All posts by Maddie Bacon

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.