All posts by Maddie Bacon

AWS Security Profiles: Jenny Brinkley, Director, AWS Security

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-jenny-brinkley-director-aws-security/

AWS Security Profiles: Jenny Brinkley, Director, AWS Security
In the week leading up to AWS re:Invent 2021, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS, and what do you do in your current role?

I’ve been at AWS for 5½ years. I get to focus on the future of security and compliance. It gives me a lot of space to experiment and try new things, which is how I like to operate.

How did you get started in AWS Security?

I joined AWS through a startup acquisition, and I actually didn’t think I was going to go with the acquisition. I thought AWS would be way too big and move way too slow. I love being in environments where I get to move fast and be entrepreneurial. I started on the product side. I was able to learn what it takes to build and ship products at the scale of AWS – which is on another level and mind-blowing.

Then, like others at AWS, I was able to reinvent myself, find different passions, and experiment with new things. One of those areas for me was compliance. I started to get perspective on how that space was being defined by regulatory activity for the cloud, and it started opening my mind in different ways.

I started thinking, how do you make compliance easier for customers? How do you work with regulated entities to understand how to audit, and to understand the function of how the cloud operates? From there, my career has been about changing how to think about product, about how to make security easier. Layering in this compliance aspect, too, means I get to play in all these different worlds, work with internal and external customers, and work to simplify security, while also understanding where and how compliance fits in, without slowing down innovation.

How do you explain your job to non-tech friends?

I explain my work as removing the fear around security. You go see images of people in hoodies, with darkened faces, and binary code running behind them, and my job is to break that perception and walk in the light – yes, that’s my nod to Olivia Pope in Scandal. I love the idea of that gladiator mentality. You’re going in and solving the big problems, but you’re also creating more visibility and transparency around how security operates. And you’re doing this without making anyone afraid that they’re being watched or monitored, and without holding back innovation. My job is to provide that transparency and clarity, and give people prescriptive guidance on how to operate securely on AWS.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

So much! That’s what I really love about my job – I get to play in a lot of spaces, and the context switching is something that really fuels me. One of the top projects I’m working on is something we just released in response to an ask from the White House, which I feel really privileged to work on. We released a new Cybersecurity Awareness training which is now available to everyone in the world. You can access this training right now, and you can share it with your grandparents or implement it in your corporation or small business. We were able to take a training product we built for all Amazon employees–and then externalize it. The size and the scope is something I’m really excited about. Making security easier for everybody is a big mission for us.

Another big area is up-skilling. You hear a lot about security jobs being the future, so we’re building everything from apprenticeships to new learning paths for anyone interested in security. We’re thinking about how we can build quick learning modules for people to listen to on the go. That’s something I get really excited about in this job – creating opportunities for people to understand that security jobs and opportunities are vast. If you’re curious and want to learn new things, AWS is endless.

You’re presenting at re:Invent this year – can you give readers a sneak peek at what you’re covering?

I am partnering with Eric Brandwine, AWS VP/Distinguished Engineer for a session called Introverts and extroverts collide: Build an inclusive workforce (SEC204). Eric and I are night and day in terms of how we work. In our talk we’ll touch on some of the challenges we had when we first started working together, but how we found value in our different approaches.

We’ll be discussing how he solves problems with technology and how I solve problems regarding people, and thinking about how that empathetic layer resonates between the two perspectives. Not every problem needs technology, and not every problem needs a people-focused solution. But, humans are behind any of those aspects of impact.

We’ll give prescriptive guidance to customers on how they should think about their security culture as it relates to people and as it relates to technology. We’ll talk about how those two worlds can blend together in a way that empowers an entire organization to prioritize security, and that they shouldn’t be afraid of it. We want to help bridge the gaps between the technologists and the empathetic individuals who think about how the technology lands in use cases across a business.

From your perspective, what’s the most important thing leaders can do to create an inclusive work environment?

Listening. Sitting back, getting the feedback, being vulnerable, asking the questions. So much of what we need to do now is practice that listening skill, really understand the motivations of our teams, and then try to create these safe working environments where people feel comfortable sharing their perspectives. It’s not that you’re going to act on everything everyone’s talking about, but at least you get diverse perspectives and points of view to help create an inclusive work environment that makes everyone want to show up, support each other, and do the best work possible.

What’s your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

I have two. One is Learn and Be Curious because that is how I like to operate. I think, “what if…” or “why can’t we…”. Then Think Big pairs with “why can’t we…” The culture within AWS really supports that. On a daily basis, we can flip the script on how we think about our jobs and how we position the business.

If you’re entrepreneurial and like to create, this place is like a magic playground. Some people look at my job and they’re so confused with all the different things I get to do – but it goes back to that context switching. I believe that Learn and Be Curious and Think Big fit in that realm for me–I feel like I can be anything, I can do anything. I also had parents who told me as a kid that I could do anything and be anything, so I think that’s just who I am. Those two leadership principles help me to produce and do my best work.

What’s the thing you’re most proud of in your career?

That’s hard. It’s a couple of things. I’ve had a lot of incredible opportunities. One of which was being involved in a startup. We raised the money quickly, we worked with incredible customers, we solved really challenging business issues. The fact that I was able to bring that here to AWS, in a way that now hundreds of thousands of people get to see the kind of work we’re able to produce, is pretty cool.

But honestly, working with some of our new hires who are just getting into the workforce–especially with our diverse candidates–I’m at a place in my career where I want to create opportunities for others. I’m working to create safe spaces for people to operate and do their best work and really break down barriers for people who might not otherwise get those opportunities. That’s what I’m most excited about for the future, and also the most proud about–giving people opportunities to work in careers they never thought were available to them. I love that, and I get to do it daily.

If you had to pick any other job, what would you want to do?

Sports agent. I think I’d be so good at it. I would love to go work with young athletes, especially with the new NCAA ruling that college athletes can get paid for the use of their likeness. I would love to help them develop really interesting business plans.

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Jenny Brinkley, Director, AWS Security

Jenny Brinkley

Jenny leads efforts for AWS Security to understand where compliance and security is headed. In her role as a Director, she helps teams understand how to consider security when building their services and deliverables. Prior to joining AWS, Jenny co-founded a security start-up, harvest.ai, that was acquired by AWS in April 2016.

Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

AWS Security Profiles: Megan O’Neil, Sr. Security Solutions Architect

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-megan-oneil-sr-security-solutions-architect/

AWS Security Profiles: Megan O’Neil, Sr. Security Solutions Architect
In the week leading up to AWS re:Invent 2021, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and what do you do in your current role?

I’ve been at AWS nearly 4 years, and in IT security over 15 years. I’m a solutions architect with a specialty in security. I work with commercial customers in North America, helping them solve security problems and build out secure foundations for their AWS workloads.

How did you get started in security?

I took part in a Boeing internship for three summers starting my junior year of high school. This internship gave me the opportunity to work with mechanical engineers at Boeing. The specific team I worked with were engineers responsible for building digital tools and robots for the 767-400 line at the Everett plant in Washington state. The purpose of these custom tools and robots was to help build the planes more efficiently and accurately. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot from my time working with them. I asked the group for career advice during lunch one day, and they all pointed me towards computer science (CS) instead of mechanical engineering. Because of their strong support for CS, I took the first course, Intro to Computer Science, and was excited that something that I previously thought was intimidating was actually approachable and a subject I really enjoyed.

During my sophomore year there was a new elective class offered called Digital Security, which piqued my interest and influenced my senior project. I built (coded) an intrusion detection program that identified nefarious network traffic. I also worked on campus during college in the sound services department and participated in the Dance Ensemble Program, where I met the IT manager for a local hospital in Washington state, Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. He was helping mix music at the studio I worked in. After showing him my senior project, he told me about a job opening for a network security specialist at the hospital. No one else had applied for the role. I then interviewed with the team, which was made up of only three engineers including the manager. They were responsible for the all-backend systems including the hospital information system, patient telemetry and clinic systems, the hospital network, etc. The group of people I worked with at the hospital is still very special to me, we are all still friends.

How do you explain your job to non-tech friends?

I’m in tech, and I help companies protect their websites and their customers’ data.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’m very excited about re:Invent. It’s the 10th anniversary, we’re back in person, and I’ve got quite a few sessions I’m delivering.

Speaking of AWS re:Invent 2021 – can you give readers a sneak peek at what you’re covering?

The first is a session I’m delivering is called Use AWS to improve your security posture against ransomware (SEC308) with Merritt Baer, Principal in the Office of the CISO. We’re discussing what AWS services and features you can use to help you protect your systems from ransomware.

The second is a chalk talk, Automating and evidencing key compliance security controls (STP211-R1 and STP211-R2), I’m delivering with Kristin Haught, Principal Security TPM, and we’re discussing strategies for automating, monitoring, and evidencing common controls required for multiple compliance standards.

The third session is a builder session called Grant least privilege temporary access securely at scale (WPS304). We’ll use AWS Secrets Manager, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and the isolated compute functionality provided by AWS Nitro Enclaves to allow system administrators to request and retrieve narrowly scoped and limited-time access.

The fourth session is another builder session called Detecting security threats with Amazon GuardDuty (SEC213-R1 and SEC213-R2). It includes several simulated scenarios, representing just a small sample of the threats that GuardDuty can detect. We will review how to view and analyze GuardDuty findings, how to send alerts based on the findings, and, finally, how to remediate findings.

From your perspective, what’s the most important thing to know about ransomware?

Whenever we see a security event continue to make news, it’s a call to action and an opportunity for customers to analyze their security programs including operations and controls. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to protection from ransomware, but it’s time to level up your security operations and controls. This means minimize human access, translate security policies into code, build mechanism and measure them, streamline the use of environment and infrastructure, and use advanced data/database service features.

For example, we still see customers with large amounts of long-lived credentials; it’s time to take inventory and minimize or eliminate them. While there is a small subset of use cases where they may be required, such as on-premises to AWS access, I recommend the following:

  1. Inventory your long-lived credentials.
  2. Ensure the access is least privilege, absolutely no wildcard actions and/or resources.
  3. If the access is interactive, apply multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  4. Ask if you can architect a better option that doesn’t rely on static access keys.
  5. Rotate access keys on a regular, frequent basis.
  6. Enable alerts on login events.

For more information, check out Ransomware mitigation: Top 5 protections and recovery preparation actions and Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Using the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF).

What’s your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

Learn and Be Curious! I am the most happy in my job and personal life when I’m learning new things. I also believe that this principle is a way of life for us technology folks. Learning new technology and finding better ways of implementing technology is our job. My favorite quote/laptop sticker is:

“I hate programming”

“I hate programming”

“I hate programming”

“IT WORKS! ”

“I love programming.”

It just makes me laugh because it’s so true. Of course we are only that frustrated when something is very new. It’s like solving a puzzle. When a project comes together, it’s absolutely worth it – the puzzle pieces now fit.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Work with a mentor. This can be casual by finding projects where you can collaborate with folks who have more experience than you. Or it can be more formal by asking someone to be your mentor and setting up a regular cadence of meetings with them. I’ve done both, a simple example is by collaborating with Merritt and Kristen on upcoming re:Invent presentations, I’ve already learned a lot from both of them just through the preparation process and developing the content. Having a mentor by your side can be especially helpful when setting new goals. Sometimes we need someone to push us out of our comfort zone and believe that we can achieve bigger things than we would have thought and then can help devise a plan to help you achieve those goals. All it takes is someone else believing in us.

If you had to pick any other job, what would you want to do?

I’ve always been interested in naturopathic medicine and getting to the root cause of an issue. It’s somewhat similar to my job in that I’m solving puzzles and complex problems, but in technology, instead of the body.
 

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Author

Megan O’Neil

Megan is a Senior Specialist Solutions Architect focused on threat detection and incident response. Megan and her team enable AWS customers to implement sophisticated, scalable, and secure solutions that solve their business challenges.

Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

AWS Security Profiles: Merritt Baer, Principal in OCISO

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-merritt-baer-principal-in-ociso/

AWS Security Profiles: Merritt Baer, Principal in OCISO
In the week leading up AWS re:Invent 2021, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and what do you do in your current role?

I’m a Principal in the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO), and I’ve been at AWS about four years. In the past, I’ve worked in all three branches of the U.S. Government, doing security on behalf of the American people.

My current role involves both internal- and external- facing security.

I love having C-level conversations around hard but simple questions about how to prioritize the team’s resources and attention. A lot of my conversations revolve around organizational change, and how to motivate the move to the cloud from a security perspective. Within that, there’s a technical “how”—we might talk about the move to an intelligent multi-account governance structure using AWS Organizations, or the use of appropriate security controls, including remediations like AWS Config Rules and Amazon EventBridge. We might also talk about the ability to do forensics, which in the cloud looks like logging and monitoring with AWS CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon GuardDuty, and others aggregated in AWS Security Hub.

I also handle strategic initiatives for our security shop, from operational considerations like how we share threat intelligence internally, to the ways we can better streamline our policy and contract vehicles, to the ways that we can incorporate customer feedback into our products and services. The work I do for AWS’ security gives me the empathy and credibility to talk with our customers—after all, we’re a security organization, running on AWS.

What drew you to security?

(Sidebar: it’s a little bit of who I am— I mean, doesn’t everyone rely on polaroid photos? just kidding— kind of :))
 
Merritt Baer polaroid photo

I always wanted to matter.

I was in school post-9/11, and security was an imperative. Meanwhile, I was in Mark Zuckerberg’s undergrad class at Harvard. A lot of the technologies that feel so intimate and foundational—cloud, AI/ML, IoT, and the use of mobile apps, for example—were just gaining traction back then. I loved both emerging tech and security, and I was convinced that they needed to speak to and with one another. I wanted our approach to include considerations around how our systems impact vulnerable people and communities. I became an expert in child pornography law, which continues to be an important area of security definition.

I am someone who wonders what we’re all doing here, and I got into security because I wanted to help change the world. In the words of Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, “There is no world like the one surfacing.”

How do you explain your job to non-tech friends?

I often frame my work relative to what they do, or where we are when we’re chatting. Today, nearly everyone interacts with cloud infrastructure in our everyday lives. If I’m talking to a person who works in finance, I might point to AWS’ role providing IT infrastructure to the global financial system; if we’re walking through a pharmacy I might describe how research and development cycles have accelerated because of high-performance computing (HPC) on AWS.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

Right now, I’m helping customer executives who’ve had a tumultuous (different, not necessarily all bad) couple of years. I help them adjust to a new reality in their employee behavior and access needs, like the move to fully remote work. I listen to their challenges in the ability to democratize security knowledge through their organizations, including embedding security in dev teams. And I help them restructure their consumption of AWS, which has been changing in light of the events of the last two years.

On a strategic level, I have a lot going on … here’s a good sampling: I’ve been championing new work based on customers asking our experts to be more proactive by “snapshotting” metadata about their resources and evaluating that metadata against our well-architected security framework. I work closely with our Trust and Safety team on new projects that both increase automation for high volume issues but also provide more “high touch” and prioritized responses to trusted reporters. I’m also building the business case for security service teams to make their capabilities even more broadly available by extended free tiers and timelines. I’m providing expertise to our private equity folks on a framework for evaluating the maturity of security capabilities of target acquisitions. Finally, I’ve helped lead our efforts to add tighter security controls when AWS teams provide prototyping and co-development work. I live in Miami, Florida, USA, and I also work on building out the local tech ecosystem here!

I’m also working on some of the ways we can address ransomware. During our interview process, Amazon requests that folks do an hour-long presentation on a topic of your choice. I did mine on ransomware in the cloud, and when I came on board I pointed to that area of need for security solutions. Now we have a ransomware working group I help lead, with efforts underway to help out customers doing both education and architectural guidance, as well as curated solutions with industries and partners, including healthcare.

You’re presenting at AWS re:Invent this year—can you give readers a sneak peek at what you’re covering?

One talk is on cloud-native approaches to ransomware defense, encouraging folks to think innovatively as they mature their IT infrastructure. And a second talk highlights partner solutions that can help meet customers where they are, and improve their anti-ransomware posture using vendors—from MSSPs and systems integrators, to endpoint security, DNS filtering, and custom backup solutions.

What are you hoping the audience will take away from the sessions?

These days, security doesn’t just take the form of security services (like GuardDuty and AWS WAF), but will also manifest in the ways you design a cloud-aware architecture. For example, our managed database service Aurora can be cloned; that clone might act as a canary when you see data drift (a canary is security concept for testing your expectations). You can use this to get back to a known good state.

Security is a bottom line proposition. What I mean by that is:

  1. It’s a business criticality to avoid a bad day
  2. Embracing mature security will enable your entity’s development innovation
  3. The security of your products is a meaningful part of what you deliver on to your customers.

From your perspective, what’s the most important thing to know about ransomware?

Ransomware is a big headline-maker right now, but it’s not new. Most ransomware attacks are not based on zero days; they’re knowable but opportunistic. So, without victim-blaming, I mean to equip us with the confidence to confront the security issue. There’s no need to be ransomed.

I try not to get wrapped around particular issues, and instead emphasize building the foundation right. So sure, we can call it ransomware defense, but we can also point to these security maturity measures as best practices in general.

I think it’s fair to say that you’re passionate about women in tech and in security specifically. You recently presented at the Day of Shecurity conference and the Women in Business Summit, and did an Instagram takeover for Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS). Why do you feel passionately about this?

I see security as an inherently creative field. As security professionals, we’re capable of freeing the business to get stuff done, and to get it done securely. That sounds simple, and it’s hard!

Any time you’re working in a creative field, you rely on human ingenuity and pragmatism to ensure you’re doing it imaginatively instead of simply accepting old realities. When we want to be creative, we need more of the stuff life is made of: human experience. We know that people who move through the world with different identities and experiences think differently. They approach problems differently. They code differently.

So, I think having women in security is important, both for the women who choose to work in security, and for the security field as a whole.

What advice would you give a woman just starting out in the security industry?

No one is born with a brain full of security knowledge. Technology is human-made and imperfect, and we all had to learn it at some point. Start somewhere. No one is going to tap you on the shoulder and invite you to your life 🙂

Operationally, I recommend:

  • Curate your “elevator pitch” about who you are and what you’re looking for, and be explicit when asking for folks for a career conversation or a referral (you can find me on Twitter @MerrittBaer, feel free to send a note).
  • Don’t accept a first job offer—ask for more.
  • Beware of false choices. For example, sometimes there’s a job that’s not in the description—consider writing your own value proposition and pitching it to the organization. This is a field that’s developing all the time, and you may be seeing a need they hadn’t yet solidified.

What’s your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

I think Bias for Action takes precedence for me— there’s a business decision here to move fast. We know that comes with some costs and risks, but we’ve made that calculated decision to pursue high velocity.

I have a law degree, and I see the Leadership Principles sort of like the Bill of Rights: they are frequently in tension and sometimes even at odds with one another (for example, Bias for Action and Are Right, A Lot might demand different modes). That is what makes them timeless—yet even more contingent on our interpretation—as we derive value from them. As a security person, I want us to pursue the good, and also to transcend the particular fears of the day.

If you had to pick any other industry, what would you want to do?

Probably public health. I think if I wasn’t doing security, I would want to do something else landscape-level.

Even before I had a daughter, but certainly now that I have a one-year-old, I would calculate the ROI of my life’s existence and my investment in my working life.

That being said, there are days I just need to come home to some unconditional love from my rescue pug, Peanut Butter.
 
Peanut Butter the dog

 

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 Merritt Baer

Merritt Baer

Merritt is a Principal in the Office of the CISO. She can be found on Twitter at @merrittbaer and looks forward to meeting you at re:Invent, or in your next executive conversation.

Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

AWS Security Profiles: J.D. Bean, Sr. Security Solutions Architect

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-j-d-bean-sr-security-solutions-architect/

JD Bean AWS Security Profile
In the week leading up to AWS re:Invent 2021, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS, and what do you do in your current role?

I’m coming up on my three-year anniversary at AWS. Which, as I say it out loud, is hard to believe. It feels as if the time has passed in the blink of an eye. I’m a Solutions Architect with a specialty in security. I work primarily with AWS Strategic Accounts, a set of companies at the forefront of innovation. I partner with my customers to help them design, build, and deploy secure and compliant cloud workloads.

How did you get started in security?

Security began as a hobby for me, and I found it came quite naturally. Perhaps it’s just the way my brain is wired, but I often found security was a topic that consistently drew me in. I leaned into security professionally, and I really enjoy it. AWS makes security its top priority, which is really exciting as a security professional. I’m the kind of person who loves to understand how all the pieces of a system fit together, and AWS Security has been an incredible opportunity, letting me carry my depth of expertise to all sorts of interesting new technical areas such as IoT, HPC, and AI/ML.

How do you explain your job to non-tech friends?

I often say that I work as an AWS Solutions Architect, which means I work with AWS customers to help design their cloud environments and projects, and that I specifically focus on security. If they’re interested in hearing more, I tell them AWS offers a wide array of services customers can configure and combine in all sorts of different ways to fit their needs. If they’re anything like me, I use the analogy of my own experience at hardware stores. In a way, part of what I do is to act like that helpful person at the hardware store who understands what all the tools and equipment do, how to use them correctly, and how they interact with one another. I partner with AWS customers to learn about their project requirements and help them work backwards from those requirements to determine the best approach for achieving their goals.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’m working with my customers on a bunch of exciting projects for establishing security, governance, and compliance at scale. I’ve also been returning to my roots and spending more time focusing on open-source software, which is a big passion area for me both personally and professionally.

You’re presenting at AWS re:Invent this year—can you give readers a sneak peek at what you’re covering?

I’m presenting two sessions this year. The first session is a builder session called Grant least privilege temporary access securely at scale (WPS304). We’ll use AWS Secrets Manager, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and the isolated compute functionality provided by AWS Nitro Enclaves to allow system administrators to request and retrieve narrowly scoped and limited-time access.

My second session is the Using AWS Nitro Enclaves to process highly sensitive data workshop (SEC304). AWS Nitro Enclaves allow customers to create an isolated, hardened, and highly constrained environment to host security-critical applications. A lot of work has gone in to building this workshop over the past few months, and I’m excited to share it at re:Invent.

The workshop gives attendees an opportunity to get hands-on, practical experience with AWS Nitro Enclaves. Attendees will get experience launching enclave applications, using the Nitro Enclaves secure local channel for communication. Attendees will also work with Nitro Enclaves’ included cryptographic attestation features and integration with AWS Key Management Services. After putting all these elements together, attendees will be able to see how you can be sure that only your authorized code in your Nitro Enclave is able to access sensitive material.

For those who won’t be able to join the re:Invent workshop session in person, the AWS Nitro Enclaves Workshop is available online and can be completed in your own account at any time.

What are you hoping the audience will take away from the session(s)?

I hope attendees will come away from the session with a sense of how approachable and flexible AWS Nitro Enclaves are, and start to formulate ideas for how they can use Nitro Enclaves in their own workloads.

From your perspective, what’s the biggest thing happening in confidential computing right now?

Over the last year I’ve seen a big increase in interest from customers around confidential computing. This is how we’ve been approaching the design of the AWS Nitro System for many years now. The Nitro System, the underlying platform for all modern Amazon EC2 instances, already provides confidential computing protections by default.

More recently, AWS Nitro Enclaves has offered a new capability for customers to divide their own workloads into more-trusted and less-trusted components. The isolation of workload components in AWS Nitro Enclaves is powered by the specialized hardware and associated firmware of the Nitro System.

What’s your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

My favorite Amazon Leadership principle is Learn and Be Curious. I think I’m at my best when I’m learning, growing, and pushing outward at the edges. AWS is such an incredible place to work for people who love to learn. AWS is constantly innovating and inventing for our customers, and learning is central to the culture here.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

One piece of advice I’ve held close from an early age is just how important it is to be comfortable saying “I don’t know”—ideally followed by “but I’d like to find out.” This has served me well in life, both professionally and personally.

Another is “lead with trust.” Being willing to be vulnerable and assume the best of others goes a long way. At Amazon, one of our leadership principles is Earn Trust. I’ve found how important it is to set an example of offering trust to others. Most people tend to rise to a challenge. If you enter new interactions with a default expectation of trusting others, more often than not, your trust ends up being well-placed.

If you had to pick any other job, what would you want to do?

It’s funny you ask that. I still think of my current role as the “other job” I daydream about. I began my professional life in the legal field. Admittedly, my work was primarily focused around open-source software, so it wasn’t entirely unrelated to what I do now, but I really do feel like being a Solutions Architect is a second phase in my career. I’m enjoying this new chapter too much to give doing anything else much thought.

If you were to really press me, I’d say that my wife, who’s a psychologist, tells me I missed my calling as a therapist. I take that as a real compliment.

Author

J. D. Bean

J.D. is a senior security specialist Solutions Architect for AWS Strategic Accounts based out of New York City. His interests include security, privacy, and compliance. He is passionate about his work enabling AWS customers’ successful cloud journeys. J.D. holds a Bachelor of Arts from The George Washington University and a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law.

Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

Introducing the Security at the Edge: Core Principles whitepaper

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/introducing-the-security-at-the-edge-core-principles-whitepaper/

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently released the Security at the Edge: Core Principles whitepaper. Today’s business leaders know that it’s critical to ensure that both the security of their environments and the security present in traditional cloud networks are extended to workloads at the edge. The whitepaper provides security executives the foundations for implementing a defense in depth strategy for security at the edge by addressing three areas of edge security:

  • AWS services at AWS edge locations
  • How those services and others can be used to implement the best practices outlined in the design principles of the AWS Well-Architected Framework Security Pillar
  • Additional AWS edge services, which customers can use to help secure their edge environments or expand operations into new, previously unsupported environments

Together, these elements offer core principles for designing a security strategy at the edge, and demonstrate how AWS services can provide a secure environment extending from the core cloud to the edge of the AWS network and out to customer edge devices and endpoints. You can find more information in the Security at the Edge: Core Principles whitepaper.

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Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

Author

Jana Kay

Since 2018, Jana has been a cloud security strategist with the AWS Security Growth Strategies team. She develops innovative ways to help AWS customers achieve their objectives, such as security table top exercises and other strategic initiatives. Previously, she was a cyber, counter-terrorism, and Middle East expert for 16 years in the Pentagon’s Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Security is the top priority for Amazon S3

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/security-is-the-top-priority-for-amazon-s3/

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) launched 15 years ago in March 2006, and became the first generally available service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS marked the fifteenth anniversary with AWS Pi Week—a week of in-depth streams and live events. During AWS Pi Week, AWS leaders and experts reviewed the history of AWS and Amazon S3, and some of the key decisions involved in building and evolving S3.

As part of this celebration, Werner Vogels, VP and CTO for Amazon.com, and Eric Brandwine, VP and Distinguished Engineer with AWS Security, had a conversation about the role of security in Amazon S3 and all AWS services. They touched on why customers come to AWS, and how AWS services grow with customers by providing built-in security that can progress to protections that are more complex, based on each customer’s specific needs. They also touched on how, starting with Amazon S3 over 15 years ago and continuing to this day, security is the top priority at AWS, and how nothing can proceed at AWS without security that customers can rely on.

“In security, there are constantly challenging tradeoffs,” Eric says. “The path that we’ve taken at AWS is that our services are usable, but secure by default.”

To learn more about how AWS helps secure its customers’ systems and information through a culture of security first, watch the video, and be sure to check out AWS Pi Week 2021: The Birth of the AWS Cloud.

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Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful, inclusive content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

Top 10 blog posts of 2020

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/top-10-posts-of-2020/

The AWS Security Blog endeavors to provide our readers with a reliable place to find the most up-to-date information on using AWS services to secure systems and tools, as well as thought leadership, and effective ways to solve security issues. In turn, our readers have shown us what’s most important for securing their businesses. To that end, we’re happy to showcase the top 10 most popular posts of 2020:

The top 10 posts of 2020

  1. Use AWS Lambda authorizers with a third-party identity provider to secure Amazon API Gateway REST APIs
  2. How to use trust policies with IAM roles
  3. How to use G Suite as external identity provider AWS SSO
  4. Top 10 security items to improve in your AWS account
  5. Automated response and remediation with AWS Security Hub
  6. How to add authentication single page web application with Amazon Cognito OAuth2 implementation
  7. Get ready for upcoming changes in the AWS Single Sign-On user sign-in process
  8. TLS 1.2 to become the minimum for all AWS FIPS endpoints
  9. How to use KMS and IAM to enable independent security controls for encrypted data in S3
  10. Use AWS Firewall Manager VPC security groups to protect your applications hosted on EC2 instances

If you’re new to AWS, or just discovering the Security Blog, we’ve also compiled a list of older posts that customers continue to find useful:

The top five posts of all time

  1. Where’s My Secret Access Key?
  2. Writing IAM Policies: How to Grant Access to an Amazon S3 Bucket
  3. How to Restrict Amazon S3 Bucket Access to a Specific IAM Role
  4. IAM Policies and Bucket Policies and ACLs! Oh, My! (Controlling Access to S3 Resources)
  5. Securely Connect to Linux Instances Running in a Private Amazon VPC

Though these posts were well received, we’re always looking to improve. Let us know what you’d like to read about in the Comments section below.

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Author

Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

Author

Anna Brinkmann

Anna manages the Security Blog and enjoys poking her nose into all the details involved in the blog. If you have feedback about the blog, she’s always available on Slack to hear about it. Anna spends her days drinking lots of black tea, cutting extraneous words, and working to streamline processes.

AWS Security Profiles: Ram Ramani, Senior Security Solutions Architect

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-ram-ramani-senior-security-solutions-architect/

AWS Security Profile: Ram Ramani
In the weeks leading up to re:Invent, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS?

I’ve been at AWS for 4 years.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The ability to channel the technologist, sales person, developer, and creative marketer and fuse them all into one in my current role as a security solutions architect at AWS. It’s deeply satisfying to know that multiple AWS services put together can help solve a security problem for a customer.

How did you get started in Security?

I was a product manager in one of my previous jobs where I started working deeper with crypto algorithms used in the financial services industry. This led me to understand how, in certain industry verticals, security is a core part of product building and how important it was to infuse security features into the various functionalities that a product provides. Since then, I have pursued my interest further in this field.

How do you explain what you do to non-technical friends or family?

My 8-year-old daughter once asked me, “Why aren’t you delivering packages although you work for Amazon?” Since then, I always thought about how I would explain to her what I do and this is what I came up with: The Netflix shows that you watch, they are streamed from computers that are hosted on Amazon Web Services. My job is to provide advice to customers, such as Netflix and others, on how they can continuously innovate and enrich their end customers’ experience, while making sure that it’s done in a secure manner.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

Customers are trying to use AWS security services at scale to solve for security problems that span multiple regions and multiple AWS accounts. Currently, I am working on providing prescriptive guidance to customers on trade-offs that they need to think about while building and protecting their data on AWS across their multi-account and multi-region architectural deployments.

You’re presenting at re:Invent this year – can you give readers a sneak peek of what you’re covering?

Protecting data in transit is an important security control that AWS customers want to implement. In this talk, we are working with one of our customers, BlackSky, and talking about their initiative to achieve TLS Everywhere. We will cover architectural trade-offs, automation at scale, and architectural best practices while using AWS Certificate Manager (ACM).

What are you hoping your audience will do differently after your session?

After attending this session, customers will become more comfortable in knowing that AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) can help them achieve TLS Everywhere for the applications and architectures that they build on AWS.

From your perspective, what’s the biggest thing happening in security right now?

In my opinion, a lot of startups that build security products are now being born in the cloud, and, with AWS Marketplace, it’s very easy for customers to take advantage of these security services that these startups build and integrate it within their AWS accounts. This is big for the security startup ecosystem and can spur a lot of innovation in security.

What is your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

Think Big is one of the leadership principles I really like. The reason is that the ability to think big about any problem that one is trying to solve will allow you to look at the problem across multiple dimensions, and the end result can produce significant impact and a superior customer experience.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

One of my mentors told me to never give up if the first iteration of a product fails. I have seen that persisting through failures can lead to lot of learning about what customers actually want and, in the long term, helps build valuable customer experiences.

If you could go back, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career?

I would have told myself to seek out and work with teams with a growth mindset, along with a strong builder’s culture.

From what I understand, you enjoy table tennis in your free time, correct?

This is a sport I have played since high school and I got into it then. I like the competition and the pace of the game. The margin of error is very low in this game, and I love how the probability of winning changes every minute, making it super competitive and fun.

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Author photo: Ram Ramani

Ram Ramani

Ram is a security solutions architect at AWS focusing on data protection. He works with AWS customers on providing prescriptive architectural guidance on implementing effective security controls for protecting data at rest and in transit.

AWS Security Profiles: Colm MacCárthaigh, Senior Principal Engineer

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-colm-maccarthaigh-senior-principal-engineer/

AWS Security Profile: Colm MacCarthaigh
In the weeks leading up to re:Invent, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS and what do you do in your current role?

I joined in 2008 to help build Amazon CloudFront, our content delivery network. These days, I work on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and cryptography, focusing on products like AWS Nitro Enclaves and our network encryption.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Working with smart and awesome people who I get to learn a lot from.

How did you get started in Security?

Around 2000, I became a system administrator for a multiuser university shell service called RedBrick. RedBrick is an old-school Unix terminal service run by students, for students. Thousands of curious people had access to log in, which makes it a very interesting security challenge. We had to keep everything extremely up-to-date and deal with all sorts of nuisances and abuse. I learned how to find and report new kernel vulnerabilities, deal with denial-of-service attacks, and manage campaigns like getting everyone to move to the encrypted SSH protocol rather than Telnet (which was more common at the time). We tried educating users, but in the end I built a client with a one-click SSH to RedBrick button and that did the trick.

How do you explain what you do to non-technical friends or family?

“I work on the internet” is probably the most common, or these days I can say, “I work on the cloud.” Most of my friends and family are non-technical; we hang out and play music, and catch up and socialize. I try to avoid talking about work.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

Nitro Enclaves is going to make it cheaper and easier for customers to isolate sensitive data. That’s a big deal. Anything we can do that is going to improve the security of people’s data is a big deal. We’re all tired and weary of hearing about “yet another data breach.” Not everyone has the depth of expertise and experience that Amazon has. When we can take the lessons we’ve learned, and the techniques we’ve applied, for securing businesses like Amazon.com and then give those lessons and techniques to customers in an easy to consume form—that excites me.

You’re presenting at re:Invent this year—can you give readers a sneak peek of what you’re covering?

I’ll be talking about Nitro Enclaves, but also presenting some more insights into how we build at AWS. We recently launched the Amazon Builders’ Library, which is an ongoing series of articles and deep dives into lessons we’ve learned from building Amazon.com, Alexa, AWS, and other large services. I’m going to cover what simplicity means for us, and also talk about things we do that most customers would never need to do themselves, so that should be fun.

What are you hoping that your audience will do differently after your session?

I’ll be happy if people pick up a few tips and tricks and get a sense of how we break down problems in a customer-obsessed way.

What is your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

My favorite leadership principle is Ownership. I love that we’re empowered (and expected) to be owners at Amazon. Part of that is not having to seek a lot of permission, which helps with moving quickly, and part of that is a feeling of team pride that comes from a job well done.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Be fully committed or get out of the way, but don’t do anything in between.

If you could go back, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career?

I’ve caught enough lucky breaks that I feel like I’ve done really well in my career, definitely wildly beyond what I could have dreamed of when I was a teenager, so I wouldn’t want to change anything. Who knows how things would go then! If I could go back in time, I’d give some hints and help to amazingly talented people I know who got stung by bad luck.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Becoming a Project Management Committee (PMC) member for the Apache httpd webserver was a huge milestone for me. I got to contribute to and maintain Apache, and was trusted to be release manager. That was all volunteer work, but it started everything for me.

I hear you play Irish music. What instruments do you play?

Yes, I play and sing Irish traditional music. Mainly guitar, but also piano, Irish whistle, banjo, cittern, and bouzouki. Those last instruments are double-stringed and used mainly for accompaniment. I’ve played in stage shows, bands, and I get to record and tour often enough, when we’re not on lockdown. It is very hard to beat how fun it is to play music with other people, there’s something very special about it. Now that I live in the U.S., it also connects me to Ireland, where I grew up, and it gives me an opportunity to sing in Irish, the language I spoke at home and at school growing up.

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Author

Colm MacCárthaigh

Colm joined AWS in 2008 to work on high-scale systems and security. Today, he works on AWS IAM and network cryptography. Colm is also an active open source and open standards contributor. He’s a long-time author and project maintainer for the Apache httpd webserver, and a contributor to the Linux kernel and IETF standards. Colm grew up in Ireland, and still plays and sings Irish music.

AWS Security Profile: Phillip Miller, Principal Security Advisor

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profile-phillip-miller-principal-security-advisor/

AWS Security Profile: Phillip Miller
In the weeks leading up to re:Invent, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS and what do you do in your current role?

I’ve been at AWS since September 2019. I help executives and leaders of builder teams find ways to answer key questions, such as “Is my organization well-protected in the cloud?” and “Are our security investments the best ones to enable scale and optimize outcomes?” Through one-on-one discussions, facilitating workshops, and building automation into compliance programs, I help people envision a secure future that doesn’t limit the outcomes for the business.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Teaching. Advising includes sharing knowledge and best practices, and finding solutions to customer problems—but I have not performed my role adequately if they have not had an opportunity to learn. It is a tremendous privilege to have leaders invite me to participate in their cloud security journey, and I’m grateful that I am able to help them accomplish key business objectives.

How did you get started in Security?

I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t working in security, but back in the early 1990s, security was not a distinct function. Through the early 2000s, roles I had in various companies placed different emphasis on infrastructure, or solution delivery, but security always seemed to be “my thing” to emphasize, often because of my legal background. Now, it seems it has come full-circle; everyone recognizes security as “job zero,” and the companies that get this and fully integrate security into all roles are best placed to manage their risk.

How do you explain what you do to non-technical friends or family?

My wife gets the credit for this: “He does difficult things with complex computer systems for large companies that somehow helps them reduce the chance of a data breach.”

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’ve been helping several companies to create “security frameworks” that can be used to help meet multiple compliance requirements, but also ensure they are satisfying the promise to their customers around privacy and cybersecurity. These frameworks lean in to the benefits of cloud computing, and start with building alignment between CISO, CIO, and CTO so that the business objectives and the security needs do not find themselves in conflict.

You’re presenting at re:Invent this year—can you give readers a sneak peek of what you’re covering?

Compliance is frustrating for many builders; it can be seen as confusing and full of requirements that don’t make sense for modern applications. Executives are increasingly seeking validation that the cloud is reducing cybersecurity risk. My presentation shares six mechanisms for builder teams to use their skills to create gap-closing solutions.

What are you hoping that your audience will do differently after your session?

Take at least one of the six mechanisms that can be used to enhance the relationship between builder teams and compliance groups and try it out.

From your perspective, what’s the biggest thing happening in security right now?

Awareness from a consumer perspective around how companies use data, and the importance for companies to find ways to responsibly use and secure that information.

What is your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

Frugality. I enjoy constraints, and how they help sharpen the mind and force us to critically think less about what we need today, but more about what the future will be. 2020 has brought this to the home for a lot of families, who are having to accomplish more with less, such as the home being an office for two people, a schoolhouse, and a gym. When we model frugality at work, it might just help us find ways to make society a better place, too.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Always share the bad news as quickly as possible, with clarity, data, and your plan of action. Ensure that the information is flowing properly to everyone with a legitimate need to know, even if it may be uncomfortable to share it.

If you could go back, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career?

Always trust your instincts. I began my career building software for microbiology and DNA fingerprinting, but then I selected to read jurisprudence and not pursue a degree relating to transputers and the space industry. I think my instincts were right, but who knows—the alternative reality would probably have been pretty amazing!

What are you most proud of in your career?

I have had so many opportunities to mentor people at all stages in their information security careers. Watching others develop their skills, and helping them unlock potential to reduce risks to their organizations makes my day.

I hear you have an organic farm that you work on in your spare time. How did you get into farming?

Yes, we began farming commercially about a decade ago, mostly out of a desire to explore ways that organic meats could be raised ethically and without excessive markup. In 2021, we’ll be examining ways to turn our success into a teaching farm that also includes opportunities for people to explore woodlands, natural habitats, and cultivated land in one location. It is also a deliberately low-tech respite from the world of cybersecurity!

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Author

Phillip Miller

As a Principal Security Advisor in the Security Advisory and Assurance team, Phillip helps companies mature their approach to security and compliance in the cloud. With nearly three decades of experience across financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, Phillip understands the challenges builders face securing sensitive workloads. Phillip most recently served as the Chief Information Security Officer at Brooks Brothers.

AWS Security Profiles: Cassia Martin, Senior Security Solutions Architect

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-cassia-martin-senior-security-solutions-architect/

Cassia Martin AWS Security Profile
In the weeks leading up to re:Invent, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.


How long have you been at AWS and what do you do in your current role?

I’ve been at Amazon for nearly 4 years, and at AWS for 2 years. I’m a solutions architect with a specialty in security. I work primarily with financial services customers, helping them solve security problems and build out secure foundations for their AWS workloads.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Working in AWS feels like working in the future. My first job as a software engineer was fixing bugs in 20-year-old legacy C code and writing network support for SNMPv1. Now, I’m on the cutting edge of network design. When I work with my customers, I genuinely feel like I’m helping “Invent and Simplify” the future.

How did you get started in Security?

I’ve been interested in security since college. I took all the crypto and protocol courses in my computer science program from amazing professors like Radia Perlman and Michael Rabin. After college, I worked in software engineering. My real break into the security field came when I got to use my software engineering background to fix security vulnerabilities for Bank of America. After consulting across dozens of companies, I gained depth in application security, pen testing, code review, and architectural analysis. Over 10 years later, I’m using and extending those architectural analysis and AppSec skills to build and improve cloud architecture and design.

How do you explain what you do to non-technical friends or family?

“I work in computer security, helping your bank keep your online data safe and secure.” It’s true! If they are willing to hear more details, then I try to explain what the cloud is, and that you can design a network in good and bad ways to stop people from getting in.

One sad thing about not working for the Amazon.com side of the house is that I can no longer tell people that “I’m a security guard at a bookstore.” That also used to be true for me!

You’re presenting at re:Invent this year – can you give readers a sneak peek of what you’re covering?

Yes! I’ve put together a “Top 10” list to check the health of your AWS Identity foundation. I want every one of our customers to be thoughtful about how they authenticate their users and how they authorize access to their AWS resources. I’m going to talk about how to use account boundaries and AWS Organizations to build strong isolation controls, how to use roles and federation to secure login, and how to build and validate granular permissions that enable least privilege access across your network.

What are you hoping your audience will do differently after your session?

I’m giving you a list of what to do. I literally want you to take that list, one at a time, and ask yourself, “Am I doing this? If not, what would it take to do this?” I know that security can sometimes feel daunting, and in AWS, we all have access to dozens (or hundreds) of different tools you can use to build and layer your secure environment. So here is a short list to get started. I hope this will make it easier to build a strong foundation and use the tools that AWS is giving you.

From your perspective, what’s the biggest thing happening in Identity right now?

I am really excited about how tagging and Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) can help with scaling. At a base level, Identity and Permissions are really easy. You just say “Becky should have access to the Unicorn database,” and AWS gives you powerful tools for writing a rule like that with our IAM service. But once you have not just Becky, but also Syed and Sean—and then 300 more people, 200 databases, and 1,000 S3 buckets—the sheer number of rules you have to write and keep track of gets hard. And it gets even harder for someone else to come and look at your rules afterwards and figure out if you’re doing it right.

With ABAC, you can now write a rule that says any person from team “red” can access any database that is tagged with ”red.“ That takes potentially hundreds of rules and collapses it into one easy-to-understand statement.

What is your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

All the Amazon Leadership Principles highlight important facets of how to build successful organizations, but “Have Backbone: Disagree and Commit” is my favorite. It’s more than an LP; it’s a mechanism. It’s a way to build a system of people working toward a common goal, while still keeping our independent ideas and values. It gives us permission to disagree, while at the same time giving us a way out of stalemates and unfruitful perfectionism.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

My dad is a lifelong academic (who is secretly a little embarrassed that I never got a PhD). Growing up, I watched him in action: creating novel research, taking care of his grad students, and even running academic departments with all their bitter politics and conflicting goals.

Two things that he says about his highly successful career:

  1. The older I get and the more I learn, the less I am confident about anything.
  2. I have never accomplished anything by myself.

This perspective is antithetical, I think, to the standard American career ladder, and it’s been invaluable to me. In my career in tech, I’ve met a lot of brilliant people who know all the answers and tout all their personal accomplishments from any available rooftop. And that is absolutely one way to succeed. But I know intimately that there is another way that can also work, a way that is built on collaboration and scholarship, and constantly learning and questioning your knowledge.

If you could go back, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career?

I guess “don’t worry so much” is the least helpful advice ever… I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to hear it at 22! But here is something I would have understood:

Little Cassia, you’re going to succeed at many things and fail at some things. But no matter what, every single job you tackle is going to teach you something important. You’re going to learn technical skills that will be useful when you least expect them, and you’re also going to learn more about yourself—what you want to do, who you want to surround yourself with, and what you need to thrive. Just keep trying, and I promise life will only keep getting better!

What are you most proud of in your career?

The last time I went to the DEF CON Security Conference, I attended not one, not two, but THREE different talks delivered by former mentees of mine. Getting to help these extraordinary people get started in application security, and then getting to watch them become ever more talented and exceed everything I knew, and then to watch them shine on stage—it was a privilege, and made so much pain worthwhile. Hey, I may not know anything about NFC penetration testing, but Katherine sure does, and she’s teaching the whole damned world.

Among your many degrees from Harvard University, you also have a BA in Ancient Greek. Tell us about that. What started your interest in it?

My love for Ancient Greek and Latin was fostered by some really amazing high school teachers. I went to the kind of boarding school where professors took care of you like family, and the mysterious Dr. Reyes and the two sophisticated Professors Myers took extraordinary care of my fumbling teenage heart and my raging intellectual curiosity. I had a little bit of an advantage in that I had already learned Modern Greek in grade school, since my hometown had a thriving Hellenic community. I have since completely forgotten both, but as my dear professors had me recite: “the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions.”

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Author

Cassia Martin

Cassia is a Senior Security Solutions Architect based in New York City. She works with large financial institutions to solve security architecture problems and educates them on cloud tools and patterns.