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(SEC205) Learn How to Hackproof Your Cloud Using Native AWS Tools


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"The cloud requires us to rethink much of what we do to secure our applications. The idea of physical security morphs as infrastructure becomes virtualized by AWS APIs. In a new world of ephemeral, autoscaling infrastructure, you need to adapt your security architecture to meet both compliance and security threats. And AWS provides powerful tools that enable users to confidently overcome these challenges.

In this session, we will discuss leveraging native AWS tools as we cover topics including:

Minimizing attack vectors and surface area.
Conducting perimeter assessments of your virtual private clouds (VPCs).
Identifying internal vs. external threats.
Monitoring threats.
Reevaluating intrusion detection, activity monitoring, and vulnerability assessment in AWS.

Session sponsored by CloudCheckr."

Published in: Technology

(SEC205) Learn How to Hackproof Your Cloud Using Native AWS Tools

  1. 1. © 2015, Amazon Web Services, Inc. or its Affiliates. All rights reserved. Aaron C. Newman October 2015 SEC205 Learn How to Hackproof Your Cloud Using Native AWS Tools Founder, CloudCheckr
  2. 2. Agenda • Changing your perspective on security • AWS security controls • AWS threats • Security tools • Questions
  3. 3. Changing Your Perspective How do I secure my business applications in AWS? Moving to the cloud = • Rethinking your perimeter security Rethinking how you perform common security tasks: • Network-based IPS/IDS • Network scanning • Penetration tests • Vulnerability assessments
  4. 4. In the Data Center • Setting up perimeter security: • Setting up your infrastructure • Setting up access points to the Internet • Configuring firewall, IDS, IPS, etc., at the access points • Auditing your perimeter security: • Gather set of IP address blocks to poke at • Do a port scan (using tools such as Nmap) • Determine which ports are open on the target • Try various exploits on the open ports • Sniff lots of packets • Dig around to make sure no back doors into the network • Wireless access points, secondary T1 lines, DSL connections • VPN access from some other network
  5. 5. AWS: What’s Different? • Physical assets secured • AWS availability zone and region level • But we still need to guard the AWS API • AWS IAM access is your new physical security The idea of physical security morphs as infrastructure becomes virtualized by AWS APIs. In a new world of ephemeral, auto- scaling infrastructure, you need to adapt your security architecture to meet both compliance and security threats.
  6. 6. AWS Foundation Services Compute Storage Database Networking AWS Global Infrastructure Regions Availability Zones Edge Locations Network Security Inventory and Config Customer applications and content You get to define your controls IN the cloud AWS takes care of the security OF the cloud You AWS and You Share Responsibility for Security Data Security Access Control
  7. 7. Minimizing Attack Vectors • Principles don’t change • Reduce your surface area! • Defense-in-depth • Some attack vectors don’t change • Application level (user-privilege escalation, web app vulnerabilities, XSS) • Operating system vulnerabilities • Database vulnerabilities • Some attack vectors change • Homogeneous environment • Polymorphic targets/mapping • Reduced network sniffing
  8. 8. Perimeter Assessments in the Cloud • How do I assess the perimeter of my cloud? • Old world – Nmap, port scans, ping sweeps, etc. • Give me your network block • New world – Let me see your configuration • List of publicly accessible resources • Security groups (EC2-Classic, EC2-VPC, Amazon Redshift, Amazon RDS, etc.) • Routing tables, Network ACL • VPC, subnets • Amazon S3 buckets and permissions • IAM policies
  9. 9. Rules for Running Pen Tests on AWS • “…complete and submit the AWS Vulnerability/Penetration Testing Request Form to request authorization for penetration testing or scanning of your resources.” • Caveats At this time, our policy does not permit testing m1.small or t1.micro instance types. This is to prevent potential adverse performance impacts on the resources you may be sharing with other customers in a multi-tenant environment. • Demo • Need to know • IP addresses to be scanned (destination) • Instances IDs • Scanning IP addresses (source)
  10. 10. What Else Do We Need To Cover? • EC2 is not our only attack surface • AWS is a robust, complex platform with many moving parts • Over 40 different services • Many have unique access control systems • Some companies have 100s of AWS accounts • We need a complete inventory • All publicly accessible endpoints and resources Hackers find the single weak link
  11. 11. Amazon EC2-VPC • Default VPC is created in every region • VPCs are wide open by default • VPC is composed of: • Internet and VPN gateways • Connect to the rest of the world • 1+ subnets • Routing tables – How to move traffic around the VPC • Network ACLs – A firewall but stateless • Security groups – Host-based firewall stateful • Resources – EC2, RDS, Redshift, Amazon ElastiCache
  12. 12. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) • Up to 1,000 buckets in an account • Unlimited number of objects (billions is not uncommon) • Location • Within a region, across multiple Availability Zones, not housed in a VPC • Can’t sit between client and storage • Security • Access control through IAM policies, bucket policies, ACLs, and query string authentication • Server-side encryption, HTTPS support • Server-access logs (does not integrate with AWS CloudTrail) • Don’t grant FULL_CONTROL, WRITE_ACP, WRITE permissions to everyone EVER!!! • Inventory your sensitive data
  13. 13. Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) • Location • Within a VPC or not, multiple Availability Zones or not • Security options • DB security groups (if not in a VPC) or EC2-VPC security groups • Select a nondefault database port • Publicly accessible option • Not a good idea, but if you do this: • Make sure you use security groups to restrict source IP address • Make sure you have latest patches applied • Secure your database snapshots • Keys to the kingdom if someone can get a copy • Brute-force passwords, restore to their own account
  14. 14. Amazon Simple Queue S ervice (SQS) • Where does SQS live? • Within a region, not within a VPC • Uses a URL such as • Security based on policy documents: { "Version": "2008-10-17", "Id": "arn:aws:sqs:us-east-1:123456789012:MySQS/SQSDefaultPolicy", "Statement": [ { "Sid": "Sid1415217272568", "Effect": "Allow", "Principal": { "AWS": "*" }, "Action": [ "SQS:ReceiveMessage", "SQS:SendMessage" ], "Resource": "arn:aws:sqs:us-east-1:123456789012:MySQS" },
  15. 15. Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) • SNS does not live inside your VPC • Permissions based on topic policies:
  16. 16. Using AWS CloudTrail • An AWS service that records each time the AWS API is called • Currently supports most AWS services • • Conveniently most actions in AWS go through the API • Even actions in the AWS Management Console go through the API • CloudTrail writes files into an S3 bucket • Near real-time (every five minutes) • Files are in JSON format Get started at
  17. 17. Using Amazon VPC Flow Logs • An AWS service that records each time packets enter or leave a VPC • Security team comes to you and says: We need logs going to for IP address ranges - • Monitor for DENY connections Gives you both security group and NACL denies Announcement: whats-new/2015/06/aws-launches-amazon-vpc-flow-logs/
  18. 18. Internal vs. External Threats • Understanding who the threat is • Internal threats • Disgruntled or malicious DevOps • Such as Edward Snowden • External threats • Hacker groups, script kiddies • Such as Anonymous Each requires different controls and monitoring
  19. 19. Example: CodeSpaces • How not to end up like CodeSpaces • This is their website now: • CodeSpaces hacked • No disaster recovery • No “offsite” backups • “CodeSpaces: A Lesson In Cloud Backup” Source:
  20. 20. Tools for Securing AWS • Generic tools fall short • Purpose-built, not cloud-washed • Make sure tools don’t fall over in the cloud • Tools have to understand dynamic, ephemeral IPs • Need a deep understanding of AWS • What does this means • Context is important • Actionable intelligence
  21. 21. Questions? On: • AWS security • CloudCheckr
  22. 22. Remember to complete your evaluations!
  23. 23. Thank you! Sign up today for free evaluation at Aaron Newman is the founder of CloudCheckr ( Please contact me with additional questions at: