Tag Archives: AWS CloudTrail

Prime Day 2023 Powered by AWS – All the Numbers

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/prime-day-2023-powered-by-aws-all-the-numbers/

As part of my annual tradition to tell you about how AWS makes Prime Day possible, I am happy to be able to share some chart-topping metrics (check out my 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 posts for a look back).

This year I bought all kinds of stuff for my hobbies including a small drill press, filament for my 3D printer, and irrigation tools. I also bought some very nice Alphablock books for my grandkids. According to our official release, the first day of Prime Day was the single largest sales day ever on Amazon and for independent sellers, with more than 375 million items purchased.

Prime Day by the Numbers
As always, Prime Day was powered by AWS. Here are some of the most interesting and/or mind-blowing metrics:

Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) – The Amazon Prime Day event resulted in an incremental 163 petabytes of EBS storage capacity allocated – generating a peak of 15.35 trillion requests and 764 petabytes of data transfer per day. Compared to the previous year, Amazon increased the peak usage on EBS by only 7% Year-over-Year yet delivered +35% more traffic per day due to efficiency efforts including workload optimization using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) AWS Graviton-based instances. Here’s a visual comparison:

AWS CloudTrail – AWS CloudTrail processed over 830 billion events in support of Prime Day 2023.

Amazon DynamoDB – DynamoDB powers multiple high-traffic Amazon properties and systems including Alexa, the Amazon.com sites, and all Amazon fulfillment centers. Over the course of Prime Day, these sources made trillions of calls to the DynamoDB API. DynamoDB maintained high availability while delivering single-digit millisecond responses and peaking at 126 million requests per second.

Amazon Aurora – On Prime Day, 5,835 database instances running the PostgreSQL-compatible and MySQL-compatible editions of Amazon Aurora processed 318 billion transactions, stored 2,140 terabytes of data, and transferred 836 terabytes of data.

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) – Amazon SES sent 56% more emails for Amazon.com during Prime Day 2023 vs. 2022, delivering 99.8% of those emails to customers.

Amazon CloudFront – Amazon CloudFront handled a peak load of over 500 million HTTP requests per minute, for a total of over 1 trillion HTTP requests during Prime Day.

Amazon SQS – During Prime Day, Amazon SQS set a new traffic record by processing 86 million messages per second at peak. This is 22% increase from Prime Day of 2022, where SQS supported 70.5M messages/sec.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – During Prime Day 2023, Amazon used tens of millions of normalized AWS Graviton-based Amazon EC2 instances, 2.7x more than in 2022, to power over 2,600 services. By using more Graviton-based instances, Amazon was able to get the compute capacity needed while using up to 60% less energy.

Amazon Pinpoint – Amazon Pinpoint sent tens of millions of SMS messages to customers during Prime Day 2023 with a delivery success rate of 98.3%.

Prepare to Scale
Every year I reiterate the same message: rigorous preparation is key to the success of Prime Day and our other large-scale events. If you are preparing for a similar chart-topping event of your own, I strongly recommend that you take advantage of AWS Infrastructure Event Management (IEM). As part of an IEM engagement, my colleagues will provide you with architectural and operational guidance that will help you to execute your event with confidence!


How to Receive Alerts When Your IAM Configuration Changes

Post Syndicated from Dylan Souvage original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-receive-alerts-when-your-iam-configuration-changes/

July 27, 2023: This post was originally published February 5, 2015, and received a major update July 31, 2023.

As an Amazon Web Services (AWS) administrator, it’s crucial for you to implement robust protective controls to maintain your security configuration. Employing a detective control mechanism to monitor changes to the configuration serves as an additional safeguard in case the primary protective controls fail. Although some changes are expected, you might want to review unexpected changes or changes made by a privileged user. AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a service that primarily helps manage access to AWS services and resources securely. It does provide detailed logs of its activity, but it doesn’t inherently provide real-time alerts or notifications. Fortunately, you can use a combination of AWS CloudTrail, Amazon EventBridge, and Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) to alert you when changes are made to your IAM configuration. In this blog post, we walk you through how to set up EventBridge to initiate SNS notifications for IAM configuration changes. You can also have SNS push messages directly to ticketing or tracking services, such as Jira, Service Now, or your preferred method of receiving notifications, but that is not discussed here.

In any AWS environment, many activities can take place at every moment. CloudTrail records IAM activities, EventBridge filters and routes event data, and Amazon SNS provides notification functionality. This post will guide you through identifying and setting alerts for IAM changes, modifications in authentication and authorization configurations, and more. The power is in your hands to make sure you’re notified of the events you deem most critical to your environment. Here’s a quick overview of how you can invoke a response, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Simple architecture diagram of actors and resources in your account and the process for sending notifications through IAM, CloudTrail, EventBridge, and SNS.

Figure 1: Simple architecture diagram of actors and resources in your account and the process for sending notifications through IAM, CloudTrail, EventBridge, and SNS.

Log IAM changes with CloudTrail

Before we dive into implementation, let’s briefly understand the function of AWS CloudTrail. It records and logs activity within your AWS environment, tracking actions such as IAM role creation, deletion, or modification, thereby offering an audit trail of changes.

With this in mind, we’ll discuss the first step in tracking IAM changes: establishing a log for each modification. In this section, we’ll guide you through using CloudTrail to create these pivotal logs.

For an in-depth understanding of CloudTrail, refer to the AWS CloudTrail User Guide.

In this post, you’re going to start by creating a CloudTrail trail with the Management events type selected, and read and write API activity selected. If you already have a CloudTrail trail set up with those attributes, you can use that CloudTrail trail instead.

To create a CloudTrail log

  1. Open the AWS Management Console and select CloudTrail, and then choose Dashboard.
  2. In the CloudTrail dashboard, choose Create Trail.
    Figure 2: Use the CloudTrail dashboard to create a trail

    Figure 2: Use the CloudTrail dashboard to create a trail

  3. In the Trail name field, enter a display name for your trail and then select Create a new S3 bucket. Leave the default settings for the remaining trail attributes.
    Figure 3: Set the trail name and storage location

    Figure 3: Set the trail name and storage location

  4. Under Event type, select Management events. Under API activity, select Read and Write.
  5. Choose Next.
    Figure 4: Choose which events to log

    Figure 4: Choose which events to log

Set up notifications with Amazon SNS

Amazon SNS is a managed service that provides message delivery from publishers to subscribers. It works by allowing publishers to communicate asynchronously with subscribers by sending messages to a topic, a logical access point, and a communication channel. Subscribers can receive these messages using supported endpoint types, including email, which you will use in the blog example today.

For further reading on Amazon SNS, refer to the Amazon SNS Developer Guide.

Now that you’ve set up CloudTrail to log IAM changes, the next step is to establish a mechanism to notify you about these changes in real time.

To set up notifications

  1. Open the Amazon SNS console and choose Topics.
  2. Create a new topic. Under Type, select Standard and enter a name for your topic. Keep the defaults for the rest of the options, and then choose Create topic.
    Figure 5: Select Standard as the topic type

    Figure 5: Select Standard as the topic type

  3. Navigate to your topic in the topic dashboard, choose the Subscriptions tab, and then choose Create subscription.
    Figure 6: Choose Create subscription

    Figure 6: Choose Create subscription

  4. For Topic ARN, select the topic you created previously, then under Protocol, select Email and enter the email address you want the alerts to be sent to.
    Figure 7: Select the topic ARN and add an endpoint to send notifications to

    Figure 7: Select the topic ARN and add an endpoint to send notifications to

  5. After your subscription is created, go to the mailbox you designated to receive notifications and check for a verification email from the service. Open the email and select Confirm subscription to verify the email address and complete setup.

Initiate events with EventBridge

Amazon EventBridge is a serverless service that uses events to connect application components. EventBridge receives an event (an indicator of a change in environment) and applies a rule to route the event to a target. Rules match events to targets based on either the structure of the event, called an event pattern, or on a schedule.

Events that come to EventBridge are associated with an event bus. Rules are tied to a single event bus, so they can only be applied to events on that event bus. Your account has a default event bus that receives events from AWS services, and you can create custom event buses to send or receive events from a different account or AWS Region.

For a more comprehensive understanding of EventBridge, refer to the Amazon EventBridge User Guide.

In this part of our post, you’ll use EventBridge to devise a rule for initiating SNS notifications based on IAM configuration changes.

To create an EventBridge rule

  1. Go to the EventBridge console and select EventBridge Rule, and then choose Create rule.
    Figure 8: Use the EventBridge console to create a rule

    Figure 8: Use the EventBridge console to create a rule

  2. Enter a name for your rule, keep the defaults for the rest of rule details, and then choose Next.
    Figure 9: Rule detail screen

    Figure 9: Rule detail screen

  3. Under Target 1, select AWS service.
  4. In the dropdown list for Select a target, select SNS topic, select the topic you created previously, and then choose Next.
    Figure 10: Target with target type of AWS service and target topic of SNS topic selected

    Figure 10: Target with target type of AWS service and target topic of SNS topic selected

  5. Under Event source, select AWS events or EventBridge partner events.
    Figure 11: Event pattern with AWS events or EventBridge partner events selected

    Figure 11: Event pattern with AWS events or EventBridge partner events selected

  6. Under Event pattern, verify that you have the following selected.
    1. For Event source, select AWS services.
    2. For AWS service, select IAM.
    3. For Event type, select AWS API Call via CloudTrail.
    4. Select the radio button for Any operation.
    Figure 12: Event pattern details selected

    Figure 12: Event pattern details selected

Now that you’ve set up EventBridge to monitor IAM changes, test it by creating a new user or adding a new policy to an IAM role and see if you receive an email notification.

Centralize EventBridge alerts by using cross-account alerts

If you have multiple accounts, you should be evaluating using AWS Organizations. (For a deep dive into best practices for using AWS Organizations, we recommend reading this AWS blog post.)

By standardizing the implementation to channel alerts from across accounts to a primary AWS notification account, you can use a multi-account EventBridge architecture. This allows aggregation of notifications across your accounts through sender and receiver accounts. Figure 13 shows how this works. Separate member accounts within an AWS organizational unit (OU) have the same mechanism for monitoring changes and sending notifications as discussed earlier, but send notifications through an EventBridge instance in another account.

Figure 13: Multi-account EventBridge architecture aggregating notifications between two AWS member accounts to a primary management account

Figure 13: Multi-account EventBridge architecture aggregating notifications between two AWS member accounts to a primary management account

You can read more and see the implementation and deep dive of the multi-account EventBridge solution on the AWS samples GitHub, and you can also read more about sending and receiving Amazon EventBridge notifications between accounts.

Monitor calls to IAM

In this blog post example, you monitor calls to IAM.

The filter pattern you selected while setting up EventBridge matches CloudTrail events for calls to the IAM service. Calls to IAM have a CloudTrail eventSource of iam.amazonaws.com, so IAM API calls will match this pattern. You will find this simple default filter pattern useful if you have minimal IAM activity in your account or to test this example. However, as your account activity grows, you’ll likely receive more notifications than you need. This is when filtering only the relevant events becomes essential to prioritize your responses. Effectively managing your filter preferences allows you to focus on events of significance and maintain control as your AWS environment grows.

Monitor changes to IAM

If you’re interested only in changes to your IAM account, you can modify the event pattern inside EventBridge, the one you used to set up IAM notifications, with an eventName filter pattern, shown following.

"eventName": [

This filter pattern will only match events from the IAM service that begin with Add, Change, Create, Deactivate, Delete, Enable, Put, Remove, Update, or Upload. For more information about APIs matching these patterns, see the IAM API Reference.

To edit the filter pattern to monitor only changes to IAM

  1. Open the EventBridge console, navigate to the Event pattern, and choose Edit pattern.
    Figure 14: Modifying the event pattern

    Figure 14: Modifying the event pattern

  2. Add the eventName filter pattern from above to your event pattern.
    Figure 15: Use the JSON editor to add the eventName filter pattern

    Figure 15: Use the JSON editor to add the eventName filter pattern

Monitor changes to authentication and authorization configuration

Monitoring changes to authentication (security credentials) and authorization (policy) configurations is critical, because it can alert you to potential security vulnerabilities or breaches. For instance, unauthorized changes to security credentials or policies could indicate malicious activity, such as an attempt to gain unauthorized access to your AWS resources. If you’re only interested in these types of changes, use the preceding steps to implement the following filter pattern.

    "eventName": [

This filter pattern matches calls to IAM that modify policy or create, update, upload, and delete IAM elements.


Monitoring IAM security configuration changes allows you another layer of defense against the unexpected. Balancing productivity and security, you might grant a user broad permissions in order to facilitate their work, such as exploring new AWS services. Although preventive measures are crucial, they can potentially restrict necessary actions. For example, a developer may need to modify an IAM role for their task, an alteration that could pose a security risk. This change, while essential for their work, may be undesirable from a security standpoint. Thus, it’s critical to have monitoring systems alongside preventive measures, allowing necessary actions while maintaining security.

Create an event rule for IAM events that are important to you and have a response plan ready. You can refer to Security best practices in IAM for further reading on this topic.

If you have questions or feedback about this or any other IAM topic, please visit the IAM re:Post forum. You can also read about the multi-account EventBridge solution on the AWS samples GitHub and learn more about sending and receiving Amazon EventBridge notifications between accounts.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, contact AWS Support.

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Dylan Souvage

Dylan Souvage

Dylan is a Solutions Architect based in Toronto, Canada. Dylan loves working with customers to understand their business and enable them in their cloud journey. In his spare time, he enjoys martial arts, sports, anime, and traveling to warm, sunny places to spend time with his friends and family.

Abhra Sinha

Abhra Sinha

Abhra is a Toronto-based Enterprise Solutions Architect at AWS. Abhra enjoys being a trusted advisor to customers, working closely with them to solve their technical challenges and help build a secure, scalable architecture on AWS. In his spare time, he enjoys Photography and exploring new restaurants.

AWS Week in Review – Amazon EC2 Instance Connect Endpoint, Detective, Amazon S3 Dual Layer Encryption, Amazon Verified Permission – June 19, 2023

Post Syndicated from Sébastien Stormacq original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-week-in-review-amazon-ec2-instance-connect-endpoint-detective-amazon-s3-dual-layer-encryption-amazon-verified-permission-june-19-2023/

This week, I’ll meet you at AWS partner’s Jamf Nation Live in Amsterdam where we’re showing how to use Amazon EC2 Mac to deploy your remote developer workstations or configure your iOS CI/CD pipelines in the cloud.Mac in an instant

Last Week’s Launches
While I was traveling last week, I kept an eye on the AWS News. Here are some launches that got my attention.

Amazon EC2 Instance Connect Endpoint. Endpoint for EC2 Instance Connect allows you to securely access Amazon EC2 instances using their private IP addresses, making the use of bastion hosts obsolete. Endpoint for EC2 Instance Connect is by far my favorite launch from last week. With EC2 Instance Connect, you use AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies and principals to control SSH access to your instances. This removes the need to share and manage SSH keys. We also updated the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) to allow you to easily connect or open a secured tunnel to an instance using only its instance ID. I read and contributed to a couple of threads on social media where you pointed out that AWS Systems Manager Session Manager already offered similar capabilities. You’re right. But the extra advantage of EC2 Instance Connect Endpoint is that it allows you to use your existing SSH-based tools and libraries, such as the scp command.

Amazon Inspector now supports code scanning of AWS Lambda functions. This expands the existing capability to scan Lambda functions and associated layers for software vulnerabilities in application package dependencies. Amazon Detective also extends finding groups to Amazon Inspector. Detective automatically collects findings from Amazon Inspector, GuardDuty, and other AWS security services, such as AWS Security Hub, to help increase situational awareness of related security events.

Amazon Verified Permissions is generally available. If you’re designing or developing business applications that need to enforce user-based permissions, you have a new option to centrally manage application permissions. Verified Permissions is a fine-grained permissions management and authorization service for your applications that can be used at any scale. Verified Permissions centralizes permissions in a policy store and helps developers use those permissions to authorize user actions within their applications. Similarly to the way an identity provider simplifies authentication, a policy store lets you manage authorization in a consistent and scalable way. Read Danilo’s post to discover the details.

Amazon S3 Dual-Layer Server-Side Encryption with keys stored in AWS Key Management Service (DSSE-KMS). Some heavily regulated industries require double encryption to store some type of data at rest. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) offers DSSE-KMS, a new free encryption option that provides two layers of data encryption, using different keys and different implementation of the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard with Galois Counter Mode (AES-GCM) algorithm. My colleague Irshad’s post has all the details.

AWS CloudTrail Lake Dashboards provide out-of-the-box visibility and top insights from your audit and security data directly within the CloudTrail Lake console. CloudTrail Lake features a number of AWS curated dashboards so you can get started right away – with no required detailed dashboard setup or SQL experience.

AWS IAM Identity Center now supports automated user provisioning from Google Workspace. You can now connect your Google Workspace to AWS IAM Identity Center (successor to AWS Single Sign-On) once and manage access to AWS accounts and applications centrally in IAM Identity Center.

AWS CloudShell is now available in 12 additional regions. AWS CloudShell is a browser-based shell that makes it easier to securely manage, explore, and interact with your AWS resources. The list of the 12 new Regions is detailed in the launch announcement.

For a full list of AWS announcements, be sure to keep an eye on the What’s New at AWS page.

Other AWS News
Here are some other updates and news that you might have missed:

  • AWS Extension for Stable Diffusion WebUI. WebUI is a popular open-source web interface that allows you to easily interact with Stable Diffusion generative AI. We built this extension to help you to migrate existing workloads (such as inference, train, and ckpt merge) from your local or standalone servers to the AWS Cloud.
  • GoDaddy developed a multi-Region, event-driven system. Their system handles 400 millions events per day. They plan to scale it to process 2 billion messages per day in a near future. My colleague Marcia explains the detail of their architecture in her post.
  • The Official AWS Podcast – Listen each week for updates on the latest AWS news and deep dives into exciting use cases. There are also official AWS podcasts in several languages. Check out the podcasts in FrenchGermanItalian, and Spanish.
  • AWS Open Source News and Updates – This is a newsletter curated by my colleague Ricardo to bring you the latest open source projects, posts, events, and more.

Upcoming AWS Events
Check your calendars and sign up for these AWS events:

  • AWS Silicon Innovation Day (June 21) – A one-day virtual event that will allow you to better understand AWS Silicon and how you can use the Amazon EC2 chip offerings to your benefit. My colleague Irshad shared the details in this post. Register today.
  • AWS Global Summits – There are many AWS Summits going on right now around the world: Milano (June 22), Hong Kong (July 20), New York (July 26), Taiwan (Aug 2 & 3), and Sao Paulo (Aug 3).
  • AWS Community Day – Join a community-led conference run by AWS user group leaders in your region: Manila (June 29–30), Chile (July 1), and Munich (September 14).
  • AWS User Group Perú Conf 2023 (September 2023). Some of the AWS News blog writer team will be present: Marcia, Jeff, myself, and our colleague Startup Developer Advocate Mark. Save the date and register today.
  • CDK Day CDK Day is happening again this year on September 29. The call for papers for this event is open, and this year we’re also accepting talks in Spanish. Submit your talk here.

That’s all for this week. Check back next Monday for another Week in Review!

This post is part of our Week in Review series. Check back each week for a quick roundup of interesting news and announcements from AWS!
— seb

Simplify AWS Glue job orchestration and monitoring with Amazon MWAA

Post Syndicated from Rushabh Lokhande original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/simplify-aws-glue-job-orchestration-and-monitoring-with-amazon-mwaa/

Organizations across all industries have complex data processing requirements for their analytical use cases across different analytics systems, such as data lakes on AWS, data warehouses (Amazon Redshift), search (Amazon OpenSearch Service), NoSQL (Amazon DynamoDB), machine learning (Amazon SageMaker), and more. Analytics professionals are tasked with deriving value from data stored in these distributed systems to create better, secure, and cost-optimized experiences for their customers. For example, digital media companies seek to combine and process datasets in internal and external databases to build unified views of their customer profiles, spur ideas for innovative features, and increase platform engagement.

In these scenarios, customers looking for a serverless data integration offering use AWS Glue as a core component for processing and cataloging data. AWS Glue is well integrated with AWS services and partner products, and provides low-code/no-code extract, transform, and load (ETL) options to enable analytics, machine learning (ML), or application development workflows. AWS Glue ETL jobs may be one component in a more complex pipeline. Orchestrating the run of and managing dependencies between these components is a key capability in a data strategy. Amazon Managed Workflows for Apache Airflows (Amazon MWAA) orchestrates data pipelines using distributed technologies including on-premises resources, AWS services, and third-party components.

In this post, we show how to simplify monitoring an AWS Glue job orchestrated by Airflow using the latest features of Amazon MWAA.

Overview of solution

This post discusses the following:

  • How to upgrade an Amazon MWAA environment to version 2.4.3.
  • How to orchestrate an AWS Glue job from an Airflow Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG).
  • The Airflow Amazon provider package’s observability enhancements in Amazon MWAA. You can now consolidate run logs of AWS Glue jobs on the Airflow console to simplify troubleshooting data pipelines. The Amazon MWAA console becomes a single reference to monitor and analyze AWS Glue job runs. Previously, support teams needed to access the AWS Management Console and take manual steps for this visibility. This feature is available by default from Amazon MWAA version 2.4.3.

The following diagram illustrates our solution architecture.


You need the following prerequisites:

Set up the Amazon MWAA environment

For instructions on creating your environment, refer to Create an Amazon MWAA environment. For existing users, we recommend upgrading to version 2.4.3 to take advantage of the observability enhancements featured in this post.

The steps to upgrade Amazon MWAA to version 2.4.3 differ depending on whether the current version is 1.10.12 or 2.2.2. We discuss both options in this post.

Prerequisites for setting up an Amazon MWAA environment

You must meet the following prerequisites:

Upgrade from version 1.10.12 to 2.4.3

If you’re using Amazon MWAA version 1.10.12, refer to Migrating to a new Amazon MWAA environment to upgrade to 2.4.3.

Upgrade from version 2.0.2 or 2.2.2 to 2.4.3

If you’re using Amazon MWAA environment version 2.2.2 or lower, complete the following steps:

  1. Create a requirements.txt for any custom dependencies with specific versions required for your DAGs.
  2. Upload the file to Amazon S3 in the appropriate location where the Amazon MWAA environment points to the requirements.txt for installing dependencies.
  3. Follow the steps in Migrating to a new Amazon MWAA environment and select version 2.4.3.

Update your DAGs

Customers who upgraded from an older Amazon MWAA environment may need to make updates to existing DAGs. In Airflow version 2.4.3, the Airflow environment will use the Amazon provider package version 6.0.0 by default. This package may include some potentially breaking changes, such as changes to operator names. For example, the AWSGlueJobOperator has been deprecated and replaced with the GlueJobOperator. To maintain compatibility, update your Airflow DAGs by replacing any deprecated or unsupported operators from previous versions with the new ones. Complete the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Amazon AWS Operators.
  2. Select the appropriate version installed in your Amazon MWAA instance (6.0.0. by default) to find a list of supported Airflow operators.
  3. Make the necessary changes in the existing DAG code and upload the modified files to the DAG location in Amazon S3.

Orchestrate the AWS Glue job from Airflow

This section covers the details of orchestrating an AWS Glue job within Airflow DAGs. Airflow eases the development of data pipelines with dependencies between heterogeneous systems such as on-premises processes, external dependencies, other AWS services, and more.

Orchestrate CloudTrail log aggregation with AWS Glue and Amazon MWAA

In this example, we go through a use case of using Amazon MWAA to orchestrate an AWS Glue Python Shell job that persists aggregated metrics based on CloudTrail logs.

CloudTrail enables visibility into AWS API calls that are being made in your AWS account. A common use case with this data would be to gather usage metrics on principals acting on your account’s resources for auditing and regulatory needs.

As CloudTrail events are being logged, they are delivered as JSON files in Amazon S3, which aren’t ideal for analytical queries. We want to aggregate this data and persist it as Parquet files to allow for optimal query performance. As an initial step, we can use Athena to do the initial querying of the data before doing additional aggregations in our AWS Glue job. For more information about creating an AWS Glue Data Catalog table, refer to Creating the table for CloudTrail logs in Athena using partition projection data. After we’ve explored the data via Athena and decided what metrics we want to retain in aggregate tables, we can create an AWS Glue job.

Create an CloudTrail table in Athena

First, we need to create a table in our Data Catalog that allows CloudTrail data to be queried via Athena. The following sample query creates a table with two partitions on the Region and date (called snapshot_date). Be sure to replace the placeholders for your CloudTrail bucket, AWS account ID, and CloudTrail table name:

create external table if not exists `<<<CLOUDTRAIL_TABLE_NAME>>>`(
  `eventversion` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `useridentity` struct<type:string,principalid:string,arn:string,accountid:string,invokedby:string,accesskeyid:string,username:string,sessioncontext:struct<attributes:struct<mfaauthenticated:string,creationdate:string>,sessionissuer:struct<type:string,principalid:string,arn:string,accountid:string,username:string>>> comment 'from deserializer', 
  `eventtime` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `eventsource` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `eventname` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `awsregion` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `sourceipaddress` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `useragent` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `errorcode` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `errormessage` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `requestparameters` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `responseelements` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `additionaleventdata` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `requestid` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `eventid` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `resources` array<struct<arn:string,accountid:string,type:string>> comment 'from deserializer', 
  `eventtype` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `apiversion` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `readonly` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `recipientaccountid` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `serviceeventdetails` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `sharedeventid` string comment 'from deserializer', 
  `vpcendpointid` string comment 'from deserializer')
  `region` string,
  `snapshot_date` string)

Run the preceding query on the Athena console, and note the table name and AWS Glue Data Catalog database where it was created. We use these values later in the Airflow DAG code.

Sample AWS Glue job code

The following code is a sample AWS Glue Python Shell job that does the following:

  • Takes arguments (which we pass from our Amazon MWAA DAG) on what day’s data to process
  • Uses the AWS SDK for Pandas to run an Athena query to do the initial filtering of the CloudTrail JSON data outside AWS Glue
  • Uses Pandas to do simple aggregations on the filtered data
  • Outputs the aggregated data to the AWS Glue Data Catalog in a table
  • Uses logging during processing, which will be visible in Amazon MWAA
import awswrangler as wr
import pandas as pd
import sys
import logging
from awsglue.utils import getResolvedOptions
from datetime import datetime, timedelta

# Logging setup, redirects all logs to stdout
LOGGER = logging.getLogger()
formatter = logging.Formatter('%(asctime)s.%(msecs)03d %(levelname)s %(module)s - %(funcName)s: %(message)s')
streamHandler = logging.StreamHandler(sys.stdout)

LOGGER.info(f"Passed Args :: {sys.argv}")

sql_query_template = """

from "{cloudtrail_glue_db}"."{cloudtrail_table}"
where snapshot_date='{process_date}'
and region in ('us-east-1','us-east-2')

required_args = ['CLOUDTRAIL_GLUE_DB',
arg_keys = [*required_args, 'PROCESS_DATE'] if '--PROCESS_DATE' in sys.argv else required_args
JOB_ARGS = getResolvedOptions ( sys.argv, arg_keys)

LOGGER.info(f"Parsed Args :: {JOB_ARGS}")

# if process date was not passed as an argument, process yesterday's data
process_date = (
    if JOB_ARGS.get('PROCESS_DATE','NONE') != "NONE" 
    else (datetime.today() - timedelta(days=1)).strftime("%Y-%m-%d") 

LOGGER.info(f"Taking snapshot for :: {process_date}")


final_query = sql_query_template.format(

LOGGER.info(f"Running Query :: {final_query}")

raw_cloudtrail_df = wr.athena.read_sql_query(


agg_df = raw_cloudtrail_df.groupby(['arn','region','eventsource','eventname','useragent'],as_index=False).agg({'ct':'sum'})


upload_path = f"s3://{TARGET_BUCKET}/{TARGET_DB}/{TARGET_TABLE}"

if not agg_df.empty:
    LOGGER.info(f"Upload to {upload_path}")
        response = wr.s3.to_parquet(
    except Exception as exc:
        LOGGER.error("Uploading to S3 failed")
        raise exc
    LOGGER.info(f"Dataframe was empty, nothing to upload to {upload_path}")

The following are some key advantages in this AWS Glue job:

  • We use an Athena query to ensure initial filtering is done outside of our AWS Glue job. As such, a Python Shell job with minimal compute is still sufficient for aggregating a large CloudTrail dataset.
  • We ensure the analytics library-set option is turned on when creating our AWS Glue job to use the AWS SDK for Pandas library.

Create an AWS Glue job

Complete the following steps to create your AWS Glue job:

  1. Copy the script in the preceding section and save it in a local file. For this post, the file is called script.py.
  2. On the AWS Glue console, choose ETL jobs in the navigation pane.
  3. Create a new job and select Python Shell script editor.
  4. Select Upload and edit an existing script and upload the file you saved locally.
  5. Choose Create.

  1. On the Job details tab, enter a name for your AWS Glue job.
  2. For IAM role, choose an existing role or create a new role that has the required permissions for Amazon S3, AWS Glue, and Athena. The role needs to query the CloudTrail table you created earlier and write to an output location.

You can use the following sample policy code. Replace the placeholders with your CloudTrail logs bucket, output table name, output AWS Glue database, output S3 bucket, CloudTrail table name, AWS Glue database containing the CloudTrail table, and your AWS account ID.

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "GetS3CloudtrailData"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "GetGlueCatalogCloudtrailData"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "WriteOutputToS3"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "AllowOutputToGlue"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "arn:aws:logs:*:*:/aws-glue/*",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "LogsAccess"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "AccessToAthenaResults"
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Sid": "AllowAthenaQuerying"

For Python version, choose Python 3.9.

  1. Select Load common analytics libraries.
  2. For Data processing units, choose 1 DPU.
  3. Leave the other options as default or adjust as needed.

  1. Choose Save to save your job configuration.

Configure an Amazon MWAA DAG to orchestrate the AWS Glue job

The following code is for a DAG that can orchestrate the AWS Glue job that we created. We take advantage of the following key features in this DAG:

"""Sample DAG"""
import airflow.utils
from airflow.providers.amazon.aws.operators.glue import GlueJobOperator
from airflow import DAG
from datetime import timedelta
import airflow.utils

# allow backfills via DAG run parameters
process_date = '{{ dag_run.conf.get("process_date") if dag_run.conf.get("process_date") else "NONE" }}'

dag = DAG(
    default_args = {
        'catchup': False
    schedule_interval = None, # None for unscheduled or a cron expression - E.G. "00 12 * * 2" - at 12noon Tuesday
    dagrun_timeout = timedelta(minutes=30),
    max_active_runs = 1,
    max_active_tasks = 1 # since there is only one task in our DAG

## Log ingest. Assumes Glue Job is already created
glue_ingestion_job = GlueJobOperator(
        "--TARGET_BUCKET": "<<<OUTPUT_S3_BUCKET>>>",
        "--TARGET_DB": "<<<OUTPUT_GLUE_DB>>>", # should already exist
        "--TARGET_TABLE": "<<<OUTPUT_TABLE_NAME>>>",
        "--PROCESS_DATE": process_date


Increase observability of AWS Glue jobs in Amazon MWAA

The AWS Glue jobs write logs to Amazon CloudWatch. With the recent observability enhancements to Airflow’s Amazon provider package, these logs are now integrated with Airflow task logs. This consolidation provides Airflow users with end-to-end visibility directly in the Airflow UI, eliminating the need to search in CloudWatch or the AWS Glue console.

To use this feature, ensure the IAM role attached to the Amazon MWAA environment has the following permissions to retrieve and write the necessary logs:

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
      "Resource": [
        "arn:aws:logs:*:*:log-group:airflow-243-<<<Your environment name>>>-*"--Your Amazon MWAA Log Stream Name

If verbose=true, the AWS Glue job run logs show in the Airflow task logs. The default is false. For more information, refer to Parameters.

When enabled, the DAGs read from the AWS Glue job’s CloudWatch log stream and relay them to the Airflow DAG AWS Glue job step logs. This provides detailed insights into an AWS Glue job’s run in real time via the DAG logs. Note that AWS Glue jobs generate an output and error CloudWatch log group based on the job’s STDOUT and STDERR, respectively. All logs in the output log group and exception or error logs from the error log group are relayed into Amazon MWAA.

AWS admins can now limit a support team’s access to only Airflow, making Amazon MWAA the single pane of glass on job orchestration and job health management. Previously, users needed to check AWS Glue job run status in the Airflow DAG steps and retrieve the job run identifier. They then needed to access the AWS Glue console to find the job run history, search for the job of interest using the identifier, and finally navigate to the job’s CloudWatch logs to troubleshoot.

Create the DAG

To create the DAG, complete the following steps:

  1. Save the preceding DAG code to a local .py file, replacing the indicated placeholders.

The values for your AWS account ID, AWS Glue job name, AWS Glue database with CloudTrail table, and CloudTrail table name should already be known. You can adjust the output S3 bucket, output AWS Glue database, and output table name as needed, but make sure the AWS Glue job’s IAM role that you used earlier is configured accordingly.

  1. On the Amazon MWAA console, navigate to your environment to see where the DAG code is stored.

The DAGs folder is the prefix within the S3 bucket where your DAG file should be placed.

  1. Upload your edited file there.

  1. Open the Amazon MWAA console to confirm that the DAG appears in the table.

Run the DAG

To run the DAG, complete the following steps:

  1. Choose from the following options:
    • Trigger DAG – This causes yesterday’s data to be used as the data to process
    • Trigger DAG w/ config – With this option, you can pass in a different date, potentially for backfills, which is retrieved using dag_run.conf in the DAG code and then passed into the AWS Glue job as a parameter

The following screenshot shows the additional configuration options if you choose Trigger DAG w/ config.

  1. Monitor the DAG as it runs.
  2. When the DAG is complete, open the run’s details.

On the right pane, you can view the logs, or choose Task Instance Details for a full view.

  1. View the AWS Glue job output logs in Amazon MWAA without using the AWS Glue console thanks to the GlueJobOperator verbose flag.

The AWS Glue job will have written results to the output table you specified.

  1. Query this table via Athena to confirm it was successful.


Amazon MWAA now provides a single place to track AWS Glue job status and enables you to use the Airflow console as the single pane of glass for job orchestration and health management. In this post, we walked through the steps to orchestrate AWS Glue jobs via Airflow using GlueJobOperator. With the new observability enhancements, you can seamlessly troubleshoot AWS Glue jobs in a unified experience. We also demonstrated how to upgrade your Amazon MWAA environment to a compatible version, update dependencies, and change the IAM role policy accordingly.

For more information about common troubleshooting steps, refer to Troubleshooting: Creating and updating an Amazon MWAA environment. For in-depth details of migrating to an Amazon MWAA environment, refer to Upgrading from 1.10 to 2. To learn about the open-source code changes for increased observability of AWS Glue jobs in the Airflow Amazon provider package, refer to the relay logs from AWS Glue jobs.

Finally, we recommend visiting the AWS Big Data Blog for other material on analytics, ML, and data governance on AWS.

About the Authors

Rushabh Lokhande is a Data & ML Engineer with the AWS Professional Services Analytics Practice. He helps customers implement big data, machine learning, and analytics solutions. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with family, reading, running, and golf.

Ryan Gomes is a Data & ML Engineer with the AWS Professional Services Analytics Practice. He is passionate about helping customers achieve better outcomes through analytics and machine learning solutions in the cloud. Outside of work, he enjoys fitness, cooking, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Vishwa Gupta is a Senior Data Architect with the AWS Professional Services Analytics Practice. He helps customers implement big data and analytics solutions. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and trying new food.

Investigate security events by using AWS CloudTrail Lake advanced queries

Post Syndicated from Rodrigo Ferroni original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/investigate-security-events-by-using-aws-cloudtrail-lake-advanced-queries/

This blog post shows you how to use AWS CloudTrail Lake capabilities to investigate CloudTrail activity across AWS Organizations in response to a security incident scenario. We will walk you through two security-related scenarios while we investigate CloudTrail activity. The method described in this post will help you with the investigation process, allowing you to gain comprehensive understanding of the incident and its implications. CloudTrail Lake is a managed audit and security lake that allows you to aggregate, immutably store, and query your activity logs for auditing, security investigation, and operational troubleshooting.


You must have the following AWS services enabled before you start the investigation.

  • CloudTrail Lake — To learn how to enable this service and use sample queries, see the blog post Announcing AWS CloudTrail Lake – a managed audit and security Lake. When you create a new event data store at the organization level, you will need to enable CloudTrail Lake for all of the accounts in the organization. We advise that you include not only management events but also data events.

    When you use CloudTrail Lake with AWS Organizations, you can designate an account within the organization to be the CloudTrail Lake delegated administrator. This provides a convenient way to perform queries from a designated AWS security account—for example, you can avoid granting access to your AWS management account.

  • Amazon GuardDuty — This is a threat detection service that continuously monitors your AWS accounts and workloads for malicious activity and delivers detailed security findings for visibility and remediation. To learn about the benefits of the service and how to get started, see Amazon GuardDuty.

Incident scenario 1: AWS access keys compromised

In the first scenario, you have observed activity within your AWS account from an unauthorized party. This example covers a situation where a threat actor has obtained and misused one of your AWS access keys that was exposed publicly by mistake. This investigation starts after Amazon GuardDuty generates an IAM finding identifying that the malicious activity came from the exposed AWS access key. Following the Incident Response Playbook Compromised IAM Credentials, focusing on step 12 in the playbook ([DETECTION AND ANALYSIS] Review CloudTrail Logs), you will use CloudTrail Lake capabilities to investigate the activity that was performed with this key. To do so, you will use the following nine query examples that we provide for this first scenario.

Query 1.1: Activity performed by access key during a specific time window

The first query is aimed at obtaining the specific activity that was performed by this key, either successfully or not, during the time the malicious activity took place. You can use the GuardDuty finding details “EventFirstSeen” and “EventLastSeen” to define the time window of the query. Also, and for further queries, you want to fetch artifacts that could be considered possible indicators of compromise (IoC) related to this security incident, such as IP addresses.

You can build and run the following query on CloudTrail Lake Editor, either in the CloudTrail console or programmatically.

Query 1.1

SELECT eventSource,eventName,sourceIPAddress,eventTime,errorCode FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE userIdentity.accessKeyId = 'AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE' AND eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' order by eventTime;

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 1: Sample query 1.1 and results in the AWS Management Console

Figure 1: Sample query 1.1 and results in the AWS Management Console

The results demonstrate that the activity performed by the access key tried to unsuccessfully list Amazon Simple Storage Services (Amazon S3) buckets and CloudTrail trails. You can also see specific write activity related to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) that was denied, and afterwards there was activity possibly related to reconnaissance tactics in IAM to finally be able to assume a role, which indicates a possible attempt to perform an escalation of privileges. You can observe only one source IP from which this activity was performed.

Query 1.2: Confirm which IAM role was assumed by the threat actor during a specific time window

As you observed from the previous query results, the threat actor was able to assume an IAM role. In this query, you would like to confirm which IAM role was assumed during the security incident.

Query 1.2

SELECT requestParameters,responseElements FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE eventName = 'AssumeRole' AND eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND userIdentity.accessKeyId = 'AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 2: Sample query 1.2 and results in the console

Figure 2: Sample query 1.2 and results in the console

The results show that an IAM role named “Alice” was assumed in a second account. For future queries, keep the temporary access key from the responseElements result to obtain activity performed by this role session.

Query 1.3: Activity performed from an IP address in an expanded time window search

Investigating the incident only from the time of discovery may result in overlooking signs or indicators of potential past incidents that were not detected related to this threat actor. For this reason, you want to expand the investigation window time, which might result in expanding the search back weeks, months, or even years, depending on factors such as the nature and severity of the incident, available resources, and so on. In this example, for balance and urgency, the window of time searched is expanded to a month. You want to also review whether there is past activity related to this account by the IP you previously observed.

Query 1.3

The results of the query are as follows:

SELECT eventSource,eventName,sourceIPAddress,eventTime,errorCode FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE sourceIPAddress = '' AND useridentity.accountid = '555555555555 AND eventTime > '2022-02-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-15 13:10:00' order by eventTime;

Figure 3: Sample query 1.3 and results in the console

Figure 3: Sample query 1.3 and results in the console

As you can observe from the results, there is no activity coming from this IP address in this account in the previous month.

Query 1.4: Activity performed from an IP address in any other account in your organization during a specific time window

Before you start investigating what activity was performed by the role assumed in the second account, and considering that this malicious activity now involves cross-account access, you will want to review whether any other account in your organization has activity related to the specific IP address observed. You will need to expand the window of time to an entire month in order to see if previous activity was performed before this incident from this source IP, and you will need to exclude activity coming from the first account.

Query 1.4

SELECT useridentity.accountid,eventTime FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE sourceIPAddress = '' AND eventTime > '2022-02-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND useridentity.accountid != '555555555555'GROUP by useridentity.accountid

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 4: Sample query 1.4 and results in the console

Figure 4: Sample query 1.4 and results in the console

As you can observe from the results, there is activity only in the second account where the role was assumed. You can also confirm that there was no activity performed in other accounts in the previous month from this IP address.

Query 1.5: Count activity performed by an IAM role during a specific time period

For the next query example, you want to count and group activity based on the API actions that were performed in each service by the role assumed. This query helps you quantify and understand the impact of the possible unauthorized activity that might have happened in this second account.

Query 1.5

SELECT count (*) as NumberEvents, eventSource, eventName
FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND useridentity.type = 'AssumedRole' AND useridentity.sessioncontext.sessionissuer.arn = 'arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/Alice'
GROUP by eventSource, eventName
order by NumberEvents desc;

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 5: Sample query 1.5 and results in the console

Figure 5: Sample query 1.5 and results in the console

You observe that the activity is consistent with what was shown in the first account, and the threat actor seems to be targeting trails, S3 buckets, and IAM activity related to possible further escalation of privileges.

Query 1.6: Confirm successful activity performed by an IAM role during a specific time window

Following the example in query 1.1, you will fetch the information related to activity that was successful or denied. This helps you confirm modifications that took place in the environment, or the creation of new resources. For this example, you will also want to obtain the event ID in case you need to dig further into one specific API call. You will then filter out activity done by any other session by using the temporary access key obtained from query 1.2.

Query 1.6

SELECT eventSource, eventName, eventTime, eventID, errorCode FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND useridentity.type = 'AssumedRole' AND useridentity.sessioncontext.sessionissuer.arn = 'arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/Alice' AND userIdentity.accessKeyId = 'ASIAZNYXHMZ37EXAMPLE '

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 6: Sample query 1.6 and results in the console

Figure 6: Sample query 1.6 and results in the console

You can observe that the threat actor was again not able to perform activity upon the trails, S3 buckets, or IAM roles. But as you can see, the threat actor was able to perform specific IAM activity, which led to the creation of a new IAM user, policy attachment, and access key.

Query 1.7: Obtain new access key ID created

By making use of the event ID from the CreateAccesskey event displayed in the previous query, you can obtain the access key ID so that you can further dig into what activity was performed by it.

Query 1.7

SELECT responseElements FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE eventID = 'bd29bab7-1153-4510-9e7f-9ff9bba4bd9a'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 7: Sample query 1.7 and results in the console

Figure 7: Sample query 1.7 and results in the console

Query 1.8: Obtain successful API activity that was performed by the access key during a specific time window

Following previous examples, you will count and group the API activity that was successfully performed by this access key ID. This time, you will exclude denied activity in order to understand the activity that actually took place.

Query 1.8

SELECT count (*) as NumberEvents, eventSource, eventName
FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND
userIdentity.accessKeyId = 'AKIAI44QH8DHBEXAMPLE' AND errorcode IS NULL
GROUP by eventSource, eventName
order by NumberEvents desc;

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 8: Sample query 1.8 and results in the console

Figure 8: Sample query 1.8 and results in the console

You can observe that this time, the threat actor was able to perform specific activities targeting your trails and buckets due to privilege escalation. In these results, you observe that a trail was successfully stopped, and S3 objects were downloaded and deleted.

You can also see bucket deletion activity. At first glance, this might indicate activity related to a data exfiltration scenario in the case where the bucket was not properly secured, and possible future ransom demands could be made if proper preventive controls and measures to recover the data were not in place. For more details on this scenario, see this AWS Security blog post.

Query 1.9: Obtain bucket and object names affected during a specific time window

After you obtain the activities on the S3 buckets by using sample query 1.8, you can use the following query to show what objects this activity was related to, and from which buckets. You can expand the query to exclude denied activity.

Query 1.9

SELECT element_at(requestParameters, 'bucketName') as BucketName, element_at(requestParameters, 'key') as ObjectName, eventName FROM 1994bee2-d4a0-460e-8c07-1b5ee04765d8 WHERE (eventName = 'GetObject' OR eventName = 'DeleteObject') AND eventTime > '2022-03-15 13:10:00' AND eventTime < '2022-03-16 00:00:00' AND userIdentity.accessKeyId = 'AKIAI44QH8DHBEXAMPLE' AND errorcode IS NULL

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 9: Sample query 1.9 and results in the console

Figure 9: Sample query 1.9 and results in the console

As you can observe, the unauthorized user was able to first obtain and exfiltrate S3 objects, and then delete them afterwards.

Summary of incident scenario 1

This scenario describes a security incident involving a publicly exposed AWS access key that is exploited by a threat actor. Here is a summary of the steps taken to investigate this incident by using CloudTrail Lake capabilities:

  • Investigated AWS activity that was performed by the compromised access key
  • Observed possible adversary tactics and techniques that were used by the threat actor
  • Collected artifacts that could be potential indicators of compromise (IoC), such as IP addresses
  • Confirmed role assumption by the threat actor in a second account
  • Expanded the time window of your investigation and the scope to your entire organization in AWS Organizations; and searched for any activity that might have taken place originating from the IP address related to the unauthorized activity
  • Investigated AWS activity that was performed by the role assumed in the second account
  • Identified new resources that were created by the threat actor, and malicious activity performed by the actor
  • Confirmed the modifications caused by the threat actor and their impact in your environment

Incident scenario 2: AWS IAM Identity Center user credentials compromised

In this second scenario, you start your investigation from a GuardDuty finding stating that an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance is querying an IP address that is associated with cryptocurrency-related activity. There are several sources of logs that you might want to explore when you conduct this investigation, including network, operation system, or application logs, among others. In this example, you will use CloudTrail Lake capabilities to investigate API activity logged in CloudTrail for this security event. To understand what exactly happened and when, you start by querying information from the resource involved, in this case an EC2 instance, and then continue digging into the AWS IAM Identity Center (successor to AWS Single Sign-On) credentials that were used to launch that EC2 instance, to finally confirm what other actions were performed.

Query 2.1: Confirm who has launched the EC2 instance involved in the cryptocurrency-related activity

You can begin by looking at the finding CryptoCurrency:EC2/BitcoinTool.B to get more information related to this event, for example when (timestamp), where (AWS account and AWS Region), and also which resource (EC2 instance ID) was involved with the security incident and when it was launched. With this information, you can perform the first query for this scenario, which will confirm what type of user credentials were used to launch the instance involved.

Query 2.1

SELECT userIdentity.principalid, eventName, eventTime, recipientAccountId, awsRegion FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE responseElements IS NOT NULL AND
element_at(responseElements, 'instancesSet') like '%"instanceId":"i-053a7e6164c0f0473"%' AND
eventTime > '2022-09-13 12:45:59' AND eventName='RunInstances'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 10: Sample query 2.1 and results in the console

Figure 10: Sample query 2.1 and results in the console

The results demonstrate that the IAM Identity Center user as principal ID AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected] was used to launch the EC2 instance that was involved in the incident.

Query 2.2: Confirm in which AWS accounts the IAM Identity Center user has federated and authenticated

You want to confirm which AWS accounts this specific IAM Identity Center user has federated and authenticated with, and also which IAM role was assumed. This is important information to make sure that the security event happened only within the affected AWS account. The window of time for this query is based on the maximum value for the permission sets’ session duration in IAM Identity Center.

Query 2.2

SELECT element_at(serviceEventDetails, 'account_id') as AccountID, element_at(serviceEventDetails, 'role_name') as SSORole, eventID, eventTime FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd WHERE eventSource = 'sso.amazonaws.com' AND eventName = 'Federate' AND userIdentity.username = '[email protected]' AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 11: Sample query 2.2 and results in the console

Figure 11: Sample query 2.2 and results in the console

The results show that only one AWS account has been accessed during the time of the incident, and only one AWS role named AdministratorAccess has been used.

Query 2.3: Count and group activity based on API actions that were performed by the user in each AWS service

You now know exactly where the user has gained access, so next you can count and group the activity based on the API actions that were performed in each AWS service. This information helps you confirm the types of activity that were performed.

Query 2.3

SELECT eventSource, eventName, COUNT(*) AS apiCount
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'
GROUP BY eventSource, eventName ORDER BY apiCount DESC

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 12: Sample query 2.3 and results in the console

Figure 12: Sample query 2.3 and results in the console

You can see that the list of APIs includes the read activities Get, Describe, and List. This activity is commonly associated with the discovery stage, when the unauthorized user is gathering information to determine credential permissions.

Query 2.4: Obtain mutable activity based on API actions performed by the user in each AWS service

To get a better understanding of the mutable actions performed by the user, you can add a new condition to hide the read-only actions by setting the readOnly parameter to false. You will want to focus on mutable actions to know whether there were new AWS resources created or if existing AWS resources were deleted or modified. Also, you can add the possible error code from the response element to the query, which will tell you if the actions were denied.

Query 2.4

SELECT eventSource, eventName, eventTime, eventID, errorCode
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND readOnly = false
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 13: Sample query 2.4 and results in the console

Figure 13: Sample query 2.4 and results in the console

You can confirm that some actions, like EC2 RunInstances, EC2 CreateImage, SSM StartSession, IAM CreateUser, and IAM PutRolePolicy were allowed. And in contrast, IAM CreateAccessKey, IAM CreateRole, IAM AttachRolePolicy, and GuardDuty DeleteDetector were denied. The IAM-related denied actions are commonly associated with persistence tactics, where an unauthorized user may try to maintain access to the environment. The GuardDuty denied action is commonly associated with defense evasion tactics, where the unauthorized user is trying to cover their tracks and avoid detection.

Query 2.5: Obtain more information about API action EC2 RunInstances

You can focus first on the API action EC2 RunInstances to understand how many EC2 instances were created by the same user. This information will confirm which other EC2 instances were involved in the security event.

Query 2.5

SELECT awsRegion, recipientAccountId, eventID, element_at(responseElements, 'instancesSet') as instances
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND eventName='RunInstances'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 14: Sample query 2.5 and results in the console

Figure 14: Sample query 2.5 and results in the console

You can confirm that the API was called twice, and if you expand the column InstanceSet in the response element, you will see the exact number of EC2 instances that were launched. Also, you can find that these EC2 instances were launched with an IAM instance profile called ec2-role-ssm-core. By checking in the IAM console, you can confirm that the IAM role associated has only the AWS managed policy AmazonSSMManagedInstanceCore attached, which enables AWS Systems Manager core functionality.

Query 2.6: Get the list of denied API actions performed by the user for each AWS service

Now, you can filter more to focus only on those denied API actions by performing the following query. This is important because it can help you to identify what kind of malicious event was attempted.

Query 2.6

SELECT recipientAccountId, awsRegion, eventSource, eventName, eventID, eventTime
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND errorCode = 'AccessDenied'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 15: Sample query 2.6 and results in the console

Figure 15: Sample query 2.6 and results in the console

You can see that the user has tried to stop GuardDuty by calling DeleteDetector, and has also performed actions within IAM that you should examine more closely to know if new unwanted access to the environment was created.

Query 2.7: Obtain more information about API action IAM CreateUserAccessKeys

With the previous query, you confirmed that more actions were denied within IAM. You can now focus on the failed attempt to create IAM user access keys that could have been used to gain persistent and programmatic access to the AWS account. With the following query, you can make sure that the actions were denied and determine the reason why.

Query 2.7

SELECT recipientAccountId, awsRegion, eventID, eventTime, errorCode, errorMessage
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND eventName='CreateAccessKey'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 16: Sample query 2.7 and results in the console

Figure 16: Sample query 2.7 and results in the console

If you copy the errorMessage element from the response, you can confirm that the action was denied by a service control policy, as shown in the following example.

"errorMessage":"User: arn:aws:sts::111122223333:assumed-role/AWSReservedSSO_AdministratorAccess_f53d10b0f8a756ac/[email protected] is not authorized to perform: iam:CreateAccessKey on resource: user production-user with an explicit deny in a service control policy"

Query 2.8: Obtain more information about API IAM CreateUser

From the query error message in query 2.7, you can confirm the name of the IAM user that was used. Now you can check the allowed API action IAM CreateUser that you observed before to see if the IAM users match. This helps you confirm that there were no other IAM users involved in the security event.

Query 2.8

SELECT recipientAccountId, awsRegion, eventID, eventTime, element_at(responseElements, 'user') as userInfo
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND eventName='CreateUser'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 17: Sample query 2.8 and results in the console

Figure 17: Sample query 2.8 and results in the console

Based on this output, you can confirm that the IAM user is indeed the same. This user was created successfully but was denied the creation of access keys, confirming the failed attempt to get new persistent and programmatic credentials.

Query 2.9: Get more information about the IAM role creation attempt

Now you can figure out what happened with the IAM CreateRole denied action. With the following query, you can see the full error message for the denied action.

Query 2.9

SELECT recipientAccountId, awsRegion, eventID, eventTime, errorCode, errorMessage
FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd
WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]'
AND eventName='CreateRole'
AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 18: Sample query 2.9 and results in the console

Figure 18: Sample query 2.9 and results in the console

If you copy the output of this query, you will see that the role was denied by a service control policy, as shown in the following example:

"errorMessage":"User: arn:aws:sts::111122223333:assumed-role/AWSReservedSSO_AdministratorAccess_f53d10b0f8a756ac/[email protected] is not authorized to perform: iam:CreateRole on resource: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/production-ec2-role with an explicit deny in a service control policy"

Query 2.10: Get more information about IAM role policy changes

With the previous query, you confirmed that the unauthorized user failed to create a new IAM role to replace the existing EC2 instance profile in an attempt to grant more permissions. And with another of the previous queries, you confirmed that the IAM API action AttachRolePolicy was also denied, in another attempt for the same goal, but this time trying to attach a new AWS managed policy directly. However, with this new query, you can confirm that the unauthorized user successfully applied an inline policy to the EC2 role associated with the existing EC2 instance profile, with full admin access.

Query 2.10

SELECT recipientAccountId, eventID, eventTime, element_at(requestParameters, 'roleName') as roleName, element_at(requestParameters, 'policyDocument') as policyDocument FROM 467f2e52-84b9-4d41-8049-bc8f8fad35dd WHERE userIdentity.principalId = 'AROASVPO5CIEXAMPLE:[email protected]' AND eventName = 'PutRolePolicy' AND eventTime > '2022-09-13 00:00:00' AND eventTime < '2022-09-14 00:00:00'

The results of the query are as follows:

Figure 19: Sample query 2.10 and results in the console

Figure 19: Sample query 2.10 and results in the console

Summary of incident scenario 2

This second scenario describes a security incident that involves an IAM Identity Center user that has been compromised. To investigate this incident by using CloudTrail Lake capabilities, you did the following:

  • Started the investigation by looking at metadata from the GuardDuty EC2 finding
  • Confirmed the AWS credentials that were used for the creation of that resource
  • Looked at whether the IAM Identity Center user credentials were used to access other AWS accounts
  • Did further investigation on the AWS APIs that were called by the IAM Identity Center user
  • Obtained the list of denied actions, confirming the unauthorized user’s attempt to get persistent access and cover their tracks
  • Obtained the list of EC2 resources that were successfully created in this security event


In this post, we’ve shown you how to use AWS CloudTrail Lake capabilities to investigate CloudTrail activity in response to security incidents across your organization. We also provided sample queries for two security incident scenarios. You now know how to use the capabilities of CloudTrail Lake to assist you and your security teams during the investigation process in a security incident. Additionally, you can find some of the sample queries related to this post and other topics in the following GitHub repository, and additional examples in the sample queries tab in the CloudTrail console. To learn more, see Working with CloudTrail Lake in the CloudTrail User Guide.

Regarding pricing for CloudTrail Lake, you pay for ingestion and storage together, where the billing is based on the amount of uncompressed data ingested. If you’re a new customer, you can try AWS CloudTrail Lake for a 30-day free trial or when you reach the free usage limits of 5GB of data. For more information, see see AWS CloudTrail pricing.

Finally, in combination with the investigation techniques shown in this post, we also recommend that you explore the use of Amazon Detective, an AWS managed and dedicated service that simplifies the investigative process and helps security teams conduct faster and more effective investigations. With the Amazon Detective prebuilt data aggregations, summaries, and context, you can quickly analyze and determine the nature and extent of possible security issues.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Rodrigo Ferroni

Rodrigo Ferroni is a senior Security Specialist at AWS Enterprise Support. He is certified in CISSP, AWS Security Specialist, and AWS Solutions Architect Associate. He enjoys helping customers to continue adopting AWS security services to improve their security posture in the cloud. Outside of work, he loves to travel as much as he can. In every winter he enjoys snowboarding with his friends.

Eduardo Ortiz Pineda

Eduardo Ortiz Pineda

Eduardo is a Senior Security Specialist at AWS Enterprise Support. He is interested in different security topics, automation, and helping customers to improve their security posture. Outside of work, he spends his free time with family and friends, enjoying sports, reading and traveling.

Week in Review – February 13, 2023

Post Syndicated from Sébastien Stormacq original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/week-in-review-february-13-2023/

AWS announced 32 capabilities since we published the last Week in Review blog post a week ago. I also read a couple of other news and blog posts.

Here is my summary.

The VPC section of the AWS Management Console now allows you to visualize your VPC resources, such as the relationships between a VPC and its subnets, routing tables, and gateways. This visualization was available at VPC creation time only, and now you can go back to it using the Resource Map tab in the console. You can read the details in Channy’s blog post.

CloudTrail Lake now gives you the ability to ingest activity events from non-AWS sources. This lets you immutably store and then process activity events without regard to their origin–AWS, on-premises servers, and so forth. All of this power is available to you with a single API call: PutAuditEvents. We launched AWS CloudTrail Lake about a year ago. It is a managed organization-scale data lake that aggregates, immutably stores, and allows querying of events recorded by CloudTrail. You can use it for auditing, security investigation, and troubleshooting. Again, my colleague Channy wrote a post with the details.

There are three new Amazon CloudWatch metrics for asynchronous AWS Lambda function invocations: AsyncEventsReceived, AsyncEventAge, and AsyncEventsDropped. These metrics provide visibility for asynchronous Lambda function invocations. They help you to identify the root cause of processing issues such as throttling, concurrency limit, function errors, processing latency because of retries, or missing events. You can learn more and have access to a sample application in this blog post.

Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) now supports AWS X-Ray to visualize, analyze, and debug applications. Developers can now trace messages going through Amazon SNS, making it easier to understand or debug microservices or serverless applications.

Amazon EC2 Mac instances now support replacing root volumes for quick instance restoration. Stopping and starting EC2 Mac instances trigger a scrubbing workflow that can take up to one hour to complete. Now you can swap the root volume of the instance with an EBS snapshot or an AMI. It helps to reset your instance to a previous known state in 10–15 minutes only. This significantly speeds up your CI and CD pipelines.

Amazon Polly launches two new Japanese NTTS voices. Neural Text To Speech (NTTS) produces the most natural and human-like text-to-speech voices possible. You can try these voices in the Polly section of the AWS Management Console. With this addition, according to my count, you can now choose among 52 NTTS voices in 28 languages or language variants (French from France or from Quebec, for example).

The AWS SDK for Java now includes the AWS CRT HTTP Client. The HTTP client is the center-piece powering our SDKs. Every single AWS API call triggers a network call to our API endpoints. It is therefore important to use a low-footprint and low-latency HTTP client library in our SDKs. AWS created a common HTTP client for all SDKs using the C programming language. We also offer 11 wrappers for 11 programming languages, from C++ to Swift. When you develop in Java, you now have the option to use this common HTTP client. It provides up to 76 percent cold start time reduction on AWS Lambda functions and up to 14 percent less memory usage compared to the Netty-based HTTP client provided by default. My colleague Zoe has more details in her blog post.

X in Y Jeff started this section a while ago to list the expansion of new services and capabilities to additional Regions. I noticed 10 Regional expansions this week:

Other AWS News
This week, I also noticed these AWS news items:

My colleague Mai-Lan shared some impressive customer stories and metrics related to the use and scale of Amazon S3 Glacier. Check it out to learn how to put your cold data to work.

Space is the final (edge) frontier. I read this blog post published on avionweek.com. It explains how AWS helps to deploy AIML models on observation satellites to analyze image quality before sending them to earth, saving up to 40 percent satellite bandwidth. Interestingly, the main cause for unusable satellite images is…clouds.

Upcoming AWS Events
Check your calendars and sign up for these AWS events:

AWS re:Invent recaps in your area. During the re:Invent week, we had lots of new announcements, and in the next weeks, you can find in your area a recap of all these launches. All the events are posted on this site, so check it regularly to find an event nearby.

AWS re:Invent keynotes, leadership sessions, and breakout sessions are available on demand. I recommend that you check the playlists and find the talks about your favorite topics in one collection.

AWS Summits season will restart in Q2 2023. The dates and locations will be announced here. Paris and Sidney are kicking off the season on April 4th. You can register today to attend these in-person, free events (Paris, Sidney).

Stay Informed
That was my selection for this week! To better keep up with all of this news, do not forget to check out the following resources:

— seb
This post is part of our Week in Review series. Check back each week for a quick roundup of interesting news and announcements from AWS!

New – AWS CloudTrail Lake Supports Ingesting Activity Events From Non-AWS Sources

Post Syndicated from Channy Yun original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-aws-cloudtrail-lake-supports-ingesting-activity-events-from-non-aws-sources/

In November 2013, we announced AWS CloudTrail to track user activity and API usage. AWS CloudTrail enables auditing, security monitoring, and operational troubleshooting. CloudTrail records user activity and API calls across AWS services as events. CloudTrail events help you answer the questions of “who did what, where, and when?”.

Recently we have improved the ability for you to simplify your auditing and security analysis by using AWS CloudTrail Lake. CloudTrail Lake is a managed data lake for capturing, storing, accessing, and analyzing user and API activity on AWS for audit, security, and operational purposes. You can aggregate and immutably store your activity events, and run SQL-based queries for search and analysis.

We have heard your feedback that aggregating activity information from diverse applications across hybrid environments is complex and costly, but important for a comprehensive picture of your organization’s security and compliance posture.

Today we are announcing support of ingestion for activity events from non-AWS sources using CloudTrail Lake, making it a single location of immutable user and API activity events for auditing and security investigations. Now you can consolidate, immutably store, search, and analyze activity events from AWS and non-AWS sources, such as in-house or SaaS applications, in one place.

Using the new PutAuditEvents API in CloudTrail Lake, you can centralize user activity information from disparate sources into CloudTrail Lake, enabling you to analyze, troubleshoot and diagnose issues using this data. CloudTrail Lake records all events in standardized schema, making it easier for users to consume this information to comprehensively and quickly respond to security incidents or audit requests.

CloudTrail Lake is also integrated with selected AWS Partners, such as Cloud Storage Security, Clumio, CrowdStrike, CyberArk, GitHub, Kong Inc, LaunchDarkly, MontyCloud, Netskope, Nordcloud, Okta, One Identity, Shoreline.io, Snyk, and Wiz, allowing you to easily enable audit logging through the CloudTrail console.

Getting Started to Integrate External Sources
You can start to ingest activity events from your own data sources or partner applications by choosing Integrations under the Lake menu in the AWS CloudTrail console.

To create a new integration, choose Add integration and enter your channel name. You can choose the partner application source from which you want to get events. If you’re integrating with events from your own applications hosted on-premises or in the cloud, choose My custom integration.

For Event delivery location, you can choose destinations for your events from this integration. This allows your application or partners to deliver events to your event data store of CloudTrail Lake. An event data store can retain your activity events for a week to up to seven years. Then you can run queries on the event data store.

Choose either Use existing event data stores or Create new event data store—to receive events from integrations. To learn more about event data store, see Create an event data store in the AWS documentation.

You can also set up the permissions policy for the channel resource created with this integration. The information required for the policy is dependent on the integration type of each partner applications.

There are two types of integrations: direct and solution. With direct integrations, the partner calls the PutAuditEvents API to deliver events to the event data store for your AWS account. In this case, you need to provide External ID, the unique account identifier provided by the partner. You can see a link to partner website for the step-by-step guide. With solution integrations, the application runs in your AWS account and the application calls the PutAuditEvents API to deliver events to the event data store for your AWS account.

To find the Integration type for your partner, choose the Available sources tab from the integrations page.

After creating an integration, you will need to provide this Channel ARN to the source or partner application. Until these steps are finished, the status will remain as incomplete. Once CloudTrail Lake starts receiving events for the integrated partner or application, the status field will be updated to reflect the current state.

To ingest your application’s activity events into your integration, call the PutAuditEvents API to add the payload of events. Be sure that there is no sensitive or personally identifying information in the event payload before ingesting it into CloudTrail Lake.

You can make a JSON array of event objects, which includes a required user-generated ID from the event, the required payload of the event as the value of EventData, and an optional checksum to help validate the integrity of the event after ingestion into CloudTrail Lake.

  "AuditEvents": [
      "Id": "event_ID",
      "EventData": "{event_payload}", "EventDataChecksum": "optional_checksum",
   ... ]

The following example shows how to use the put-audit-events AWS CLI command.

$ aws cloudtrail-data put-audit-events \
--channel-arn $ChannelArn \
--external-id $UniqueExternalIDFromPartner \
--audit-events \
  "Id": "87f22433-0f1f-4a85-9664-d50a3545baef",
  "EventData":"{\"eventVersion\":\0.01\",\"eventSource\":\"MyCustomLog2\", ...\}",
  "Id": "7e5966e7-a999-486d-b241-b33a1671aa74",
  "EventData":"{\"eventVersion\":\0.02\",\"eventSource\":\"MyCustomLog1\", ...\}",

On the Editor tab in the CloudTrail Lake, write your own queries for a new integrated event data store to check delivered events.

You can make your own integration query, like getting all principals across AWS and external resources that have made API calls after a particular date:

SELECT userIdentity.principalId FROM $AWS_EVENT_DATA_STORE_ID 
WHERE eventTime > '2022-09-24 00:00:00'
SELECT eventData.userIdentity.principalId FROM $PARTNER_EVENT_DATA_STORE_ID
WHRERE eventData.eventTime > '2022-09-24 00:00:00'

To learn more, see CloudTrail Lake event schema and sample queries to help you get started.

Launch Partners
You can see the list of our launch partners to support a CloudTrail Lake integration option in the Available applications tab. Here are blog posts and announcements from our partners who collaborated on this launch (some will be added in the next few days).

  • Cloud Storage Security
  • Clumio
  • CrowdStrike
  • CyberArk
  • GitHub
  • Kong Inc
  • LaunchDarkly
  • MontyCloud
  • Netskope
  • Nordcloud
  • Okta
  • One Identity
  • Shoreline.io
  • Snyk
  • Wiz

Now Available
AWS CloudTrail Lake now supports ingesting activity events from external sources in all AWS Regions where CloudTrail Lake is available today. To learn more, see the AWS documentation and each partner’s getting started guides.

If you are interested in becoming an AWS CloudTrail Partner, you can contact your usual partner contacts.


The most visited AWS DevOps blogs in 2022

Post Syndicated from original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/devops/the-most-visited-aws-devops-blogs-in-2022/

As we kick off 2023, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the top posts from 2022. Without further ado, here are the top 10 AWS DevOps Blog posts of 2022.

#1: Integrating with GitHub Actions – CI/CD pipeline to deploy a Web App to Amazon EC2

Coming in at #1, Mahesh Biradar, Solutions Architect and Suresh Moolya, Cloud Application Architect use GitHub Actions and AWS CodeDeploy to deploy a sample application to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#2: Deploy and Manage GitLab Runners on Amazon EC2

Sylvia Qi, Senior DevOps Architect, and Sebastian Carreras, Senior Cloud Application Architect, guide us through utilizing infrastructure as code (IaC) to automate GitLab Runner deployment on Amazon EC2.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#3 Multi-Region Terraform Deployments with AWS CodePipeline using Terraform Built CI/CD

Lerna Ekmekcioglu, Senior Solutions Architect, and Jack Iu, Global Solutions Architect, demonstrate best practices for multi-Region deployments using HashiCorp Terraform, AWS CodeBuild, and AWS CodePipeline.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#4 Use the AWS Toolkit for Azure DevOps to automate your deployments to AWS

Mahmoud Abid, Senior Customer Delivery Architect, leverages the AWS Toolkit for Azure DevOps to deploy AWS CloudFormation stacks.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#5 Deploy and manage OpenAPI/Swagger RESTful APIs with the AWS Cloud Development Kit

Luke Popplewell, Solutions Architect, demonstrates using AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK) to build and deploy Amazon API Gateway resources using the OpenAPI specification.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#6: How to unit test and deploy AWS Glue jobs using AWS CodePipeline

Praveen Kumar Jeyarajan, Senior DevOps Consultant, and Vaidyanathan Ganesa Sankaran, Sr Modernization Architect, discuss unit testing Python-based AWS Glue Jobs in AWS CodePipeline.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#7: Jenkins high availability and disaster recovery on AWS

James Bland, APN Global Tech Lead for DevOps, and Welly Siauw, Sr. Partner solutions architect, discuss the challenges of architecting Jenkins for scale and high availability (HA).

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#8: Monitor AWS resources created by Terraform in Amazon DevOps Guru using tfdevops

Harish Vaswani, Senior Cloud Application Architect, and Rafael Ramos, Solutions Architect, explain how you can configure and use tfdevops to easily enable Amazon DevOps Guru for your existing AWS resources created by Terraform.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

#9: Manage application security and compliance with the AWS Cloud Development Kit and cdk-nag

Arun Donti, Senior Software Engineer with Twitch, demonstrates how to integrate cdk-nag into an AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK) application to provide continual feedback and help align your applications with best practices.

Featured image from the original post.

#10: Smithy Server and Client Generator for TypeScript (Developer Preview)

Adam Thomas, Senior Software Development Engineer, demonstrate how you can use Smithy to define services and SDKs and deploy them to AWS Lambda using a generated client.

Architecture diagram from the original post.

A big thank you to all our readers! Your feedback and collaboration are appreciated and help us produce better content.



About the author:

Brian Beach

Brian Beach has over 20 years of experience as a Developer and Architect. He is currently a Principal Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He holds a Computer Engineering degree from NYU Poly and an MBA from Rutgers Business School. He is the author of “Pro PowerShell for Amazon Web Services” from Apress. He is a regular author and has spoken at numerous events. Brian lives in North Carolina with his wife and three kids.

AWS CIRT announces the release of five publicly available workshops

Post Syndicated from Steve de Vera original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-cirt-announces-the-release-of-five-publicly-available-workshops/

Greetings from the AWS Customer Incident Response Team (CIRT)! AWS CIRT is dedicated to supporting customers during active security events on the customer side of the AWS Shared Responsibility Model.

Over the past year, AWS CIRT has responded to hundreds of such security events, including the unauthorized use of AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) credentials, ransomware and data deletion in an AWS account, and billing increases due to the creation of unauthorized resources to mine cryptocurrency.

We are excited to release five workshops that simulate these security events to help you learn the tools and procedures that AWS CIRT uses on a daily basis to detect, investigate, and respond to such security events. The workshops cover AWS services and tools, such as Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Athena, and AWS WAF, as well as some open source tools written and published by AWS CIRT.

To access the workshops, you just need an AWS account, an internet connection, and the desire to learn more about incident response in the AWS Cloud! Choose the following links to access the workshops.

Unauthorized IAM Credential Use – Security Event Simulation and Detection

During this workshop, you will simulate the unauthorized use of IAM credentials by using a script invoked within AWS CloudShell. The script will perform reconnaissance and privilege escalation activities that have been commonly seen by AWS CIRT and that are typically performed during similar events of this nature. You will also learn some tools and processes that AWS CIRT uses, and how to use these tools to find evidence of unauthorized activity by using IAM credentials.

Ransomware on S3 – Security Event Simulation and Detection

During this workshop, you will use an AWS CloudFormation template to replicate an environment with multiple IAM users and five Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets. AWS CloudShell will then run a bash script that simulates data exfiltration and data deletion events that replicate a ransomware-based security event. You will also learn the tools and processes that AWS CIRT uses to respond to similar events, and how to use these tools to find evidence of unauthorized S3 bucket and object deletions.

Cryptominer Based Security Events – Simulation and Detection

During this workshop, you will simulate a cryptomining security event by using a CloudFormation template to initialize three Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. These EC2 instances will mimic cryptomining activity by performing DNS requests to known cryptomining domains. You will also learn the tools and processes that AWS CIRT uses to respond to similar events, and how to use these tools to find evidence of unauthorized creation of EC2 instances and communication with known cryptomining domains.

SSRF on IMDSv1 – Simulation and Detection

During this workshop, you will simulate the unauthorized use of a web application that is hosted on an EC2 instance configured to use Instance Metadata Service Version 1 (IMDSv1) and vulnerable to server side request forgery (SSRF). You will learn how web application vulnerabilities, such as SSRF, can be used to obtain credentials from an EC2 instance. You will also learn the tools and processes that AWS CIRT uses to respond to this type of access, and how to use these tools to find evidence of the unauthorized use of EC2 instance credentials through web application vulnerabilities such as SSRF.

AWS CIRT Toolkit For Automating Incident Response Preparedness

During this workshop, you will install and experiment with some common tools and utilities that AWS CIRT uses on a daily basis to detect security misconfigurations, respond to active events, and assist customers with protecting their infrastructure.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Steve de Vera

Steve is the Incident Response Watch Lead for the US Pacific region of the AWS CIRT. He is passionate about American-style BBQ and is a certified competition BBQ judge. He has a dog named Brisket.

Building a healthcare data pipeline on AWS with IBM Cloud Pak for Data

Post Syndicated from Eduardo Monich Fronza original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/building-a-healthcare-data-pipeline-on-aws-with-ibm-cloud-pak-for-data/

Healthcare data is being generated at an increased rate with the proliferation of connected medical devices and clinical systems. Some examples of these data are time-sensitive patient information, including results of laboratory tests, pathology reports, X-rays, digital imaging, and medical devices to monitor a patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.

These different types of data can be difficult to work with, but when combined they can be used to build data pipelines and machine learning (ML) models to address various challenges in the healthcare industry, like the prediction of patient outcome, readmission rate, or disease progression.

In this post, we demonstrate how to bring data from different sources, like Snowflake and connected health devices, to form a healthcare data lake on Amazon Web Services (AWS). We also explore how to use this data with IBM Watson to build, train, and deploy ML models. You can learn how to integrate model endpoints with clinical health applications to generate predictions for patient health conditions.

Solution overview

The main parts of the architecture we discuss are (Figure 1):

  1. Using patient data to improve health outcomes
  2. Healthcare data lake formation to store patient health information
  3. Analyzing clinical data to improve medical research
  4. Gaining operational insights from healthcare provider data
  5. Providing data governance to maintain the data privacy
  6. Building, training, and deploying an ML model
  7. Integration with the healthcare system
Data pipeline for the healthcare industry using IBM CP4D on AWS

Figure 1. Data pipeline for the healthcare industry using IBM CP4D on AWS

IBM Cloud Pak for Data (CP4D) is deployed on Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS (ROSA). It provides the components IBM DataStage, IBM Watson Knowledge Catalogue, IBM Watson Studio, IBM Watson Machine Learning, plus a wide variety of connections with data sources available in a public cloud or on-premises.

Connected health devices, on the edge, use sensors and wireless connectivity to gather patient health data, such as biometrics, and send it to the AWS Cloud through Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose. AWS Lambda transforms the data that is persisted to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), making that information available to healthcare providers.

Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) is used to send notifications whenever there is an issue with the real-time data ingestion from the connected health devices. In case of failures, messages are sent via Amazon SNS topics for rectifying and reprocessing of failure messages.

DataStage performs ETL operations and move patient historical information from Snowflake into Amazon S3. This data, combined with the data from the connected health devices, form a healthcare data lake, which is used in IBM CP4D to build and train ML models.

The pipeline described in architecture uses Watson Knowledge Catalogue, which provides data governance framework and artifacts to enrich our data assets. It protects sensitive patient information from unauthorized access, like individually identifiable information, medical history, test results, or insurance information.

Data protection rules define how to control access to data, mask sensitive values, or filter rows from data assets. The rules are automatically evaluated and enforced each time a user attempts to access a data asset in any governed catalog of the platform.

After this, the datasets are published to Watson Studio projects, where they are used to train ML models. You can develop models using Jupyter Notebook, IBM AutoAI (low-code), or IBM SPSS modeler (no-code).

For the purpose of this use case, we used logistic regression algorithm for classifying and predicting the probability of an event, such as disease risk management to assist doctors in making critical medical decisions. You can also build ML models using algorithms like Classification, Random Forest, and K-Nearest Neighbor. These are widely used to predict disease risk.

Once the models are trained, they are exposed as endpoints with Watson Machine Learning and integrated with the healthcare application to generate predictions by analyzing patient symptoms.

The healthcare applications are a type of clinical software that offer crucial physiological insights and predict the effects of illnesses and possible treatments. It provides built-in dashboards that display patient information together with the patient’s overall metrics for outcomes and treatments. This can help healthcare practitioners gain insights into patient conditions. It also can help medical institutions prioritize patients with more risk factors and curate clinical and behavioral health plans.

Finally, we are using IBM Security QRadar XDR SIEM to collect, process, and aggregate Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) flow logs, AWS CloudTrail logs, and IBM CP4D logs. QRadar XDR uses this information to manage security by providing real-time monitoring, alerts, and responses to threats.

Healthcare data lake

A healthcare data lake can help health organizations turn data into insights. It is centralized, curated, and securely stores data on Amazon S3. It also enables you to break down data silos and combine different types of analytics to gain insights. We are using the DataStage, Kinesis Data Firehose, and Amazon S3 services to build the healthcare data lake.

Data governance

Watson Knowledge Catalogue provides an ML catalogue for data discovery, cataloging, quality, and governance. We define policies in Watson Knowledge Catalogue to enable data privacy and overall access to and utilization of this data. This includes sensitive data and personal information that needs to be handled through data protection, quality, and automation rules. To learn more about IBM data governance, please refer to Running a data quality analysis (Watson Knowledge Catalogue).

Build, train, and deploy the ML model

Watson Studio empowers data scientists, developers, and analysts to build, run, and manage AI models on IBM CP4D.

In this solution, we are building models using Watson Studio by:

  1. Promoting the governed data from Watson Knowledge Catalogue to Watson Studio for insights
  2. Using ETL features, such as built-in search, automatic metadata propagation, and simultaneous highlighting, to process and transform large amounts of data
  3. Training the model, including model technique selection and application, hyperparameter setting and adjustment, validation, ensemble model development and testing; algorithm selection; and model optimization
  4. Evaluating the model based on metric evaluation, confusion matrix calculations, KPIs, model performance metrics, model quality measurements for accuracy and precision
  5. Deploying the model on Watson Machine Learning using online deployments, which create an endpoint to generate a score or prediction in real time
  6. Integrating the endpoint with applications like health applications, as demonstrated in Figure 1


In this blog, we demonstrated how to use patient data to improve health outcomes by creating a healthcare data lake and analyzing clinical data. This can help patients and healthcare practitioners make better, faster decisions and prioritize cases. We also discussed how to build an ML model using IBM Watson and integrate it with healthcare applications for health analysis.

Additional resources

Use IAM Access Analyzer policy generation to grant fine-grained permissions for your AWS CloudFormation service roles

Post Syndicated from Joel Knight original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/use-iam-access-analyzer-policy-generation-to-grant-fine-grained-permissions-for-your-aws-cloudformation-service-roles/

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Access Analyzer provides tools to simplify permissions management by making it simpler for you to set, verify, and refine permissions. One such tool is IAM Access Analyzer policy generation, which creates fine-grained policies based on your AWS CloudTrail access activity—for example, the actions you use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), AWS Lambda, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). AWS has expanded policy generation capabilities to support the identification of actions used from over 140 services. New additions include services such as AWS CloudFormation, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS). When you request a policy, IAM Access Analyzer generates a policy by analyzing your CloudTrail logs to identify actions used from this group of over 140 services. The generated policy makes it efficient to grant only the required permissions for your workloads. For other services, Access Analyzer helps you by identifying the services used and guides you to add the necessary actions.

In this post, we will show how you can use Access Analyzer to generate an IAM permissions policy that restricts CloudFormation permissions to only those actions that are necessary to deploy a given template, in order to follow the principle of least privilege.

Permissions for AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation lets you create a collection of related AWS and third-party resources and provision them in a consistent and repeatable fashion. A common access management pattern is to grant developers permission to use CloudFormation to provision resources in the production environment and limit their ability to do so directly. This directs developers to make infrastructure changes in production through CloudFormation, using infrastructure-as-code patterns to manage the changes.

CloudFormation can create, update, and delete resources on the developer’s behalf by assuming an IAM role that has sufficient permissions. Cloud administrators often grant this IAM role broad permissions–in excess of what’s necessary to just create, update, and delete the resources from the developer’s template–because it’s not clear what the minimum permissions are for the template. As a result, the developer could use CloudFormation to create or modify resources outside of what’s required for their workload.

The best practice for CloudFormation is to acquire permissions by using the credentials from an IAM role you pass to CloudFormation. When you attach a least-privilege permissions policy to the role, the actions CloudFormation is allowed to perform can be scoped to only those that are necessary to manage the resources in the template. In this way, you can avoid anti-patterns such as assigning the AdministratorAccess or PowerUserAccess policies—both of which grant excessive permissions—to the role.

The following section will describe how to set up your account and grant these permissions.

Prepare your development account

Within your development account, you will configure the same method for deploying infrastructure as you use in production: passing a role to CloudFormation when you launch a stack. First, you will verify that you have the necessary permissions, and then you will create the role and the role’s permissions policy.

Get permissions to use CloudFormation and IAM Access Analyzer

You will need the following minimal permissions in your development account:

  • Permission to use CloudFormation, in particular to create, update, and delete stacks
  • Permission to pass an IAM role to CloudFormation
  • Permission to create IAM roles and policies
  • Permission to use Access Analyzer, specifically the GetGeneratedPolicy, ListPolicyGenerations, and StartPolicyGeneration actions

The following IAM permissions policy can be used to grant your identity these permissions.

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "DeveloperPermissions”,
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "*"
            "Sid": "AllowPassCloudFormationRole”,
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": "*",
            "Condition": {
                "StringEquals": {
                    "iam:PassedToService": "cloudformation.amazonaws.com"

Note: If your identity already has these permissions through existing permissions policies, there is no need to apply the preceding policy to your identity.

Create a role for CloudFormation

Creating a service role for CloudFormation in the development account makes it less challenging to generate the least-privilege policy, because it becomes simpler to identify the actions CloudFormation is taking as it creates and deletes resources defined in the template. By identifying the actions CloudFormation has taken, you can create a permissions policy to match.

To create an IAM role in your development account for CloudFormation

  1. Open the IAM console and choose Roles, then choose Create role.
  2. For the trusted entity, choose AWS service. From the list of services, choose CloudFormation.
  3. Choose Next: Permissions.
  4. Select one or more permissions policies that align with the types of resources your stack will create. For example, if your stack creates a Lambda function and an IAM role, choose the AWSLambda_FullAccess and IAMFullAccess policies.

    Note: Because you have not yet created the least-privilege permissions policy, the role is granted broader permissions than required. You will use this role to launch your stack and evaluate the resulting actions that CloudFormation takes, in order to build a lower-privilege policy.

  5. Choose Next: Tags to proceed.
  6. Enter one or more optional tags, and then choose Next: Review.
  7. Enter a name for the role, such as CloudFormationDevExecRole.
  8. Choose Create role.

Create and destroy the stack

To have CloudFormation exercise the actions required by the stack, you will need to create and destroy the stack.

To create and destroy the stack

  1. Navigate to CloudFormation in the console, expand the menu in the left-hand pane, and choose Stacks.
  2. On the Stacks page, choose Create Stack, and then choose With new resources.
  3. Choose Template is ready, choose Upload a template file, and then select the file for your template. Choose Next.
  4. Enter a Stack name, and then choose Next.
  5. For IAM execution role name, select the name of the role you created in the previous section (CloudFormationDevExecRole). Choose Next.
  6. Review the stack configuration. If present, select the check box(es) in the Capabilities section, and then choose Create stack.
  7. Wait for the stack to reach the CREATE_COMPLETE state before continuing.
  8. From the list of stacks, select the stack you just created, choose Delete, and then choose Delete stack.
  9. Wait until the stack reaches the DELETE_COMPLETE state (at which time it will also disappear from the list of active stacks).

Note: It’s recommended that you also modify the CloudFormation template and update the stack to initiate updates to the deployed resources. This will allow Access Analyzer to capture actions that update the stack’s resources, in addition to create and delete actions. You should also review the API documentation for the resources that are being used in your stack and identify any additional actions that may be required.

Now that the development environment is ready, you can create the least-privilege permissions policy for the CloudFormation role.

Use Access Analyzer to generate a fine-grained identity policy

Access Analyzer reviews the access history in AWS CloudTrail to identify the actions an IAM role has used. Because CloudTrail delivers logs within an average of about 15 minutes of an API call, you should wait at least that long after you delete the stack before you attempt to generate the policy, in order to properly capture all of the actions.

Note: CloudTrail must be enabled in your AWS account in order for policy generation to work. To learn how create a CloudTrail trail, see Creating a trail for your AWS account in the AWS CloudTrail User Guide.

To generate a permissions policy by using Access Analyzer

  1. Open the IAM console and choose Roles. In the search box, enter CloudFormationDevExecRole and select the role name in the list.
  2. On the Permissions tab, scroll down and choose Generate policy based on CloudTrail events to expand this section. Choose Generate policy.
  3. Select the time period of the CloudTrail logs you want analyzed.
  4. Select the AWS Region where you created and deleted the stack, and then select the CloudTrail trail name in the drop-down list.
  5. If this is your first time generating a policy, choose Create and use a new service role to have an IAM role automatically created for you. You can view the permissions policy the role will receive by choosing View permission details. Otherwise, choose Use an existing service role and select a role in the drop-down list.

    The policy generation options are shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: Policy generation options

    Figure 1: Policy generation options

  6. Choose Generate policy.

You will be redirected back to the page that shows the CloudFormationDevExecRole role. The Status in the Generate policy based on CloudTrail events section will show In progress. Wait for the policy to be generated, at which time the status will change to Success.

Review the generated policy

You must review and save the generated policy before it can be applied to the role.

To review the generated policy

  1. While you are still viewing the CloudFormationDevExecRole role in the IAM console, under Generate policy based on CloudTrail events, choose View generated policy.
  2. The Generated policy page will open. The Actions included in the generated policy section will show a list of services and one or more actions that were found in the CloudTrail log. Review the list for omissions. Refer to the IAM documentation for a list of AWS services for which an action-level policy can be generated. An example list of services and actions for a CloudFormation template that creates a Lambda function is shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2: Actions included in the generated policy

    Figure 2: Actions included in the generated policy

  3. Use the drop-down menus in the Add actions for services used section to add any necessary additional actions to the policy for the services that were identified by using CloudTrail. This might be needed if an action isn’t recorded in CloudTrail or if action-level information isn’t supported for a service.

    Note: The iam:PassRole action will not show up in CloudTrail and should be added manually if your CloudFormation template assigns an IAM role to a service (for example, when creating a Lambda function). A good rule of thumb is: If you see iam:CreateRole in the actions, you likely need to also allow iam:PassRole. An example of this is shown in Figure 3.

    Figure 3: Adding PassRole as an IAM action

    Figure 3: Adding PassRole as an IAM action

  4. When you’ve finished adding additional actions, choose Next.

Generated policies contain placeholders that need to be filled in with resource names, AWS Region names, and other variable data. The actual values for these placeholders should be determined based on the content of your CloudFormation template and the Region or Regions you plan to deploy the template to.

To replace placeholders with real values

  • In the generated policy, identify each of the Resource properties that use placeholders in the value, such as ${RoleNameWithPath} or ${Region}. Use your knowledge of the resources that your CloudFormation template creates to properly fill these in with real values.
    • ${RoleNameWithPath} is an example of a placeholder that reflects the name of a resource from your CloudFormation template. Replace the placeholder with the actual name of the resource.
    • ${Region} is an example of a placeholder that reflects where the resource is being deployed, which in this case is the AWS Region. Replace this with either the Region name (for example, us-east-1), or a wildcard character (*), depending on whether you want to restrict the policy to a specific Region or to all Regions, respectively.

For example, a statement from the policy generated earlier is shown following.

    "Effect": "Allow",
    "Action": [
    "Resource": "arn:aws:lambda:${Region}:${Account}:function:${FunctionName}"

After substituting real values for the placeholders in Resource, it looks like the following.

    "Effect": "Allow",
    "Action": [
    "Resource": "arn:aws:lambda:*:123456789012:function:MyLambdaFunction"

This statement allows the Lambda actions to be performed on a function named MyLambdaFunction in AWS account 123456789012 in any Region (*). Substitute the correct values for Region, Account, and FunctionName in your policy.

The IAM policy editor window will automatically identify security or other issues in the generated policy. Review and remediate the issues identified in the Security, Errors, Warnings, and Suggestions tabs across the bottom of the window.

To review and remediate policy issues

  1. Use the Errors tab at the bottom of the IAM policy editor window (powered by IAM Access Analyzer policy validation) to help identify any placeholders that still need to be replaced. Access Analyzer policy validation reviews the policy and provides findings that include security warnings, errors, general warnings, and suggestions for your policy. To find more information about the different checks, see Access Analyzer policy validation. An example of policy errors caused by placeholders still being present in the policy is shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 4: Errors identified in the generated policy

    Figure 4: Errors identified in the generated policy

  2. Use the Security tab at the bottom of the editor window to review any security warnings, such as passing a wildcard (*) resource with the iam:PassRole permission. Choose the Learn more link beside each warning for information about remediation. An example of a security warning related to PassRole is shown in Figure 5.
    Figure 5: Security warnings identified in the generated policy

    Figure 5: Security warnings identified in the generated policy

Remediate the PassRole With Star In Resource warning by modifying Resource in the iam:PassRole statement to list the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of any roles that CloudFormation needs to pass to other services. Additionally, add a condition to restrict which service the role can be passed to. For example, to allow passing a role named MyLambdaRole to the Lambda service, the statement would look like the following.

            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [
            "Condition": {
                "StringEquals": {
                    "iam:PassedToService": [

The generated policy can now be saved as an IAM policy.

To save the generated policy

  1. In the IAM policy editor window, choose Next.
  2. Enter a name for the policy and an optional description.
  3. Review the Summary section with the list of permissions in the policy.
  4. Enter optional tags in the Tags section.
  5. Choose Create and attach policy.

Test this policy by replacing the existing role policy with this newly generated policy. Then create and destroy the stack again so that the necessary permissions are granted. If the stack fails during creation or deletion, follow the steps to generate the policy again and make sure that the correct values are being used for any iam:PassRole statements.

Deploy the CloudFormation role and policy

Now that you have the least-privilege policy created, you can give this policy to the cloud administrator so that they can deploy the policy and CloudFormation service role into production.

To create a CloudFormation template that the cloud administrator can use

  1. Open the IAM console, choose Policies, and then use the search box to search for the policy you created. Select the policy name in the list.
  2. On the Permissions tab, make sure that the {}JSON button is activated. Select the policy document by highlighting from line 1 all the way to the last line in the policy, as shown in Figure 6.
    Figure 6: Highlighting the generated policy

    Figure 6: Highlighting the generated policy

  3. With the policy still highlighted, use your keyboard to copy the policy into the clipboard (Ctrl-C on Linux or Windows, Option-C on macOS).
  4. Paste the permissions policy JSON object into the following CloudFormation template, replacing the <POLICY-JSON-GOES-HERE> marker. Be sure to indent the left-most curly braces of the JSON object so that they are to the right of the PolicyDocument keyword.
    AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
        Type: String
        Description: The name of the IAM policy that will be created
        Type: String
        Description: The name of the IAM role that will be created
        Type: AWS::IAM::ManagedPolicy
          ManagedPolicyName: !Ref PolicyName
          Path: /
          PolicyDocument: >
        Type: AWS::IAM::Role
          RoleName: !Ref RoleName
            Version: '2012-10-17'
              - Action:
                - sts:AssumeRole
                Effect: Allow
                    - cloudformation.amazonaws.com
            - !Ref CfnPolicy
          Path: /

    For example, after pasting the policy, the CfnPolicy resource in the template will look like the following.

        Type: AWS::IAM::ManagedPolicy
          ManagedPolicyName: !Ref PolicyName
          Path: /
          PolicyDocument: >
                "Version": "2012-10-17",
                "Statement": [
                        "Effect": "Allow",
                        "Action": "ec2:DescribeNetworkInterfaces",
                        "Resource": [
                        "Effect": "Allow",
                        "Action": [
                        "Resource": [
                        "Effect": "Allow",
                        "Action": [
                        "Resource": [
                        "Effect": "Allow",
                        "Action": [
                        "Resource": [
                        "Condition": {
                            "StringEquals": {
                                "iam:PassedToService": [

  5. Save the CloudFormation template and share it with the cloud administrator. They can use this template to create an IAM role and permissions policy that CloudFormation can use to deploy resources in the production account.

Note: Verify that in addition to having the necessary permissions to work with CloudFormation, your production identity also has permission to perform the iam:PassRole action with CloudFormation for the role that the preceding template creates.

As you continue to develop your stack, you will need to repeat the steps in the Use Access Analyzer to create a permissions policy and Deploy the CloudFormation role and policy sections of this post in order to make sure that the permissions policy remains up-to-date with the permissions required to deploy your stack.


If your CloudFormation template uses custom resources that are backed by AWS Lambda, you should also run Access Analyzer on the IAM role that is created for the Lambda function in order to build an appropriate permissions policy for that role.

To generate a permissions policy for a Lambda service role

  1. Launch the stack in your development AWS account to create the Lamba function’s role.
  2. Make a note of the name of the role that was created.
  3. Destroy the stack in your development AWS account.
  4. Follow the instructions from the Use Access Analyzer to generate a fine-grained identity policy and Review the generated policy sections of this post to create the least-privilege policy for the role, substituting the Lambda function’s role name for CloudFormationDevExecRole.
  5. Build the resulting least-privilege policy into the CloudFormation template as the Lambda function’s permission policy.


IAM Access Analyzer helps generate fine-grained identity policies that you can use to grant CloudFormation the permissions it needs to create, update, and delete resources in your stack. By granting CloudFormation only the necessary permissions, you can incorporate the principle of least privilege, developers can deploy their stacks in production using reduced permissions, and cloud administrators can create guardrails for developers in production settings.

For additional information on applying the principle of least privilege to AWS CloudFormation, see How to implement the principle of least privilege with CloudFormation StackSets.

If you have feedback about this blog post, submit comments in the Comments section below. You can also start a new thread on AWS Identity and Access Management re:Post to get answers from the community.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Joel Knight

Joel is a Senior Consultant, Infrastructure Architecture, with AWS and is based in Calgary, Canada. When not wrangling infrastructure-as-code templates, Joel likes to spend time with his family and dabble in home automation.

Mathangi Ramesh

Mathangi Ramesh

Mathangi is the product manager for AWS Identity and Access Management. She enjoys talking to customers and working with data to solve problems. Outside of work, Mathangi is a fitness enthusiast and a Bharatanatyam dancer. She holds an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

IAM Access Analyzer makes it simpler to author and validate role trust policies

Post Syndicated from Mathangi Ramesh original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/iam-access-analyzer-makes-it-simpler-to-author-and-validate-role-trust-policies/

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Access Analyzer provides many tools to help you set, verify, and refine permissions. One part of IAM Access Analyzer—policy validation—helps you author secure and functional policies that grant the intended permissions. Now, I’m excited to announce that AWS has updated the IAM console experience for role trust policies to make it simpler for you to author and validate the policy that controls who can assume a role. In this post, I’ll describe the new capabilities and show you how to use them as you author a role trust policy in the IAM console.

Overview of changes

A role trust policy is a JSON policy document in which you define the principals that you trust to assume the role. The principals that you can specify in the trust policy include users, roles, accounts, and services. The new IAM console experience provides the following features to help you set the right permissions in the trust policy:

  • An interactive policy editor prompts you to add the right policy elements, such as the principal and the allowed actions, and offers context-specific documentation.
  • As you author the policy, IAM Access Analyzer runs over 100 checks against your policy and highlights issues to fix. This includes new policy checks specific to role trust policies, such as a check to make sure that you’ve formatted your identity provider correctly. These new checks are also available through the IAM Access Analyzer policy validation API.
  • Before saving the policy, you can preview findings for the external access granted by your trust policy. This helps you review external access, such as access granted to a federated identity provider, and confirm that you grant only the intended access when you create the policy. This functionality was previously available through the APIs, but now it’s also available in the IAM console.

In the following sections, I’ll walk you through how to use these new features.

Example scenario

For the walkthrough, consider the following example, which is illustrated in Figure 1. You are a developer for Example Corp., and you are working on a web application. You want to grant the application hosted in one account—the ApplicationHost account—access to data in another account—the BusinessData account. To do this, you can use an IAM role in the BusinessData account to grant temporary access to the application through a role trust policy. You will grant a role in the ApplicationHost account—the PaymentApplication role—to access the BusinessData account through a role—the ApplicationAccess role. In this example, you create the ApplicationAccess role and grant cross-account permissions through the trust policy by using the new IAM console experience that helps you set the right permissions.

Figure 1: Visual explanation of the scenario

Figure 1: Visual explanation of the scenario

Create the role and grant permissions through a role trust policy with the policy editor

In this section, I will show you how to create a role trust policy for the ApplicationAccess role to grant the application access to the data in your account through the policy editor in the IAM console.

To create a role and grant access

  1. In the BusinessData account, open the IAM console, and in the left navigation pane, choose Roles.
  2. Choose Create role, and then select Custom trust policy, as shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2: Select "Custom trust policy" when creating a role

    Figure 2: Select “Custom trust policy” when creating a role

  3. In the Custom trust policy section, for 1. Add actions for STS, select the actions that you need for your policy. For example, to add the action sts:AssumeRole, choose AssumeRole.
    Figure 3: JSON role trust policy

    Figure 3: JSON role trust policy

  4. For 2. Add a principal, choose Add to add a principal.
  5. In the Add principal box, for Principal type, select IAM roles. This populates the ARN field with the format of the role ARN that you need to add to the policy, as shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 4: Add a principal to your role trust policy

    Figure 4: Add a principal to your role trust policy

  6. Update the role ARN template with the actual account and role information, and then choose Add principal. In our example, the account is ApplicationHost with an AWS account number of 111122223333, and the role is PaymentApplication role. Therefore, the role ARN is arn:aws:iam:: 111122223333: role/PaymentApplication. Figure 5 shows the role trust policy with the action and principal added.
    Figure 5: Sample role trust policy

    Figure 5: Sample role trust policy

  7. (Optional) To add a condition, for 3. Add a condition, choose Add, and then complete the Add condition box according to your needs.

Author secure policies by reviewing policy validation findings

As you author the policy, you can see errors or warnings related to your policy in the policy validation window, which is located below the policy editor in the console. With this launch, policy validation in IAM Access Analyzer includes 13 new checks focused on the trust relationship for the role. The following are a few examples of these checks and how to address them:

  • Role trust policy unsupported wildcard in principal – you can’t use a * in your role trust policy.
  • Invalid federated principal syntax in role trust policy – you need to fix the format of the identity provider.
  • Missing action for condition key – you need to add the right action for a given condition, such as the sts:TagSession when there are session tag conditions.

For a complete list of checks, see Access Analyzer policy check reference.

To review and fix policy validation findings

  1. In the policy validation window, do the following:
    • Choose the Security tab to check if your policy is overly permissive.
    • Choose the Errors tab to review any errors associated with the policy.
    • Choose the Warnings tab to review if aspects of the policy don’t align with AWS best practices.
    • Choose the Suggestions tab to get recommendations on how to improve the quality of your policy.
    Figure 6: Policy validation window in IAM Access Analyzer with a finding for your policy

    Figure 6: Policy validation window in IAM Access Analyzer with a finding for your policy

  2. For each finding, choose Learn more to review the documentation associated with the finding and take steps to fix it. For example, Figure 6 shows the error Mismatched Action For Principal. To fix the error, remove the action sts:AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity.

Preview external access by reviewing cross-account access findings

IAM Access Analyzer also generates findings to help you assess if a policy grants access to external entities. You can review the findings before you create the policy to make sure that the policy grants only intended access. To preview the findings, you create an analyzer and then review the findings.

To preview findings for external access

  1. Below the policy editor, in the Preview external access section, choose Go to Access Analyzer, as shown in Figure 7.

    Note: IAM Access Analyzer is a regional service, and you can create a new analyzer in each AWS Region where you operate. In this situation, IAM Access Analyzer looks for an analyzer in the Region where you landed on the IAM console. If IAM Access Analyzer doesn’t find an analyzer there, it asks you to create an analyzer.

    Figure 7: Preview external access widget without an analyzer

    Figure 7: Preview external access widget without an analyzer

  2. On the Create analyzer page, do the following to create an analyzer:
    • For Name, enter a name for your analyzer.
    • For Zone of trust, select the correct account.
    • Choose Create analyzer.
    Figure 8: Create an analyzer to preview findings

    Figure 8: Create an analyzer to preview findings

  3. After you create the analyzer, navigate back to the role trust policy for your role to review the external access granted by this policy. The following figure shows that external access is granted to PaymentApplication.
    Figure 9: Preview finding

    Figure 9: Preview finding

  4. If the access is intended, you don’t need to take any action. In this example, I want the PaymentApplication role in the ApplicationHost account to assume the role that I’m creating.
  5. If the access is unintended, resolve the finding by updating the role ARN information.
  6. Select Next and grant the required IAM permissions for the role.
  7. Name the role ApplicationAccess, and then choose Save to save the role.

Now the application can use this role to access the BusinessData account.


By using the new IAM console experience for role trust policies, you can confidently author policies that grant the intended access. IAM Access Analyzer helps you in your least-privilege journey by evaluating the policy for potential issues to make it simpler for you to author secure policies. IAM Access Analyzer also helps you preview external access granted through the trust policy to help ensure that the granted access is intended. To learn more about how to preview IAM Access Analyzer cross-account findings, see Preview access in the documentation. To learn more about IAM Access Analyzer policy validation checks, see Access Analyzer policy validation. These features are also available through APIs.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, start a new thread at AWS IAM re:Post or contact AWS Support.

Mathangi Ramesh

Mathangi Ramesh

Mathangi is the product manager for AWS Identity and Access Management. She enjoys talking to customers and working with data to solve problems. Outside of work, Mathangi is a fitness enthusiast and a Bharatanatyam dancer. She holds an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

Maintain visibility over the use of cloud architecture patterns

Post Syndicated from Rostislav Markov original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/maintain-visibility-over-the-use-of-cloud-architecture-patterns/

Cloud platform and enterprise architecture teams use architecture patterns to provide guidance for different use cases. Cloud architecture patterns are typically aggregates of multiple Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources, such as Elastic Load Balancing with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or Amazon Relational Database Service with Amazon ElastiCache. In a large organization, cloud platform teams often have limited governance over cloud deployments, and, therefore, lack control or visibility over the actual cloud pattern adoption in their organization.

While having decentralized responsibility for cloud deployments is essential to scale, a lack of visibility or controls leads to inefficiencies, such as proliferation of infrastructure templates, misconfigurations, and insufficient feedback loops to inform cloud platform roadmap.

To address this, we present an integrated approach that allows cloud platform engineers to share and track use of cloud architecture patterns with:

  1. AWS Service Catalog to publish an IT service catalog of codified cloud architecture patterns that are pre-approved for use in the organization.
  2. Amazon QuickSight to track and visualize actual use of service catalog products across the organization.

This solution enables cloud platform teams to maintain visibility into the adoption of cloud architecture patterns in their organization and build a release management process around them.

Publish architectural patterns in your IT service catalog

We use AWS Service Catalog to create portfolios of pre-approved cloud architecture patterns and expose them as self-service to end users. This is accomplished in a shared services AWS account where cloud platform engineers manage the lifecycle of portfolios and publish new products (Figure 1). Cloud platform engineers can publish new versions of products within a portfolio and deprecate older versions, without affecting already-launched resources in end-user AWS accounts. We recommend using organizational sharing to share portfolios with multiple AWS accounts.

Application engineers launch products by referencing the AWS Service Catalog API. Access can be via infrastructure code, like AWS CloudFormation and TerraForm, or an IT service management tool, such as ServiceNow. We recommend using a multi-account setup for application deployments, with an application deployment account hosting the deployment toolchain: in our case, using AWS developer tools.

Although not explicitly depicted, the toolchain can be launched as an AWS Service Catalog product and include pre-populated infrastructure code to bootstrap initial product deployments, as described in the blog post Accelerate deployments on AWS with effective governance.

Launching cloud architecture patterns as AWS Service Catalog products

Figure 1. Launching cloud architecture patterns as AWS Service Catalog products

Track the adoption of cloud architecture patterns

Track the usage of AWS Service Catalog products by analyzing the corresponding AWS CloudTrail logs. The latter can be forwarded to an Amazon EventBridge rule with a filter on the following events: CreateProduct, UpdateProduct, DeleteProduct, ProvisionProduct and TerminateProvisionedProduct.

The logs are generated no matter how you interact with the AWS Service Catalog API, such as through ServiceNow or TerraForm. Once in EventBridge, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose delivers the events to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) from where QuickSight can access them. Figure 2 depicts the end-to-end flow.

Tracking adoption of AWS Service Catalog products with Amazon QuickSight

Figure 2. Tracking adoption of AWS Service Catalog products with Amazon QuickSight

Depending on your AWS landing zone setup, CloudTrail logs from all relevant AWS accounts and regions need to be forwarded to a central S3 bucket in your shared services account or, otherwise, centralized logging account. Figure 3 provides an overview of this cross-account log aggregation.

Aggregating AWS Service Catalog product logs across AWS accounts

Figure 3. Aggregating AWS Service Catalog product logs across AWS accounts

If your landing zone allows, consider giving permissions to EventBridge in all accounts to write to a central event bus in your shared services AWS account. This avoids having to set up Kinesis Data Firehose delivery streams in all participating AWS accounts and further simplifies the solution (Figure 4).

Aggregating AWS Service Catalog product logs across AWS accounts to a central event bus

Figure 4. Aggregating AWS Service Catalog product logs across AWS accounts to a central event bus

If you are already using an organization trail, you can use Amazon Athena or AWS Lambda to discover the relevant logs in your QuickSight dashboard, without the need to integrate with EventBridge and Kinesis Data Firehose.

Reporting on product adoption can be customized in QuickSight. The S3 bucket storing AWS Service Catalog logs can be defined in QuickSight as datasets, for which you can create an analysis and publish as a dashboard.

In the past, we have reported on the top ten products used in the organization (if relevant, also filtered by product version or time period) and the top accounts in terms of product usage. The following figure offers an example dashboard visualizing product usage by product type and number of times they were provisioned. Note: the counts of provisioned and terminated products differ slightly, as logging was activated after the first products were created and provisioned for demonstration purposes.

Example Amazon QuickSight dashboard tracking AWS Service Catalog product adoption

Figure 5. Example Amazon QuickSight dashboard tracking AWS Service Catalog product adoption


In this blog, we described an integrated approach to track adoption of cloud architecture patterns using AWS Service Catalog and QuickSight. The solution has a number of benefits, including:

  • Building an IT service catalog based on pre-approved architectural patterns
  • Maintaining visibility into the actual use of patterns, including which patterns and versions were deployed in the organizational units’ AWS accounts
  • Compliance with organizational standards, as architectural patterns are codified in the catalog

In our experience, the model may compromise on agility if you enforce a high level of standardization and only allow the use of a few patterns. However, there is the potential for proliferation of products, with many templates differing slightly without a central governance over the catalog. Ideally, cloud platform engineers assume responsibility for the roadmap of service catalog products, with formal intake mechanisms and feedback loops to account for builders’ localization requests.

A multi-dimensional approach helps you proactively prepare for failures, Part 3: Operations and process resiliency

Post Syndicated from Piyali Kamra original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/a-multi-dimensional-approach-helps-you-proactively-prepare-for-failures-part-3-operations-and-process-resiliency/

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed how to build application layer and infrastructure layer resiliency.

In Part 3, we explore how to develop resilient applications, and the need to test and break our operational processes and run books. Processes are needed to capture baseline metrics and boundary conditions. Detecting deviations from accepted baselines requires logging, distributed tracing, monitoring, and alerting. Testing automation and rollback are part of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Keeping track of network, application, and system health requires automation.

In order to meet recovery time and point objective (RTO and RPO, respectively) requirements of distributed applications, we need automation to implement failover operations across multiple layers. Let’s explore how a distributed system’s operational resiliency needs to be addressed before it goes into production, after it’s live in production, and when a failure happens.

Pattern 1: Standardize and automate AWS account setup

Create processes and automation for onboarding users and providing access to AWS accounts according to their role and business unit, as defined by the organization. Federated access to AWS accounts and organizations simplifies cost management, security implementation, and visibility. Having a strategy for a suitable AWS account structure can reduce the blast radius in case of a compromise.

  1. Have auditing mechanisms in place. AWS CloudTrail monitors compliance, improving security posture, and auditing all the activity records across AWS accounts.
  2. Practice the least privilege security model when setting up access to the CloudTrail audit logs plus network and applications logs. Follow best practices on service control policies and IAM boundaries to help ensure your AWS accounts stay within your organization’s access control policies.
  3. Explore AWS Budgets, AWS Cost Anomaly Detection, and AWS Cost Explorer for cost-optimizing techniques. The AWS Compute Optimizer and Instance Scheduler on AWS resource resizing and auto-shutdown for non-working hours. A Beginner’s Guide to AWS Cost Management explores multiple cost-optimization techniques.
  4. Use AWS CloudFormation and AWS Config to detect infrastructure drift and take corrective actions to make resources compliant, as demonstrated in Figure 1.
Compliance control and drift detection

Figure 1. Compliance control and drift detection

Pattern 2: Documenting knowledge about the distributed system

Document high-level infrastructure and dependency maps.

Define availability characteristics of distributed system. Systems have components with varying RTO and RPO needs. Document application component boundaries and capture dependencies with other infrastructure components, including Domain Name System (DNS), IAM permissions; and access patterns, secrets, and certificates. Discover dependencies through solutions, such as Workload Discovery on AWS, to plan resiliency methods and ensure the order of execution of various steps during failover are correct.

Capture non-functional requirements (NFRs), such as business key performance indicators (KPIs), RTO, and RPO, for your composing services. NFRs are quantifiable and define system availability, reliability, and recoverability requirements. They should include throughput, page-load, and response time requirements. Quantify the RTO and RPO of different components of the distributed system by defining them. The KPIs measure if you are meeting the business objectives. As mentioned in Part 2: Infrastructure layer, RTO and RPO help define the failover and data recovery procedures.

Pattern 3: Define CI/CD pipelines for application code and infrastructure components

Establish a branching strategy. Implement automated checks for version and tagging compliance in feature/sprint/bug fix/hot fix/release candidate branches, according to your organization’s policies. Define appropriate release management processes and responsibility matrices, as demonstrated in Figures 2 and 3.

Test at all levels as part of an automated pipeline. This includes security, unit, and system testing. Create a feedback loop that provides the ability to detect issues and automate rollback in case of production failures, which are indicated by business KPI negative impact and other technical metrics.

Define the release management process

Figure 2. Define the release management process

Sample roles and responsibility matrix

Figure 3. Sample roles and responsibility matrix

Pattern 4: Keep code in a source control repository, regardless of GitOps

Merge requests and configuration changes follow the same process as application software. Just like application code, manage infrastructure as code (IaC) by checking the code into a source control repository, submitting pull requests, scanning code for vulnerabilities, alerting and sending notifications, running validation tests on deployments, and having an approval process.

You can audit your infrastructure drift, design reusable and repeatable patterns, and adhere to your distributed application’s RTO objectives by building your IaC (Figure 4). IaC is crucial for operational resilience.

CI/CD pipeline for deploying IaC

Figure 4. CI/CD pipeline for deploying IaC

Pattern 5: Immutable infrastructure

An immutable deployment pipeline launches a set of new instances running the new application version. You can customize immutability at different levels of granularity depending on which infrastructure part is being rebuilt for new application versions, as in Figure 5.

The more immutable infrastructure components being rebuilt, the more expensive deployments are in both deployment time and actual operational costs. Immutable infrastructure also is easier to rollback.

Different granularity levels of immutable infrastructure

Figure 5. Different granularity levels of immutable infrastructure

Pattern 6: Test early, test often

In a shift-left testing approach, begin testing in the early stages, as demonstrated in Figure 6. This can surface defects that can be resolved in a more time- and cost-effective manner compared with after code is released to production.

Shift-left test strategy

Figure 6. Shift-left test strategy

Continuous testing is an essential part of CI/CD. CI/CD pipelines can implement various levels of testing to reduce the likelihood of defects entering production. Testing can include: unit, functional, regression, load, and chaos.

Continuous testing requires testing and breaking existing boundary conditions, and updating test cases if the boundaries have changed. Test cases should test distributed systems’ idempotency. Chaos testing benefits our incidence response mechanisms for distributed systems that have multiple integration points. By testing our auto scaling and failover mechanisms, chaos testing improves application performance and resiliency.

AWS Fault Injection Simulator (AWS FIS) is a service for chaos testing. An experiment template contains actions, such as StopInstance and StartInstance, along with targets on which the test will be performed. In addition, you can mention stop conditions and check if they triggered the required Amazon CloudWatch alarms, as demonstrated in Figure 7.

AWS Fault Injection Simulator architecture for chaos testing

Figure 7. AWS Fault Injection Simulator architecture for chaos testing

Pattern 7: Providing operational visibility

In production, operational visibility across multiple dimensions is necessary for distributed systems (Figure 8). To identify performance bottlenecks and failures, use AWS X-Ray and other open-source libraries for distributed tracing.

Write application, infrastructure, and security logs to CloudWatch. When metrics breach alarm thresholds, integrate the corresponding alarms with Amazon Simple Notification Service or a third-party incident management system for notification.

Monitoring services, such as Amazon GuardDuty, are used to analyze CloudTrail, virtual private cloud flow logs, DNS logs, and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service audit logs to detect security issues. Monitor AWS Health Dashboard for maintenance, end-of-life, and service-level events that could affect your workloads. Follow the AWS Trusted Advisor recommendations to ensure your accounts follow best practices.

Dimensions for operational visibility

Figure 8. Dimensions for operational visibility (click the image to enlarge)

Figure 9 explores various application and infrastructure components integrating with AWS logging and monitoring components for increased problem detection and resolution, which can provide operational visibility.

Tooling architecture to provide operational visibility

Figure 9. Tooling architecture to provide operational visibility

Having an incident response management plan is an important mechanism for providing operational visibility. Successful execution of this requires educating the stakeholders on the AWS shared responsibility model, simulation of anticipated and unanticipated failures, documentation of the distributed system’s KPIs, and continuous iteration. Figure 10 demonstrates the features of a successful incidence response management plan.

An incidence response management plan

Figure 10. An incidence response management plan (click the image to enlarge)


In Part 3, we discussed continuous improvement of our processes by testing and breaking them. In order to understand the baseline level metrics, service-level agreements, and boundary conditions of our system, we need to capture NFRs. Operational capabilities are required to capture deviations from baseline, which is where alerting, logging, and distributed tracing come in. Processes should be defined for automating frequent testing in CI/CD pipelines, detecting network issues, and deploying alternate infrastructure stacks in failover regions based on RTOs and RPOs. Automating failover steps depends on metrics and alarms, and by using chaos testing, we can simulate failover scenarios.

Prepare for failure, and learn from it. Working to maintain resilience is an ongoing task.

Want to learn more?

Building AWS Lambda governance and guardrails

Post Syndicated from Julian Wood original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/building-aws-lambda-governance-and-guardrails/

When building serverless applications using AWS Lambda, there are a number of considerations regarding security, governance, and compliance. This post highlights how Lambda, as a serverless service, simplifies cloud security and compliance so you can concentrate on your business logic. It covers controls that you can implement for your Lambda workloads to ensure that your applications conform to your organizational requirements.

The Shared Responsibility Model

The AWS Shared Responsibility Model distinguishes between what AWS is responsible for and what customers are responsible for with cloud workloads. AWS is responsible for “Security of the Cloud” where AWS protects the infrastructure that runs all the services offered in the AWS Cloud. Customers are responsible for “Security in the Cloud”, managing and securing their workloads. When building traditional applications, you take on responsibility for many infrastructure services, including operating systems and network configuration.

Traditional application shared responsibility

Traditional application shared responsibility

One major benefit when building serverless applications is shifting more responsibility to AWS so you can concentrate on your business applications. AWS handles managing and patching the underlying servers, operating systems, and networking as part of running the services.

Serverless application shared responsibility

Serverless application shared responsibility

For Lambda, AWS manages the application platform where your code runs, which includes patching and updating the managed language runtimes. This reduces the attack surface while making cloud security simpler. You are responsible for the security of your code and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to the Lambda service and within your function.

Lambda is SOCHIPAAPCI, and ISO-compliant. For more information, see Compliance validation for AWS Lambda and the latest Lambda certification and compliance readiness services in scope.

Lambda isolation

Lambda functions run in separate isolated AWS accounts that are dedicated to the Lambda service. Lambda invokes your code in a secure and isolated runtime environment within the Lambda service account. A runtime environment is a collection of resources running in a dedicated hardware-virtualized Micro Virtual Machines (MVM) on a Lambda worker node.

Lambda workers are bare metalEC2 Nitro instances, which are managed and patched by the Lambda service team. They have a maximum lease lifetime of 14 hours to keep the underlying infrastructure secure and fresh. MVMs are created by Firecracker, an open source virtual machine monitor (VMM) that uses Linux’s Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to create and manage MVMs securely at scale.

MVMs maintain a strong separation between runtime environments at the virtual machine hardware level, which increases security. Runtime environments are never reused across functions, function versions, or AWS accounts.

Isolation model for AWS Lambda workers

Isolation model for AWS Lambda workers

Network security

Lambda functions always run inside secure Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPCs) owned by the Lambda service. This gives the Lambda function access to AWS services and the public internet. There is no direct network inbound access to Lambda workers, runtime environments, or Lambda functions. All inbound access to a Lambda function only comes via the Lambda Invoke API, which sends the event object to the function handler.

You can configure a Lambda function to connect to private subnets in a VPC in your account if necessary, which you can control with IAM condition keys . The Lambda function still runs inside the Lambda service VPC but sends all network traffic through your VPC. Function outbound traffic comes from your own network address space.

AWS Lambda service VPC with VPC-to-VPC NAT to customer VPC

AWS Lambda service VPC with VPC-to-VPC NAT to customer VPC

To give your VPC-connected function access to the internet, route outbound traffic to a NAT gateway in a public subnet. Connecting a function to a public subnet doesn’t give it internet access or a public IP address, as the function is still running in the Lambda service VPC and then routing network traffic into your VPC.

All internal AWS traffic uses the AWS Global Backbone rather than traversing the internet. You do not need to connect your functions to a VPC to avoid connectivity to AWS services over the internet. VPC connected functions allow you to control and audit outbound network access.

You can use security groups to control outbound traffic for VPC-connected functions and network ACLs to block access to CIDR IP ranges or ports. VPC endpoints allow you to enable private communications with supported AWS services without internet access.

You can use VPC Flow Logs to audit traffic going to and from network interfaces in your VPC.

Runtime environment re-use

Each runtime environment processes a single request at a time. After Lambda finishes processing the request, the runtime environment is ready to process an additional request for the same function version. For more information on how Lambda manages runtime environments, see Understanding AWS Lambda scaling and throughput.

Data can persist in the local temporary filesystem path, in globally scoped variables, and in environment variables across subsequent invocations of the same function version. Ensure that you only handle sensitive information within individual invocations of the function by processing it in the function handler, or using local variables. Do not re-use files in the local temporary filesystem to process unencrypted sensitive data. Do not put sensitive or confidential information into Lambda environment variables, tags, or other freeform fields such as Name fields.

For more Lambda security information, see the Lambda security whitepaper.

Multiple accounts

AWS recommends using multiple accounts to isolate your resources because they provide natural boundaries for security, access, and billing. Use AWS Organizations to manage and govern individual member accounts centrally. You can use AWS Control Tower to automate many of the account build steps and apply managed guardrails to govern your environment. These include preventative guardrails to limit actions and detective guardrails to detect and alert on non-compliance resources for remediation.

Lambda access controls

Lambda permissions define what a Lambda function can do, and who or what can invoke the function. Consider the following areas when applying access controls to your Lambda functions to ensure least privilege:

Execution role

Lambda functions have permission to access other AWS resources using execution roles. This is an AWS principal that the Lambda service assumes which grants permissions using identity policy statements assigned to the role. The Lambda service uses this role to fetch and cache temporary security credentials, which are then available as environment variables during a function’s invocation. It may re-use them across different runtime environments that use the same execution role.

Ensure that each function has its own unique role with the minimum set of permissions..

Identity/user policies

IAM identity policies are attached to IAM users, groups, or roles. These policies allow users or callers to perform operations on Lambda functions. You can restrict who can create functions, or control what functions particular users can manage.

Resource policies

Resource policies define what identities have fine-grained inbound access to managed services. For example, you can restrict which Lambda function versions can add events to a specific Amazon EventBridge event bus. You can use resource-based policies on Lambda resources to control what AWS IAM identities and event sources can invoke a specific version or alias of your function. You also use a resource-based policy to allow an AWS service to invoke your function on your behalf. To see which services support resource-based policies, see “AWS services that work with IAM”.

Attribute-based access control (ABAC)

With attribute-based access control (ABAC), you can use tags to control access to your Lambda functions. With ABAC, you can scale an access control strategy by setting granular permissions with tags without requiring permissions updates for every new user or resource as your organization scales. You can also use tag policies with AWS Organizations to standardize tags across resources.

Permissions boundaries

Permissions boundaries are a way to delegate permission management safely. The boundary places a limit on the maximum permissions that a policy can grant. For example, you can use boundary permissions to limit the scope of the execution role to allow only read access to databases. A builder with permission to manage a function or with write access to the applications code repository cannot escalate the permissions beyond the boundary to allow write access.

Service control policies

When using AWS Organizations, you can use Service control policies (SCPs) to manage permissions in your organization. These provide guardrails for what actions IAM users and roles within the organization root or OUs can do. For more information, see the AWS Organizations documentation, which includes example service control policies.

Code signing

As you are responsible for the code that runs in your Lambda functions, you can ensure that only trusted code runs by using code signing with the AWS Signer service. AWS Signer digitally signs your code packages and Lambda validates the code package before accepting the deployment, which can be part of your automated software deployment process.

Auditing Lambda configuration, permissions and access

You should audit access and permissions regularly to ensure that your workloads are secure. Use the IAM console to view when an IAM role was last used.

IAM last used

IAM last used

IAM access advisor

Use IAM access advisor on the Access Advisor tab in the IAM console to review when was the last time an AWS service was used from a specific IAM user or role. You can use this to remove IAM policies and access from your IAM roles.

IAM access advisor

IAM access advisor

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail helps you monitor, log, and retain account activity to provide a complete event history of actions across your AWS infrastructure. You can monitor Lambda API actions to ensure that only appropriate actions are made against your Lambda functions. These include CreateFunction, DeleteFunction, CreateEventSourceMapping, AddPermission, UpdateEventSourceMapping,  UpdateFunctionConfiguration, and UpdateFunctionCode.

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail

IAM Access Analyzer

You can validate policies using IAM Access Analyzer, which provides over 100 policy checks with security warnings for overly permissive policies. To learn more about policy checks provided by IAM Access Analyzer, see “IAM Access Analyzer policy validation”.

You can also generate IAM policies based on access activity from CloudTrail logs, which contain the permissions that the role used in your specified date range.

IAM Access Analyzer

IAM Access Analyzer

AWS Config

AWS Config provides you with a record of the configuration history of your AWS resources. AWS Config monitors the resource configuration and includes rules to alert when they fall into a non-compliant state.

For Lambda, you can track and alert on changes to your function configuration, along with the IAM execution role. This allows you to gather Lambda function lifecycle data for potential audit and compliance requirements. For more information, see the Lambda Operators Guide.

AWS Config includes Lambda managed config rules such as lambda-concurrency-check, lambda-dlq-check, lambda-function-public-access-prohibited, lambda-function-settings-check, and lambda-inside-vpc. You can also write your own rules.

There are a number of other AWS services to help with security compliance.

  1. AWS Audit Manager: Collect evidence to help you audit your use of cloud services.
  2. Amazon GuardDuty: Detect unexpected and potentially unauthorized activity in your AWS environment.
  3. Amazon Macie: Evaluates your content to identify business-critical or potentially confidential data.
  4. AWS Trusted Advisor: Identify opportunities to improve stability, save money, or help close security gaps.
  5. AWS Security Hub: Provides security checks and recommendations across your organization.


Lambda makes cloud security simpler by taking on more responsibility using the AWS Shared Responsibility Model. Lambda implements strict workload security at scale to isolate your code and prevent network intrusion to your functions. This post provides guidance on assessing and implementing best practices and tools for Lambda to improve your security, governance, and compliance controls. These include permissions, access controls, multiple accounts, and code security. Learn how to audit your function permissions, configuration, and access to ensure that your applications conform to your organizational requirements.

For more serverless learning resources, visit Serverless Land.

Securely retrieving secrets with AWS Lambda

Post Syndicated from Julian Wood original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/securely-retrieving-secrets-with-aws-lambda/

AWS Lambda functions often need to access secrets, such as certificates, API keys, or database passwords. Storing secrets outside the function code in an external secrets manager helps to avoid exposing secrets in application source code. Using a secrets manager also allows you to audit and control access, and can help with secret rotation. Do not store secrets in Lambda environment variables, as these are visible to anyone who has access to view function configuration.

This post highlights some solutions to store secrets securely and retrieve them from within your Lambda functions.

AWS Partner Network (APN) member Hashicorp provides Vault to secure secrets and application data. Vault allows you to control access to your secrets centrally, across applications, systems, and infrastructure. You can store secrets in Vault and access them from a Lambda function to access a database, for example. The Vault Agent for AWS helps you authenticate with Vault, retrieve the database credentials, and then perform the queries. You can also use the Vault AWS Lambda extension to manage connectivity to Vault.

AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store enables you to store configuration data securely, including secrets, as parameter values. For information on Parameter Store pricing, see the documentation.

AWS Secrets Manager allows you to replace hardcoded credentials in your code with an API call to Secrets Manager to retrieve the secret programmatically. You can generate, protect, rotate, manage, and retrieve secrets throughout their lifecycle. By default, Secrets Manager does not write or cache the secret to persistent storage. Secrets Manager supports cross-account access to secrets. For information on Secrets Manager pricing, see the documentation.

Parameter Store integrates directly with Secrets Manager as a pass-through service for references to Secrets Manager secrets. Use this integration if you prefer using Parameter Store as a consistent solution for calling and referencing secrets across your applications. For more information, see “Referencing AWS Secrets Manager secrets from Parameter Store parameters.”

For an example application to show Secrets Manager functionality, deploy the example detailed in “How to securely provide database credentials to Lambda functions by using AWS Secrets Manager”.

When to retrieve secrets

When Lambda first invokes your function, it creates a runtime environment. It runs the function’s initialization (init) code, which is the code outside the main handler. Lambda then runs the function handler code as the invocation. This receives the event payload and processes your business logic. Subsequent invocations can use the same runtime environment.

You can retrieve secrets during each function invocation from within your handler code. This ensures that the secret value is always up to date but can lead to increased function duration and cost, as the function calls the secret manager during each invocation. There may also be additional retrieval costs from Secret Manager.

Retrieving secret during each invocation

Retrieving secret during each invocation

You can reduce costs and improve performance by retrieving the secret during the function init process. During subsequent invocations using the same runtime environment, your handler code can use the same secret.

Retrieving secret during function initialization.

Retrieving secret during function initialization.

The Serverless Land pattern example shows how to retrieve a secret during the init phase using Node.js and top-level await.

If a secret may change between subsequent invocations, ensure that your handler can check for the secret validity and, if necessary, retrieve the secret again.

Retrieve changed secret during subsequent invocation.

Retrieve changed secret during subsequent invocation.

You can also use Lambda extensions to retrieve secrets from Secrets Manager, cache them, and automatically refresh the cache based on a time value. The extension retrieves the secret from Secrets Manager before the init process and makes it available via a local HTTP endpoint. The function then retrieves the secret from the local HTTP endpoint, rather than directly from Secrets Manager, increasing performance. You can also share the extension with multiple functions, which can reduce function code. The extension handles refreshing the cache based on a configurable timeout value. This ensures that the function has the updated value, without handling the refresh in your function code, which increases reliability.

Using Lambda extensions to cache and refresh secret.

Using Lambda extensions to cache and refresh secret.

You can deploy the solution using the steps in Cache secrets using AWS Lambda extensions.

Lambda Powertools

Lambda Powertools provides a suite of utilities for Lambda functions to simplify the adoption of serverless best practices. AWS Lambda Powertools for Python and AWS Lambda Powertools for Java both provide a parameters utility that integrates with Secrets Manager.

from aws_lambda_powertools.utilities import parameters
def handler(event, context):
    # Retrieve a single secret
    value = parameters.get_secret("my-secret")
import software.amazon.lambda.powertools.parameters.SecretsProvider;
import software.amazon.lambda.powertools.parameters.ParamManager;

public class AppWithSecrets implements RequestHandler<APIGatewayProxyRequestEvent, APIGatewayProxyResponseEvent> {
    // Get an instance of the Secrets Provider
    SecretsProvider secretsProvider = ParamManager.getSecretsProvider();

    // Retrieve a single secret
    String value = secretsProvider.get("/my/secret");

Rotating secrets

You should rotate secrets to prevent the misuse of your secrets. This helps you to replace long-term secrets with short-term ones, which reduces the risk of compromise.

Secrets Manager has built-in functionality to rotate secrets on demand or according to a schedule. Secrets Manager has native integrations with Amazon RDS, Amazon DocumentDB, and Amazon Redshift, using a Lambda function to manage the rotation process for you. It deploys an AWS CloudFormation stack and populates the function with the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the secret. You specify the permissions to rotate the credentials, and how often you want to rotate the secret. You can view and edit Secrets Manager rotation settings in the Secrets Manager console.

Secrets Manager rotation settings

Secrets Manager rotation settings

You can also create your own rotation Lambda function for other services.

Auditing secrets access

You should continually review how applications are using your secrets to ensure that the usage is as you expect. You should also log any changes to them so you can investigate any potential issues, and roll back changes if necessary.

When using Hashicorp Vault, use Audit devices to log all requests and responses to Vault. Audit devices can append logs to a file, write to syslog, or write to a socket.

Secrets Manager supports logging API calls using AWS CloudTrail. CloudTrail monitors and records all API calls for Secrets Manager as events. This includes calls from code calling the Secrets Manager APIs and access via the Secrets Manager console. CloudTrail data is considered sensitive, so you should use AWS KMS encryption to protect it.

The CloudTrail event history shows the requests to secretsmanager.amazonaws.com.

Viewing CloudTrail access to Secrets Manager

Viewing CloudTrail access to Secrets Manager

You can use Amazon EventBridge to respond to alerts based on specific operations recorded in CloudTrail. These include secret rotation or deleted secrets. You can also generate an alert if someone tries to use a version of a secret version while it is pending deletion. This may help identify and alert you when an outdated certificate is used.

Securing secrets

You must tightly control access to secrets because of their sensitive nature. Create AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies and resource policies to enable minimal access to secrets. You can use role-based, as well as attribute-based, access control. This can prevent credentials from being accidentally used or compromised. For more information, see “Authentication and access control for AWS Secrets Manager”.

Secrets Manager supports encryption at rest using AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) using keys that you manage. Secrets are encrypted in transit using TLS by default, which requires request signing.

You can access secrets from inside an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) without requiring internet access. Use AWS PrivateLink and configure a Secrets Manager specific VPC endpoint.

Do not store plaintext secrets in Lambda environment variables. Ensure that you do not embed secrets directly in function code, commit these secrets to code repositories, or log the secret to CloudWatch.


Using a secrets manager to store secrets such as certificates, API keys or database passwords helps to avoid exposing secrets in application source code. This post highlights some AWS and third-party solutions, such as Hashicorp Vault, to store secrets securely and retrieve them from within your Lambda functions.

Secrets Manager is the preferred AWS solution for storing and managing secrets. I explain when to retrieve secrets, including using Lambda extensions to cache secrets, which can reduce cost and improve performance.

You can use the Lambda Powertools parameters utility, which integrates with Secrets Manager. Rotating secrets reduces the risk of compromise and you can audit secrets using CloudTrail and respond to alerts using EventBridge. I also cover security considerations for controlling access to your secrets.

For more serverless learning resources, visit Serverless Land.

AWS Week in Review – August 1, 2022

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-week-in-review-august-1-2022/

AWS re:Inforce returned to Boston last week, kicking off with a keynote from Amazon Chief Security Officer Steve Schmidt and AWS Chief Information Security officer C.J. Moses:

Be sure to take some time to watch this video and the other leadership sessions, and to use what you learn to take some proactive steps to improve your security posture.

Last Week’s Launches
Here are some launches that caught my eye last week:

AWS Wickr uses 256-bit end-to-end encryption to deliver secure messaging, voice, and video calling, including file sharing and screen sharing, across desktop and mobile devices. Each call, message, and file is encrypted with a new random key and can be decrypted only by the intended recipient. AWS Wickr supports logging to a secure, customer-controlled data store for compliance and auditing, and offers full administrative control over data: permissions, ephemeral messaging options, and security groups. You can now sign up for the preview.

AWS Marketplace Vendor Insights helps AWS Marketplace sellers to make security and compliance data available through AWS Marketplace in the form of a unified, web-based dashboard. Designed to support governance, risk, and compliance teams, the dashboard also provides evidence that is backed by AWS Config and AWS Audit Manager assessments, external audit reports, and self-assessments from software vendors. To learn more, read the What’s New post.

GuardDuty Malware Protection protects Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes from malware. As Danilo describes in his blog post, a malware scan is initiated when Amazon GuardDuty detects that a workload running on an EC2 instance or in a container appears to be doing something suspicious. The new malware protection feature creates snapshots of the attached EBS volumes, restores them within a service account, and performs an in-depth scan for malware. The scanner supports many types of file systems and file formats and generates actionable security findings when malware is detected.

Amazon Neptune Global Database lets you build graph applications that run across multiple AWS Regions using a single graph database. You can deploy a primary Neptune cluster in one region and replicate its data to up to five secondary read-only database clusters, with up to 16 read replicas each. Clusters can recover in minutes in the result of an (unlikely) regional outage, with a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of 1 second and a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) of 1 minute. To learn a lot more and see this new feature in action, read Introducing Amazon Neptune Global Database.

Amazon Detective now Supports Kubernetes Workloads, with the ability to scale to thousands of container deployments and millions of configuration changes per second. It ingests EKS audit logs to capture API activity from users, applications, and the EKS control plane, and correlates user activity with information gleaned from Amazon VPC flow logs. As Channy notes in his blog post, you can enable Amazon Detective and take advantage of a free 30 day trial of the EKS capabilities.

AWS SSO is Now AWS IAM Identity Center in order to better represent the full set of workforce and account management capabilities that are part of IAM. You can create user identities directly in IAM Identity Center, or you can connect your existing Active Directory or standards-based identify provider. To learn more, read this post from the AWS Security Blog.

AWS Config Conformance Packs now provide you with percentage-based scores that will help you track resource compliance within the scope of the resources addressed by the pack. Scores are computed based on the product of the number of resources and the number of rules, and are reported to Amazon CloudWatch so that you can track compliance trends over time. To learn more about how scores are computed, read the What’s New post.

Amazon Macie now lets you perform one-click temporary retrieval of sensitive data that Macie has discovered in an S3 bucket. You can retrieve up to ten examples at a time, and use these findings to accelerate your security investigations. All of the data that is retrieved and displayed in the Macie console is encrypted using customer-managed AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) keys. To learn more, read the What’s New post.

AWS Control Tower was updated multiple times last week. CloudTrail Organization Logging creates an org-wide trail in your management account to automatically log the actions of all member accounts in your organization. Control Tower now reduces redundant AWS Config items by limiting recording of global resources to home regions. To take advantage of this change you need to update to the latest landing zone version and then re-register each Organizational Unit, as detailed in the What’s New post. Lastly, Control Tower’s region deny guardrail now includes AWS API endpoints for AWS Chatbot, Amazon S3 Storage Lens, and Amazon S3 Multi Region Access Points. This allows you to limit access to AWS services and operations for accounts enrolled in your AWS Control Tower environment.

For a full list of AWS announcements, be sure to keep an eye on the What’s New at AWS page.

Other AWS News
Here are some other news items and customer stories that you may find interesting:

AWS Open Source News and Updates – My colleague Ricardo Sueiras writes a weekly open source newsletter and highlights new open source projects, tools, and demos from the AWS community. Read installment #122 here.

Growy Case Study – This Netherlands-based company is building fully-automated robot-based vertical farms that grow plants to order. Read the case study to learn how they use AWS IoT and other services to monitor and control light, temperature, CO2, and humidity to maximize yield and quality.

Journey of a Snap on Snapchat – This video shows you how a snapshot flows end-to-end from your camera to AWS, to your friends. With over 300 million daily active users, Snap takes advantage of Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon CloudFront, and many other AWS services, storing over 400 terabytes of data in DynamoDB and managing over 900 EKS clusters.

Cutting Cardboard Waste – Bin packing is almost certainly a part of every computer science curriculum! In the linked article from the Amazon Science site, you can learn how an Amazon Principal Research Scientist developed PackOpt to figure out the optimal set of boxes to use for shipments from Amazon’s global network of fulfillment centers. This is an NP-hard problem and the article describes how they build a parallelized solution that explores a multitude of alternative solutions, all running on AWS.

Upcoming Events
Check your calendar and sign up for these online and in-person AWS events:

AWS SummitAWS Global Summits – AWS Global Summits are free events that bring the cloud computing community together to connect, collaborate, and learn about AWS. Registrations are open for the following AWS Summits in August:

Imagine Conference 2022IMAGINE 2022 – The IMAGINE 2022 conference will take place on August 3 at the Seattle Convention Center, Washington, USA. It’s a no-cost event that brings together education, state, and local leaders to learn about the latest innovations and best practices in the cloud. You can register here.

That’s all for this week. Check back next Monday for another Week in Review!


This post is part of our Week in Review series. Check back each week for a quick roundup of interesting news and announcements from AWS!

Top 2021 AWS service launches security professionals should review – Part 2

Post Syndicated from Marta Taggart original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/top-2021-aws-service-launches-security-professionals-should-review-part-2/

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we shared an overview of some of the most important 2021 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security service and feature launches. In this follow-up, we’ll dive deep into additional launches that are important for security professionals to be aware of and understand across all AWS services. There have already been plenty in the first half of 2022, so we’ll highlight those soon, as well.

AWS Identity

You can use AWS Identity Services to build Zero Trust architectures, help secure your environments with a robust data perimeter, and work toward the security best practice of granting least privilege. In 2021, AWS expanded the identity source options, AWS Region availability, and support for AWS services. There is also added visibility and power in the permission management system. New features offer new integrations, additional policy checks, and secure resource sharing across AWS accounts.

AWS Single Sign-On

For identity management, AWS Single Sign-On (AWS SSO) is where you create, or connect, your workforce identities in AWS once and manage access centrally across your AWS accounts in AWS Organizations. In 2021, AWS SSO announced new integrations for JumpCloud and CyberArk users. This adds to the list of providers that you can use to connect your users and groups, which also includes Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services, Okta Universal Directory, Azure AD, OneLogin, and Ping Identity.

AWS SSO expanded its availability to new Regions: AWS GovCloud (US), Europe (Paris), and South America (São Paulo) Regions. Another very cool AWS SSO development is its integration with AWS Systems Manager Fleet Manager. This integration enables you to log in interactively to your Windows servers running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) while using your existing corporate identities—try it, it’s fantastic!

AWS Identity and Access Management

For access management, there have been a range of feature launches with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) that have added up to more power and visibility in the permissions management system. Here are some key examples.

IAM made it simpler to relate a user’s IAM role activity to their corporate identity. By setting the new source identity attribute, which persists through role assumption chains and gets logged in AWS CloudTrail, you can find out who is responsible for actions that IAM roles performed.

IAM added support for policy conditions, to help manage permissions for AWS services that access your resources. This important feature launch of service principal conditions helps you to distinguish between API calls being made on your behalf by a service principal, and those being made by a principal inside your account. You can choose to allow or deny the calls depending on your needs. As a security professional, you might find this especially useful in conjunction with the aws:CalledVia condition key, which allows you to scope permissions down to specify that this account principal can only call this API if they are calling it using a particular AWS service that’s acting on their behalf. For example, your account principal can’t generally access a particular Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, but if they are accessing it by using Amazon Athena, they can do so. These conditions can also be used in service control policies (SCPs) to give account principals broader scope across an account, organizational unit, or organization; they need not be added to individual principal policies or resource policies.

Another very handy new IAM feature launch is additional information about the reason for an access denied error message. With this additional information, you can now see which of the relevant access control policies (for example, IAM, resource, SCP, or VPC endpoint) was the cause of the denial. As of now, this new IAM feature is supported by more than 50% of all AWS services in the AWS SDK and AWS Command Line Interface, and a fast-growing number in the AWS Management Console. We will continue to add support for this capability across services, as well as add more features that are designed to make the journey to least privilege simpler.

IAM Access Analyzer

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Access Analyzer provides actionable recommendations to set secure and functional permissions. Access Analyzer introduced the ability to preview the impact of policy changes before deployment and added over 100 policy checks for correctness. Both of these enhancements are integrated into the console and are also available through APIs. Access Analyzer also provides findings for external access allowed by resource policies for many services, including a previous launch in which IAM Access Analyzer was directly integrated into the Amazon S3 management console.

IAM Access Analyzer also launched the ability to generate fine-grained policies based on analyzing past AWS CloudTrail activity. This feature provides a great new capability for DevOps teams or central security teams to scope down policies to just the permissions needed, making it simpler to implement least privilege permissions. IAM Access Analyzer launched further enhancements to expand policy checks, and the ability to generate a sample least-privilege policy from past activity was expanded beyond the account level to include an analysis of principal behavior within the entire organization by analyzing log activity stored in AWS CloudTrail.

AWS Resource Access Manager

AWS Resource Access Manager (AWS RAM) helps you securely share your resources across unrelated AWS accounts within your organization or organizational units (OUs) in AWS Organizations. Now you can also share your resources with IAM roles and IAM users for supported resource types. This update enables more granular access using managed permissions that you can use to define access to shared resources. In addition to the default managed permission defined for each shareable resource type, you now have more flexibility to choose which permissions to grant to whom for resource types that support additional managed permissions. Additionally, AWS RAM added support for global resource types, enabling you to provision a global resource once, and share that resource across your accounts. A global resource is one that can be used in multiple AWS Regions; the first example of a global resource is found in AWS Cloud WAN, currently in preview as of this publication. AWS RAM helps you more securely share an AWS Cloud WAN core network, which is a managed network containing AWS and on-premises networks. With AWS RAM global resource sharing, you can use the Cloud WAN core network to centrally operate a unified global network across Regions and accounts.

AWS Directory Service

AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Managed Microsoft Active Directory (AD), was updated to automatically provide domain controller and directory utilization metrics in Amazon CloudWatch for new and existing directories. Analyzing these utilization metrics helps you quantify your average and peak load times to identify the need for additional domain controllers. With this, you can define the number of domain controllers to meet your performance, resilience, and cost requirements.

Amazon Cognito

Amazon Cognito identity pools (federated identities) was updated to enable you to use attributes from social and corporate identity providers to make access control decisions and simplify permissions management in AWS resources. In Amazon Cognito, you can choose predefined attribute-tag mappings, or you can create custom mappings using the attributes from social and corporate providers’ access and ID tokens, or SAML assertions. You can then reference the tags in an IAM permissions policy to implement attribute-based access control (ABAC) and manage access to your AWS resources. Amazon Cognito also launched a new console experience for user pools and now supports targeted sign out through refresh token revocation.

Governance, control, and logging services

There were a number of important releases in 2021 in the areas of governance, control, and logging services.

AWS Organizations

AWS Organizations added a number of important import features and integrations during 2021. Security-relevant services like Amazon Detective, Amazon Inspector, and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) IP Address Manager (IPAM), as well as others like Amazon DevOps Guru, launched integrations with Organizations. Others like AWS SSO and AWS License Manager upgraded their Organizations support by adding support for a Delegated Administrator account, reducing the need to use the management account for operational tasks. Amazon EC2 and EC2 Image Builder took advantage of the account grouping capabilities provided by Organizations to allow cross-account sharing of Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) (for more details, see the Amazon EC2 section later in this post). Organizations also got an updated console, increased quotas for tag policies, and provided support for the launch of an API that allows for programmatic creation and maintenance of AWS account alternate contacts, including the very important security contact (although that feature doesn’t require Organizations). For more information on the value of using the security contact for your accounts, see the blog post Update the alternate security contact across your AWS accounts for timely security notifications.

AWS Control Tower

2021 was also a good year for AWS Control Tower, beginning with an important launch of the ability to take over governance of existing OUs and accounts, as well as bulk update of new settings and guardrails with a single button click or API call. Toward the end of 2021, AWS Control Tower added another valuable enhancement that allows it to work with a broader set of customers and use cases, namely support for nested OUs within an organization.

AWS CloudFormation Guard 2.0

Another important milestone in 2021 for creating and maintaining a well-governed cloud environment was the re-launch of CloudFormation Guard as Cfn-Guard 2.0. This launch was a major overhaul of the Cfn-Guard domain-specific language (DSL), a DSL designed to provide the ability to test infrastructure-as-code (IaC) templates such as CloudFormation and Terraform to make sure that they conform with a set of constraints written in the DSL by a central team, such as a security organization or network management team.

This approach provides a powerful new middle ground between the older security models of prevention (which provide developers only an access denied message, and often can’t distinguish between an acceptable and an unacceptable use of the same API) and a detect and react model (when undesired states have already gone live). The Cfn-Guard 2.0 model gives builders the freedom to build with IaC, while allowing central teams to have the ability to reject infrastructure configurations or changes that don’t conform to central policies—and to do so with completely custom error messages that invite dialog between the builder team and the central team, in case the rule is unnuanced and needs to be refined, or if a specific exception needs to be created.

For example, a builder team might be allowed to provision and attach an internet gateway to a VPC, but the team can do this only if the routes to the internet gateway are limited to a certain pre-defined set of CIDR ranges, such as the public addresses of the organization’s branch offices. It’s not possible to write an IAM policy that takes into account the CIDR values of a VPC route table update, but you can write a Cfn-Guard 2.0 rule that allows the creation and use of an internet gateway, but only with a defined and limited set of IP addresses.

AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager

An important launch that security professionals should know about is AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager. Incident Manager provides a number of powerful capabilities for managing incidents of any kind, including operational and availability issues but also security issues. With Incident Manager, you can automatically take action when a critical issue is detected by an Amazon CloudWatch alarm or Amazon EventBridge event. Incident Manager runs pre-configured response plans to engage responders by using SMS and phone calls, can enable chat commands and notifications using AWS Chatbot, and runs automation workflows with AWS Systems Manager Automation runbooks. The Incident Manager console integrates with AWS Systems Manager OpsCenter to help you track incidents and post-incident action items from a central place that also synchronizes with third-party management tools such as Jira Service Desk and ServiceNow. Incident Manager enables cross-account sharing of incidents using AWS RAM, and provides cross-Region replication of incidents to achieve higher availability.

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail added some great new logging capabilities in 2021, including logging data-plane events for Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) direct APIs (direct APIs allow access to EBS snapshot content through a REST API). CloudTrail also got further enhancements to its machine-learning based CloudTrail Insights feature, including a new one called ErrorRate Insights.

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is one of the most important services at AWS, and its steady addition of security-related enhancements is always big news. Here are the 2021 highlights.

Access Points aliases

Amazon S3 introduced a new feature, Amazon S3 Access Points aliases. With Amazon S3 Access Points aliases, you can make the access points backwards-compatible with a large amount of existing code that is programmed to interact with S3 buckets rather than access points.

To understand the importance of this launch, we have to go back to 2019 to the launch of Amazon S3 Access Points. Access points are a powerful mechanism for managing S3 bucket access. They provide a great simplification for managing and controlling access to shared datasets in S3 buckets. You can create up to 1,000 access points per Region within each of your AWS accounts. Although bucket access policies remain fully enforced, you can delegate access control from the bucket to its access points, allowing for distributed and granular control. Each access point enforces a customizable policy that can be managed by a particular workgroup, while also avoiding the problem of bucket policies needing to grow beyond their maximum size. Finally, you can also bind an access point to a particular VPC for its lifetime, to prevent access directly from the internet.

With the 2021 launch of Access Points aliases, Amazon S3 now generates a unique DNS name, or alias, for each access point. The Access Points aliases look and acts just like an S3 bucket to existing code. This means that you don’t need to make changes to older code to use Amazon S3 Access Points; just substitute an Access Points aliases wherever you previously used a bucket name. As a security team, it’s important to know that this flexible and powerful administrative feature is backwards-compatible and can be treated as a drop-in replacement in your various code bases that use Amazon S3 but haven’t been updated to use access point APIs. In addition, using Access Points aliases adds a number of powerful security-related controls, such as permanent binding of S3 access to a particular VPC.

Bucket Keys

Amazon S3 launched support for S3 Inventory and S3 Batch Operations to identify and copy objects to use S3 Bucket Keys, which can help reduce the costs of server-side encryption (SSE) with AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS).

S3 Bucket Keys were launched at the end of 2020, another great launch that security professionals should know about, so here is an overview in case you missed it. S3 Bucket Keys are data keys generated by AWS KMS to provide another layer of envelope encryption in which the outer layer (the S3 Bucket Key) is cached by S3 for a short period of time. This extra key layer increases performance and reduces the cost of requests to AWS KMS. It achieves this by decreasing the request traffic from Amazon S3 to AWS KMS from a one-to-one model—one request to AWS KMS for each object written to or read from Amazon S3—to a one-to-many model using the cached S3 Bucket Key. The S3 Bucket Key is never stored persistently in an unencrypted state outside AWS KMS, and so Amazon S3 ultimately must always return to AWS KMS to encrypt and decrypt the S3 Bucket Key, and thus, the data. As a result, you still retain control of the key hierarchy and resulting encrypted data through AWS KMS, and are still able to audit Amazon S3 returning periodically to AWS KMS to refresh the S3 Bucket Keys, as logged in CloudTrail.

Returning to our review of 2021, S3 Bucket Keys gained the ability to use Amazon S3 Inventory and Amazon S3 Batch Operations automatically to migrate objects from the higher cost, slightly lower-performance SSE-KMS model to the lower-cost, higher-performance S3 Bucket Keys model.

Simplified ownership and access management

The final item from 2021 for Amazon S3 is probably the most important of all. Last year was the year that Amazon S3 achieved fully modernized object ownership and access management capabilities. You can now disable access control lists to simplify ownership and access management for data in Amazon S3.

To understand this launch, we need to go in time to the origins of Amazon S3, which is one of the oldest services in AWS, created even before IAM was launched in 2011. In those pre-IAM days, a storage system like Amazon S3 needed to have some kind of access control model, so Amazon S3 invented its own: Amazon S3 access control lists (ACLs). Using ACLs, you could add access permissions down to the object level, but only with regard to access by other AWS account principals (the only kind of identity that was available at the time), or public access (read-only or read-write) to an object. And in this model, objects were always owned by the creator of the object, not the bucket owner.

After IAM was introduced, Amazon S3 added the bucket policy feature, a type of resource policy that provides the rich features of IAM, including full support for all IAM principals (users and roles), time-of-day conditions, source IP conditions, ability to require encryption, and more. For many years, Amazon S3 access decisions have been made by combining IAM policy permissions and ACL permissions, which has served customers well. But the object-writer-is-owner issue has often caused friction. The good news for security professionals has been that a deny by either type of access control type overrides an allow by the other, so there were no security issues with this bi-modal approach. The challenge was that it could be administratively difficult to manage both resource policies—which exist at the bucket and access point level—and ownership and ACLs—which exist at the object level. Ownership and ACLs might potentially impact the behavior of only a handful of objects, in a bucket full of millions or billions of objects.

With the features released in 2021, Amazon S3 has removed these points of friction, and now provides the features needed to reduce ownership issues and to make IAM-based policies the only access control system for a specified bucket. The first step came in 2020 with the ability to make object ownership track bucket ownership, regardless of writer. But that feature applied only to newly-written objects. The final step is the 2021 launch we’re highlighting here: the ability to disable at the bucket level the evaluation of all existing ACLs—including ownership and permissions—effectively nullifying all object ACLs. From this point forward, you have the mechanisms you need to govern Amazon S3 access with a combination of S3 bucket policies, S3 access point policies, and (within the same account) IAM principal policies, without worrying about legacy models of ACLs and per-object ownership.

Additional database and storage service features

AWS Backup Vault Lock

AWS Backup added an important new additional layer for backup protection with the availability of AWS Backup Vault Lock. A vault lock feature in AWS is the ability to configure a storage policy such that even the most powerful AWS principals (such as an account or Org root principal) can only delete data if the deletion conforms to the preset data retention policy. Even if the credentials of a powerful administrator are compromised, the data stored in the vault remains safe. Vault lock features are extremely valuable in guarding against a wide range of security and resiliency risks (including accidental deletion), notably in an era when ransomware represents a rising threat to data.

Prior to AWS Backup Vault Lock, AWS provided the extremely useful Amazon S3 and Amazon S3 Glacier vault locking features, but these previous vaulting features applied only to the two Amazon S3 storage classes. AWS Backup, on the other hand, supports a wide range of storage types and databases across the AWS portfolio, including Amazon EBS, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) including Amazon Aurora, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Neptune, Amazon DocumentDB, Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS), Amazon FSx for Lustre, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, Amazon EC2, and AWS Storage Gateway. While built on top of Amazon S3, AWS Backup even supports backup of data stored in Amazon S3. Thus, this new AWS Backup Vault Lock feature effectively serves as a vault lock for all the data from most of the critical storage and database technologies made available by AWS.

Finally, as a bonus, AWS Backup added two more features in 2021 that should delight security and compliance professionals: AWS Backup Audit Manager and compliance reporting.

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB added a long-awaited feature: data-plane operations integration with AWS CloudTrail. DynamoDB has long supported the recording of management operations in CloudTrail—including a long list of operations like CreateTable, UpdateTable, DeleteTable, ListTables, CreateBackup, and many others. What has been added now is the ability to log the potentially far higher volume of data operations such as PutItem, BatchWriteItem, GetItem, BatchGetItem, and DeleteItem. With this launch, full database auditing became possible. In addition, DynamoDB added more granular control of logging through DynamoDB Streams filters. This feature allows users to vary the recording in CloudTrail of both control plane and data plane operations, at the table or stream level.

Amazon EBS snapshots

Let’s turn now to a simple but extremely useful feature launch affecting Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) snapshots. In the past, it was possible to accidently delete an EBS snapshot, which is a problem for security professionals because data availability is a part of the core security triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Now you can manage that risk and recover from accidental deletions of your snapshots by using Recycle Bin. You simply define a retention policy that applies to all deleted snapshots, and then you can define other more granular policies, for example using longer retention periods based on snapshot tag values, such as stage=prod. Along with this launch, the Amazon EBS team announced EBS Snapshots Archive, a major price reduction for long-term storage of snapshots.

AWS Certificate Manager Private Certificate Authority

2021 was a big year for AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) Private Certificate Authority (CA) with the following updates and new features:

Network and application protection

We saw a lot of enhancements in network and application protection in 2021 that will help you to enforce fine-grained security policies at important network control points across your organization. The services and new capabilities offer flexible solutions for inspecting and filtering traffic to help prevent unauthorized resource access.


AWS WAF launched AWS WAF Bot Control, which gives you visibility and control over common and pervasive bots that consume excess resources, skew metrics, cause downtime, or perform other undesired activities. The Bot Control managed rule group helps you monitor, block, or rate-limit pervasive bots, such as scrapers, scanners, and crawlers. You can also allow common bots that you consider acceptable, such as status monitors and search engines. AWS WAF also added support for custom responses, managed rule group versioning, in-line regular expressions, and Captcha. The Captcha feature has been popular with customers, removing another small example of “undifferentiated work” for customers.

AWS Shield Advanced

AWS Shield Advanced now automatically protects web applications by blocking application layer (L7) DDoS events with no manual intervention needed by you or the AWS Shield Response Team (SRT). When you protect your resources with AWS Shield Advanced and enable automatic application layer DDoS mitigation, Shield Advanced identifies patterns associated with L7 DDoS events and isolates this anomalous traffic by automatically creating AWS WAF rules in your web access control lists (ACLs).

Amazon CloudFront

In other edge networking news, Amazon CloudFront added support for response headers policies. This means that you can now add cross-origin resource sharing (CORS), security, and custom headers to HTTP responses returned by your CloudFront distributions. You no longer need to configure your origins or use custom Lambda@Edge or CloudFront Functions to insert these headers.

CloudFront Functions were another great 2021 addition to edge computing, providing a simple, inexpensive, and yet highly secure method for running customer-defined code as part of any CloudFront-managed web request. CloudFront functions allow for the creation of very efficient, fine-grained network access filters, such the ability to block or allow web requests at a region or city level.

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud and Route 53

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) added more-specific routing (routing subnet-to-subnet traffic through a virtual networking device) that allows for packet interception and inspection between subnets in a VPC. This is particularly useful for highly-available, highly-scalable network virtual function services based on Gateway Load Balancer, including both AWS services like AWS Network Firewall, as well as third-party networking services such as the recently announced integration between AWS Firewall Manager and Palo Alto Networks Cloud Next Generation Firewall, powered by Gateway Load Balancer.

Another important set of enhancements to the core VPC experience came in the area of VPC Flow Logs. Amazon VPC launched out-of-the-box integration with Amazon Athena. This means with a few clicks, you can now use Athena to query your VPC flow logs delivered to Amazon S3. Additionally, Amazon VPC launched three associated new log features that make querying more efficient by supporting Apache Parquet, Hive-compatible prefixes, and hourly partitioned files.

Following Route 53 Resolver’s much-anticipated launch of DNS logging in 2020, the big news for 2021 was the launch of its DNS Firewall capability. Route 53 Resolver DNS Firewall lets you create “blocklists” for domains you don’t want your VPC resources to communicate with, or you can take a stricter, “walled-garden” approach by creating “allowlists” that permit outbound DNS queries only to domains that you specify. You can also create alerts for when outbound DNS queries match certain firewall rules, allowing you to test your rules before deploying for production traffic. Route 53 Resolver DNS Firewall launched with two managed domain lists—malware domains and botnet command and control domains—enabling you to get started quickly with managed protections against common threats. It also integrated with Firewall Manager (see the following section) for easier centralized administration.

AWS Network Firewall and Firewall Manager

Speaking of AWS Network Firewall and Firewall Manager, 2021 was a big year for both. Network Firewall added support for AWS Managed Rules, which are groups of rules based on threat intelligence data, to enable you to stay up to date on the latest security threats without writing and maintaining your own rules. AWS Network Firewall features a flexible rules engine enabling you to define firewall rules that give you fine-grained control over network traffic. As of the launch in late 2021, you can enable managed domain list rules to block HTTP and HTTPS traffic to domains identified as low-reputation, or that are known or suspected to be associated with malware or botnets. Prior to that, another important launch was new configuration options for rule ordering and default drop, making it simpler to write and process rules to monitor your VPC traffic. Also in 2021, Network Firewall announced a major regional expansion following its initial launch in 2020, and a range of compliance achievements and eligibility including HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC, and ISO.

Firewall Manager also had a strong 2021, adding a number of additional features beyond its initial core area of managing network firewalls and VPC security groups that provide centralized, policy-based control over many other important network security capabilities: Amazon Route 53 Resolver DNS Firewall configurations, deployment of the new AWS WAF Bot Control, monitoring of VPC routes for AWS Network Firewall, AWS WAF log filtering, AWS WAF rate-based rules, and centralized logging of AWS Network Firewall logs.

Elastic Load Balancing

Elastic Load Balancing now supports forwarding traffic directly from Network Load Balancer (NLB) to Application Load Balancer (ALB). With this important new integration, you can take advantage of many critical NLB features such as support for AWS PrivateLink and exposing static IP addresses for applications that still require ALB.

In addition, Network Load Balancer now supports version 1.3 of the TLS protocol. This adds to the existing TLS 1.3 support in Amazon CloudFront, launched in 2020. AWS plans to add TLS 1.3 support for additional services.

The AWS Networking team also made Amazon VPC private NAT gateways available in both AWS GovCloud (US) Regions. The expansion into the AWS GovCloud (US) Regions enables US government agencies and contractors to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud by helping them to address certain regulatory and compliance requirements.


Security professionals should also be aware of some interesting enhancements in AWS compute services that can help improve their organization’s experience in building and operating a secure environment.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) launched the Global View on the console to provide visibility to all your resources across Regions. Global View helps you monitor resource counts, notice abnormalities sooner, and find stray resources. A few days into 2022, another simple but extremely useful EC2 launch was the new ability to obtain instance tags from the Instance Metadata Service (IMDS). Many customers run code on Amazon EC2 that needs to introspect about the EC2 tags associated with the instance and then change its behavior depending on the content of the tags. Prior to this launch, you had to associate an EC2 role and call the EC2 API to get this information. That required access to API endpoints, either through a NAT gateway or a VPC endpoint for Amazon EC2. Now, that information can be obtained directly from the IMDS, greatly simplifying a common use case.

Amazon EC2 launched sharing of Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) with AWS Organizations and Organizational Units (OUs). Previously, you could share AMIs only with specific AWS account IDs. To share AMIs within AWS Organizations, you had to explicitly manage sharing of AMIs on an account-by-account basis, as they were added to or removed from AWS Organizations. With this new feature, you no longer have to update your AMI permissions because of organizational changes. AMI sharing is automatically synchronized when organizational changes occur. This feature greatly helps both security professionals and governance teams to centrally manage and govern AMIs as you grow and scale your AWS accounts. As previously noted, this feature was also added to EC2 Image Builder. Finally, Amazon Data Lifecycle Manager, the tool that manages all your EBS volumes and AMIs in a policy-driven way, now supports automatic deprecation of AMIs. As a security professional, you will find this helpful as you can set a timeline on your AMIs so that, if the AMIs haven’t been updated for a specified period of time, they will no longer be considered valid or usable by development teams.

Looking ahead

In 2022, AWS continues to deliver experiences that meet administrators where they govern, developers where they code, and applications where they run. We will continue to summarize important launches in future blog posts. If you’re interested in learning more about AWS services, join us for AWS re:Inforce, the AWS conference focused on cloud security, identity, privacy, and compliance. AWS re:Inforce 2022 will take place July 26–27 in Boston, MA. Registration is now open. Register now with discount code SALxUsxEFCw to get $150 off your full conference pass to AWS re:Inforce. For a limited time only and while supplies last. We look forward to seeing you there!

To stay up to date on the latest product and feature launches and security use cases, be sure to read the What’s New with AWS announcements (or subscribe to the RSS feed) and the AWS Security Blog.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, contact AWS Support.

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Marta Taggart

Marta is a Seattle-native and Senior Product Marketing Manager in AWS Security Product Marketing, where she focuses on data protection services. Outside of work you’ll find her trying to convince Jack, her rescue dog, not to chase squirrels and crows (with limited success).

Mark Ryland

Mark Ryland

Mark is the director of the Office of the CISO for AWS. He has over 30 years of experience in the technology industry and has served in leadership roles in cybersecurity, software engineering, distributed systems, technology standardization and public policy. Previously, he served as the Director of Solution Architecture and Professional Services for the AWS World Public Sector team.

TLS 1.2 to become the minimum TLS protocol level for all AWS API endpoints

Post Syndicated from Janelle Hopper original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/tls-1-2-required-for-aws-endpoints/

At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we continuously innovate to deliver you a cloud computing environment that works to help meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. To respond to evolving technology and regulatory standards for Transport Layer Security (TLS), we will be updating the TLS configuration for all AWS service API endpoints to a minimum of version TLS 1.2. This update means you will no longer be able to use TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1 with all AWS APIs in all AWS Regions by June 28, 2023. In this post, we will tell you how to check your TLS version, and what to do to prepare.

We have continued AWS support for TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1 to maintain backward compatibility for customers that have older or difficult to update clients, such as embedded devices. Furthermore, we have active mitigations in place that help protect your data for the issues identified in these older versions. Now is the right time to retire TLS 1.0 and 1.1, because increasing numbers of customers have requested this change to help simplify part of their regulatory compliance, and there are fewer and fewer customers using these older versions.

If you are one of the more than 95% of AWS customers who are already using TLS 1.2 or later, you will not be impacted by this change. You are almost certainly already using TLS 1.2 or later if your client software application was built after 2014 using an AWS Software Development Kit (AWS SDK), AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), Java Development Kit (JDK) 8 or later, or another modern development environment. If you are using earlier application versions, or have not updated your development environment since before 2014, you will likely need to update.

If you are one of the customers still using TLS 1.0 or 1.1, then you must update your client software to use TLS 1.2 or later to maintain your ability to connect. It is important to understand that you already have control over the TLS version used when connecting. When connecting to AWS API endpoints, your client software negotiates its preferred TLS version, and AWS uses the highest mutually agreed upon version.

To minimize the availability impact of requiring TLS 1.2, AWS is rolling out the changes on an endpoint-by-endpoint basis over the next year, starting now and ending in June 2023. Before making these potentially breaking changes, we monitor for connections that are still using TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1. If you are one of the AWS customers who may be impacted, we will notify you on your AWS Health Dashboard, and by email. After June 28, 2023, AWS will update our API endpoint configuration to remove TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, even if you still have connections using these versions.

What should you do to prepare for this update?

To minimize your risk, you can self-identify if you have any connections using TLS 1.0 or 1.1. If you find any connections using TLS 1.0 or 1.1, you should update your client software to use TLS 1.2 or later.

AWS CloudTrail records are especially useful to identify if you are using the outdated TLS versions. You can now search for the TLS version used for your connections by using the recently added tlsDetails field. The tlsDetails structure in each CloudTrail record contains the TLS version, cipher suite, and the fully qualified domain name (FQDN, also known as the URL) field used for the API call. You can then use the data in the records to help you pinpoint your client software that is responsible for the TLS 1.0 or 1.1 call, and update it accordingly. Nearly half of AWS services currently provide the TLS information in the CloudTrail tlsDetails field, and we are continuing to roll this out for the remaining services in the coming months.

We recommend you use one of the following options for running your CloudTrail TLS queries:

  1. AWS CloudTrail Lake: You can follow the steps, and use the sample TLS query, in the blog post Using AWS CloudTrail Lake to identify older TLS connections. There is also a built-in sample CloudTrail TLS query available in the AWS CloudTrail Lake console.
  2. Amazon CloudWatch Log Insights: There are two built-in CloudWatch Log Insights sample CloudTrail TLS queries that you can use, as shown in Figure 1.
    Figure 1: Available sample TLS queries for CloudWatch Log Insights

    Figure 1: Available sample TLS queries for CloudWatch Log Insights

  3. Amazon Athena: You can query AWS CloudTrail logs in Amazon Athena, and we will be adding support for querying the TLS values in your CloudTrail logs in the coming months. Look for updates and announcements about this in future AWS Security Blog posts.

In addition to using CloudTrail data, you can also identify the TLS version used by your connections by performing code, network, or log analysis as described in the blog post TLS 1.2 will be required for all AWS FIPS endpoints. Note that while this post refers to the FIPS API endpoints, the information about querying for TLS versions is applicable to all API endpoints.

Will I be notified if I am using TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1?

If we detect that you are using TLS 1.0 or 1.1, you will be notified on your AWS Health Dashboard, and you will receive email notifications. However, you will not receive a notification for connections you make anonymously to AWS shared resources, such as a public Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, because we cannot identify anonymous connections. Furthermore, while we will make every effort to identify and notify every customer, there is a possibility that we may not detect infrequent connections, such as those that occur less than monthly.

How do I update my client to use TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3?

If you are using an AWS Software Developer Kit (AWS SDK) or the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), follow the detailed guidance about how to examine your client software code and properly configure the TLS version used in the blog post TLS 1.2 to become the minimum for FIPS endpoints.

We encourage you to be proactive in order to avoid an impact to availability. Also, we recommend that you test configuration changes in a staging environment before you introduce them into production workloads.

What is the most common use of TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1?

The most common use of TLS 1.0 or 1.1 are .NET Framework versions earlier than 4.6.2. If you use the .NET Framework, please confirm you are using version 4.6.2 or later. For information about how to update and configure the .NET Framework to support TLS 1.2, see How to enable TLS 1.2 on clients in the .NET Configuration Manager documentation.

What is Transport Layer Security (TLS)?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol that secures internet communications. Your client software can be set to use TLS version 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3, or a subset of these, when connecting to service endpoints. You should ensure that your client software supports TLS 1.2 or later.

Is there more assistance available to help verify or update my client software?

If you have any questions or issues, you can start a new thread on the AWS re:Post community, or you can contact AWS Support or your Technical Account Manager (TAM).

Additionally, you can use AWS IQ to find, securely collaborate with, and pay AWS certified third-party experts for on-demand assistance to update your TLS client components. To find out how to submit a request, get responses from experts, and choose the expert with the right skills and experience, see the AWS IQ page. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and select Get Started with AWS IQ to start a request.

What if I can’t update my client software?

If you are unable to update to use TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3, contact AWS Support or your Technical Account Manager (TAM) so that we can work with you to identify the best solution.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below.

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Janelle Hopper

Janelle is a Senior Technical Program Manager in AWS Security with over 25 years of experience in the IT security field. She works with AWS services, infrastructure, and administrative teams to identify and drive innovative solutions that improve the AWS security posture.


Daniel Salzedo

Daniel is a Senior Specialist Technical Account Manager – Security. He has over 25 years of professional experience in IT in industries as diverse as video game development, manufacturing, banking, and used car sales. He loves working with our wonderful AWS customers to help them solve their complex security challenges at scale.


Ben Sherman

Ben is a Software Development Engineer in AWS Security, where he focuses on automation to support AWS compliance obligations. He enjoys experimenting with computing and web services both at work and in his free time.

Using CloudTrail to identify unexpected behaviors in individual workloads

Post Syndicated from Volker Rath original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/using-cloudtrail-to-identify-unexpected-behaviors-in-individual-workloads/

In this post, we describe a practical approach that you can use to detect anomalous behaviors within Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud workloads by using behavioral analysis techniques that can be used to augment existing threat detection solutions. Anomaly detection is an advanced threat detection technique that should be considered when a mature security baseline as described in the security pillar of the AWS Well-Architected framework is in place.

Why you should consider behavior-based detection in the cloud

Traditionally, threat detection solutions focus on the endpoint and the network and analyze log events for known indicators of attack and indicators of compromise Other forms of threat detection focus on the user and data using products such as data loss prevention and user and endpoint behavior analytics to detect suspicious user behavior at the data layer. Both solution types analyze operating system, application level, and network logs and focus on the detection of known tactics, techniques, and procedures, but the cloud control plane and other cloud native log sources are outside the use case of traditional threat detection solutions

Being able to detect malicious behavior in your environment is necessary to stay secure in the cloud. This includes the detection of events when cloud services might have been misused. The challenge is that related activities are logged on a control plane level and don’t leave any traces in log sources that are traditionally analyzed for threat detection. For example, unwanted data movements between cloud services or cloud accounts use the cloud backplane for data transfers and don’t necessarily touch any endpoint or network gateway. Therefore, related events only appear within cloud native logs such as AWS CloudTrail or AWS Config and not in network or operating system logs.

Figure 1: Solution architecture example

Figure 1: Solution architecture example

In the simplified example shown in Figure 1, only data streams that pass from the cloud to the firewall and then to AWS services are visible to the endpoint (an Amazon EC2 instance) or the gateway security solution.

Data streams that pass through serverless solutions and activities of cloud native services are only visible in cloud native logs.

Amazon GuardDuty is a threat detection service that continuously monitors for malicious activity and unauthorized behavior to protect AWS accounts, and analyzes not only the network flow logs but also the cloud control plane. GuardDuty uses threat intelligence coupled with machine learning and behavior models to detect threats such as account compromise and unusual data access or communications, and should be activated in each cloud account.

But not all unwanted behavior follows known attack patterns. Unwanted behaviors can also include normal activity inside a cloud environment that is different from the intended behavior of a particular workload. Each activity or log entry by itself might not look malicious, but a series of events can reveal possible malicious intent when compared to the individual context of the application. Because there are no bad events as such in CloudTrail like in a firewall or antivirus log, the challenge is to detect threats based on noncompliant behaviors in the context of the application use case and not on known threat vectors.

Anomaly detection is playing an increasingly important role in defense strategies because of the constantly evolving attack and obfuscation techniques that make it hard to detect threats based on known tactics, techniques, and procedures.

What does unwanted behavior look like?

One approach to identifying key events that are related to unwanted behaviors is to identify a set of anomaly-related questions around common cloud activities that consider the workload context. Depending on the workload type, unwanted cloud API events and related questions could look like the following:

Event: An EC2 instance was launched. 
Question: Was an unexpected user or role used or was the EC2 instance launched outside the pipeline?

Event: A user or role performs many API list and describe events within a short timeframe. 
Questions: Does the application normally generate list and describe API calls in production? If not, this could be reconnaissance activity performed by an intruder.

Event: A user or role creates and shares an Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) snapshot with another account. 
Question: Is the snapshot sharing event expected? If not, it could be an attempt to exfiltrate data.

Event: Many failed API calls are detected in CloudTrail. 
Question: Are these failed calls around sensitive services or information? If yes, an unauthorized user could be exploring the environment.

Event: Many ListBucket events are detected for a sensitive Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket. 
Question: Are these events unexpected and performed by an unexpected identity? If yes, an unauthorized user performing an S3 bucket enumeration might indicate a reconnaissance activity.

After a set of questions has been identified, they can be converted into application specific threat detection use cases, which can be applied to sensitive production environments. This is a useful strategy because these environments typically have a predictable usage pattern. The predictable patterns reduce the chance of false positives, making it worth the effort of developing use cases for monitoring anomalies. Threat detection use cases can be identified within CloudTrail logs using security information and event management (SIEM) tools or Amazon CloudWatch rules.

Detecting anomalies in CloudTrail with CloudWatch

Activities within your AWS account can be recorded with CloudTrail, which makes it the ideal service not only for deeper investigations into past cloud activities but also to detect unwanted behaviors in near real time. CloudTrail sends logs to an S3 bucket and can forward events to CloudWatch. Using CloudWatch, you can perform searches across all CloudTrail events and define CloudWatch alarms for automatic notifications.

You can create alerts for individual CloudTrail events that you consider an anomaly by creating CloudWatch filters and alarms. A filter defines the events that you want to monitor and an alarm defines the threshold when you want to be notified.

To create a filter for the preceding S3 bucket enumeration example, you would select the CloudTrail log group, and then select Metric Filters and create a new metric filter, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Create CloudWatch metric filter

Figure 2: Create CloudWatch metric filter

Excluding the userAgent AWS Internal excludes S3 access activities performed by other AWS services such as AWS Access Analyzer or Amazon Macie which can be considered normal behavior.

Save this metric filter in a new name space that you use for all of your anomaly detection monitoring. After you have created the filter, create a new CloudWatch alarm based on your filter. Depending on your filter and alarm thresholds, you will receive CloudWatch alarm notifications through a Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic and have the opportunity to automatically launch other actions that can perform incident response activities.

After an alert is raised, you can use the same filter pattern to search for the relevant events in CloudWatch. The CloudTrail events will provide more information about who performed the S3 ListBucket events such as IP address (sourceIPAddress), who performed the action (userIdentity), or if the action was performed through the AWS Management Console or AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) (userAgent = aws-internal or aws-cli).   Figure 3 that follows is an example of a CloudTrail log.

Figure 3: CloudTrail example log

Figure 3: CloudTrail example log

Detecting anomalies using traps

Another simple, but effective technique to detect intruders based on unwanted behaviors is to use decoy services such as canaries or honey pots. Honey pots are designed to provide information about the behavior of attackers by providing them fake production environments that they can explore—such as hosts within a subnet or data stores such as databases or storage services with dummy data. Canaries are identities or access tokens within honey pot environments that look like privileged identities. Honey pots and canaries both appear attractive to attackers due to the names that are used for users, databases, or host names, but don’t expose the organization to risk if compromised.

Using CloudWatch alarms, you can monitor CloudTrail for events that indicate that attackers have started to explore the honey pot or tried to laterally move using the canary access token. By acting like an attacker yourself, you can generate test events within CloudTrail that will help you to identify the event details—such as event sources, event names, and parameters—that you want to monitor. Here are some examples of CloudTrail events you can monitor for different kinds of traps.

Trap Event source Event name Example instance or user name
Login attempt using a canary identity signin.amazonaws.com ConsoleLogin Backup_Admin
Assume role attempt using a canary role sts.amazonaws.com AssumeRole DevOps_role
Exploration of a honey pot database dynamodb.amazonaws.com ListTable CustomerAccounts
Exploration of a honey pot storage service s3.amazonaws.com GetObject PasswordBackup

Traps are typically deployed in production environments where access and use patterns are predictable and strictly controlled.  They’re a cost effective and easy to implement solution that can provide alarms with a high degree of certainty. Traps also offer a good chance to catch even the most sophisticated threat actors; especially when they use highly automated attacks.

Detecting statistical anomalies

AWS CloudTrail Insights is a feature of CloudTrail that can be used to identify unusual operational activity in your AWS accounts such as spikes in resource provisioning, bursts of AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) activity, or gaps in periodic maintenance activity.

CloudTrail Insights can provide primary indicators for noncompliant behaviors by establishing a baseline for normal behavior and then generating Insights events when it detects unusual patterns. Primary indicators are events that initiate an investigation.

But even when statistical changes haven’t reached alert thresholds and no issue is raised, statistical insights can be used as a supporting secondary indicator during investigations to better understand the context of an incident. Even minor changes of specific API calls around sensitive data can provide valuable information after an alert from another solution such as GuardDuty, or when the previously described anomaly detection techniques have been raised.

Figure 4 that follows is an example of an Insights chart showing API calls over time.

Figure 4: CloudTrail Insights example chart

Figure 4: CloudTrail Insights example chart


In this post I described the importance of monitoring sensitive workloads for noncompliant or unwanted behaviors to complement existing security solutions. Anomaly detection in the cloud monitors cloud service activities on the control plane and checks to see if the behavior is expected in the context of each workload. The effort to set up and support the tools described in this blog post leads to an affordable, practical, and powerful mechanism for the detection of sophisticated threat actors in the cloud. To learn more about how you can analyze API activities in the cloud, see Analyzing AWS CloudTrail in Amazon CloudWatch in the AWS Management & Governance Blog.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, start a new thread on the Amazon ADD FORUM NAME AND LINK or contact AWS Support.

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Volker Rath

Volker is a security, risk, and compliance (SRC) principal within AWS Professional Services. During his 20 years of experience in IT security, he developed many solutions that helped organizations improve their security management capabilities. He currently focuses on cloud native threat management strategies as well as SRC strategies for enterprise cloud platforms in the FSI industry. Adventure motorbike travels and basketball are his preferred hobbies in the analog world.