Tag Archives: Amazon WorkMail

An introduction to Amazon WorkMail Audit Logging

Post Syndicated from Zip Zieper original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/an-introduction-to-amazon-workmail-audit-logging/

Amazon WorkMail’s new audit logging capability equips email system administrators with powerful visibility into mailbox activities and system events across their organization. As announced in our recent “What’s New” post, this feature enables the comprehensive capture and delivery of critical email data, empowering administrators to monitor, analyze, and maintain compliance.

With audit logging, WorkMail records a wide range of events, including metadata about messages sent, received, and failed login attempts, and configuration changes. Administrators have the option to deliver these audit logs to their preferred AWS services, such as Amazon Simple Storage System (S3) for long-term storage, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose for real-time data streaming, or Amazon CloudWatch Logs for centralized log management. Additionally, standard CloudWatch metrics on audit logs provide deep insights into the usage and health of WorkMail mailboxes within the organization.

By leveraging Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging capabilities, enterprises have the ability to strengthen their security posture, fulfill regulatory requirements, and gain critical visibility into the email activities that underpin their daily operations. This post will explore the technical details and practical use cases of this powerful new feature.

In this blog, you will learn how to configure your WorkMail organization to send email audit logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, Amazon S3, and Amazon Data Firehose . We’ll also provide examples that show how to monitor access to your Amazon WorkMail Organization’s mailboxes by querying the logs via CloudWatch Log Insights.

Email security

Imagine you are the email administrator for a biotech company, and you’ve received a report about spam complaints coming from your company’s email system. When you investigate, you learn these complaints point to unauthorized emails originating from several of your company’s mailboxes. One or more of your company’s email accounts may have been compromised by a hacker. You’ll need to determine the specific mailboxes involved, understand who has access to those mailboxes, and how the mailboxes have been accessed. This will be useful in identifying mailboxes with multiple failed logins or unfamiliar IP access, which can indicate unauthorized attempts or hacking. To identify the cause of the security breach, you require access to detailed audit logs and familiar tools to analyze extensive log data and locate the root of your issues.

Amazon WorkMail Audit Logging

Amazon WorkMail is a secure, managed business email service that hosts millions of mailboxes globally. WorkMail features robust audit logging capabilities, equipping IT administrators and security experts with in-depth analysis of mailbox usage patterns. Audit logging provides detailed insights into user activities within WorkMail. Organizations can detect potential security vulnerabilities by utilizing audit logs. These logs document user logins, access permissions, and other critical activities. WorkMail audit logging facilitates compliance with various regulatory requirements, providing a clear audit trail of data privacy and security. WorkMail’s audit logs are crucial for maintaining the integrity, confidentiality, and reliability of your organization’s email system.

Understanding WorkMail Audit Logging

Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging feature provides you with the data you need to have a thorough understanding of your email mailbox activities. By sending detailed logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, Amazon S3, and Amazon Data Firehose, administrators can identify mailbox access issues, track access by IP addresses, and review mailbox data movements or deletions using familiar tools. It is also possible to configure multiple destinations for each log to meet the needs of a variety of use cases, including compliance archiving.

WorkMail offers four audit logs:

  • ACCESS CONTROL LOGS – These logs record evaluations of access control rules, noting whether access to the endpoint was granted or denied in accordance with the configured rules;
  • AUTHENTICATION LOGS – These logs capture details of login activities, chronicling both successful and failed authentication attempts;
  • AVAILABILITY PROVIDER LOGS – These logs document the use of the Availability Providers feature, tracking its operational status and interactions feature;
  • MAILBOX ACCESS LOGS – Logs in this category record each attempt to access mailboxes within the WorkMail Organization, providing a detailed account of credential and protocol access patterns.

Once audit logging is enabled, alerts can be configured to warn of authentication or access anomalies that surpass predetermined thresholds. JSON formatting allows for advanced processing and analysis of audit logs by third party tools. Audit logging stores all interactions with the exception of web mail client authentication metrics.

WorkMail audit logging in action

Below are two examples that show how WorkMail’s audit logging can be used to investigate unauthorized login attempts, and diagnose a misconfigured email client. In both examples, we’ll use WorkMail’s Mailbox Access Control Logs and query the mailbox access control logs in CloudWatch Log Insights.

In our first example, we’re looking for unsuccessful login attempts in a target timeframe. In CloudWatch Log Insights we run this query:

fields user, source_ip, protocol, auth_successful, auth_failed_reason | filter auth_successful = 0

CloudWatch Log Insights returns all records in the timeframe, providing auth_succesful = 0 (false) and auth_failed_reason = Invalid username or password. We also see the source_ip, which we may decide to block in a WorkMail access control rule, or any other network security system.

Log - unsuccessful Login Attempt

Mailbox Access Control Log – an unsuccessful login attempt

In this next example, consider a WorkMail organization that has elected to block the IMAP protocol using a WorkMail access control rule (below):

WorkMail Access Control Rule blocking IMAP

WorkMail Access Control Rule – block IMAP protocol

Because some email clients use IMAP by default, occasionally new users in this example organization are denied access to email due to an incorrectly configured email client. Using WorkMail’s mailbox access control logs in CloudWatch Log Insights we run this query:

fields user_id, source_ip, protocol, rule_id, access_granted | filter access_granted = 0

And we see the user’s attempt to access their email inbox via IMAP has been denied by the access control rule_id (below):

WorkMail Access Control logs - IMAP blocked by access rule

WorkMail Access Control logs – IMAP blocked by access rule


Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging feature offers comprehensive view of your organization’s email activities. Four different logs provide visibility into access controls, authentication attempts, interactions with external systems, and mailbox activities. It provides flexible log delivery through native integration with AWS services and tools. Enabling WorkMail’s audit logging capabilities helps administrators meet compliance requirements and enhances the overall security and reliability of their email system.

To learn more about audit logging on Amazon WorkMail, you may comment on this post (below), view the WorkMail documentation, or reach out to your AWS account team.

To learn more about Amazon WorkMail, or to create a no-cost 30-day test organization, see Amazon WorkMail.

About the Authors


Luis Miguel Flores dos Santos

Miguel is a Solutions Architect at AWS, boasting over a decade of expertise in solution architecture, encompassing both on-premises and cloud solutions. His focus lies on resilience, performance, and automation. Currently, he is delving into serverless computing. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading, riding motorcycles, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy Wong is a Sr. Product Manager with the Amazon WorkMail team. He has 10 years of diverse experience in supporting enterprise customers and scaling start-up companies across different industries. Andy’s favorite activities outside of technology are soccer, tennis and free-diving.



Zip is a Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS, working with Amazon Pinpoint and Simple Email Service and WorkMail. Outside of work he enjoys time with his family, cooking, mountain biking, boating, learning and beach plogging.

How To Build an Email Service on SES

Post Syndicated from tweirjon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-to-build-an-email-service-on-ses/


Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) handles hundreds of billions of email messages every month. While many are outbound, one of the fastest-growing parts of the business is for inbound traffic. Customers send and receive email via SES using a combination of public SMTP interfaces and the SES SDK. Traditionally, most customers used SES alongside their existing corporate mail systems, but did you know it’s possible to build a complete email service with SES at its core? In fact, it’s already been done – it’s known as Amazon WorkMail, and it provides mailbox and calendar services to tens of thousands of customers (and millions of mailboxes) around the world.

Ingredients for Success

Email transport depends on a few core components. First of all, you have to be a reputable sender, or the receiving email systems are going to reject anything you try to send. You also have to be insulated against spurious reports of abuse, so that one bad apple can’t take down the entire service for everyone. The solution for both of those issues is the same: have an enormous number of public Mail Transfer Agents (MTAs), and manage their IP reputations actively. If someone reports spam coming from one of those IPs, and it gets added to a block list somewhere on the internet, you have to have a rapid response mechanism to engage with the block list operator and take their prescribed steps to clean up the entry.

The Highest Standards of Security

Similarly, you have to consult those same block lists when mail is sent to your own systems from anywhere on the internet. Inbound email is subjected to a variety of authentication steps before it’s released for delivery to a destination. Quality providers will leverage checks called SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail). SPF is designed to prevent malicious senders from masquerading as other domains, and DKIM enables a receiving system to validate the authenticity of the sender and to confirm it hasn’t been manipulated while in transit. If either of these checks fail, a receiving system may take action ranging from dropping the message entirely, to flagging it as suspicious but still delivering it to the user’s inbox. A third security control, DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) takes SPF and DKIM outputs and generates a series of instructions for receiving mailbox providers about what to do with questionable mail. Any serious provider will support these mechanisms and provide visibility into their actual performance on your email.

Amazon WorkMail’s Interface with SES

Once you’ve got clean email and reputable senders or recipients, you have to be able to figure out where to deliver the message itself. SES Inbound has a specific internal action when used with WorkMail, where the message is routed to WorkMail’s own infrastructure for matching against a known user’s inbox and performing the indexing and storage operations necessary to make it show up in your desktop, web, or mobile mail client. There are a number of options which may take place while that message is in transit, however, and the SES framework supports those with its flexible routing options. For example, a very popular choice is for customers to trigger a transport rule powered by AWS Lambda for inbound and/or outbound messages. Some of these are simple – they append a standard banner to the message if it is inbound from an external source, for example – but there is really no limit to what programmatic steps can be taken. You could submit message content to a large language model (LLM) for training or inspection. You could examine its use of language with AWS Bedrock to train a foundational model in generative AI about how to write emails itself. WorkMail and SES support and encourage these kind of big ideas for working with your message content.

Managing Spikes and Growth

Another critical advantage SES provides is the ability to absorb huge spikes in inbound traffic, and to sustain very large permitted volumes of outbound traffic as well. Email’s underlying standards and protocols offer administrators some degree of control over delays in transit, by implementing retry intervals to buffer messages if they can’t be delivered immediately. The classic on-premise enterprise use case, however, still runs the risk of overwhelming the capacity of the (single) mail server, either due to a malicious action by a sender or a huge increase in usage over a very short period of time. SES absorbs those spikes automatically and has orders of magnitude more capacity than any typical on-premise deployment, meaning that your mail enjoys multiple tiers of buffering only when required, and with no introduced latency if buffering is unnecessary.

Putting it All Together

So how does it all work together? The inbound use case is our main focus. When a message arrives via SMTP, SES first interrogates a back-end directory to confirm that the message is destined for an SES customer. If so, it looks up how the customer’s domain is configured, or if it is a WorkMail customer domain. From there the message passes through the SES message scanner, where its content is evaluated for spam or malware, and a scoring indicator is added to the message headers. That score may result in the message being dropped altogether, or it may result in the message ultimately being delivered to a Junk Mail folder in a WorkMail mailbox. Once scored, the message is either stored in the customer’s S3 storage, or delivered to WorkMail for further processing, such as being put in a specific folder, or redirected to another recipient. Once it’s stored somewhere, the customer can interact with it either using SES APIs, or via standard mail clients interacting with a WorkMail mailbox. In practice a mailbox is a structured object format also within S3, but without raw S3 access because the storage is managed as a system resource within WorkMail instead of being owned by an end customer.

The Customer Experience

When a WorkMail customer wants to send a message, they compose it in a mail client and then click ‘Send’ to send it via SMTP. In the outbound case WorkMail relays the message to SES internet-facing mail relays, which in turn look up the recipient domain information for details on how to route it. SES mail relays also perform the necessary security and authentication checks to ensure that the message is sent by a valid user (either SES native or WorkMail) and that the content is cryptographically signed so a receiving system can verify it hasn’t been manipulated in transit, using the DKIM mechanism described previously. When those steps are complete, the message is handed off to the next mail relay on the internet, and SES has no further role in its future unless a receiving system flags it as abusive. In that case the feedback is delivered to SES automatically and a series of containment actions are considered based on the nature and history of abuse reports. Thus the feedback loop to IP reputation is maintained even in the case of a rogue actor sending bad mail.

Robust Tooling Makes Email Look Easy

The bottom line is that SES enables these flows, and a customer wanting to build a comprehensive mail system could do so themselves if they didn’t want to use WorkMail or another existing email service provider. We’ve seen a tremendous range of creative solution-building from customers when they combine SES inbound and outbound mail, a subset of WorkMail mailboxes and their own rules and organization policies, the use of AWS Lambdas, and inline email security gateways. The flexibility to build whatever you need, without being tied to a single product vendor, is what makes SES so popular with its customers, and ensures that WorkMail – as a turnkey mail service – works so reliably for those customers who just need their mail and calendar to work.

How AWS is Supporting Nonprofits, Governments, and Communities Impacted by Hurricane Ida

Post Syndicated from AWS News Blog Team original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/how-aws-is-supporting-nonprofits-governments-and-communities-impacted-by-hurricane-ida/

Image of a man in a blue shirt running cable through a wall.

AWS Disaster Response Team volunteer Paul Fries runs cable to provide connectivity in a police station that has been converted into a supply distribution center and housing for National Guard troops and FEMA.

During the crisis that has resulted in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the AWS Disaster Response Team is providing personnel and resources to support our customers, including the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), St. Bernard Parish government, and Crisis Cleanup.

In 2018, Amazon Web Services launched the AWS Disaster Response Program to support governments and nonprofits actively responding to natural disasters. Guided by the belief that technology has the power to solve the world’s most pressing issues, the AWS Disaster Response Team has been working around the clock to provide pro bono assistance to public sector organizations responding to Hurricane Ida’s widespread damage.

The team brings in technical expertise in the form of solutions architects, machine learning practitioners, experts in edge computing, and others across AWS. This allows AWS to support organizations responding to disasters and help them overcome the unique challenges they face.

Establishing Connectivity

When Hurricane Ida hit the United States on August 29th, 2021, it caused power outages and major disruptions to infrastructures for water, power, cellular, and commercial communications. In the South, many were left homeless or without electricity, gas, or water by Ida’s winds and flooding. In New York and New Jersey, hundreds of thousands of people lost power. The AWS Disaster Response team activated its response protocol, including technical volunteer support on the ground and financial support to disaster relief nonprofit ITDRC for its efforts to establish local internet connectivity and cell phone charging stations. This critical support – including almost 100 sites in New Orleans, Houma, and other heavily impacted areas of Louisiana – is enabling public safety agencies, responding relief organizations, social services, and community members to communicate and coordinate as they respond to and recover from Ida.

Increasing Capacity

AWS volunteers supported disaster relief nonprofit Crisis Cleanup by providing technical AWS service architecture guidance, enabling them to increase their capacity to provide call-backs to community members requesting assistance with tasks like cutting fallen trees and tarping roofs that were damaged by the storm. AWS volunteers are also helping Crisis Cleanup by conducting call-backs, bolstering their volunteer base to reach a greater number of people more quickly than otherwise would have been possible.

Building Resiliency

To support the St. Bernard Parish government, located just outside of New Orleans, AWS assisted with the deployment of Amazon WorkMail to facilitate more resilient communication across teams when their email server was knocked offline when the power went out. Using Amazon WorkMail helped enable government personnel to more effectively communicate by utilizing the cloud instead of traditional infrastructures.

The AWS Disaster Response Team continues to field requests for support following Hurricane Ida, and is also working with other organizations to support their resilience planning and disaster preparedness efforts.

Learn More

Check out the AWS Disaster Response page for more information. To donate cash and supplies to organizations such as Feeding America and Save the Children, visit the Amazon page on Hurricane Ida or just say, “Alexa, I want to donate to Hurricane Ida relief.”