users with just the permissions they need. Learn more about IAM and compliance from:

2. AWS Security Hub

AWS Security Hub centralizes security data and presents it in an easy-to-integrate format. AWS includes over 100 services, many of which generate data relevant to security and compliance. 

Monitoring and acting on security issues across an AWS environment can be time-consuming and error-prone. Security Hub gathers all that data into a single location, simplifying security awareness and helping businesses to understand their security posture.

Security Hub integrates with many other AWS services, including AWS GuardDuty, Amazon Inspector, AWS Config, and Amazon Macie. It collects data from these services and carries out best practice security checks, providing users with the insight they need to respond to security issues as they arise. 

Security Hub can also integrate with your incident management and audit management tools, delivering data in a consistent format that enables third-party cloud security tools to display and organize remediation work. 

3. AWS Secrets Manager

Amazon Secrets Manager provides a way for AWS users to securely store encrypted credentials and keys while allowing software to use them. The secrets are kept in AWS Secrets Manager, and your code accesses them via API calls to the service. 

AWS Secrets Manager helps you to manage secrets securely, including credentials and API keys. If your business writes web software, you need a way to give apps access to other services, such as databases and APIs. 

Traditionally, this was achieved by embedding secrets like passwords and API keys in the code, but that’s an insecure practice. It often results in leaked secrets and stolen data. 

If secrets are hardcoded, anyone who can access the code can see them, which is particularly dangerous when the code is uploaded to version control systems. 

4. Amazon GuardDuty

Amazon GuardDuty is a threat detection system that monitors your AWS services and accounts for security issues. It works by looking for abnormal activity and assessing its potential security implications. 

It primarily monitors for activities that indicate reconnaissance by a bad actor and the compromise of cloud instances, accounts, and S3 storage buckets. It combines data about known threats and threat actors with machine learning analysis that can detect suspicious activity patterns. 

As we mentioned above, GuardDuty integrates with AWS Security Hub, which in turn integrates with many other tools, allowing you to send actionable threat data to work management and monitoring tools. 

5. Amazon Macie

Before you can protect sensitive data, you need to know that it’s sensitive. That’s not always as easy as it sounds. 

If a company processes large quantities of data, it may contain unidentified sensitive data that puts security and compliance at risk. Plus, it is not uncommon for employees to upload sensitive data to insecure cloud services. Millions of sensitive records have been leaked in recent years because employees uploaded them to improperly configured S3 buckets. 

Amazon Macie is a data security service that helps businesses to find sensitive data stored on their AWS resources. It uses machine learning and pattern matching to scan S3 buckets for sensitive data, alerting users so they can take action. 

6. AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail is a cloud logging service that records actions taken across your AWS account. The data it provides is essential for identifying malicious behavior and ensuring that users behave in a secure and compliant manner. 

CloudTrail records a vast range of events, including actions by users, roles, and services. It logs events from numerous sources, including the web management console, the command line interface, SDKs, and APIs. 

In short, CloudTrain provides a comprehensive overview of activity on your account, helping you to identify and respond to malicious activity quickly and effectively. 

Identify AWS Security Issues with KirkpatrickPrice

AWS cloud security tools help you to be secure and compliant in the cloud, but they can’t verify compliance with regulations and standards such as PCI DSS, SOC 2, or ISO 27001. KirkpatrickPrice offers a range of cloud security services that help businesses to comply in the cloud, including:

Contact a cloud compliance expert to learn more or run a free cloud security scan of your AWS infrastructure.