Tag Archives: policies

New – VPC Endpoints for DynamoDB

Post Syndicated from Randall Hunt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-vpc-endpoints-for-dynamodb/

Starting today Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Endpoints for Amazon DynamoDB are available in all public AWS regions. You can provision an endpoint right away using the AWS Management Console or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI). There are no additional costs for a VPC Endpoint for DynamoDB.

Many AWS customers run their applications within a Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for security or isolation reasons. Previously, if you wanted your EC2 instances in your VPC to be able to access DynamoDB, you had two options. You could use an Internet Gateway (with a NAT Gateway or assigning your instances public IPs) or you could route all of your traffic to your local infrastructure via VPN or AWS Direct Connect and then back to DynamoDB. Both of these solutions had security and throughput implications and it could be difficult to configure NACLs or security groups to restrict access to just DynamoDB. Here is a picture of the old infrastructure.

Creating an Endpoint

Let’s create a VPC Endpoint for DynamoDB. We can make sure our region supports the endpoint with the DescribeVpcEndpointServices API call.

aws ec2 describe-vpc-endpoint-services --region us-east-1
    "ServiceNames": [

Great, so I know my region supports these endpoints and I know what my regional endpoint is. I can grab one of my VPCs and provision an endpoint with a quick call to the CLI or through the console. Let me show you how to use the console.

First I’ll navigate to the VPC console and select “Endpoints” in the sidebar. From there I’ll click “Create Endpoint” which brings me to this handy console.

You’ll notice the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policy section for the endpoint. This supports all of the fine grained access control that DynamoDB supports in regular IAM policies and you can restrict access based on IAM policy conditions.

For now I’ll give full access to my instances within this VPC and click “Next Step”.

This brings me to a list of route tables in my VPC and asks me which of these route tables I want to assign my endpoint to. I’ll select one of them and click “Create Endpoint”.

Keep in mind the note of warning in the console: if you have source restrictions to DynamoDB based on public IP addresses the source IP of your instances accessing DynamoDB will now be their private IP addresses.

After adding the VPC Endpoint for DynamoDB to our VPC our infrastructure looks like this.

That’s it folks! It’s that easy. It’s provided at no cost. Go ahead and start using it today. If you need more details you can read the docs here.

Piracy Narrative Isn’t About Ethics Anymore, It’s About “Danger”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-narrative-isnt-about-ethics-anymore-its-about-danger-170812/

Over the years there have been almost endless attempts to stop people from accessing copyright-infringing content online. Campaigns have come and gone and almost two decades later the battle is still ongoing.

Early on, when panic enveloped the music industry, the campaigns centered around people getting sued. Grabbing music online for free could be costly, the industry warned, while parading the heads of a few victims on pikes for the world to see.

Periodically, however, the aim has been to appeal to the public’s better nature. The idea is that people essentially want to do the ‘right thing’, so once they understand that largely hard-working Americans are losing their livelihoods, people will stop downloading from The Pirate Bay. For some, this probably had the desired effect but millions of people are still getting their fixes for free, so the job isn’t finished yet.

In more recent years, notably since the MPAA and RIAA had their eyes blacked in the wake of SOPA, the tone has shifted. In addition to educating the public, torrent and streaming sites are increasingly being painted as enemies of the public they claim to serve.

Several studies, largely carried out on behalf of the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), have claimed that pirate sites are hotbeds of malware, baiting consumers in with tasty pirate booty only to offload trojans, viruses, and God-knows-what. These reports have been ostensibly published as independent public interest documents but this week an advisor to the DCA suggested a deeper interest for the industry.

Hemanshu Nigam is a former federal prosecutor, ex-Chief Security Officer for News Corp and Fox Interactive Media, and former VP Worldwide Internet Enforcement at the MPAA. In an interview with Deadline this week, he spoke about alleged links between pirate sites and malware distributors. He also indicated that warning people about the dangers of pirate sites has become Hollywood’s latest anti-piracy strategy.

“The industry narrative has changed. When I was at the MPAA, we would tell people that stealing content is wrong and young people would say, yeah, whatever, you guys make a lot of money, too bad,” he told the publication.

“It has gone from an ethical discussion to a dangerous one. Now, your parents’ bank account can be raided, your teenage daughter can be spied on in her bedroom and extorted with the footage, or your computer can be locked up along with everything in it and held for ransom.”

Nigam’s stance isn’t really a surprise since he’s currently working for the Digital Citizens Alliance as an advisor. In turn, the Alliance is at least partly financed by the MPAA. There’s no suggestion whatsoever that Nigam is involved in any propaganda effort, but recent signs suggest that the DCA’s work in malware awareness is more about directing people away from pirate sites than protecting them from the alleged dangers within.

That being said and despite the bias, it’s still worth giving experts like Nigam an opportunity to speak. Largely thanks to industry efforts with brands, pirate sites are increasingly being forced to display lower-tier ads, which can be problematic. On top, some sites’ policies mean they don’t deserve any visitors at all.

In the Deadline piece, however, Nigam alleges that hackers have previously reached out to pirate websites offering $200 to $5000 per day “depending on the size of the pirate website” to have the site infect users with malware. If true, that’s a serious situation and people who would ordinarily use ‘pirate’ sites would definitely appreciate the details.

For example, to which sites did hackers make this offer and, crucially, which sites turned down the offer and which ones accepted?

It’s important to remember that pirates are just another type of consumer and they would boycott sites in a heartbeat if they discovered they’d been paid to infect them with malware. But, as usual, the claims are extremely light in detail. Instead, there’s simply a blanket warning to stay away from all unauthorized sites, which isn’t particularly helpful.

In some cases, of course, operational security will prevent some details coming to light but without these, people who don’t get infected on a ‘pirate’ site (the vast majority) simply won’t believe the allegations. As the author of the Deadline piece pointed out, it’s a bit like Reefer Madness all over again.

The point here is that without hard independent evidence to back up these claims, with reports listing sites alongside the malware they’ve supposed to have spread and when, few people will respond to perceived scaremongering. Free content trumps a few distant worries almost every time, whether that involves malware or the threat of a lawsuit.

It’ll be up to the DCA and their MPAA paymasters to consider whether the approach is working but thus far, not even having government heavyweights on board has helped.

Earlier this year the DCA launched a video campaign, enrolling 15 attorney generals to publish their own anti-piracy PSAs on YouTube. Thus far, interest has been minimal, to say the least.

At the time of writing the 15 PSAs have 3,986 views in total, with 2,441 of those contributed by a single video contributed by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. Despite the relative success, even that got slammed with 2 upvotes and 127 downvotes.

A few of the other videos have a couple of hundred views each but more than half have less than 70. Perhaps most worryingly for the DCA, apart from the Schimel PSA, none have any upvotes at all, only down. It’s unclear who the viewers were but it seems reasonable to conclude they weren’t entertained.

The bottom line is nobody likes malware or having their banking details stolen but yet again, people who claim to have the public interest at heart aren’t actually making a difference on the ground. It could be argued that groups advocating online safety should be publishing guides on how to stay protected on the Internet period, not merely advising people to stay away from certain sites.

But of course, that wouldn’t achieve the goals of the MPAA Digital Citizens Alliance.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

New – AWS SAM Local (Beta) – Build and Test Serverless Applications Locally

Post Syndicated from Randall Hunt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-aws-sam-local-beta-build-and-test-serverless-applications-locally/

Today we’re releasing a beta of a new tool, SAM Local, that makes it easy to build and test your serverless applications locally. In this post we’ll use SAM local to build, debug, and deploy a quick application that allows us to vote on tabs or spaces by curling an endpoint. AWS introduced Serverless Application Model (SAM) last year to make it easier for developers to deploy serverless applications. If you’re not already familiar with SAM my colleague Orr wrote a great post on how to use SAM that you can read in about 5 minutes. At it’s core, SAM is a powerful open source specification built on AWS CloudFormation that makes it easy to keep your serverless infrastructure as code – and they have the cutest mascot.

SAM Local takes all the good parts of SAM and brings them to your local machine.

There are a couple of ways to install SAM Local but the easiest is through NPM. A quick npm install -g aws-sam-local should get us going but if you want the latest version you can always install straight from the source: go get github.com/awslabs/aws-sam-local (this will create a binary named aws-sam-local, not sam).

I like to vote on things so let’s write a quick SAM application to vote on Spaces versus Tabs. We’ll use a very simple, but powerful, architecture of API Gateway fronting a Lambda function and we’ll store our results in DynamoDB. In the end a user should be able to curl our API curl https://SOMEURL/ -d '{"vote": "spaces"}' and get back the number of votes.

Let’s start by writing a simple SAM template.yaml:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion : '2010-09-09'
Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31
    Type: "AWS::Serverless::SimpleTable"
    Type: "AWS::Serverless::Function"
      Runtime: python3.6
      Handler: lambda_function.lambda_handler
      Policies: AmazonDynamoDBFullAccess
          TABLE_NAME: !Ref VotesTable
          Type: Api
            Path: /
            Method: post

So we create a [dynamo_i] table that we expose to our Lambda function through an environment variable called TABLE_NAME.

To test that this template is valid I’ll go ahead and call sam validate to make sure I haven’t fat-fingered anything. It returns Valid! so let’s go ahead and get to work on our Lambda function.

import os
import os
import json
import boto3
votes_table = boto3.resource('dynamodb').Table(os.getenv('TABLE_NAME'))

def lambda_handler(event, context):
    if event['httpMethod'] == 'GET':
        resp = votes_table.scan()
        return {'body': json.dumps({item['id']: int(item['votes']) for item in resp['Items']})}
    elif event['httpMethod'] == 'POST':
            body = json.loads(event['body'])
            return {'statusCode': 400, 'body': 'malformed json input'}
        if 'vote' not in body:
            return {'statusCode': 400, 'body': 'missing vote in request body'}
        if body['vote'] not in ['spaces', 'tabs']:
            return {'statusCode': 400, 'body': 'vote value must be "spaces" or "tabs"'}

        resp = votes_table.update_item(
            Key={'id': body['vote']},
            UpdateExpression='ADD votes :incr',
            ExpressionAttributeValues={':incr': 1},
        return {'body': "{} now has {} votes".format(body['vote'], resp['Attributes']['votes'])}

So let’s test this locally. I’ll need to create a real DynamoDB database to talk to and I’ll need to provide the name of that database through the enviornment variable TABLE_NAME. I could do that with an env.json file or I can just pass it on the command line. First, I can call:
$ echo '{"httpMethod": "POST", "body": "{\"vote\": \"spaces\"}"}' |\
TABLE_NAME="vote-spaces-tabs" sam local invoke "VoteSpacesTabs"

to test the Lambda – it returns the number of votes for spaces so theoritically everything is working. Typing all of that out is a pain so I could generate a sample event with sam local generate-event api and pass that in to the local invocation. Far easier than all of that is just running our API locally. Let’s do that: sam local start-api. Now I can curl my local endpoints to test everything out.
I’ll run the command: $ curl -d '{"vote": "tabs"}' and it returns: “tabs now has 12 votes”. Now, of course I did not write this function perfectly on my first try. I edited and saved several times. One of the benefits of hot-reloading is that as I change the function I don’t have to do any additional work to test the new function. This makes iterative development vastly easier.

Let’s say we don’t want to deal with accessing a real DynamoDB database over the network though. What are our options? Well we can download DynamoDB Local and launch it with java -Djava.library.path=./DynamoDBLocal_lib -jar DynamoDBLocal.jar -sharedDb. Then we can have our Lambda function use the AWS_SAM_LOCAL environment variable to make some decisions about how to behave. Let’s modify our function a bit:

import os
import json
import boto3
if os.getenv("AWS_SAM_LOCAL"):
    votes_table = boto3.resource(
    votes_table = boto3.resource('dynamodb').Table(os.getenv('TABLE_NAME'))

Now we’re using a local endpoint to connect to our local database which makes working without wifi a little easier.

SAM local even supports interactive debugging! In Java and Node.js I can just pass the -d flag and a port to immediately enable the debugger. For Python I could use a library like import epdb; epdb.serve() and connect that way. Then we can call sam local invoke -d 8080 "VoteSpacesTabs" and our function will pause execution waiting for you to step through with the debugger.

Alright, I think we’ve got everything working so let’s deploy this!

First I’ll call the sam package command which is just an alias for aws cloudformation package and then I’ll use the result of that command to sam deploy.

$ sam package --template-file template.yaml --s3-bucket MYAWESOMEBUCKET --output-template-file package.yaml
Uploading to 144e47a4a08f8338faae894afe7563c3  90570 / 90570.0  (100.00%)
Successfully packaged artifacts and wrote output template to file package.yaml.
Execute the following command to deploy the packaged template
aws cloudformation deploy --template-file package.yaml --stack-name 
$ sam deploy --template-file package.yaml --stack-name VoteForSpaces --capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM
Waiting for changeset to be created..
Waiting for stack create/update to complete
Successfully created/updated stack - VoteForSpaces

Which brings us to our API:

I’m going to hop over into the production stage and add some rate limiting in case you guys start voting a lot – but otherwise we’ve taken our local work and deployed it to the cloud without much effort at all. I always enjoy it when things work on the first deploy!

You can vote now and watch the results live! http://spaces-or-tabs.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/

We hope that SAM Local makes it easier for you to test, debug, and deploy your serverless apps. We have a CONTRIBUTING.md guide and we welcome pull requests. Please tweet at us to let us know what cool things you build. You can see our What’s New post here and the documentation is live here.


Query name minimization

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/08/query-name-minimization.html

One new thing you need to add your DNS security policies is “query name minimizations” (RFC 7816). I thought I’d mention it since many haven’t heard about it.

Right now, when DNS resolvers lookup a name like “www.example.com.”, they send the entire name to the root server (like a.root-servers.net.). When it gets back the answer to the .com DNS server a.gtld-servers.net), it then resends the full “www.example.com” query to that server.

This is obviously unnecessary. The first query should be just .com. to the root server, then example.com. to the next server — the minimal amount needed for each query, not the full query.

The reason this is important is that everyone is listening in on root name server queries. Universities and independent researchers do this to maintain the DNS system, and to track malware. Security companies do this also to track malware, bots, command-and-control channels, and so forth. The world’s biggest spy agencies do this in order just to spy on people. Minimizing your queries prevents them from spying on you.

An example where this is important is that story of lookups from AlfaBank in Russia for “mail1.trump-emails.com”. Whatever you think of Trump, this was an improper invasion of privacy, where DNS researchers misused their privileged access in order to pursue their anti-Trump political agenda. If AlfaBank had used query name minimization, none of this would have happened.

It’s also critical for not exposing internal resources. Even when you do “split DNS”, when the .com record expires, you resolver will still forward the internal DNS record to the outside world. All those Russian hackers can map out the internal names of your network simply by eavesdropping on root server queries.

Servers that support this are Knot resolver and Unbound 1.5.7+ and possibly others. It’s a relatively new standard, so it make take a while for other DNS servers to support this.

Transparency in Cloud Storage Costs

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/transparency-in-cloud-storage-costs/

cloud storage cost calculator

Backblaze’s mission is to make cloud storage that’s affordable and astonishingly easy to use. Backblaze B2 embodies that mission for those looking for an object storage solution.

Another Backblaze core value is being transparent, from releasing our Storage Pod designs to detailing our cloud storage cost of goods sold. We are an open book in the Cloud Storage industry. So it makes sense that opaque pricing policies that require mind numbing calculations are a no-no for us. Our approach to pricing is to be transparent, straight-forward, and predictable.

For Backblaze B2, this means that no matter how much data you have, the cost for B2 is $0.005/GB per month for data storage and $0.02/GB to download data. There are no costs to upload. We also throw in 10GB of storage and 1GB of downloads for free every month.

Cloud Storage Price Comparison

The storage industry does not share our view of making pricing transparent, or affordable. In an effort to help everyone, we’ve made a Cloud Storage Pricing Calculator, where anyone can enter in their specific use case and get pricing back for B2, S3, Azure, and GCS. We’ve also included the calculator below for those interested in trying it out.

B2 Cost Calculator

Backblaze provides this calculator as an estimate.

Initial Upload:


Data over time

Monthly Upload:


Monthly Delete:


Monthly Download:


Period of Time:


Storage Costs

Storage Cost for Initial Month:

Data Added Each Month:

Data Deleted Each Month:

Net Data:

Download Costs

Monthly Download Cost:


Total Cost for x Months

Amazon S3
Microsoft Azure
Google Cloud

* Figures are not exact and do not include the following: Free first 10 GB of storage, free 1 GB of daily downloads, or $.004/10,000 class B Transactions and $.004/1,000 Class C Transactions.

Sample storage scenarios:

Scenario 1

You have data you wish to archive, and will be adding more each month, but you don’t expect that you will be downloading or deleting any data.

Initial upload: 10,000GB
Monthly upload: 1,000GB

For twelve months, your costs would be:

Backblaze B2 $990.00
Amazon S3 $4,158.00 +420%
Microsoft Azure $4,356.00 +440%
Google Cloud $5,148.00 +520%


Scenario 2

You wish to store data, and will be actively changing that data with uploads, downloads, and deletions.

Initial upload: 10,000GB
Monthly upload: 2,000GB
Monthly deletion: 1,000GB
Monthly download: 500GB

Your costs for 12 months would be:

Backblaze B2 $1,100.00
Amazon S3 $3.458/00 +402%
Microsoft Azure $4,656.00 +519%
Google Cloud $5,628.00 +507%

We invite you to compare our cost estimates against the competition. Here are the links to our competitors’ pricing calculators.

B2 Cloud Storage Pricing Summary


$0.005 $0.02

The Details

How much data you have stored with Backblaze. This is calculated once a day based on the average storage of the previous 24 hours.
The first 10 GB of storage is free.

Charged when you download files and charged when you create a Snapshot. Charged for any portion of a GB. The first 1 GB of data downloaded each day is free.

Class “A” transactions – Free
Class “B” transactions – $0.004 per 10,000 with 2,500 free per day.
Class “C” transactions – $0.004 per 1,000 with 2,500 free per day.
View Transactions by API Call

Mail us your data on a B2 Fireball – $550
Backblaze will mail your data to you by FedEx:
• USB Flash Drive – up to 110 GB – $89
• USB Hard Drive – up to 3.5TB of data – $189

All B2 active account owners can contact Backblaze support at help.backblaze.com where they will also find a free-to- use knowledge base of B2 advice, guides, and more. In addition, a B2 user can pay to upgrade their support plan to include phone service, 24×7 support and more.

Unlike other services, you won’t be nickeled and dimed with upload fees, file deletion charges, minimum files size requirements, and more. Everything you can possibly pay Backblaze is listed above.


Visit our B2 Cloud Storage Pricing web page for more details.

Amazon S3
Storage Costs
Initial upload cost:
Data added each month:

Data del. each month:

Net data:

Download Costs

Monthly Download Cost:


Total Cost for x Months

Storage Costs
Initial upload cost:
Data added each month:

Data del. each month:

Net data:

Download Costs

Monthly Download Cost:


Total Cost for x Months

Storage Costs
Initial upload cost:
Data added each month:

Data del. each month:

Net data:

Download Costs

Monthly Download Cost:


Total Cost for x Months

The post Transparency in Cloud Storage Costs appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Newly Updated: Example AWS IAM Policies for You to Use and Customize

Post Syndicated from Deren Smith original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/newly-updated-example-policies-for-you-to-use-and-customize/

To help you grant access to specific resources and conditions, the Example Policies page in the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) documentation now includes more than thirty policies for you to use or customize to meet your permissions requirements. The AWS Support team developed these policies from their experiences working with AWS customers over the years. The example policies cover common permissions use cases you might encounter across services such as Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon EC2, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, and IAM.

In this blog post, I introduce the updated Example Policies page and explain how to use and customize these policies for your needs.

The new Example Policies page

The Example Policies page in the IAM User Guide now provides an overview of the example policies and includes a link to view each policy on a separate page. Note that each of these policies has been reviewed and approved by AWS Support. If you would like to submit a policy that you have found to be particularly useful, post it on the IAM forum.

To give you an idea of the policies we have included on this page, the following are a few of the EC2 policies on the page:

To see the full list of available policies, see the Example Polices page.

In the following section, I demonstrate how to use a policy from the Example Policies page and customize it for your needs.

How to customize an example policy for your needs

Suppose you want to allow an IAM user, Bob, to start and stop EC2 instances with a specific resource tag. After looking through the Example Policies page, you see the policy, Allows Starting or Stopping EC2 Instances a User Has Tagged, Programmatically and in the Console.

To apply this policy to your specific use case:

  1. Navigate to the Policies section of the IAM console.
  2. Choose Create policy.
    Screenshot of choosing "Create policy"
  3. Choose the Select button next to Create Your Own Policy. You will see an empty policy document with boxes for Policy Name, Description, and Policy Document, as shown in the following screenshot.
  4. Type a name for the policy, copy the policy from the Example Policies page, and paste the policy in the Policy Document box. In this example, I use “start-stop-instances-for-owner-tag” as the policy name and “Allows users to start or stop instances if the instance tag Owner has the value of their user name” as the description.
  5. Update the placeholder text in the policy (see the full policy that follows this step). For example, replace <REGION> with a region from AWS Regions and Endpoints and <ACCOUNTNUMBER> with your 12-digit account number. The IAM policy variable, ${aws:username}, is a dynamic property in the policy that automatically applies to the user to which it is attached. For example, when the policy is attached to Bob, the policy replaces ${aws:username} with Bob. If you do not want to use the key value pair of Owner and ${aws:username}, you can edit the policy to include your desired key value pair. For example, if you want to use the key value pair, CostCenter:1234, you can modify “ec2:ResourceTag/Owner”: “${aws:username}” to “ec2:ResourceTag/CostCenter”: “1234”.
        "Version": "2012-10-17",
        "Statement": [
          "Effect": "Allow",
          "Action": [
                 "Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:<REGION>:<ACCOUNTNUMBER>:instance/*",
                 "Condition": {
              "StringEquals": {
                  "ec2:ResourceTag/Owner": "${aws:username}"
                 "Effect": "Allow",
                 "Action": "ec2:DescribeInstances",
                 "Resource": "*"

  6. After you have edited the policy, choose Create policy.

You have created a policy that allows an IAM user to stop and start EC2 instances in your account, as long as these instances have the correct resource tag and the policy is attached to your IAM users. You also can attach this policy to an IAM group and apply the policy to users by adding them to that group.


We updated the Example Policies page in the IAM User Guide so that you have a central location where you can find examples of the most commonly requested and used IAM policies. In addition to these example policies, we recommend that you review the list of AWS managed policies, including the AWS managed policies for job functions. You can choose these predefined policies from the IAM console and associate them with your IAM users, groups, and roles.

We will add more IAM policies to the Example Policies page over time. If you have a useful policy you would like to share with others, post it on the IAM forum. If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below.

– Deren

Apple Bans VPNs From App Store in China

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/apple-bans-vpns-from-app-store-in-china-170729/

Apple is known to have a rigorous app-review policy.

Over the past several years, dozens of apps have been rejected from the App Store because they mention the word BitTorrent, for example.

The mere association with piracy is good enough to warrant a ban. This policy is now expanding to the privacy-sphere as well, at least in China.

It is no secret that the Chinese Government is preventing users from accessing certain sites and services. The so-called ‘Great Firewall’ works reasonably well, but can be circumvented through VPN services and other encryption tools.

These tools are a thorn in the side of Chinese authorities, which are now receiving help from Apple to limit their availability.

Over the past few hours, Apple has removed many of the most-used VPN applications from the Chinese app store. In a short email, VPN providers are informed that VPN applications are considered illegal in China.

“We are writing to notify you that your application will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple informed the affected VPNs.

Apple’s email to VPN providers

VPN providers and users are complaining bitterly about the rigorous action. However, it doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Over the past few months there have been various signals that the Chinese Government would crack down on non-authorized VPN providers.

In January, a notice published by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that the government had launched a 14-month campaign to crack down on local ‘unauthorized’ Internet platforms.

This essentially means that all VPN services have to be pre-approved by the Government if they want to operate there.

Earlier this month Bloomberg broke the news that China’s Government had ordered telecommunications carriers to block individuals’ access to VPNs. The Chinese Government denied that this was the case, but it’s clear that these services remain a high-profile target.

Thanks to Apple, China’s Government no longer has to worry about iOS users having easy access to the most popular VPN applications. Those users who search the local app store for “VPN” still see plenty of results, but, ironically, many of these applications are fake.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Which Domain Names Are Safe From Copyright Bullies?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/which-domain-names-are-safe-from-copyright-bullies-170728/

There are plenty options for copyright holders to frustrate the operation of pirate sites, but one of the most effective is to attack their domain names.

The strategy has been deployed most famously against The Pirate Bay. Over the past couple of years, the site has lost more than a handful following copyright holder complaints.

While less public, hundreds of smaller sites have suffered the same fate. Sometimes these sites are clear infringers, but in other cases it’s less obvious. In these instances, a simple complaint can also be enough to have a domain name suspended.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge address this ‘copyright bullying’ problem in a newly published whitepaper. According to the digital rights groups, site owners should pick their domain names carefully, and go for a registry that shields website owners from this type of abuse.

“It turns out that not every top-level domain is created equal when it comes to protecting the domain holder’s rights. Depending on where you register your domain, a rival, troll, or officious regulator who doesn’t like what you’re doing with it could wrongly take it away,” the groups warn.

The whitepaper includes a detailed analysis of the policies of various domain name registries. For each, it lists the home country, under which conditions domain names are removed, and whether the WHOIS details of registrants are protected.

When it comes to “copyright bullies,” the digital rights groups highlight the MPAA’s voluntary agreements with the Radix and Donuts registries. The agreement allows the MPAA to report infringing sites directly to the registry. These can then be removed after a careful review but without a court order.

“Our whitepaper illustrates why remedies for copyright infringement on the Internet should not come from the domain name system, and in particular should not be wielded by commercial actors in an unaccountable process. Organizations such as the MPAA are not known for advancing a balanced approach to copyright enforcement,” the EFF explains.

While EFF and Public Knowledge don’t recommend any TLDs in particular, they do signal some that site owners may want to avoid. The Radix and Donuts domain names are obviously not the best choice, in this regard.

“To avoid having your website taken down by your domain registry in response to a copyright complaint, our whitepaper sets out a number of options, including registering in a domain whose registry requires a court order before it will take down a domain, or at the very least one that doesn’t have a special arrangement with the MPAA or another special interest for the streamlined takedown of domains,” the groups write.

Aside from the information gathered in the whitepaper, The Pirate Bay itself has also proven to be an excellent test case of which domain names are most resistant to copyright holder complaints.

In 2015, the notorious torrent site found out that exotic domain names are not always the best option after losing its .GS, .LA, .VG, .AM, .MN, and .GD TLDs in a matter of months. The good old .ORG is still up and running as of today, however, despite being operated by a United States-based registry.

EFF and Public knowledge’s full whitepaper is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Avoiding TPM PCR fragility using Secure Boot

Post Syndicated from Matthew Garrett original http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/48897.html

In measured boot, each component of the boot process is “measured” (ie, hashed and that hash recorded) in a register in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) build into the system. The TPM has several different registers (Platform Configuration Registers, or PCRs) which are typically used for different purposes – for instance, PCR0 contains measurements of various system firmware components, PCR2 contains any option ROMs, PCR4 contains information about the partition table and the bootloader. The allocation of these is defined by the PC Client working group of the Trusted Computing Group. However, once the boot loader takes over, we’re outside the spec[1].

One important thing to note here is that the TPM doesn’t actually have any ability to directly interfere with the boot process. If you try to boot modified code on a system, the TPM will contain different measurements but boot will still succeed. What the TPM can do is refuse to hand over secrets unless the measurements are correct. This allows for configurations where your disk encryption key can be stored in the TPM and then handed over automatically if the measurements are unaltered. If anybody interferes with your boot process then the measurements will be different, the TPM will refuse to hand over the key, your disk will remain encrypted and whoever’s trying to compromise your machine will be sad.

The problem here is that a lot of things can affect the measurements. Upgrading your bootloader or kernel will do so. At that point if you reboot your disk fails to unlock and you become unhappy. To get around this your update system needs to notice that a new component is about to be installed, generate the new expected hashes and re-seal the secret to the TPM using the new hashes. If there are several different points in the update where this can happen, this can quite easily go wrong. And if it goes wrong, you’re back to being unhappy.

Is there a way to improve this? Surprisingly, the answer is “yes” and the people to thank are Microsoft. Appendix A of a basically entirely unrelated spec defines a mechanism for storing the UEFI Secure Boot policy and used keys in PCR 7 of the TPM. The idea here is that you trust your OS vendor (since otherwise they could just backdoor your system anyway), so anything signed by your OS vendor is acceptable. If someone tries to boot something signed by a different vendor then PCR 7 will be different. If someone disables secure boot, PCR 7 will be different. If you upgrade your bootloader or kernel, PCR 7 will be the same. This simplifies things significantly.

I’ve put together a (not well-tested) patchset for Shim that adds support for including Shim’s measurements in PCR 7. In conjunction with appropriate firmware, it should then be straightforward to seal secrets to PCR 7 and not worry about things breaking over system updates. This makes tying things like disk encryption keys to the TPM much more reasonable.

However, there’s still one pretty major problem, which is that the initramfs (ie, the component responsible for setting up the disk encryption in the first place) isn’t signed and isn’t included in PCR 7[2]. An attacker can simply modify it to stash any TPM-backed secrets or mount the encrypted filesystem and then drop to a root prompt. This, uh, reduces the utility of the entire exercise.

The simplest solution to this that I’ve come up with depends on how Linux implements initramfs files. In its simplest form, an initramfs is just a cpio archive. In its slightly more complicated form, it’s a compressed cpio archive. And in its peak form of evolution, it’s a series of compressed cpio archives concatenated together. As the kernel reads each one in turn, it extracts it over the previous ones. That means that any files in the final archive will overwrite files of the same name in previous archives.

My proposal is to generate a small initramfs whose sole job is to get secrets from the TPM and stash them in the kernel keyring, and then measure an additional value into PCR 7 in order to ensure that the secrets can’t be obtained again. Later disk encryption setup will then be able to set up dm-crypt using the secret already stored within the kernel. This small initramfs will be built into the signed kernel image, and the bootloader will be responsible for appending it to the end of any user-provided initramfs. This means that the TPM will only grant access to the secrets while trustworthy code is running – once the secret is in the kernel it will only be available for in-kernel use, and once PCR 7 has been modified the TPM won’t give it to anyone else. A similar approach for some kernel command-line arguments (the kernel, module-init-tools and systemd all interpret the kernel command line left-to-right, with later arguments overriding earlier ones) would make it possible to ensure that certain kernel configuration options (such as the iommu) weren’t overridable by an attacker.

There’s obviously a few things that have to be done here (standardise how to embed such an initramfs in the kernel image, ensure that luks knows how to use the kernel keyring, teach all relevant bootloaders how to handle these images), but overall this should make it practical to use PCR 7 as a mechanism for supporting TPM-backed disk encryption secrets on Linux without introducing a hug support burden in the process.

[1] The patchset I’ve posted to add measured boot support to Grub use PCRs 8 and 9 to measure various components during the boot process, but other bootloaders may have different policies.

[2] This is because most Linux systems generate the initramfs locally rather than shipping it pre-built. It may also get rebuilt on various userspace updates, even if the kernel hasn’t changed. Including it in PCR 7 would entirely break the fragility guarantees and defeat the point of all of this.

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New – Target Tracking Policies for EC2 Auto Scaling

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-target-tracking-policies-for-ec2-auto-scaling/

I recently told you about DynamoDB Auto Scaling and showed you how it uses multiple CloudWatch Alarms to automate capacity management for DynamoDB tables. Behind the scenes, this feature makes use of a more general Application Auto Scaling model that we plan to put to use across several different AWS services over time.

The new Auto Scaling model includes an important new feature that we call target tracking. When you create an Auto Scaling policy that makes use of target tracking, you choose a target value for a particular CloudWatch metric. Auto Scaling then turns the appropriate knob (so to speak) to drive the metric toward the target, while also adjusting the relevant CloudWatch Alarms. Specifying your desired target, in whatever metrics-driven units make sense for your application, is generally easier and more direct than setting up ranges and thresholds manually using the original step scaling policy type. However, you can use target tracking in conjunction with step scaling in order to implement an advanced scaling strategy. For example, you could use target tracking for scale-out operations and step scaling for scale-in.

Now for EC2
Today we are adding target tracking support to EC2 Auto Scaling. You can now create scaling policies that are driven by application load balancer request counts, CPU load, network traffic, or a custom metric (the Request Count per Target metric is new, and is also part of today’s launch):

These metrics share an important property: adding additional EC2 instances will (with no changes in overall load) drive the metric down, and vice versa.

To create an Auto Scaling Group that makes use of target tracking, you simply enter a name for the policy, choose a metric, and set the desired target value:

You have the option to disable the scale-in side of the policy. If you do this, you can scale-in manually or use a separate policy.

You can create target tracking policies using the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or the AWS SDKs.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you look forward to using target tracking:

  • You can track more than one target in a single Auto Scaling Group as long as each one references a distinct metric. Scaling will always choose the policy that drives the highest capacity.
  • Scaling will not take place if the metric has insufficient data.
  • Auto Scaling compensates for rapid, transient fluctuations in the metrics, and strives to minimize corresponding fluctuations in capacity.
  • You can set up target tracking for a custom metric through the Auto Scaling API or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI).
  • In most cases you should elect to scale on metrics that are published with 1-minute frequency (also known as detailed monitoring). Using 5-minute metrics as the basis for scaling will result in a slower response time.

Now Available
This new feature is available now and you can start using it today at no extra charge. To learn more, read about Target Tracking Scaling in the Auto Scaling User Guide.


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

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

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

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


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

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

If you still need to meet these prerequisites before proceeding:

Scenario overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Configure password policies in AWS Microsoft AD

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

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

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

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

Edit password policies

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

Screenshot showing the five new password policies

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

The password attributes you can edit

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding password policy precedence

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

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

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

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

2. Apply password policies to user groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

– Ravi

Online Pirates Have No Constitutional Right to Internet Access, BMG Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/online-pirates-have-no-constitutional-right-to-internet-access-bmg-says-170708/

Last week ISP Cox Communications told the Supreme Court that pirating subscribers should not be disconnected from the Internet.

The Internet provider found support for this claim in the recent Packingham v. North Carolina decision, where the highest court ruled that it’s unconstitutional to bar convicted sex offenders from social media.

If convicted sex offenders still have the right to use social media, accused pirates should not be disconnected from the Internet on a whim, Cox argued. Especially, if these piracy allegations are solely based on copyright holder complaints.

The argument is part of Cox’s appeal in its case against music rights group BMG. In 2015 the ISP was ordered to pay $25 million in damages, after it was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement for refusing to disconnect alleged pirates.

Cox presented the new evidence to strengthen its appeal, but according to a new filing just submitted by BMG’s lawyers, the argument is irrelevant.

“The First Amendment does not guarantee Cox’s subscribers the right to use Cox’s internet service to steal music any more than it prevents Cox from terminating subscribers who violate Cox’s policies or fail to pay their bills,” they argue.

The music rights group notes that the Packingham ruling doesn’t apply to “specific criminal acts.” The copyright infringements reported by BMG were specific and targeted at individual accounts, so these would warrant an account termination.

“Just as criminalizing the use of Facebook for sexual exploitation does not violate the First Amendment, the civil law of copyright liability may incentivize ISPs to terminate those subscribers who repeatedly use their service to infringe,” BMG explains.

The question remains, of course, whether alleged infringements can be classified as specific acts. One of Cox’s main objections has been that they don’t want to disconnect an entire household from the Internet, based on rightsholder complaints alone. In part, because it’s unknown who committed the act.

BMG is convinced that the Packingham order doesn’t change the standing verdict. It says nothing about repeat copyright infringers, and the company doesn’t believe that account terminations violate the First Amendment rights of accused pirates.

“Infringers do not have First Amendment right to use Cox’s internet service to commit crimes, and Packingham does not hold otherwise,” BMG concludes.

It is now up to the Supreme Court to review the evidence and determine its applicability in the current case. No matter what the outcome, the case is likely to have a massive impact on how ISPs treat repeat infringers going forward.

BMG’s full letter is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Perform Near Real-time Analytics on Streaming Data with Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Elasticsearch Service

Post Syndicated from Tristan Li original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/perform-near-real-time-analytics-on-streaming-data-with-amazon-kinesis-and-amazon-elasticsearch-service/

Nowadays, streaming data is seen and used everywhere—from social networks, to mobile and web applications, IoT devices, instrumentation in data centers, and many other sources. As the speed and volume of this type of data increases, the need to perform data analysis in real time with machine learning algorithms and extract a deeper understanding from the data becomes ever more important. For example, you might want a continuous monitoring system to detect sentiment changes in a social media feed so that you can react to the sentiment in near real time.

In this post, we use Amazon Kinesis Streams to collect and store streaming data. We then use Amazon Kinesis Analytics to process and analyze the streaming data continuously. Specifically, we use the Kinesis Analytics built-in RANDOM_CUT_FOREST function, a machine learning algorithm, to detect anomalies in the streaming data. Finally, we use Amazon Kinesis Firehose to export the anomalies data to Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES). We then build a simple dashboard in the open source tool Kibana to visualize the result.

Solution overview

The following diagram depicts a high-level overview of this solution.

Amazon Kinesis Streams

You can use Amazon Kinesis Streams to build your own streaming application. This application can process and analyze streaming data by continuously capturing and storing terabytes of data per hour from hundreds of thousands of sources.

Amazon Kinesis Analytics

Kinesis Analytics provides an easy and familiar standard SQL language to analyze streaming data in real time. One of its most powerful features is that there are no new languages, processing frameworks, or complex machine learning algorithms that you need to learn.

Amazon Kinesis Firehose

Kinesis Firehose is the easiest way to load streaming data into AWS. It can capture, transform, and load streaming data into Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service.

Amazon Elasticsearch Service

Amazon ES is a fully managed service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale Elasticsearch for log analytics, full text search, application monitoring, and more.

Solution summary

The following is a quick walkthrough of the solution that’s presented in the diagram:

  1. IoT sensors send streaming data into Kinesis Streams. In this post, you use a Python script to simulate an IoT temperature sensor device that sends the streaming data.
  2. By using the built-in RANDOM_CUT_FOREST function in Kinesis Analytics, you can detect anomalies in real time with the sensor data that is stored in Kinesis Streams. RANDOM_CUT_FOREST is also an appropriate algorithm for many other kinds of anomaly-detection use cases—for example, the media sentiment example mentioned earlier in this post.
  3. The processed anomaly data is then loaded into the Kinesis Firehose delivery stream.
  4. By using the built-in integration that Kinesis Firehose has with Amazon ES, you can easily export the processed anomaly data into the service and visualize it with Kibana.

Implementation steps

The following sections walk through the implementation steps in detail.

Creating the delivery stream

  1. Open the Amazon Kinesis Streams console.
  2. Create a new Kinesis stream. Give it a name that indicates it’s for raw incoming stream data—for example, RawStreamData. For Number of shards, type 1.
  3. The Python code provided below simulates a streaming application, such as an IoT device, and generates random data and anomalies into a Kinesis stream. The code generates two temperature ranges, where the first range is the hypothetical sensor’s normal operating temperature range (10–20), and the second is the anomaly temperature range (100–120).Make sure to change the stream name on line 16 and 20 and the Region on line 6 to match your configuration. Alternatively, you can download the Amazon Kinesis Data Generator from this repository and use it to generate the data.
    import json
    import datetime
    import random
    import testdata
    from boto import kinesis
    kinesis = kinesis.connect_to_region("us-east-1")
    def getData(iotName, lowVal, highVal):
       data = {}
       data["iotName"] = iotName
       data["iotValue"] = random.randint(lowVal, highVal) 
       return data
    while 1:
       rnd = random.random()
       if (rnd < 0.01):
          data = json.dumps(getData("DemoSensor", 100, 120))  
          kinesis.put_record("RawStreamData", data, "DemoSensor")
          print '***************************** anomaly ************************* ' + data
          data = json.dumps(getData("DemoSensor", 10, 20))  
          kinesis.put_record("RawStreamData", data, "DemoSensor")
          print data

  4. Open the Amazon Elasticsearch Service console and create a new domain.
    1. Give the domain a unique name. In the Configure cluster screen, use the default settings.
    2. In the Set up access policy screen, in the Set the domain access policy list, choose Allow access to the domain from specific IP(s).
    3. Enter the public IP address of your computer.
      Note: If you’re working behind a proxy or firewall, see the “Use a proxy to simplify request signing” section in this AWS Database blog post to learn how to work with a proxy. For additional information about securing access to your Amazon ES domain, see How to Control Access to Your Amazon Elasticsearch Domain in the AWS Security Blog.
  5. After the Amazon ES domain is up and running, you can set up and configure Kinesis Firehose to export results to Amazon ES:
    1. Open the Amazon Kinesis Firehose console and choose Create Delivery Stream.
    2. In the Destination dropdown list, choose Amazon Elasticsearch Service.
    3. Type a stream name, and choose the Amazon ES domain that you created in Step 4.
    4. Provide an index name and ES type. In the S3 bucket dropdown list, choose Create New S3 bucket. Choose Next.
    5. In the configuration, change the Elasticsearch Buffer size to 1 MB and the Buffer interval to 60s. Use the default settings for all other fields. This shortens the time for the data to reach the ES cluster.
    6. Under IAM Role, choose Create/Update existing IAM role.
      The best practice is to create a new role every time. Otherwise, the console keeps adding policy documents to the same role. Eventually the size of the attached policies causes IAM to reject the role, but it does it in a non-obvious way, where the console basically quits functioning.
    7. Choose Next to move to the Review page.
  6. Review the configuration, and then choose Create Delivery Stream.
  7. Run the Python file for 1–2 minutes, and then press Ctrl+C to stop the execution. This loads some data into the stream for you to visualize in the next step.

Analyzing the data

Now it’s time to analyze the IoT streaming data using Amazon Kinesis Analytics.

  1. Open the Amazon Kinesis Analytics console and create a new application. Give the application a name, and then choose Create Application.
  2. On the next screen, choose Connect to a source. Choose the raw incoming data stream that you created earlier. (Note the stream name Source_SQL_STREAM_001 because you will need it later.)
  3. Use the default settings for everything else. When the schema discovery process is complete, it displays a success message with the formatted stream sample in a table as shown in the following screenshot. Review the data, and then choose Save and continue.
  4. Next, choose Go to SQL editor. When prompted, choose Yes, start application.
  5. Copy the following SQL code and paste it into the SQL editor window.
       "iotName"        varchar (40),
       "iotValue"   integer,
    -- Creates an output stream and defines a schema
       "iotName"       varchar(40),
       "iotValue"       integer,
       "created" TimeStamp);
    -- Compute an anomaly score for each record in the source stream
    -- using Random Cut Forest
    -- Sort records by descending anomaly score, insert into output stream


  1. Choose Save and run SQL.
    As the application is running, it displays the results as stream data arrives. If you don’t see any data coming in, run the Python script again to generate some fresh data. When there is data, it appears in a grid as shown in the following screenshot.Note that you are selecting data from the source stream name Source_SQL_STREAM_001 that you created previously. Also note the ANOMALY_SCORE column. This is the value that the Random_Cut_Forest function calculates based on the temperature ranges provided by the Python script. Higher (anomaly) temperature ranges have a higher score.Looking at the SQL code, note that the first two blocks of code create two new streams to store temporary data and the final result. The third block of code analyzes the raw source data (Stream_Pump_1) using the Random_Cut_Forest function. It calculates an anomaly score (ANOMALY_SCORE) and inserts it into the TEMP_STREAM stream. The final code block loads the result stored in the TEMP_STREAM into DESTINATION_SQL_STREAM.
  2. Choose Exit (done editing) next to the Save and run SQL button to return to the application configuration page.

Load processed data into the Kinesis Firehose delivery stream

Now, you can export the result from DESTINATION_SQL_STREAM into the Amazon Kinesis Firehose stream that you created previously.

  1. On the application configuration page, choose Connect to a destination.
  2. Choose the stream name that you created earlier, and use the default settings for everything else. Then choose Save and Continue.
  3. On the application configuration page, choose Exit to Kinesis Analytics applications to return to the Amazon Kinesis Analytics console.
  4. Run the Python script again for 4–5 minutes to generate enough data to flow through Amazon Kinesis Streams, Kinesis Analytics, Kinesis Firehose, and finally into the Amazon ES domain.
  5. Open the Kinesis Firehose console, choose the stream, and then choose the Monitoring
  6. As the processed data flows into Kinesis Firehose and Amazon ES, the metrics appear on the Delivery Stream metrics page. Keep in mind that the metrics page takes a few minutes to refresh with the latest data.
  7. Open the Amazon Elasticsearch Service dashboard in the AWS Management Console. The count in the Searchable documents column increases as shown in the following screenshot. In addition, the domain shows a cluster health of Yellow. This is because, by default, it needs two instances to deploy redundant copies of the index. To fix this, you can deploy two instances instead of one.

Visualize the data using Kibana

Now it’s time to launch Kibana and visualize the data.

  1. Use the ES domain link to go to the cluster detail page, and then choose the Kibana link as shown in the following screenshot.

    If you’re working behind a proxy or firewall, see the “Use a proxy to simplify request signing” section in this blog post to learn how to work with a proxy.
  2. In the Kibana dashboard, choose the Discover tab to perform a query.
  3. You can also visualize the data using the different types of charts offered by Kibana. For example, by going to the Visualize tab, you can quickly create a split bar chart that aggregates by ANOMALY_SCORE per minute.


In this post, you learned how to use Amazon Kinesis to collect, process, and analyze real-time streaming data, and then export the results to Amazon ES for analysis and visualization with Kibana. If you have comments about this post, add them to the “Comments” section below. If you have questions or issues with implementing this solution, please open a new thread on the Amazon Kinesis or Amazon ES discussion forums.

Next Steps

Take your skills to the next level. Learn real-time clickstream anomaly detection with Amazon Kinesis Analytics.


About the Author

Tristan Li is a Solutions Architect with Amazon Web Services. He works with enterprise customers in the US, helping them adopt cloud technology to build scalable and secure solutions on AWS.