Tag Archives: Active Directory

Delivering Graphics Apps with Amazon AppStream 2.0

Post Syndicated from Deepak Suryanarayanan original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/delivering-graphics-apps-with-amazon-appstream-2-0/

Sahil Bahri, Sr. Product Manager, Amazon AppStream 2.0

Do you need to provide a workstation class experience for users who run graphics apps? With Amazon AppStream 2.0, you can stream graphics apps from AWS to a web browser running on any supported device. AppStream 2.0 offers a choice of GPU instance types. The range includes the newly launched Graphics Design instance, which allows you to offer a fast, fluid user experience at a fraction of the cost of using a graphics workstation, without upfront investments or long-term commitments.

In this post, I discuss the Graphics Design instance type in detail, and how you can use it to deliver a graphics application such as Siemens NX―a popular CAD/CAM application that we have been testing on AppStream 2.0 with engineers from Siemens PLM.

Graphics Instance Types on AppStream 2.0

First, a quick recap on the GPU instance types available with AppStream 2.0. In July, 2017, we launched graphics support for AppStream 2.0 with two new instance types that Jeff Barr discussed on the AWS Blog:

  • Graphics Desktop
  • Graphics Pro

Many customers in industries such as engineering, media, entertainment, and oil and gas are using these instances to deliver high-performance graphics applications to their users. These instance types are based on dedicated NVIDIA GPUs and can run the most demanding graphics applications, including those that rely on CUDA graphics API libraries.

Last week, we added a new lower-cost instance type: Graphics Design. This instance type is a great fit for engineers, 3D modelers, and designers who use graphics applications that rely on the hardware acceleration of DirectX, OpenGL, or OpenCL APIs, such as Siemens NX, Autodesk AutoCAD, or Adobe Photoshop. The Graphics Design instance is based on AMD’s FirePro S7150x2 Server GPUs and equipped with AMD Multiuser GPU technology. The instance type uses virtualized GPUs to achieve lower costs, and is available in four instance sizes to scale and match the requirements of your applications.

Instance vCPUs Instance RAM (GiB) GPU Memory (GiB)
stream.graphics-design.large 2 7.5 GiB 1
stream.graphics-design.xlarge 4 15.3 GiB 2
stream.graphics-design.2xlarge 8 30.5 GiB 4
stream.graphics-design.4xlarge 16 61 GiB 8

The following table compares all three graphics instance types on AppStream 2.0, along with example applications you could use with each.

  Graphics Design Graphics Desktop Graphics Pro
Number of instance sizes 4 1 3
GPU memory range
1–8 GiB 4 GiB 8–32 GiB
vCPU range 2–16 8 16–32
Memory range 7.5–61 GiB 15 GiB 122–488 GiB
Graphics libraries supported AMD FirePro S7150x2 NVIDIA GRID K520 NVIDIA Tesla M60
Price range (N. Virginia AWS Region) $0.25 – $2.00/hour $0.5/hour $2.05 – $8.20/hour
Example applications Adobe Premiere Pro, AutoDesk Revit, Siemens NX AVEVA E3D, SOLIDWORKS AutoDesk Maya, Landmark DecisionSpace, Schlumberger Petrel

Example graphics instance set up with Siemens NX

In the section, I walk through setting up Siemens NX with Graphics Design instances on AppStream 2.0. After set up is complete, users can able to access NX from within their browser and also access their design files from a file share. You can also use these steps to set up and test your own graphics applications on AppStream 2.0. Here’s the workflow:

  1. Create a file share to load and save design files.
  2. Create an AppStream 2.0 image with Siemens NX installed.
  3. Create an AppStream 2.0 fleet and stack.
  4. Invite users to access Siemens NX through a browser.
  5. Validate the setup.

To learn more about AppStream 2.0 concepts and set up, see the previous post Scaling Your Desktop Application Streams with Amazon AppStream 2.0. For a deeper review of all the setup and maintenance steps, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Developer Guide.

Step 1: Create a file share to load and save design files

To launch and configure the file server

  1. Open the EC2 console and choose Launch Instance.
  2. Scroll to the Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Base Image and choose Select.
  3. Choose an instance type and size for your file server (I chose the general purpose m4.large instance). Choose Next: Configure Instance Details.
  4. Select a VPC and subnet. You launch AppStream 2.0 resources in the same VPC. Choose Next: Add Storage.
  5. If necessary, adjust the size of your EBS volume. Choose Review and Launch, Launch.
  6. On the Instances page, give your file server a name, such as My File Server.
  7. Ensure that the security group associated with the file server instance allows for incoming traffic from the security group that you select for your AppStream 2.0 fleets or image builders. You can use the default security group and select the same group while creating the image builder and fleet in later steps.

Log in to the file server using a remote access client such as Microsoft Remote Desktop. For more information about connecting to an EC2 Windows instance, see Connect to Your Windows Instance.

To enable file sharing

  1. Create a new folder (such as C:\My Graphics Files) and upload the shared files to make available to your users.
  2. From the Windows control panel, enable network discovery.
  3. Choose Server Manager, File and Storage Services, Volumes.
  4. Scroll to Shares and choose Start the Add Roles and Features Wizard. Go through the wizard to install the File Server and Share role.
  5. From the left navigation menu, choose Shares.
  6. Choose Start the New Share Wizard to set up your folder as a file share.
  7. Open the context (right-click) menu on the share and choose Properties, Permissions, Customize Permissions.
  8. Choose Permissions, Add. Add Read and Execute permissions for everyone on the network.

Step 2:  Create an AppStream 2.0 image with Siemens NX installed

To connect to the image builder and install applications

  1. Open the AppStream 2.0 management console and choose Images, Image Builder, Launch Image Builder.
  2. Create a graphics design image builder in the same VPC as your file server.
  3. From the Image builder tab, select your image builder and choose Connect. This opens a new browser tab and display a desktop to log in to.
  4. Log in to your image builder as ImageBuilderAdmin.
  5. Launch the Image Assistant.
  6. Download and install Siemens NX and other applications on the image builder. I added Blender and Firefox, but you could replace these with your own applications.
  7. To verify the user experience, you can test the application performance on the instance.

Before you finish creating the image, you must mount the file share by enabling a few Microsoft Windows services.

To mount the file share

  1. Open services.msc and check the following services:
  • DNS Client
  • Function Discovery Resource Publication
  • SSDP Discovery
  • UPnP Device H
  1. If any of the preceding services have Startup Type set to Manual, open the context (right-click) menu on the service and choose Start. Otherwise, open the context (right-click) menu on the service and choose Properties. For Startup Type, choose Manual, Apply. To start the service, choose Start.
  2. From the Windows control panel, enable network discovery.
  3. Create a batch script that mounts a file share from the storage server set up earlier. The file share is mounted automatically when a user connects to the AppStream 2.0 environment.

Logon Script Location: C:\Users\Public\logon.bat

Script Contents:

:loop

net use H: \\path\to\network\share 

PING localhost -n 30 >NUL

IF NOT EXIST H:\ GOTO loop

  1. Open gpedit.msc and choose User Configuration, Windows Settings, Scripts. Set logon.bat as the user logon script.
  2. Next, create a batch script that makes the mounted drive visible to the user.

Logon Script Location: C:\Users\Public\startup.bat

Script Contents:
REG DELETE “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer” /v “NoDrives” /f

  1. Open Task Scheduler and choose Create Task.
  2. Choose General, provide a task name, and then choose Change User or Group.
  3. For Enter the object name to select, enter SYSTEM and choose Check Names, OK.
  4. Choose Triggers, New. For Begin the task, choose At startup. Under Advanced Settings, change Delay task for to 5 minutes. Choose OK.
  5. Choose Actions, New. Under Settings, for Program/script, enter C:\Users\Public\startup.bat. Choose OK.
  6. Choose Conditions. Under Power, clear the Start the task only if the computer is on AC power Choose OK.
  7. To view your scheduled task, choose Task Scheduler Library. Close Task Scheduler when you are done.

Step 3:  Create an AppStream 2.0 fleet and stack

To create a fleet and stack

  1. In the AppStream 2.0 management console, choose Fleets, Create Fleet.
  2. Give the fleet a name, such as Graphics-Demo-Fleet, that uses the newly created image and the same VPC as your file server.
  3. Choose Stacks, Create Stack. Give the stack a name, such as Graphics-Demo-Stack.
  4. After the stack is created, select it and choose Actions, Associate Fleet. Associate the stack with the fleet you created in step 1.

Step 4:  Invite users to access Siemens NX through a browser

To invite users

  1. Choose User Pools, Create User to create users.
  2. Enter a name and email address for each user.
  3. Select the users just created, and choose Actions, Assign Stack to provide access to the stack created in step 2. You can also provide access using SAML 2.0 and connect to your Active Directory if necessary. For more information, see the Enabling Identity Federation with AD FS 3.0 and Amazon AppStream 2.0 post.

Your user receives an email invitation to set up an account and use a web portal to access the applications that you have included in your stack.

Step 5:  Validate the setup

Time for a test drive with Siemens NX on AppStream 2.0!

  1. Open the link for the AppStream 2.0 web portal shared through the email invitation. The web portal opens in your default browser. You must sign in with the temporary password and set a new password. After that, you get taken to your app catalog.
  2. Launch Siemens NX and interact with it using the demo files available in the shared storage folder – My Graphics Files. 

After I launched NX, I captured the screenshot below. The Siemens PLM team also recorded a video with NX running on AppStream 2.0.

Summary

In this post, I discussed the GPU instances available for delivering rich graphics applications to users in a web browser. While I demonstrated a simple setup, you can scale this out to launch a production environment with users signing in using Active Directory credentials,  accessing persistent storage with Amazon S3, and using other commonly requested features reviewed in the Amazon AppStream 2.0 Launch Recap – Domain Join, Simple Network Setup, and Lots More post.

To learn more about AppStream 2.0 and capabilities added this year, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Resources.

How to Configure an LDAPS Endpoint for Simple AD

Post Syndicated from Cameron Worrell original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-configure-an-ldaps-endpoint-for-simple-ad/

Simple AD, which is powered by Samba  4, supports basic Active Directory (AD) authentication features such as users, groups, and the ability to join domains. Simple AD also includes an integrated Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) server. LDAP is a standard application protocol for the access and management of directory information. You can use the BIND operation from Simple AD to authenticate LDAP client sessions. This makes LDAP a common choice for centralized authentication and authorization for services such as Secure Shell (SSH), client-based virtual private networks (VPNs), and many other applications. Authentication, the process of confirming the identity of a principal, typically involves the transmission of highly sensitive information such as user names and passwords. To protect this information in transit over untrusted networks, companies often require encryption as part of their information security strategy.

In this blog post, we show you how to configure an LDAPS (LDAP over SSL/TLS) encrypted endpoint for Simple AD so that you can extend Simple AD over untrusted networks. Our solution uses Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to send decrypted LDAP traffic to HAProxy running on Amazon EC2, which then sends the traffic to Simple AD. ELB offers integrated certificate management, SSL/TLS termination, and the ability to use a scalable EC2 backend to process decrypted traffic. ELB also tightly integrates with Amazon Route 53, enabling you to use a custom domain for the LDAPS endpoint. The solution needs the intermediate HAProxy layer because ELB can direct traffic only to EC2 instances. To simplify testing and deployment, we have provided an AWS CloudFormation template to provision the ELB and HAProxy layers.

This post assumes that you have an understanding of concepts such as Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and its components, including subnets, routing, Internet and network address translation (NAT) gateways, DNS, and security groups. You should also be familiar with launching EC2 instances and logging in to them with SSH. If needed, you should familiarize yourself with these concepts and review the solution overview and prerequisites in the next section before proceeding with the deployment.

Note: This solution is intended for use by clients requiring an LDAPS endpoint only. If your requirements extend beyond this, you should consider accessing the Simple AD servers directly or by using AWS Directory Service for Microsoft AD.

Solution overview

The following diagram and description illustrates and explains the Simple AD LDAPS environment. The CloudFormation template creates the items designated by the bracket (internal ELB load balancer and two HAProxy nodes configured in an Auto Scaling group).

Diagram of the the Simple AD LDAPS environment

Here is how the solution works, as shown in the preceding numbered diagram:

  1. The LDAP client sends an LDAPS request to ELB on TCP port 636.
  2. ELB terminates the SSL/TLS session and decrypts the traffic using a certificate. ELB sends the decrypted LDAP traffic to the EC2 instances running HAProxy on TCP port 389.
  3. The HAProxy servers forward the LDAP request to the Simple AD servers listening on TCP port 389 in a fixed Auto Scaling group configuration.
  4. The Simple AD servers send an LDAP response through the HAProxy layer to ELB. ELB encrypts the response and sends it to the client.

Note: Amazon VPC prevents a third party from intercepting traffic within the VPC. Because of this, the VPC protects the decrypted traffic between ELB and HAProxy and between HAProxy and Simple AD. The ELB encryption provides an additional layer of security for client connections and protects traffic coming from hosts outside the VPC.

Prerequisites

  1. Our approach requires an Amazon VPC with two public and two private subnets. The previous diagram illustrates the environment’s VPC requirements. If you do not yet have these components in place, follow these guidelines for setting up a sample environment:
    1. Identify a region that supports Simple AD, ELB, and NAT gateways. The NAT gateways are used with an Internet gateway to allow the HAProxy instances to access the internet to perform their required configuration. You also need to identify the two Availability Zones in that region for use by Simple AD. You will supply these Availability Zones as parameters to the CloudFormation template later in this process.
    2. Create or choose an Amazon VPC in the region you chose. In order to use Route 53 to resolve the LDAPS endpoint, make sure you enable DNS support within your VPC. Create an Internet gateway and attach it to the VPC, which will be used by the NAT gateways to access the internet.
    3. Create a route table with a default route to the Internet gateway. Create two NAT gateways, one per Availability Zone in your public subnets to provide additional resiliency across the Availability Zones. Together, the routing table, the NAT gateways, and the Internet gateway enable the HAProxy instances to access the internet.
    4. Create two private routing tables, one per Availability Zone. Create two private subnets, one per Availability Zone. The dual routing tables and subnets allow for a higher level of redundancy. Add each subnet to the routing table in the same Availability Zone. Add a default route in each routing table to the NAT gateway in the same Availability Zone. The Simple AD servers use subnets that you create.
    5. The LDAP service requires a DNS domain that resolves within your VPC and from your LDAP clients. If you do not have an existing DNS domain, follow the steps to create a private hosted zone and associate it with your VPC. To avoid encryption protocol errors, you must ensure that the DNS domain name is consistent across your Route 53 zone and in the SSL/TLS certificate (see Step 2 in the “Solution deployment” section).
  2. Make sure you have completed the Simple AD Prerequisites.
  3. We will use a self-signed certificate for ELB to perform SSL/TLS decryption. You can use a certificate issued by your preferred certificate authority or a certificate issued by AWS Certificate Manager (ACM).
    Note: To prevent unauthorized connections directly to your Simple AD servers, you can modify the Simple AD security group on port 389 to block traffic from locations outside of the Simple AD VPC. You can find the security group in the EC2 console by creating a search filter for your Simple AD directory ID. It is also important to allow the Simple AD servers to communicate with each other as shown on Simple AD Prerequisites.

Solution deployment

This solution includes five main parts:

  1. Create a Simple AD directory.
  2. Create a certificate.
  3. Create the ELB and HAProxy layers by using the supplied CloudFormation template.
  4. Create a Route 53 record.
  5. Test LDAPS access using an Amazon Linux client.

1. Create a Simple AD directory

With the prerequisites completed, you will create a Simple AD directory in your private VPC subnets:

  1. In the Directory Service console navigation pane, choose Directories and then choose Set up directory.
  2. Choose Simple AD.
    Screenshot of choosing "Simple AD"
  3. Provide the following information:
    • Directory DNS – The fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the directory, such as corp.example.com. You will use the FQDN as part of the testing procedure.
    • NetBIOS name – The short name for the directory, such as CORP.
    • Administrator password – The password for the directory administrator. The directory creation process creates an administrator account with the user name Administrator and this password. Do not lose this password because it is nonrecoverable. You also need this password for testing LDAPS access in a later step.
    • Description – An optional description for the directory.
    • Directory Size – The size of the directory.
      Screenshot of the directory details to provide
  4. Provide the following information in the VPC Details section, and then choose Next Step:
    • VPC – Specify the VPC in which to install the directory.
    • Subnets – Choose two private subnets for the directory servers. The two subnets must be in different Availability Zones. Make a note of the VPC and subnet IDs for use as CloudFormation input parameters. In the following example, the Availability Zones are us-east-1a and us-east-1c.
      Screenshot of the VPC details to provide
  5. Review the directory information and make any necessary changes. When the information is correct, choose Create Simple AD.

It takes several minutes to create the directory. From the AWS Directory Service console , refresh the screen periodically and wait until the directory Status value changes to Active before continuing. Choose your Simple AD directory and note the two IP addresses in the DNS address section. You will enter them when you run the CloudFormation template later.

Note: Full administration of your Simple AD implementation is out of scope for this blog post. See the documentation to add users, groups, or instances to your directory. Also see the previous blog post, How to Manage Identities in Simple AD Directories.

2. Create a certificate

In the previous step, you created the Simple AD directory. Next, you will generate a self-signed SSL/TLS certificate using OpenSSL. You will use the certificate with ELB to secure the LDAPS endpoint. OpenSSL is a standard, open source library that supports a wide range of cryptographic functions, including the creation and signing of x509 certificates. You then import the certificate into ACM that is integrated with ELB.

  1. You must have a system with OpenSSL installed to complete this step. If you do not have OpenSSL, you can install it on Amazon Linux by running the command, sudo yum install openssl. If you do not have access to an Amazon Linux instance you can create one with SSH access enabled to proceed with this step. Run the command, openssl version, at the command line to see if you already have OpenSSL installed.
    [[email protected] ~]$ openssl version
    OpenSSL 1.0.1k-fips 8 Jan 2015

  2. Create a private key using the command, openssl genrsa command.
    [[email protected] tmp]$ openssl genrsa 2048 > privatekey.pem
    Generating RSA private key, 2048 bit long modulus
    ......................................................................................................................................................................+++
    ..........................+++
    e is 65537 (0x10001)

  3. Generate a certificate signing request (CSR) using the openssl req command. Provide the requested information for each field. The Common Name is the FQDN for your LDAPS endpoint (for example, ldap.corp.example.com). The Common Name must use the domain name you will later register in Route 53. You will encounter certificate errors if the names do not match.
    [[email protected] tmp]$ openssl req -new -key privatekey.pem -out server.csr
    You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated into your certificate request.

  4. Use the openssl x509 command to sign the certificate. The following example uses the private key from the previous step (privatekey.pem) and the signing request (server.csr) to create a public certificate named server.crt that is valid for 365 days. This certificate must be updated within 365 days to avoid disruption of LDAPS functionality.
    [[email protected] tmp]$ openssl x509 -req -sha256 -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey privatekey.pem -out server.crt
    Signature ok
    subject=/C=XX/L=Default City/O=Default Company Ltd/CN=ldap.corp.example.com
    Getting Private key

  5. You should see three files: privatekey.pem, server.crt, and server.csr.
    [[email protected] tmp]$ ls
    privatekey.pem server.crt server.csr

    Restrict access to the private key.

    [[email protected] tmp]$ chmod 600 privatekey.pem

    Keep the private key and public certificate for later use. You can discard the signing request because you are using a self-signed certificate and not using a Certificate Authority. Always store the private key in a secure location and avoid adding it to your source code.

  6. In the ACM console, choose Import a certificate.
  7. Using your favorite Linux text editor, paste the contents of your server.crt file in the Certificate body box.
  8. Using your favorite Linux text editor, paste the contents of your privatekey.pem file in the Certificate private key box. For a self-signed certificate, you can leave the Certificate chain box blank.
  9. Choose Review and import. Confirm the information and choose Import.

3. Create the ELB and HAProxy layers by using the supplied CloudFormation template

Now that you have created your Simple AD directory and SSL/TLS certificate, you are ready to use the CloudFormation template to create the ELB and HAProxy layers.

  1. Load the supplied CloudFormation template to deploy an internal ELB and two HAProxy EC2 instances into a fixed Auto Scaling group. After you load the template, provide the following input parameters. Note: You can find the parameters relating to your Simple AD from the directory details page by choosing your Simple AD in the Directory Service console.
Input parameter Input parameter description
HAProxyInstanceSize The EC2 instance size for HAProxy servers. The default size is t2.micro and can scale up for large Simple AD environments.
MyKeyPair The SSH key pair for EC2 instances. If you do not have an existing key pair, you must create one.
VPCId The target VPC for this solution. Must be in the VPC where you deployed Simple AD and is available in your Simple AD directory details page.
SubnetId1 The Simple AD primary subnet. This information is available in your Simple AD directory details page.
SubnetId2 The Simple AD secondary subnet. This information is available in your Simple AD directory details page.
MyTrustedNetwork Trusted network Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) to allow connections to the LDAPS endpoint. For example, use the VPC CIDR to allow clients in the VPC to connect.
SimpleADPriIP The primary Simple AD Server IP. This information is available in your Simple AD directory details page.
SimpleADSecIP The secondary Simple AD Server IP. This information is available in your Simple AD directory details page.
LDAPSCertificateARN The Amazon Resource Name (ARN) for the SSL certificate. This information is available in the ACM console.
  1. Enter the input parameters and choose Next.
  2. On the Options page, accept the defaults and choose Next.
  3. On the Review page, confirm the details and choose Create. The stack will be created in approximately 5 minutes.

4. Create a Route 53 record

The next step is to create a Route 53 record in your private hosted zone so that clients can resolve your LDAPS endpoint.

  1. If you do not have an existing DNS domain for use with LDAP, create a private hosted zone and associate it with your VPC. The hosted zone name should be consistent with your Simple AD (for example, corp.example.com).
  2. When the CloudFormation stack is in CREATE_COMPLETE status, locate the value of the LDAPSURL on the Outputs tab of the stack. Copy this value for use in the next step.
  3. On the Route 53 console, choose Hosted Zones and then choose the zone you used for the Common Name box for your self-signed certificate. Choose Create Record Set and enter the following information:
    1. Name – The label of the record (such as ldap).
    2. Type – Leave as A – IPv4 address.
    3. Alias – Choose Yes.
    4. Alias Target – Paste the value of the LDAPSURL on the Outputs tab of the stack.
  4. Leave the defaults for Routing Policy and Evaluate Target Health, and choose Create.
    Screenshot of finishing the creation of the Route 53 record

5. Test LDAPS access using an Amazon Linux client

At this point, you have configured your LDAPS endpoint and now you can test it from an Amazon Linux client.

  1. Create an Amazon Linux instance with SSH access enabled to test the solution. Launch the instance into one of the public subnets in your VPC. Make sure the IP assigned to the instance is in the trusted IP range you specified in the CloudFormation parameter MyTrustedNetwork in Step 3.b.
  2. SSH into the instance and complete the following steps to verify access.
    1. Install the openldap-clients package and any required dependencies:
      sudo yum install -y openldap-clients.
    2. Add the server.crt file to the /etc/openldap/certs/ directory so that the LDAPS client will trust your SSL/TLS certificate. You can copy the file using Secure Copy (SCP) or create it using a text editor.
    3. Edit the /etc/openldap/ldap.conf file and define the environment variables BASE, URI, and TLS_CACERT.
      • The value for BASE should match the configuration of the Simple AD directory name.
      • The value for URI should match your DNS alias.
      • The value for TLS_CACERT is the path to your public certificate.

Here is an example of the contents of the file.

BASE dc=corp,dc=example,dc=com
URI ldaps://ldap.corp.example.com
TLS_CACERT /etc/openldap/certs/server.crt

To test the solution, query the directory through the LDAPS endpoint, as shown in the following command. Replace corp.example.com with your domain name and use the Administrator password that you configured with the Simple AD directory

$ ldapsearch -D "[email protected]corp.example.com" -W sAMAccountName=Administrator

You should see a response similar to the following response, which provides the directory information in LDAP Data Interchange Format (LDIF) for the administrator distinguished name (DN) from your Simple AD LDAP server.

# extended LDIF
#
# LDAPv3
# base <dc=corp,dc=example,dc=com> (default) with scope subtree
# filter: sAMAccountName=Administrator
# requesting: ALL
#

# Administrator, Users, corp.example.com
dn: CN=Administrator,CN=Users,DC=corp,DC=example,DC=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: user
description: Built-in account for administering the computer/domain
instanceType: 4
whenCreated: 20170721123204.0Z
uSNCreated: 3223
name: Administrator
objectGUID:: l3h0HIiKO0a/ShL4yVK/vw==
userAccountControl: 512
…

You can now use the LDAPS endpoint for directory operations and authentication within your environment. If you would like to learn more about how to interact with your LDAPS endpoint within a Linux environment, here are a few resources to get started:

Troubleshooting

If you receive an error such as the following error when issuing the ldapsearch command, there are a few things you can do to help identify issues.

ldap_sasl_bind(SIMPLE): Can't contact LDAP server (-1)
  • You might be able to obtain additional error details by adding the -d1 debug flag to the ldapsearch command in the previous section.
    $ ldapsearch -D "[email protected]" -W sAMAccountName=Administrator –d1

  • Verify that the parameters in ldap.conf match your configured LDAPS URI endpoint and that all parameters can be resolved by DNS. You can use the following dig command, substituting your configured endpoint DNS name.
    $ dig ldap.corp.example.com

  • Confirm that the client instance from which you are connecting is in the CIDR range of the CloudFormation parameter, MyTrustedNetwork.
  • Confirm that the path to your public SSL/TLS certificate configured in ldap.conf as TLS_CAERT is correct. You configured this in Step 5.b.3. You can check your SSL/TLS connection with the command, substituting your configured endpoint DNS name for the string after –connect.
    $ echo -n | openssl s_client -connect ldap.corp.example.com:636

  • Verify that your HAProxy instances have the status InService in the EC2 console: Choose Load Balancers under Load Balancing in the navigation pane, highlight your LDAPS load balancer, and then choose the Instances

Conclusion

You can use ELB and HAProxy to provide an LDAPS endpoint for Simple AD and transport sensitive authentication information over untrusted networks. You can explore using LDAPS to authenticate SSH users or integrate with other software solutions that support LDAP authentication. This solution’s CloudFormation template is available on GitHub.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below. If you have questions about or issues implementing this solution, start a new thread on the Directory Service forum.

– Cameron and Jeff

Amazon AppStream 2.0 Launch Recap – Domain Join, Simple Network Setup, and Lots More

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-appstream-2-0-launch-recap-domain-join-simple-network-setup-and-lots-more/

We (the AWS Blog Team) work to maintain a delicate balance between coverage and volume! On the one hand, we want to make sure that you are aware of as many features as possible. On the other, we don’t want to bury you in blog posts. As a happy medium between these two extremes we sometimes let interesting new features pile up for a couple of weeks and then pull them together in the form of a recap post such as this one.

Today I would like to tell you about the latest and greatest additions to Amazon AppStream 2.0, our application streaming service (read Amazon AppStream 2.0 – Stream Desktop Apps from AWS to learn more). We launched GPU-powered streaming instances just a month ago and have been adding features rapidly; here are some recent launches that did not get covered in individual posts at launch time:

  • Microsoft Active Directory Domains – Connect AppStream 2.0 streaming instances to your Microsoft Active Directory domain.
  • User Management & Web Portal – Create and manage users from within the AppStream 2.0 management console.
  • Persistent Storage for User Files – Use persistent, S3-backed storage for user home folders.
  • Simple Network Setup – Enable Internet access for image builder and instance fleets more easily.
  • Custom VPC Security Groups – Use VPC security groups to control network traffic.
  • Audio-In – Use microphones with your streaming applications.

These features were prioritized based on early feedback from AWS customers who are using or are considering the use of AppStream 2.0 in their enterprises. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

Domain Join
This much-requested feature allows you to connect your AppStream 2.0 streaming instances to your Microsoft Active Directory (AD) domain. After you do this you can apply existing policies to your streaming instances, and provide your users with single sign-on access to intranet resources such as web sites, printers, and file shares. Your users are authenticated using the SAML 2.0 provider of your choice, and can access applications that require a connection to your AD domain.

To get started, visit the AppStream 2.0 Console, create and store a Directory Configuration:

Newly created image builders and newly launched fleets can then use the stored Directory Configuration to join the AD domain in an Organizational Unit (OU) that you provide:

To learn more, read Using Active Directory Domains with AppStream 2.0 and follow the Setting Up the Active Directory tutorial. You can also learn more in the What’s New.

User Management & Web Portal
This feature makes it easier for you to give new users access to the applications that you are streaming with AppStream 2.0 if you are not using the Domain Join feature that I described earlier.

You can create and manage users, give them access to applications through a web portal, and send them welcome emails, all with a couple of clicks:

AppStream 2.0 sends each new user a welcome email that directs them to a web portal where they will be prompted to create a permanent password. Once they are logged in they are able to access the applications that have been assigned to them.

To learn more, read Using the AppStream 2.0 User Pool and the What’s New.

Persistent Storage
This feature allows users of streaming applications to store files for use in later AppStream 2.0 sessions. Each user is given a home folder which is stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) between sessions. The folder is made available to the streaming instance at the start of the session and changed files are periodically synced back to S3. To enable this feature, simply check Enable Home Folders when you create your next fleet:

All folders (and the files within) are stored in an S3 bucket that is automatically created within your account when the feature is enabled. There is no limit on total file storage but we recommend that individual files be limited to 5 gigabytes.

Regular S3 pricing applies; to learn more about this feature read about Persistent Storage with AppStream 2.0 Home Folders and check out the What’s New.

Simple Network Setup
Setting up Internet access for your image builder and your streaming instances was once a multi-step process. You had to create a Network Address Translation (NAT) gateway in a public subnet of one of your VPCs and configure traffic routing rules.

Now, you can do this by marking the image builder or the fleet for Internet access, selecting a VPC that has at least one public subnet, and choosing the public subnet(s), all from the AppStream 2.0 Console:

To learn more, read Network Settings for Fleet and Image Builder Instances and Enabling Internet Access Using a Public Subnet and check out the What’s New.

Custom VPC Security Groups
You can create VPC security groups and associate them with your image builders and your fleets. This gives you fine-grained control over inbound and outbound traffic to databases, license servers, file shares, and application servers. Read the What’s New to learn more.

Audio-In
You can use analog and USB microphones, mixing consoles, and other audio input devices with your streaming applications. Simply click on Enable Microphone in the AppStream 2.0 toolbar to get started. Read the What’s New to learn more.

Available Now
All of these features are available now and you can start using them today in all AWS Regions where Amazon AppStream 2.0 is available.

Jeff;

PS – If you are new to AppStream 2.0, try out some pre-installed applications. No setup needed and you’ll get to experience the power of streaming applications first-hand.

CrackMapExec – Active Directory Post-Exploitation Tool

Post Syndicated from Darknet original http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/darknethackers/~3/r7Om66Zbxck/

CrackMapExec (a.k.a CME) is a post-exploitation tool that helps automate assessing the security of large Active Directory networks. Built with stealth in mind, CME follows the concept of “Living off the Land”: abusing built-in Active Directory features/protocols to achieve its functionality and allowing it to evade most endpoint protection/IDS/IPS…

Read the full post at darknet.org.uk

How to Configure Even Stronger Password Policies to Help Meet Your Security Standards by Using AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory

Post Syndicated from Ravi Turlapati original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-configure-even-stronger-password-policies-to-help-meet-your-security-standards-by-using-aws-directory-service-for-microsoft-active-directory/

With AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory (Enterprise Edition), also known as AWS Microsoft AD, you can now create and enforce custom password policies for your Microsoft Windows users. AWS Microsoft AD now includes five empty password policies that you can edit and apply with standard Microsoft password policy tools such as Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC). With this capability, you are no longer limited to the default Windows password policy. Now, you can configure even stronger password policies and define lockout policies that specify when to lock out an account after login failures.

In this blog post, I demonstrate how to edit these new password policies to help you meet your security standards by using AWS Microsoft AD. I also introduce the password attributes you can modify and demonstrate how to apply password policies to user groups in your domain.

Prerequisites

The instructions in this post assume that you already have the following components running:

  • An active AWS Microsoft AD directory.
  • An Amazon EC2 for Windows Server instance that is domain joined to your AWS Microsoft AD directory and on which you have installed ADAC.

If you still need to meet these prerequisites before proceeding:

Scenario overview

Let’s say I am the Active Directory (AD) administrator of Example Corp. At Example Corp., we have a group of technical administrators, several groups of senior managers, and general, nontechnical employees. I need to create password policies for these groups that match our security standards.

Our general employees have access only to low-sensitivity information. However, our senior managers regularly access confidential information and we want to enforce password complexity (a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters) to reduce the risk of data theft. For our administrators, we want to enforce password complexity policies to prevent unauthorized access to our system administration tools.

Our security standards call for the following enforced password and account lockout policies:

  • General employees – To make it easier for nontechnical general employees to remember their passwords, we do not enforce password complexity. However, we want to enforce a minimum password length of 8 characters and a lockout policy after 6 failed login attempts as a minimum bar to protect against unwanted access to our low-sensitivity information. If a general employee forgets their password and becomes locked out, we let them try again in 5 minutes, rather than require escalated password resets. We also want general employees to rotate their passwords every 60 days with no duplicated passwords in the past 10 password changes.
  • Senior managers – For senior managers, we enforce a minimum password length of 10 characters and require password complexity. An account lockout is enforced after 6 failed attempts with an account lockout duration of 15 minutes. Senior managers must rotate their passwords every 45 days, and they cannot duplicate passwords from the past 20 changes.
  • Administrators – For administrators, we enforce password complexity with a minimum password length of 15 characters. We also want to lock out accounts after 6 failed attempts, have password rotation every 30 days, and disallow duplicate passwords in the past 30 changes. When a lockout occurs, we require a special administrator to intervene and unlock the account so that we can be aware of any potential hacking.
  • Fine-Grained Password Policy administrators – To ensure that only trusted administrators unlock accounts, we have two special administrator accounts (admin and midas) that can unlock accounts. These two accounts have the same policy as the other administrators except they have an account lockout duration of 15 minutes, rather than requiring a password reset. These two accounts are also the accounts used to manage Example Corp.’s password policies.

The following table summarizes how I edit each of the four policies I intend to use.

Policy name EXAMPLE-PSO-01 EXAMPLE-PSO-02 EXAMPLE-PSO-03 EXAMPLE-PSO-05
Precedence 10 20 30 50
User group Fine-Grained Password Policy Administrators Other Administrators Senior Managers General Employees
Minimum password length 15 15 10 8
Password complexity Enable Enable Enable Disable
Maximum password age 30 days 30 days 45 days 60 days
Account complexity Enable Enable Enable Disable
Number of failed logon attempts allowed 6 6 6 6
Duration 15 minutes Not applicable 15 minutes 5 minutes
Password history 24 30 20 10
Until admin manually unlocks account Not applicable Selected Not applicable Not applicable

To implement these password policies, I use 4 of the 5 new password policies available in AWS Microsoft AD:

  1. I first explain how to configure the password policies.
  2. I then demonstrate how to apply the four password policies that match Example Corp.’s security standards for these user groups.

1. Configure password policies in AWS Microsoft AD

To help you get started with password policies, AWS has added the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins AD security group to your AWS Microsoft AD directory. Any user or other security group that is part of the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins group has permissions to edit and apply the five new password policies. By default, your directory Admin is part of the new group and can add other users or groups to this group.

Adding users to the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins user group

Follow these steps to add more users or AD security groups to the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins security group so that they can administer fine-grained password policies:

  1. Launch ADAC from your managed instance.
  2. Switch to the Tree View and navigate to CORP > Users.
  3. Find the Fine Grained Pwd Policy Admins user group. Add any users or groups in your domain to this group.

Edit password policies

To edit fine-grained password policies, open ADAC from any management instance joined to your domain. Switch to the Tree View and navigate to System > Password Settings Container. You will see the five policies containing the string -PSO- that AWS added to your directory, as shown in the following screenshot. Select a policy to edit it.

Screenshot showing the five new password policies

After editing the password policy, apply the policy by adding users or AD security groups to these policies by choosing Add. The default domain GPO applies if you do not configure any of the five password policies. For additional details about using Password Settings Container, go to Step-by-Step: Enabling and Using Fine-Grained Password Policies in AD on the Microsoft TechNet Blog.

The password attributes you can edit

AWS allows you to edit all of the password attributes except Precedence (I explain more about Precedence in the next section). These attributes include:

  • Password history
  • Minimum password length
  • Minimum password age
  • Maximum password age
  • Store password using reversible encryption
  • Password must meet complexity requirements

You also can enforce the following attributes for account lockout settings:

  • The number of failed login attempts allowed
  • Account lockout duration
  • Reset failed login attempts after a specified duration

For more details about how these attributes affect password enforcement, see AD DS: Fine-Grained Password Policies on Microsoft TechNet.

Understanding password policy precedence

AD password policies have a precedence (a numerical attribute that AD uses to determine the resultant policy) associated with them. Policies with a lower value for Precedence have higher priority than other policies. A user inherits all policies that you apply directly to the user or to any groups to which the user belongs. For example, suppose jsmith is a member of the HR group and also a member of the MANAGERS group. If I apply a policy with a Precedence of 50 to the HR group and a policy with a Precedence of 40 to MANAGERS, the policy with the Precedence value of 40 ranks higher and AD applies that policy to jsmith.

If you apply multiple policies to a user or group, the resultant policy is determined as follows by AD:

  1. If you apply a policy directly to a user, AD enforces the lowest directly applied password policy.
  2. If you did not apply a policy directly to the user, AD enforces the policy with the lowest Precedence value of all policies inherited by the user through the user’s group membership.

For more information about AD fine-grained policies, see AD DS: Fine-Grained Password Policies on Microsoft TechNet.

2. Apply password policies to user groups

In this section, I demonstrate how to apply Example Corp.’s password policies. Except in rare cases, I only apply policies by group membership, which ensures that AD does not enforce a lower priority policy on an individual user if have I added them to a group with a higher priority policy.

Because my directory is new, I use a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection to sign in to the Windows Server instance I domain joined to my AWS Microsoft AD directory. Signing in with the admin account, I launch ADAC to perform the following tasks:

  1. First, I set up my groups so that I can apply password policies to them. Later, I can create user accounts and add them to my groups and AD applies the right policy by using the policy precedence and resultant policy algorithms I discussed previously. I start by adding the two special administrative accounts (admin and midas) that I described previously to the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins. Because AWS Microsoft AD adds my default admin account to Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins, I only need to create midas and then add midas to the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins group.
  2. Next, I create the Other Administrators, Senior Managers, and General Employees groups that I described previously, as shown in the following screenshot.
    Screenshot of the groups created

For this post’s example, I use these four policies:

  1. EXAMPLE-PSO-01 (highest priority policy) – For the administrators who manage Example Corp.’s password policies. Applying this highest priority policy to the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins group prevents these users from being locked out if they also are assigned to a different policy.
  2. EXAMPLE-PSO-02 (the second highest priority policy) – For Example Corp.’s other administrators.
  3. EXAMPLE-PSO-03 (the third highest priority policy) – For Example Corp.’s senior managers.
  4. EXAMPLE-PSO-05 (the lowest priority policy) – For Example Corp.’s general employees.

This leaves me one password policy (EXAMPLE-PSO-04) that I can use for in the future if needed.

I start by editing the policy, EXAMPLE-PSO-01. To edit the policy, I follow the Edit password policies section from earlier in this post. When finished, I add the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins group to that policy, as shown in the following screenshot. I then repeat the process for each of the remaining policies, as described in the Scenario overview section earlier in this post.

Screenshot of adding the Fine-Grained Pwd Policy Admins group to the EXAMPLE-PSO-01 policy

Though AD enforces new password policies, the timing related to how password policies replicate in the directory, the types of attributes that are changed, and the timing of user password changes can cause variability in the immediacy of policy enforcement. In general, after the policies are replicated throughout the directory, attributes that affect account lockout and password age take effect. Attributes that affect the quality of a password, such as password length, take effect when the password is changed. If the password age for a user is in compliance, but their password strength is out of compliance, the user is not forced to change their password. For more information password policy impact, see this Microsoft TechNet article.

Summary

In this post, I have demonstrated how you can configure strong password policies to meet your security standards by using AWS Microsoft AD. To learn more about AWS Microsoft AD, see the AWS Directory Service home page.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below. If you have questions about this blog post, start a new thread on the Directory Service forum.

– Ravi

How to Increase the Redundancy and Performance of Your AWS Directory Service for Microsoft AD Directory by Adding Domain Controllers

Post Syndicated from Peter Pereira original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-increase-the-redundancy-and-performance-of-your-aws-directory-service-for-microsoft-ad-directory-by-adding-domain-controllers/

You can now increase the redundancy and performance of your AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory (Enterprise Edition), also known as AWS Microsoft AD, directory by deploying additional domain controllers. Adding domain controllers increases redundancy, resulting in even greater resilience and higher availability. This new capability enables you to have at least two domain controllers operating, even if an Availability Zone were to be temporarily unavailable. The additional domain controllers also improve the performance of your applications by enabling directory clients to load-balance their requests across a larger number of domain controllers. For example, AWS Microsoft AD enables you to use larger fleets of Amazon EC2 instances to run .NET applications that perform frequent user attribute lookups.

AWS Microsoft AD is a highly available, managed Active Directory built on actual Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 in the AWS Cloud. When you create your AWS Microsoft AD directory, AWS deploys two domain controllers that are exclusively yours in separate Availability Zones for high availability. Now, you can deploy additional domain controllers easily via the Directory Service console or API, by specifying the total number of domain controllers that you want.

AWS Microsoft AD distributes the additional domain controllers across the Availability Zones and subnets within the Amazon VPC where your directory is running. AWS deploys the domain controllers, configures them to replicate directory changes, monitors for and repairs any issues, performs daily snapshots, and updates the domain controllers with patches. This reduces the effort and complexity of creating and managing your own domain controllers in the AWS Cloud.

In this blog post, I create an AWS Microsoft AD directory with two domain controllers in each Availability Zone. This ensures that I always have at least two domain controllers operating, even if an entire Availability Zone were to be temporarily unavailable. To accomplish this, first I create an AWS Microsoft AD directory with one domain controller per Availability Zone, and then I deploy one additional domain controller per Availability Zone.

Solution architecture

The following diagram shows how AWS Microsoft AD deploys all the domain controllers in this solution after you complete Steps 1 and 2. In Step 1, AWS Microsoft AD deploys the two required domain controllers across multiple Availability Zones and subnets in an Amazon VPC. In Step 2, AWS Microsoft AD deploys one additional domain controller per Availability Zone and subnet.

Solution diagram

Step 1: Create an AWS Microsoft AD directory

First, I create an AWS Microsoft AD directory in an Amazon VPC. I can add domain controllers only after AWS Microsoft AD configures my first two required domain controllers. In my example, my domain name is example.com.

When I create my directory, I must choose the VPC in which to deploy my directory (as shown in the following screenshot). Optionally, I can choose the subnets in which to deploy my domain controllers, and AWS Microsoft AD ensures I select subnets from different Availability Zones. In this case, I have no subnet preference, so I choose No Preference from the Subnets drop-down list. In this configuration, AWS Microsoft AD selects subnets from two different Availability Zones to deploy the directory.

Screenshot of choosing the VPC in which to create the directory

I then choose Next Step to review my configuration, and then choose Create Microsoft AD. It takes approximately 40 minutes for my domain controllers to be created. I can check the status from the AWS Directory Service console, and when the status is Active, I can add my two additional domain controllers to the directory.

Step 2: Deploy two more domain controllers in the directory

Now that I have created an AWS Microsoft AD directory and it is active, I can deploy two additional domain controllers in the directory. AWS Microsoft AD enables me to add domain controllers through the Directory Service console or API. In this post, I use the console.

To deploy two more domain controllers in the directory:

  1. I open the AWS Management Console, choose Directory Service, and then choose the Microsoft AD Directory ID. In my example, my recently created directory is example.com, as shown in the following screenshot.Screenshot of choosing the Directory ID
  2. I choose the Domain controllers tab next. Here I can see the two domain controllers that AWS Microsoft AD created for me in Step 1. It also shows the Availability Zones and subnets in which AWS Microsoft AD deployed the domain controllers.Screenshot showing the domain controllers, Availability Zones, and subnets
  3. I then choose Modify on the Domain controllers tab. I specify the total number of domain controllers I want by choosing the subtract and add buttons. In my example, I want four domain controllers in total for my directory.Screenshot showing how to specify the total number of domain controllers
  4. I choose Apply. AWS Microsoft AD deploys the two additional domain controllers and distributes them evenly across the Availability Zones and subnets in my Amazon VPC. Within a few seconds, I can see the Availability Zones and subnets in which AWS Microsoft AD deployed my two additional domain controllers with a status of Creating (see the following screenshot). While AWS Microsoft AD deploys the additional domain controllers, my directory continues to operate by using the active domain controllers—with no disruption of service.
    Screenshot of two additional domain controllers with a status of "Creating"
  5. When AWS Microsoft AD completes the deployment steps, all domain controllers are in Active status and available for use by my applications. As a result, I have improved the redundancy and performance of my directory.

Note: After deploying additional domain controllers, I can reduce the number of domain controllers by repeating the modification steps with a lower number of total domain controllers. Unless a directory is deleted, AWS Microsoft AD does not allow fewer than two domain controllers per directory in order to deliver fault tolerance and high availability.

Summary

In this blog post, I demonstrated how to deploy additional domain controllers in your AWS Microsoft AD directory. By adding domain controllers, you increase the redundancy and performance of your directory, which makes it easier for you to migrate and run mission-critical Active Directory–integrated workloads in the AWS Cloud without having to deploy and maintain your own AD infrastructure.

To learn more about AWS Directory Service, see the AWS Directory Service home page. If you have questions, post them on the Directory Service forum.

– Peter

Secure API Access with Amazon Cognito Federated Identities, Amazon Cognito User Pools, and Amazon API Gateway

Post Syndicated from Ed Lima original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/secure-api-access-with-amazon-cognito-federated-identities-amazon-cognito-user-pools-and-amazon-api-gateway/

Ed Lima, Solutions Architect

 

Our identities are what define us as human beings. Philosophical discussions aside, it also applies to our day-to-day lives. For instance, I need my work badge to get access to my office building or my passport to travel overseas. My identity in this case is attached to my work badge or passport. As part of the system that checks my access, these documents or objects help define whether I have access to get into the office building or travel internationally.

This exact same concept can also be applied to cloud applications and APIs. To provide secure access to your application users, you define who can access the application resources and what kind of access can be granted. Access is based on identity controls that can confirm authentication (AuthN) and authorization (AuthZ), which are different concepts. According to Wikipedia:

 

The process of authorization is distinct from that of authentication. Whereas authentication is the process of verifying that “you are who you say you are,” authorization is the process of verifying that “you are permitted to do what you are trying to do.” This does not mean authorization presupposes authentication; an anonymous agent could be authorized to a limited action set.

Amazon Cognito allows building, securing, and scaling a solution to handle user management and authentication, and to sync across platforms and devices. In this post, I discuss the different ways that you can use Amazon Cognito to authenticate API calls to Amazon API Gateway and secure access to your own API resources.

 

Amazon Cognito Concepts

 

It’s important to understand that Amazon Cognito provides three different services:

Today, I discuss the use of the first two. One service doesn’t need the other to work; however, they can be configured to work together.
 

Amazon Cognito Federated Identities

 
To use Amazon Cognito Federated Identities in your application, create an identity pool. An identity pool is a store of user data specific to your account. It can be configured to require an identity provider (IdP) for user authentication, after you enter details such as app IDs or keys related to that specific provider.

After the user is validated, the provider sends an identity token to Amazon Cognito Federated Identities. In turn, Amazon Cognito Federated Identities contacts the AWS Security Token Service (AWS STS) to retrieve temporary AWS credentials based on a configured, authenticated IAM role linked to the identity pool. The role has appropriate IAM policies attached to it and uses these policies to provide access to other AWS services.

Amazon Cognito Federated Identities currently supports the IdPs listed in the following graphic.

 



Continue reading Secure API Access with Amazon Cognito Federated Identities, Amazon Cognito User Pools, and Amazon API Gateway

How to Deploy Local Administrator Password Solution with AWS Microsoft AD

Post Syndicated from Dragos Madarasan original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-deploy-local-administrator-password-solution-with-aws-microsoft-ad/

Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) from Microsoft simplifies password management by allowing organizations to use Active Directory (AD) to store unique passwords for computers. Typically, an organization might reuse the same local administrator password across the computers in an AD domain. However, this approach represents a security risk because it can be exploited during lateral escalation attacks. LAPS solves this problem by creating unique, randomized passwords for the Administrator account on each computer and storing it encrypted in AD.

Deploying LAPS with AWS Microsoft AD requires the following steps:

  1. Install the LAPS binaries on instances joined to your AWS Microsoft AD domain. The binaries add additional client-side extension (CSE) functionality to the Group Policy client.
  2. Extend the AWS Microsoft AD schema. LAPS requires new AD attributes to store an encrypted password and its expiration time.
  3. Configure AD permissions and delegate the ability to retrieve the local administrator password for IT staff in your organization.
  4. Configure Group Policy on instances joined to your AWS Microsoft AD domain to enable LAPS. This configures the Group Policy client to process LAPS settings and uses the binaries installed in Step 1.

The following diagram illustrates the setup that I will be using throughout this post and the associated tasks to set up LAPS. Note that the AWS Directory Service directory is deployed across multiple Availability Zones, and monitoring automatically detects and replaces domain controllers that fail.

Diagram illustrating this blog post's solution

In this blog post, I explain the prerequisites to set up Local Administrator Password Solution, demonstrate the steps involved to update the AD schema on your AWS Microsoft AD domain, show how to delegate permissions to IT staff and configure LAPS via Group Policy, and demonstrate how to retrieve the password using the graphical user interface or with Windows PowerShell.

This post assumes you are familiar with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol Data Interchange Format (LDIF) files and AWS Microsoft AD. If you need more of an introduction to Directory Service and AWS Microsoft AD, see How to Move More Custom Applications to the AWS Cloud with AWS Directory Service, which introduces working with schema changes in AWS Microsoft AD.

Prerequisites

In order to implement LAPS, you must use AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory (Enterprise Edition), also known as AWS Microsoft AD. Any instance on which you want to configure LAPS must be joined to your AWS Microsoft AD domain. You also need a Management instance on which you install the LAPS management tools.

In this post, I use an AWS Microsoft AD domain called example.com that I have launched in the EU (London) region. To see which the regions in which Directory Service is available, see AWS Regions and Endpoints.

Screenshot showing the AWS Microsoft AD domain example.com used in this blog post

In addition, you must have at least two instances launched in the same region as the AWS Microsoft AD domain. To join the instances to your AWS Microsoft AD domain, you have two options:

  1. Use the Amazon EC2 Systems Manager (SSM) domain join feature. To learn more about how to set up domain join for EC2 instances, see joining a Windows Instance to an AWS Directory Service Domain.
  2. Manually configure the DNS server addresses in the Internet Protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) settings of the network card to use the AWS Microsoft AD DNS addresses (172.31.9.64 and 172.31.16.191, for this blog post) and perform a manual domain join.

For the purpose of this post, my two instances are:

  1. A Management instance on which I will install the management tools that I have tagged as Management.
  2. A Web Server instance on which I will be deploying the LAPS binary.

Screenshot showing the two EC2 instances used in this post

Implementing the solution

 

1. Install the LAPS binaries on instances joined to your AWS Microsoft AD domain by using EC2 Run Command

LAPS binaries come in the form of an MSI installer and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. You can install the LAPS binaries manually, with an automation service such as EC2 Run Command, or with your existing software deployment solution.

For this post, I will deploy the LAPS binaries on my Web Server instance (i-0b7563d0f89d3453a) by using EC2 Run Command:

  1. While signed in to the AWS Management Console, choose EC2. In the Systems Manager Services section of the navigation pane, choose Run Command.
  2. Choose Run a command, and from the Command document list, choose AWS-InstallApplication.
  3. From Target instances, choose the instance on which you want to deploy the LAPS binaries. In my case, I will be selecting the instance tagged as Web Server. If you do not see any instances listed, make sure you have met the prerequisites for Amazon EC2 Systems Manager (SSM) by reviewing the Systems Manager Prerequisites.
  4. For Action, choose Install, and then stipulate the following values:
    • Parameters: /quiet
    • Source: https://download.microsoft.com/download/C/7/A/C7AAD914-A8A6-4904-88A1-29E657445D03/LAPS.x64.msi
    • Source Hash: f63ebbc45e2d080630bd62a195cd225de734131a56bb7b453c84336e37abd766
    • Comment: LAPS deployment

Leave the other options with the default values and choose Run. The AWS Management Console will return a Command ID, which will initially have a status of In Progress. It should take less than 5 minutes to download and install the binaries, after which the Command ID will update its status to Success.

Status showing the binaries have been installed successfully

If the Command ID runs for more than 5 minutes or returns an error, it might indicate a problem with the installer. To troubleshoot, review the steps in Troubleshooting Systems Manager Run Command.

To verify the binaries have been installed successfully, open Control Panel and review the recently installed applications in Programs and Features.

Screenshot of Control Panel that confirms LAPS has been installed successfully

You should see an entry for Local Administrator Password Solution with a version of 6.2.0.0 or newer.

2. Extend the AWS Microsoft AD schema

In the previous section, I used EC2 Run Command to install the LAPS binaries on an EC2 instance. Now, I am ready to extend the schema in an AWS Microsoft AD domain. Extending the schema is a requirement because LAPS relies on new AD attributes to store the encrypted password and its expiration time.

In an on-premises AD environment, you would update the schema by running the Update-AdmPwdADSchema Windows PowerShell cmdlet with schema administrator credentials. Because AWS Microsoft AD is a managed service, I do not have permissions to update the schema directly. Instead, I will update the AD schema from the Directory Service console by importing an LDIF file. If you are unfamiliar with schema updates or LDIF files, see How to Move More Custom Applications to the AWS Cloud with AWS Directory Service.

To make things easier for you, I am providing you with a sample LDIF file that contains the required AD schema changes. Using Notepad or a similar text editor, open the SchemaChanges-0517.ldif file and update the values of dc=example,dc=com with your own AWS Microsoft AD domain and suffix.

After I update the LDIF file with my AWS Microsoft AD details, I import it by using the AWS Management Console:

  1. On the Directory Service console, select from the list of directories in the Microsoft AD directory by choosing its identifier (it will look something like d-534373570ea).
  2. On the Directory details page, choose the Schema extensions tab and choose Upload and update schema.
    Screenshot showing the "Upload and update schema" option
  3. When prompted for the LDIF file that contains the changes, choose the sample LDIF file.
  4. In the background, the LDIF file is validated for errors and a backup of the directory is created for recovery purposes. Updating the schema might take a few minutes and the status will change to Updating Schema. When the process has completed, the status of Completed will be displayed, as shown in the following screenshot.

Screenshot showing the schema updates in progress
When the process has completed, the status of Completed will be displayed, as shown in the following screenshot.

Screenshot showing the process has completed

If the LDIF file contains errors or the schema extension fails, the Directory Service console will generate an error code and additional debug information. To help troubleshoot error messages, see Schema Extension Errors.

The sample LDIF file triggers AWS Microsoft AD to perform the following actions:

  1. Create the ms-Mcs-AdmPwd attribute, which stores the encrypted password.
  2. Create the ms-Mcs-AdmPwdExpirationTime attribute, which stores the time of the password’s expiration.
  3. Add both attributes to the Computer class.

3. Configure AD permissions

In the previous section, I updated the AWS Microsoft AD schema with the required attributes for LAPS. I am now ready to configure the permissions for administrators to retrieve the password and for computer accounts to update their password attribute.

As part of configuring AD permissions, I grant computers the ability to update their own password attribute and specify which security groups have permissions to retrieve the password from AD. As part of this process, I run Windows PowerShell cmdlets that are not installed by default on Windows Server.

Note: To learn more about Windows PowerShell and the concept of a cmdlet (pronounced “command-let”), go to Getting Started with Windows PowerShell.

Before getting started, I need to set up the required tools for LAPS on my Management instance, which must be joined to the AWS Microsoft AD domain. I will be using the same LAPS installer that I downloaded from the Microsoft LAPS website. In my Management instance, I have manually run the installer by clicking the LAPS.x64.msi file. On the Custom Setup page of the installer, under Management Tools, for each option I have selected Install on local hard drive.

Screenshot showing the required management tools

In the preceding screenshot, the features are:

  • The fat client UI – A simple user interface for retrieving the password (I will use it at the end of this post).
  • The Windows PowerShell module – Needed to run the commands in the next sections.
  • The GPO Editor templates – Used to configure Group Policy objects.

The next step is to grant computers in the Computers OU the permission to update their own attributes. While connected to my Management instance, I go to the Start menu and type PowerShell. In the list of results, right-click Windows PowerShell and choose Run as administrator and then Yes when prompted by User Account Control.

In the Windows PowerShell prompt, I type the following command.

Import-module AdmPwd.PS

Set-AdmPwdComputerSelfPermission –OrgUnit “OU=Computers,OU=MyMicrosoftAD,DC=example,DC=com

To grant the administrator group called Admins the permission to retrieve the computer password, I run the following command in the Windows PowerShell prompt I previously started.

Import-module AdmPwd.PS

Set-AdmPwdReadPasswordPermission –OrgUnit “OU=Computers, OU=MyMicrosoftAD,DC=example,DC=com” –AllowedPrincipals “Admins”

4. Configure Group Policy to enable LAPS

In the previous section, I deployed the LAPS management tools on my management instance, granted the computer accounts the permission to self-update their local administrator password attribute, and granted my Admins group permissions to retrieve the password.

Note: The following section addresses the Group Policy Management Console and Group Policy objects. If you are unfamiliar with or wish to learn more about these concepts, go to Get Started Using the GPMC and Group Policy for Beginners.

I am now ready to enable LAPS via Group Policy:

  1. On my Management instance (i-03b2c5d5b1113c7ac), I have installed the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) by running the following command in Windows PowerShell.
Install-WindowsFeature –Name GPMC
  1. Next, I have opened the GPMC and created a new Group Policy object (GPO) called LAPS GPO.
  2. In the Local Group Policy Editor, I navigate to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > LAPS. I have configured the settings using the values in the following table.

Setting

State

Options

Password Settings

Enabled

Complexity: large letters, small letters, numbers, specials

Do not allow password expiration time longer than required by policy

Enabled

N/A

Enable local admin password management

Enabled

N/A

  1. Next, I need to link the GPO to an organizational unit (OU) in which my machine accounts sit. In your environment, I recommend testing the new settings on a test OU and then deploying the GPO to production OUs.

Note: If you choose to create a new test organizational unit, you must create it in the OU that AWS Microsoft AD delegates to you to manage. For example, if your AWS Microsoft AD directory name were example.com, the test OU path would be example.com/example/Computers/Test.

  1. To test that LAPS works, I need to make sure the computer has received the new policy by forcing a Group Policy update. While connected to the Web Server instance (i-0b7563d0f89d3453a) using Remote Desktop, I open an elevated administrative command prompt and run the following command: gpupdate /force. I can check if the policy is applied by running the command: gpresult /r | findstr LAPS GPO, where LAPS GPO is the name of the GPO created in the second step.
  2. Back on my Management instance, I can then launch the LAPS interface from the Start menu and use it to retrieve the password (as shown in the following screenshot). Alternatively, I can run the Get-ADComputer Windows PowerShell cmdlet to retrieve the password.
Get-ADComputer [YourComputerName] -Properties ms-Mcs-AdmPwd | select name, ms-Mcs-AdmPwd

Screenshot of the LAPS UI, which you can use to retrieve the password

Summary

In this blog post, I demonstrated how you can deploy LAPS with an AWS Microsoft AD directory. I then showed how to install the LAPS binaries by using EC2 Run Command. Using the sample LDIF file I provided, I showed you how to extend the schema, which is a requirement because LAPS relies on new AD attributes to store the encrypted password and its expiration time. Finally, I showed how to complete the LAPS setup by configuring the necessary AD permissions and creating the GPO that starts the LAPS password change.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below. If you have questions about or issues implementing this solution, please start a new thread on the Directory Service forum.

– Dragos

AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2017

Post Syndicated from Tara Walker original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-online-tech-talks-june-2017/

As the sixth month of the year, June is significant in that it is not only my birth month (very special), but it contains the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day with the most daylight hours, and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, the day with the fewest daylight hours. In the United States, June is also the month in which we celebrate our dads with Father’s Day and have month-long celebrations of music, heritage, and the great outdoors.

Therefore, the month of June can be filled with lots of excitement. So why not add even more delight to the month, by enhancing your cloud computing skills. This month’s AWS Online Tech Talks features sessions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Storage, Big Data, and Compute among other great topics.

June 2017 – Schedule

Noted below are the upcoming scheduled live, online technical sessions being held during the month of June. Make sure to register ahead of time so you won’t miss out on these free talks conducted by AWS subject matter experts. All schedule times for the online tech talks are shown in the Pacific Time (PDT) time zone.

Webinars featured this month are:

Thursday, June 1

Storage

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Deep Dive on Amazon Elastic File System

Big Data

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM: Migrating Big Data Workloads to Amazon EMR

Serverless

12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM: Building AWS Lambda Applications with the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM)

 

Monday, June 5

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Lex

 

Tuesday, June 6

Management Tools

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Automated Compliance and Governance with AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail

 

Wednesday, June 7

Storage

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Backing up Amazon EC2 with Amazon EBS Snapshots

Big Data

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Intro to Amazon Redshift Spectrum: Quickly Query Exabytes of Data in S3

DevOps

12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Introduction to AWS CodeStar: Quickly Develop, Build, and Deploy Applications on AWS

 

Thursday, June 8

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Polly

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Rekognition

 

Monday, June 12

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Machine Learning

 

Tuesday, June 13

Compute

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: DevOps with Visual Studio, .NET and AWS

IoT

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Create, with Intel, an IoT Gateway and Establish a Data Pipeline to AWS IoT

Big Data

12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Real-Time Log Analytics using Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Elasticsearch Service

 

Wednesday, June 14

Containers

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Batch Processing with Containers on AWS

Security & Identity

12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Using Microsoft Active Directory across On-premises and Cloud Workloads

 

Thursday, June 15

Big Data

12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM: Building Big Data Applications with Serverless Architectures

 

Monday, June 19

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Deep Learning for Data Scientists: Using Apache MxNet and R on AWS

 

Tuesday, June 20

Storage

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Cloud Backup & Recovery Options with AWS Partner Solutions

Artificial Intelligence

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: An Overview of AI on the AWS Platform

 

The AWS Online Tech Talks series covers a broad range of topics at varying technical levels. These sessions feature live demonstrations & customer examples led by AWS engineers and Solution Architects. Check out the AWS YouTube channel for more on-demand webinars on AWS technologies.

Tara

Amazon QuickSight Now Supports Federated Single Sign-On Using SAML 2.0

Post Syndicated from Jose Kunnackal original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/amazon-quicksight-now-supports-federated-single-sign-on-using-saml-2-0/

Since launch, Amazon QuickSight has enabled business users to quickly and easily analyze data from a wide variety of data sources with superfast visualization capabilities enabled by SPICE (Superfast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine). When setting up Amazon QuickSight access for business users, administrators have a choice of authentication mechanisms. These include Amazon QuickSight–specific credentials, AWS credentials, or in the case of Amazon QuickSight Enterprise Edition, existing Microsoft Active Directory credentials. Although each of these mechanisms provides a reliable, secure authentication process, they all require end users to input their credentials every time users log in to Amazon QuickSight. In addition, the invitation model for user onboarding currently in place today requires administrators to add users to Amazon QuickSight accounts either via email invitations or via AD-group membership, which can contribute to delays in user provisioning.

Today, we are happy to announce two new features that will make user authentication and provisioning simpler – Federated Single-Sign-On (SSO) and just-in-time (JIT) user creation.

Federated Single Sign-On

Federated SSO authentication to web applications (including the AWS Management Console) and Software-as-a-Service products has become increasingly popular, because Federated SSO lets organizations consolidate end-user authentication to external applications.

Traditionally, SSO involves the use of a centralized identity store (such as Active Directory or LDAP) to authenticate the user against applications within a corporate network. The growing popularity of SaaS and web applications created the need to authenticate users outside corporate networks. Federated SSO makes this scenario possible. It provides a mechanism for external applications to direct authentication requests to the centralized identity store and receive an authentication token back with the response and validity. SAML is the most common protocol used as a basis for Federated SSO capabilities today.

With Federated SSO in place, business users sign in to their Identity Provider portals with existing credentials and access QuickSight with a single click, without having to enter any QuickSight-specific passwords or account names. This makes it simple for users to access Amazon QuickSight for data analysis needs.

Federated SSO also enables administrators to impose additional security requirements for Amazon QuickSight access (through the identity provider portal) depending on details such as where the user is accessing from or what device is used for access. This access control lets administrators comply with corporate policies regarding data access and also enforce additional security for sensitive data handling in Amazon QuickSight.

Setting up federated authentication in Amazon QuickSight is straightforward. You follow the same sequence of steps you would to setup federated access for the AWS Management Console and then setup redirection to ensure that users land directly on Amazon QuickSight.

Let’s take a look at how this works. The following diagram illustrates the authentication flow between Amazon QuickSight and a third-party identity provider with Federated SSO in place with SAML 2.0.

  1. The Amazon QuickSight user browses to the organization’s identity provider portal, and authenticates using existing credentials.
  2. The federation service requests user authentication from the organization’s identity store, based on credentials provided.
  3. The identity store authenticates the user, and returns the authentication response to the federation service.
  4. The federation service posts the SAML assertion to the user’s browser.
  5. The user’s browser posts the SAML assertion to the AWS Sign-In SAML endpoint. AWS Sign-In processes the SAML request, authenticates the user, and forwards the authentication token to Amazon QuickSight.
  6. Amazon QuickSight uses the authentication token from AWS Sign-In, and authorizes user access.

Federated SSO using SAML 2.0 is now available for Amazon QuickSight Standard Edition, with support for Enterprise Edition coming shortly. You can enable federated access by using any identity provider compliant with SAML 2.0. These identity providers include Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services, Okta, Ping Identity, and Shibboleth. To set up your Amazon QuickSight account for Federated SSO, follow the guidance here.

Just-in-time user creation

With this release, we are also launching a new permissions-based user provisioning model in Amazon QuickSight. Administrators can use the existing AWS permissions management mechanisms in place to enable Amazon QuickSight permissions for their users. Once these required permissions are in place, users can onboard themselves to QuickSight without any additional administrator intervention. This approach simplifies user provisioning and enables onboarding of thousands of users by simply granting the right permissions.

Administrators can choose to assign either of the permissions below, which will result in the user being able to sign up to QuickSight either as a user or an administrator.

quicksight:CreateUser
quicksight:CreateAdmin

If you have an AWS account that is already signed up for QuickSight, and you would like to add yourself as a new user, add one of the permissions above and access https://quicksight.aws.amazon.com.

You will see a screen that requests your email address. Once you provide this, you will be added to the QuickSight account as a user or administrator, as specified by your permissions!

Switch to a Federated SSO user: If you are already an Amazon QuickSight Standard Edition user using authentication based on user name and password, and you want to switch to using Federated SSO, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in using the Federated SSO option to the AWS Management console as you do today. Ensure that you have the permissions for QuickSight user/admin creation assigned to you.
  2. Access https://quicksight.aws.amazon.com.
  3. Provide your email address, and sign up for Amazon QuickSight as an Amazon QuickSight user or admin.
  4. Delete the existing Amazon QuickSight user that you no longer want to use.
  5. Assign resources and data to the new role-based user from step 1. (Amazon QuickSight will prompt you to do this when you delete a user. For more information, see Deleting a User Account.)
  6. Continue as the new, role-based user.

Learn more

To learn more about these capabilities and start using them with your identity provider, see [Managing-SSO-user-guide-topic] in the Amazon QuickSight User Guide.

Stay engaged

If you have questions and suggestions, you can post them on the Amazon QuickSight Discussion Forum.

Not an Amazon QuickSight user?

See the Amazon Quicksight page to get started for free.

 

 

AWS Big Data Blog Month in Review: April 2017

Post Syndicated from Derek Young original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/aws-big-data-blog-month-in-review-april-2017/

Another month of big data solutions on the Big Data Blog. Please take a look at our summaries below and learn, comment, and share. Thank you for reading!

NEW POSTS

Amazon QuickSight Spring Announcement: KPI Charts, Export to CSV, AD Connector, and More! 
In this blog post, we share a number of new features and enhancements in Amazon Quicksight. You can now create key performance indicator (KPI) charts, define custom ranges when importing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, export data to comma separated value (CSV) format, and create aggregate filters for SPICE data sets. In the Enterprise Edition, we added an additional option to connect to your on-premises Active Directory using AD Connector. 

Securely Analyze Data from Another AWS Account with EMRFS
Sometimes, data to be analyzed is spread across buckets owned by different accounts. In order to ensure data security, appropriate credentials management needs to be in place. This is especially true for large enterprises storing data in different Amazon S3 buckets for different departments. This post shows how you can use a custom credentials provider to access S3 objects that cannot be accessed by the default credentials provider of EMRFS.

Querying OpenStreetMap with Amazon Athena
This post explains how anyone can use Amazon Athena to quickly query publicly available OSM data stored in Amazon S3 (updated weekly) as an AWS Public Dataset. Imagine that you work for an NGO interested in improving knowledge of and access to health centers in Africa. You might want to know what’s already been mapped, to facilitate the production of maps of surrounding villages, and to determine where infrastructure investments are likely to be most effective.

Build a Real-time Stream Processing Pipeline with Apache Flink on AWS
This post outlines a reference architecture for a consistent, scalable, and reliable stream processing pipeline that is based on Apache Flink using Amazon EMR, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service. An AWSLabs GitHub repository provides the artifacts that are required to explore the reference architecture in action. Resources include a producer application that ingests sample data into an Amazon Kinesis stream and a Flink program that analyses the data in real time and sends the result to Amazon ES for visualization.

Manage Query Workloads with Query Monitoring Rules in Amazon Redshift
Amazon Redshift is a powerful, fully managed data warehouse that can offer significantly increased performance and lower cost in the cloud. However, queries which hog cluster resources (rogue queries) can affect your experience. In this post, you learn how query monitoring rules can help spot and act against such queries. This, in turn, can help you to perform smooth business operations in supporting mixed workloads to maximize cluster performance and throughput.

Amazon QuickSight Now Supports Audit Logging with AWS CloudTrail
In this post, we announce support for AWS CloudTrail in Amazon QuickSight, which allows logging of QuickSight events across an AWS account. Whether you have an enterprise setting or a small team scenario, this integration will allow QuickSight administrators to accurately answer questions such as who last changed an analysis, or who has connected to sensitive data. With CloudTrail, administrators have better governance, auditing and risk management of their QuickSight usage.

Near Zero Downtime Migration from MySQL to DynamoDB
This post introduces two methods of seamlessly migrating data from MySQL to DynamoDB, minimizing downtime and converting the MySQL key design into one more suitable for NoSQL.


Want to learn more about Big Data or Streaming Data? Check out our Big Data and Streaming data educational pages.

Leave a comment below to let us know what big data topics you’d like to see next on the AWS Big Data Blog.

Amazon Chime Update – Use Your Existing Active Directory, Claim Your Domain

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-chime-update-use-your-existing-active-directory-claim-your-domain/

I first told you about Amazon Chime this past February (Amazon Chime – Unified Communications Service) and told you how I connect and collaborate with people all over the world.

Since the launch, Amazon Chime has quickly become the communication tool of choice within the AWS team. I participate in multiple person-to-person and group chats throughout the day, and frequently “Chime In” to Amazon Chime-powered conferences to discuss upcoming launches and speaking opportunities.

Today we are adding two new features to Amazon Chime: the ability to claim a domain as your own and support for your existing Active Directory.

Claiming a Domain
Claiming a domain gives you the authority to manage Amazon Chime usage for all of the users in the domain. You can make sure that new employees sign up for Amazon Chime in an official fashion and you can suspend accounts for employees that leave the organization.

To claim a domain, you assert that you own a particular domain name and then back up the assertion by entering a TXT record to your domain’s DNS entry. You must do this for each domain and subdomain that your organization uses for email addresses.

Here’s how I would claim one of my own domains:

After I click on Verify this domain, Amazon Chime provides me with the record for my DNS:

After I do this, the domain’s status will change to Pending Verification. Once Amazon Chime has confirmed that the new record exists as expected, the status will change to Verified and the team account will become an enterprise account.

Active Directory Support
This feature allows your users to sign in to Amazon Chime using their existing Active Directory identity and credentials. After you have set it up, you can enable and take advantage of advanced AD security features such as password rotation, password complexity rules, and multi-factor authentication. You can also control the allocation of Amazon Chime’s Plus and Pro licenses on a group-by-group basis (check out Plans and Pricing to learn more about each type of license).

In order to use this feature, you must be using an Amazon Chime enterprise account. If you are using a team account, follow the directions at Create an Enterprise Account before proceeding.

Then you will need to set up a directory with the AWS Directory Service. You have two options at this point:

  1. Use the AWS Directory Service AD Connector to connect to your existing on-premises Active Directory instance.
  2. Use Microsoft Active Directory, configured for standalone use. Read How to Create a Microsoft AD Directory for more information on this option.

After you have set up your directory, you can connect to it from within the Amazon Chime console by clicking on Settings and Active directory and choosing your directory from the drop-down:

After you have done this you can select individual groups within the directory and assign the appropriate subscriptions (Plus or Pro) on a group-by-group basis.

With everything set up as desired, your users can log in to Amazon Chime using their existing directory credentials.

These new features are available now and you can start using them today!

If you would like to learn more about Amazon Chime, you can watch the recent AWS Tech Talk: Modernize Meetings with Amazon Chime:

Here is the presentation from the talk:

Jeff;

 

How to Enable the Use of Remote Desktops by Deploying Microsoft Remote Desktop Licensing Manager on AWS Microsoft AD

Post Syndicated from Ron Cully original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-enable-the-use-of-remote-desktops-by-deploying-microsoft-remote-desktop-licensing-manager-on-aws-microsoft-ad/

AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory (Enterprise Edition), also known as AWS Microsoft AD, now supports Microsoft Remote Desktop Licensing Manager (RD Licensing). By using AWS Microsoft AD as the directory for your Remote Desktop Services solution, you reduce the time it takes to deploy remote desktop solutions on Amazon EC2 for Windows Server instances, and you enable your users to use remote desktops with the credentials they already know. In this blog post, I explain how to deploy RD Licensing Manager on AWS Microsoft AD to enable your users to sign in to remote desktops by using credentials stored in an AWS Microsoft AD or an on-premises Active Directory (AD) domain.

Enable your AWS Microsoft AD users to open remote desktop sessions

To use RD Licensing, you must authorize RD Licensing servers in the same Active Directory domain as the Windows Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RD Session Hosts) by adding them to the Terminal Service Licensing Server security group in AD. This new release grants your AWS Microsoft AD administrative account permissions to do this. As a result, you can now deploy RD Session Hosts in the AWS Cloud without the extra time and effort to set up and configure your own AD domain on Amazon EC2 for Windows Server.

The following diagram illustrates the steps to set up remote desktops with RD Licensing with users in AWS Microsoft AD and shows what happens when users connect to remote desktops.

Diagram illustrating the steps to set up remote desktops with RD Licensing with users in AWS Microsoft AD

In detail, here is how the process works, as it is illustrated in the preceding diagram:

  1. Create an AWS Microsoft AD directory and create users in the directory. You can add user accounts (in this case jsmith) using Active Directory Users and Computers on an EC2 for Windows Server instance that you joined to the domain.
  2. Create EC2 for Windows Server instances to use as your RD Licensing servers (RDLS1 in the preceding diagram). Add the instances to the same domain to which you will join your Windows Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RD Session Hosts).
  3. Configure your EC2 for Windows Server instances as RD Licensing servers and add them to the Terminal Service Licensing Servers security group in AWS Microsoft AD. You can connect to the instances from the AWS Management Console to configure RD Licensing. You also can use Active Directory Users and Computers to add the RD Licensing servers to the security group, thereby authorizing the instances for RD Licensing.
  4. Install your Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) on the RD Licensing server. You can connect to the instances from the AWS Management Console to install the RDS CALs.
  5. Create other hosts for use as RD Session Hosts (RDSH1 in the diagram). Add the hosts to the same domain as your RD Licensing servers.
  6. A user (in this case jsmith) attempts to open an RDS session.
  7. The RD Session Host requests an RDS CAL from the RD Licensing Server.
  8. The RD Licensing Server returns an RDS CAL to the RD Session Host.

Because the user exists in AWS Microsoft AD, authentication happens against AWS Microsoft AD. The order of authentication relative to session creation depends on whether you configure your RD Session Host for Network Level Authentication.

Enable your users to open remote desktop sessions with their on-premises credentials

If you have an on-premises AD domain with users, your users can open remote desktop sessions with their on-premises credentials if you create a forest trust from AWS Microsoft AD to your Active Directory. The trust enables using on-premises credentials without the need for complex directory synchronization or replication. The following diagram illustrates how to configure a system using the same steps as in the previous section, except that you must create a one-way trust to your on-premises domain in Step 1a. With the trust in place, AWS Microsoft AD refers the RD Session Host to the on-premises domain for authentication.

Diagram illustrating how to configure a system using the same steps as in the previous section, except that you must create a one-way trust to your on-premises domain in Step 1a

Summary

In this post, I have explained how to authorize RD Licensing in AWS Microsoft AD to support EC2-based remote desktop sessions for AWS managed users and on-premises AD managed users. To learn more about how to use AWS Microsoft AD, see the AWS Directory Service documentation. For general information and pricing, see the AWS Directory Service home page.

If you have comments about this blog post, submit a comment in the “Comments” section below. If you have implementation or troubleshooting questions, please start a new thread on the Directory Service forum.

– Ron

Amazon QuickSight Spring Announcement: KPI Charts, Export to CSV, AD Connector, and More!

Post Syndicated from Jose Kunnackal original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/amazon-quicksight-spring-announcement-kpi-charts-export-to-csv-ad-connector-and-more/

Today I’m excited to share with you a number of exciting new features and enhancements in Amazon QuickSight. You can now create key performance indicator (KPI) charts, define custom ranges when importing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, export data to comma separated value (CSV) format, and create aggregate filters for SPICE data sets. In the Enterprise Edition, we added an additional option to connect to your on-premises Active Directory using AD Connector.

KPI charts

With KPI charts, you can present a single aggregated value from a measure, and also comparisons against another measure or over a time period. These values are ideal for building dashboards and surfacing key business metrics. For example, the following KPI chart shows the sales of the current month and the difference compared to the previous month.

To get started with this new chart type, simply select a measure and QuickSight’s AutoGraph capability automatically generates a KPI chart based on the measure. You can then choose to add another measure for a target value, or a dimension for the trend group to add comparisons. Alternatively, you can select the KPI chart type icon on the Visual Types panel to create the chart manually. 

Custom ranges for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets

In this release, we also added some enhancements to our Microsoft Excel support. When you upload an Excel spreadsheet, QuickSight now automatically detects the cell range of your table in the sheet. This approach makes it even easier to analyze your Excel data. Also, if you have a specific area in the sheet that you want to focus on, you can now define a custom range in QuickSight. 

Export to CSV

One of the most frequent feature requests we receive from customers is the ability to export visualizations in CSV format. This export format makes it possible for insights derived in QuickSight to be consumed by other means. You can now export your data to CSV by selecting the visual you want to export, clicking on the top-right menu icon, and choosing Export to CSV. 

Aggregate filters for SPICE data sets

With aggregate filters for SPICE data sets, you can now define filter conditions after aggregations have been applied on a metric. For example, in the Business Review sample analysis, you can now filter on customers who have been billed more than $2 million, in total, over time.

AD Connector

With the announcement of Enterprise Edition last December, we added support for user authentication using AWS Managed Microsoft Active Directory (AD). This support allows you to provision and authenticate your users by connecting to an AWS hosted Microsoft AD, or a trusted on-premises AD. Using Managed Microsoft AD, you can easily provision users across multiple cloud and on-premises domains using trust relationships provisioned with the respective ADs.

With this new announcement, we are adding an additional option to connect QuickSight to your on-premises AD using AD Connector. AD Connector doesn’t require provisioning and maintenance of trust relationships with ADs. Instead, AD Connector acts as a proxy that forwards sign-in requests to your on-premises AD for validation. As with Managed Microsoft AD, users log in to QuickSight using their existing AD credentials. Security policies related to password expiration, password history, RADIUS-based multifactor authentication (MFA), and account lockouts are enforced by the AD as usual. QuickSight Enterprise Edition supports the AD Connector in US East (N. Virginia). You have the option to provision SPICE capacity in all supported regions. 

Learn more

To learn more about these capabilities and start using them in your dashboards, check out the QuickSight User Guide.

Stay engaged

If you have questions and suggestions, you can post them on the QuickSight Discussion Forum.

Not a QuickSight user?

Click here to get started for FREE.

Amazon Connect – Customer Contact Center in the Cloud

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-connect-customer-contact-center-in-the-cloud/

Customer service is essential to the success of any business. In order to provide voice-based customer service at scale, many organizations operate call centers. At the low end, call centers simply route incoming calls to any available agent. More sophisticated systems support more sophisticated routing and interaction, including the ability to create customized call trees and other Integrated Voice Response (IVR) systems. Traditionally, IVR systems have been difficult to install and expensive to license, with capacity-based pricing the norm.

The Amazon customer service organization aims to deliver an exceptional level of services to our customers. In order to do this at scale, the organization employs tens of thousands of agents working at more than 50 groups and subsidiaries centers scattered around the world, supporting customers that speak a wide variety of languages.

Welcome to Amazon Connect
Today I would like to introduce you to Amazon Connect. Building on the same technology used by many of our own customer service teams, Amazon Connect lets you set up a cloud-based contact center in minutes. You create your contact center, design your contact flows (similar to IVRs), and on-board your agents using a modern interface that is entirely web-based.

Instead of requiring help from IT teams and specialized consultants, Amazon Connect is simple enough to be configured and run directly by business decision makers. There’s no hardware to deploy and no per-agent licenses. Instead, you pay based on the number of customer-minutes and the amount of phone time that you consume. This scalable, pay-as-you-go model means that you can use Amazon Connect in situations where your call volume is unpredictable, spiky, or both.

Amazon Connect works with many different AWS services including:

Amazon S3Amazon Connect uses S3 to provide unlimited, encrypted storage of calls (audio) and reports.

AWS Lambda – This give you the ability to run code in serverless fashion as part of a customer contact. The code can pull data from your CRM or your database and use the data to provide a personalized customer experience.

Amazon Lex – Customer contacts can make use of natural language, conversational interfaces powered by the same technology behind Alexa. This aspect of Amazon Connect is being released in preview form and I’ll have more information about it some time soon.

AWS Directory ServiceAmazon Connect can reference an existing Active Directory or it can create a new one. The directory is used to store user (administrator, manager, or agent) identities and permissions.

Amazon KinesisAmazon Connect can stream contact trace records (CTRs) to Amazon Kinesis. From there they can be pushed to Amazon S3 or Amazon Redshift and analyzed using Amazon QuickSight or other business analytics tools.

Amazon CloudWatchAmazon Connect publishes real-time operational metrics to CloudWatch. These metrics will tell you how many calls are arriving per second, how many are being held in queues, and so forth. You can use these metrics to observe the performance of your contact center and to make sure that you have the right number of agents on hand.

Amazon Connect Benefits & Features
Let’s take a look at the major benefits and features of Amazon Connect.

Cloud-PoweredAmazon Connect is an integral part of AWS, and is designed to be robust, scalable, and highly available. Each contact center instance runs in multiple AWS Availability Zones.

Simple – As I already noted, Amazon Connect was designed to be set up and run by business decision makers. The graphical console makes the setup process (including the design of graphical call flows) easy and efficient.

Flexible – The Contact Flow Editor (CFE) that powers Amazon Connect includes blocks for interaction, integration, control flow, branching, and more. Call flows can include a mixture of prerecorded audio prompts, generated audio, Lex-powered interaction, integration with existing systems and databases, conversations with agents, call transfers, and more.

EconomicalAmazon Connect‘s pay-as-you-go model keeps operating costs in line with actual usage. On the agent side, Amazon Connect includes a softphone that supports high quality audio.

Amazon Connect Tour
Let’s set up a customer contact center, starting at the Amazon Connect console. I click on Get started:

I can choose to use an existing directory or I can create a new one, which I’ll do. I’ll set up the URL for my contact center to proceed. This URL will allow my contact center’s users to sign in:

Next, I set myself up as the administrator:

My contact center can accept incoming calls, make outgoing calls, or both. Outgoing calls can be made as part of a contact flow or by an agent. I simply specify what I need (I’ll choose my direct dial and/or toll-free numbers later):

Next, I specify the S3 locations (buckets and prefixes) for call recording and reports. I can use separate buckets and prefixes for each, along with distinct AWS Key Management Service (KMS) encryption keys:

Then I confirm my choices and click on Create instance:

A few seconds later my Amazon Connect instance is ready to go, and I can click on Get started:

Amazon Connect logs me in using the administrator credentials that I entered earlier, and then I click on Let’s go to proceed:

Now I can get set up to accept my first call, by choosing a toll free or direct dial phone number:

I am ready to accept my first call:

I call the number on my cell and walk through the options. I press “1” to speak to an agent, and the softphone offers to let me (playing the role of the agent) take the call:

Now that the Amazon Connect is set up and accepting calls, I can explore the Dashboard and configure my contact center:

I can see the phone numbers that are associated with the call center:

And I can claim additional numbers (up to 10 direct inward dialing and 10 toll free), choosing from numbers in a wide list of countries:

At the bottom of the screen I can choose the contact flow that is activated when the number is called:

Returning to the dashboard, the next step is to set the hours of operation. I can see the list of existing hours of operation, and I can create a new one:

I can have multiple hours of operation, each of which can be attached to a queue or referenced from a contact flow.

Now I can create queues to model the routing of contacts (incoming calls) to agents. Queues can represent priorities (different levels of regular and premium support), or agents with different business or language skills.

I also have the ability to create prompts. These are audio snippets that can be referenced from a contact flow. I can upload an existing WAV file or I can record one from within the browser:

Next, I can create a new contact flow or edit an existing one. A contact flow defines the customer experience after they make contact. Here is the sample flow that is set up by default:

I can find the desired block in the menu, drag it on to the canvas, and connect it in to the flow:

Then I click on the header of the block to set it up. I can use a prompt, or I can choose between static or dynamic text to speech (dynamic speech would reference a value attached to the call flow, perhaps resulting from a database lookup):

One of the most powerful and general blocks allows me to call a Lambda function during the contact flow. The function can pull data from a database, connect to a CRM, or implement any desired type of business logic. The function is provided with key-value pairs as input, and returns the same as output. The returned values are associated with the execution of the flow.

The next step is to create a routing profile, consisting of one or more queues, with associated priorities. The priorities allow agents to service multiple queues in the proper order (lower numbers are higher priority); you can combine priorities and delays to set up routing rules that are in accord with the needs of your users and your contact center:

The final step is to add and empower the users (administrators, managers, agents, and so forth). This can be done on a user-by-user basis or by importing a CSV file that contains definitions for multiple users. Here’s how I add a user named Hello World:

I can also create a hierarchy of agents (great for regional and/or divisional reporting).

Amazon Connect lets me use security profiles to control the permissions assigned to each type of user:

I also have access to operational metrics, both real-time and historical. Here are some of the real-time metrics (the time frame and displayed fields can be customized as needed):

The metrics are published to CloudWatch, where they can be used to drive alarms.

I hope that this brief tour has given you a reasonably thorough introduction to Amazon Connect, and would love to hear how you have used it to modernize your contact center and to improve the level of service that you can provide to your customers:

As you can see, it is a rich and powerful service, with plenty of room for customization and extension. There are plenty of advanced features and configuration options that you can explore on your own.

Available Now
Amazon Connect is available now in the US East (Northern Virginia) Region and you can create a contact center today!

Pricing, as I noted, is on a pay-as-you-go basis. You pay for each contact center and each active phone call (inbound or outbound) on a per-minute basis. As part of the AWS Free Tier, you get 90 minutes of contact center usage, two phone numbers (DID and toll-free), 30 minutes of inbound DID calls, 30 minutes of inbound toll-free calls, and 30 minutes of outbound calls, all per month, for an entire year.

Jeff;

PS – Visit the Amazon Connect Images album to see my entire LEGO build!