Tag Archives: Cybersecurity awareness

Reduce the security and compliance risks of messaging apps with AWS Wickr

Post Syndicated from Anne Grahn original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/reduce-the-security-and-compliance-risks-of-messaging-apps-with-aws-wickr/

Effective collaboration is central to business success, and employees today depend heavily on messaging tools. An estimated 3.09 billion mobile phone users access messaging applications (apps) to communicate, and this figure is projected to grow to 3.51 billion users in 2025.

This post highlights the risks associated with messaging apps and describes how you can use enterprise solutions — such as AWS Wickr — that combine end-to-end encryption with data retention to drive positive security and business outcomes.

The business risks of messaging apps

Evolving threats, flexible work models, and a growing patchwork of data protection and privacy regulations have made maintaining secure and compliant enterprise messaging a challenge.

The use of third-party apps for business-related messages on both corporate and personal devices can make it more difficult to verify that data is being adequately protected and retained. This can lead to business risk, particularly in industries with unique record-keeping requirements. Organizations in the financial services industry, for example, are subject to rules that include Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 17a-4 and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 3120, which require them to preserve all pertinent electronic communications.

A recent Gartner report on the viability of mobile bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs noted, “It is now logical to assume that most financial services organizations with mobile BYOD programs for regulated employees could be fined due to a lack of compliance with electronic communications regulations.”

In the public sector, U.S. government agencies are subject to records requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and various state sunshine statutes. For these organizations, effectively retaining business messages is about more than supporting security and compliance—it’s about maintaining public trust.

Securing enterprise messaging

Enterprise-grade messaging apps can help you protect communications from unauthorized access and facilitate desired business outcomes.

Security — Critical security protocols protect messages and files that contain sensitive and proprietary data — such as personally identifiable information, protected health information, financial records, and intellectual property — in transit and at rest to decrease the likelihood of a security incident.

Control — Administrative controls allow you to add, remove, and invite users, and organize them into security groups with restricted access to features and content at their level. Passwords can be reset and profiles can be deleted remotely, helping you reduce the risk of data exposure stemming from a lost or stolen device.

Compliance — Information can be preserved in a customer-controlled data store to help meet requirements such as those that fall under the Federal Records Act (FRA) and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as well as SEC Rule 17a-4 and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX).

Marrying encryption with data retention

Enterprise solutions bring end-to-end encryption and data retention together in support of a comprehensive approach to secure messaging that balances people, process, and technology.

End-to-end encryption

Many messaging apps offer some form of encryption, but not all of them use end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption is a secure communication method that protects data from unauthorized access, interception, or tampering as it travels from one endpoint to another.

In end-to-end encryption, encryption and decryption take place locally, on the device. Every call, message, and file is encrypted with unique keys and remains indecipherable in transit. Unauthorized parties cannot access communication content because they don’t have the keys required to decrypt the data.

Encryption in transit compared to end-to-end encryption

Encryption in transit encrypts data over a network from one point to another (typically between one client and one server); data might remain stored in plaintext at the source and destination storage systems. End-to-end encryption combines encryption in transit and encryption at rest to secure data at all times, from being generated and leaving the sender’s device, to arriving at the recipient’s device and being decrypted.

“Messaging is a critical tool for any organization, and end-to-end encryption is the security technology that provides organizations with the confidence they need to rely on it.” — CJ Moses, CISO and VP of Security Engineering at AWS

Data retention

While data retention is often thought of as being incompatible with end-to-end encryption, leading enterprise-grade messaging apps offer both, giving you the option to configure a data store of your choice to retain conversations without exposing them to outside parties. No one other than the intended recipients and your organization has access to the message content, giving you full control over your data.

How AWS can help

AWS Wickr is an end-to-end encrypted messaging and collaboration service that was built from the ground up with features designed to help you keep internal and external communications secure, private, and compliant. Wickr protects one-to-one and group messaging, voice and video calling, file sharing, screen sharing, and location sharing with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, and provides data retention capabilities.

Figure 1: How Wickr works

Figure 1: How Wickr works

With Wickr, each message gets a unique AES private encryption key, and a unique Elliptic-curve Diffie–Hellman (ECDH) public key to negotiate the key exchange with recipients. Message content — including text, files, audio, or video — is encrypted on the sending device (your iPhone, for example) using the message-specific AES key. This key is then exchanged via the ECDH key exchange mechanism, so that only intended recipients can decrypt the message.

“As former employees of federal law enforcement, the intelligence community, and the military, Qintel understands the need for enterprise-federated, secure communication messaging capabilities. When searching for our company’s messaging application we evaluated the market thoroughly and while there are some excellent capabilities available, none of them offer the enterprise security and administrative flexibility that Wickr does.”
Bill Schambura, CEO at Qintel

Wickr network administrators can configure and apply data retention to both internal and external communications in a Wickr network. This includes conversations with guest users, external teams, and other partner networks, so you can retain messages and files sent to and from the organization to help meet internal, legal, and regulatory requirements.

Figure 2: Data retention process

Figure 2: Data retention process

Data retention is implemented as an always-on recipient that is added to conversations, not unlike the blind carbon copy (BCC) feature in email. The data-retention process participates in the key exchange, allowing it to decrypt messages. The process can run anywhere: on-premises, on an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance, or at a location of your choice.

Wickr is a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)-eligible service, helping healthcare organizations and medical providers to conduct secure telehealth visits, send messages and files that contain protected health information, and facilitate real-time patient care.

Wickr networks can be created through the AWS Management Console, and workflows can be automated with Wickr bots. Wickr is currently available in the AWS US East (Northern Virginia), AWS GovCloud (US-West), AWS Canada (Central), and AWS Europe (London) Regions.

Keep your messages safe

Employees will continue to use messaging apps to chat with friends and family, and boost productivity at work. While many of these apps can introduce risks if not used properly in business settings, Wickr combines end-to-end encryption with data-retention capabilities to help you achieve security and compliance goals. Incorporating Wickr into a comprehensive approach to secure enterprise messaging that includes clear policies and security awareness training can help you to accelerate collaboration, while protecting your organization’s data.

To learn more and get started, visit the AWS Wickr webpage, or contact us.

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Anne Grahn

Anne Grahn

Anne is a Senior Worldwide Security GTM Specialist at AWS, based in Chicago. She has more than a decade of experience in the security industry, and focuses on effectively communicating cybersecurity risk. She maintains a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.

Tanvi Jain

Tanvi Jain

Tanvi is a Senior Technical Product Manager at AWS, based in New York. She focuses on building security-first features for customers, and is passionate about improving collaboration by building technology that is easy to use, scalable, and interoperable.

Our commitment to shared cybersecurity goals

Post Syndicated from Mark Ryland original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/our-commitment-to-shared-cybersecurity-goals/

The United States Government recently launched its National Cybersecurity Strategy. The Strategy outlines the administration’s ambitious vision for building a more resilient future, both in the United States and around the world, and it affirms the key role cloud computing plays in realizing this vision.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is broadly committed to working with customers, partners, and governments such as the United States to improve cybersecurity. That longstanding commitment aligns with the goals of the National Cybersecurity Strategy. In this blog post, we will summarize the Strategy and explain how AWS will help to realize its vision.

The Strategy identifies two fundamental shifts in how the United States allocates cybersecurity roles, responsibilities, and resources. First, the Strategy calls for a shift in cybersecurity responsibility away from individuals and organizations with fewer resources, toward larger technology providers that are the most capable and best-positioned to be successful. At AWS, we recognize that our success and scale bring broad responsibility. We are committed to improving cybersecurity outcomes for our customers, our partners, and the world at large.

Second, the Strategy calls for realigning incentives to favor long-term investments in a resilient future. As part of our culture of ownership, we are long-term thinkers, and we don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. For more than fifteen years, AWS has delivered security, identity, and compliance services for millions of active customers around the world. We recognize that we operate in a complicated global landscape and dynamic threat environment that necessitates a dynamic approach to security. Innovation and long-term investments have been and will continue to be at the core of our approach, and we continue to innovate to build and improve on our security and the services we offer customers.

AWS is working to enhance cybersecurity outcomes in ways that align with each of the Strategy’s five pillars:

  1. Defend Critical Infrastructure — Customers, partners, and governments need confidence that they are migrating to and building on a secure cloud foundation. AWS is architected to have the most flexible and secure cloud infrastructure available today, and our customers benefit from the data centers, networks, custom hardware, and secure software layers that we have built to satisfy the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. Our cloud infrastructure is secure by design and secure by default, and our infrastructure and services meet the high bar that the United States Government and other customers set for security.
  2. Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors — At AWS, our paramount focus on security leads us to implement important measures to prevent abuse of our services and products. Some of the measures we undertake to deter, detect, mitigate, and prevent abuse of AWS products include examining new registrations for potential fraud or identity falsification, employing service-level containment strategies when we detect unusual behavior, and helping protect critical systems and sensitive data against ransomware. Amazon is also working with government to address these threats, including by serving as one of the first members of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC). Amazon is also co-leading a study with the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee on addressing the abuse of domestic infrastructure by foreign malicious actors.
  3. Shape Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience — At AWS, security is our top priority. We continuously innovate based on customer feedback, which helps customer organizations to accelerate their pace of innovation while integrating top-tier security architecture into the core of their business and operations. For example, AWS co-founded the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF) project, which facilitates interoperability and data normalization between security products. We are contributing to the quality and safety of open-source software both by direct contributions to open-source projects and also by an initial commitment of $10 million in a variety of open-source security improvement projects in and through the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF).
  4. Invest in a Resilient Future — Cybersecurity skills training, workforce development, and education on next-generation technologies are essential to addressing cybersecurity challenges. That’s why we are making significant investments to help make it simpler for people to gain the skills they need to grow their careers, including in cybersecurity. Amazon is committing more than $1.2 billion to provide no-cost education and skills training opportunities to more than 300,000 of our own employees in the United States, to help them secure new, high-growth jobs. Amazon is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide no-cost cloud computing skills training to 29 million people around the world. We will continue to partner with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and others in government to develop the cybersecurity workforce.
  5. Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals — AWS is working with governments around the world to provide innovative solutions that advance shared goals such as bolstering cyberdefenses and combating security risks. For example, we are supporting international forums such as the Organization of American States to build security capacity across the hemisphere. We encourage the administration to look toward internationally recognized, risk-based cybersecurity frameworks and standards to strengthen consistency and continuity of security among interconnected sectors and throughout global supply chains. Increased adoption of these standards and frameworks, both domestically and internationally, will mitigate cyber risk while facilitating economic growth.

AWS shares the Biden administration’s cybersecurity goals and is committed to partnering with regulators and customers to achieve them. Collaboration between the public sector and industry has been central to US cybersecurity efforts, fueled by the recognition that the owners and operators of technology must play a key role. As the United States Government moves forward with implementation of the National Cybersecurity Strategy, we look forward to redoubling our efforts and welcome continued engagement with all stakeholders—including the United States Government, our international partners, and industry collaborators. Together, we can address the most difficult cybersecurity challenges, enhance security outcomes, and build toward a more secure and resilient future.

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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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.

New eBook: 5 Keys to Secure Enterprise Messaging

Post Syndicated from Anne Grahn original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/new-ebook-5-keys-to-secure-enterprise-messaging/

AWS is excited to announce a new eBook, 5 Keys to Secure Enterprise Messaging. The new eBook includes best practices for addressing the security and compliance risks associated with messaging apps.

An estimated 3.09 billion mobile phone users access messaging apps to communicate, and this figure is projected to grow to 3.51 billion users in 2025.

Legal and regulatory requirements for data protection, privacy, and data retention have made protecting business communications a priority for organizations across the globe. Although consumer messaging apps are convenient and support real-time communication with colleagues, customers, and partners, they often lack the robust security and administrative controls many businesses require.

The eBook details five keys to secure enterprise messaging that balance people, process, and technology.

We encourage you to read the eBook, and learn about:

  • Establishing messaging policies and guidelines that are effective for your workforce
  • Training employees to use messaging apps in a way that doesn’t increase organizational risk
  • Building a security-first culture
  • Using true end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to secure communications
  • Retaining data to help meet requirements, without exposing it to outside parties

Download 5 Keys to Secure Enterprise Messaging.

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

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

Anne Grahn

Anne Grahn

Anne is a Senior Worldwide Security GTM Specialist at AWS based in Chicago. She has more than a decade of experience in the security industry, and focuses on effectively communicating cybersecurity risk. She maintains a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.

See yourself in cyber: Highlights from Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Post Syndicated from CJ Moses original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/see-yourself-in-cyber-highlights-from-cybersecurity-awareness-month/

As Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to a close, we want to share some of the work we’ve done and made available to you throughout October. Over the last four weeks, we have shared insights and resources aligned with this year’s theme—”See Yourself in Cyber”—to help advance awareness training, and inspire people to join the rapidly growing security industry. Here are a few highlights.

Roundtable with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): Amazon Chief Security Officer Steve Schmidt hosted CISA director Jen Easterly in Seattle for a roundtable with leaders across higher education, state and local government, and private industry to discuss ways to develop the cybersecurity workforce through skills training, partnerships between government and industry, and creating pathways to cybersecurity careers.

How AWS, Cisco, Netflix & SAP Are Approaching Cybersecurity Awareness Month. I joined Cisco Chief Security and Trust Officer Brad Arkin, Netflix Head of Cloud Security Srinath Kuruvardi, and SAP Chief Trust Officer Elena Kvochko to describe how AWS, Cisco, Netflix, and SAP are instilling strong cybersecurity training and practices within our organizations, with the goal of inspiring other organizations to do the same.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022 Briefing. Amazon Security Director Jenny Brinkley—who leads Amazon’s internal and external awareness training activities—participated in a Cybersecurity Awareness Month panel discussion hosted by the National Cybersecurity Alliance. Jenny met with executives from KnowBe4, Google, NortonLifeLock, and Dell and chatted about how the cybersecurity landscape has changed over the past few years, and how those changes have impacted the perception of security as a part of daily life.

Making Cybersecurity Relevant for Consumers: The Case for Personal Agency. In addition to the briefing, Jenny spoke to the National Cybersecurity Alliance about staying safe online. She highlighted simple steps that everyone can take to be safer online, including staying consistent on software updates for connected devices, using strong passwords, activating multi-factor authentication (MFA) on accounts when possible, and being on the lookout for phishing attempts.

National Cybersecurity Alliance and Nasdaq Cybersecurity Summit. Jenny and Amazon Head of Global Security Training Jyllian Clarke also joined the National Cybersecurity Alliance, Nasdaq, and public and private sector security leaders in New York City for a cybersecurity summit and got to ring the opening bell.


AWS offers free Cybersecurity Awareness Training to individuals and businesses around the world, and we’re providing complimentary MFA security keys to AWS account owners in the United States. More than 40 security-focused courses are available through AWS Skill Builder, ranging from foundational to advanced content. By subscribing to AWS Skill Builder, you gain access to security-related interactive challenges with AWS Jam, which guides you through solving real-world problems.

Additionally, Amazon and the National Cybersecurity Alliance launched a cybersecurity awareness campaign called Protect & Connect. The campaign includes a public service announcement featuring Prime Video actor Michael B. Jordan and actress-producer Tessa Thompson as “internet bodyguards,” as well as a Protect & Connect microsite for consumers, featuring additional videos on topics such as MFA and how to identify and avoid phishing attempts.

Humanizing security

Cybersecurity can seem like a complex subject but ultimately, it’s all about people. Most of today’s threats need people to activate them, so you need to train people to develop intuition, which is something that can’t be automated. By meeting employees where they are with an engaging approach to awareness training that moves security to the forefront of everything they do, you can promote positive behavioral change, and start building a security-first culture.

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

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CJ Moses

CJ Moses

CJ is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at AWS, where he leads product design and security engineering. His mission is to deliver the economic and security benefits of cloud computing to business and government customers. Previously, CJ led the technical analysis of computer and network intrusion efforts at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Division. He also served as a Special Agent with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). CJ led several computer intrusion investigations seen as foundational to the information security industry today.

Three ways to improve your cybersecurity awareness program

Post Syndicated from Stephen Schmidt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/three-ways-to-improve-your-cybersecurity-awareness-program/

Raising the bar on cybersecurity starts with education. That’s why we announced in August that Amazon is making its internal Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program available to businesses and individuals for free starting this month. This is the same annual training we provide our employees to help them better understand and anticipate potential cybersecurity risks. The training program will include a getting started guide to help you implement a cybersecurity awareness training program at your organization. It’s aligned with NIST SP 800-53rev4, ISO 27001, K-ISMS, RSEFT, IRAP, OSPAR, and MCTS.

I also want to share a few key learnings for how to implement effective cybersecurity training programs that might be helpful as you develop your own training program:

  1. Be sure to articulate personal value. As humans, we have an evolved sense of physical risk that has developed over thousands of years. Our bodies respond when we sense danger, heightening our senses and getting us ready to run or fight. We have a far less developed sense of cybersecurity risk. Your vision doesn’t sharpen when you assign the wrong permissions to a resource, for example. It can be hard to describe the impact of cybersecurity, but if you keep the message personal, it engages parts of the brain that are tied to deep emotional triggers in memory. When we describe how learning a behavior—like discerning when an email might be phishing—can protect your family, your child’s college fund, or your retirement fund, it becomes more apparent why cybersecurity matters.
  2. Be inclusive. Humans are best at learning when they share a lived experience with their educators so they can make authentic connections to their daily lives. That’s why inclusion in cybersecurity training is a must. But that only happens by investing in a cybersecurity awareness team that includes people with different backgrounds, so they can provide insight into different approaches that will resonate with diverse populations. People from different cultures, backgrounds, and age cohorts can provide insight into culturally specific attack patterns as well as how to train for them. For example, for social engineering in hierarchical cultures, bad actors often spoof authority figures, and for individualistic cultures, they play to the target’s knowledge and importance, and give compliments. And don’t forget to make everything you do accessible for people with varying disability experiences, because everyone deserves the same high-quality training experience. The more you connect with people, the more they internalize your message and provide valuable feedback. Diversity and inclusion breeds better cybersecurity.
  3. Weave it into workflows. Training takes investment. You have to make time for it in your day. We all understand that as part of a workforce we have to do it, but in addition to compliance training, you should be providing just-in-time reminders and challenges to complete. Try working with tooling teams to display messaging when critical tasks are being completed. Make training short and concise—3 minutes at most—so that people can make time for it in their day.

Cybersecurity training isn’t just a once-per-year exercise. Find ways to weave it into the daily lives of your workforce, and you’ll be helping them protect not only your company, but themselves and their loved ones as well.

Get started by going to learnsecurity.amazon.com and take the Cybersecurity Awareness training.

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Steve Schmidt

Steve is Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for AWS. His duties include leading product design, management, and engineering development efforts focused on bringing the competitive, economic, and security benefits of cloud computing to business and government customers. Prior to AWS, he had an extensive career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he served as a senior executive and section chief. He currently holds 11 patents in the field of cloud security architecture. Follow Steve on Twitter.