Tag Archives: RDS

Deploying a serverless application using AWS CDK

Post Syndicated from Georges Leschener original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/devops/deploying-a-serverless-application-using-aws-cdk/

There are multiple ways to deploy API endpoints, such as this example, in which you could use an application running on Amazon EC2 to demonstrate how to integrate Amazon ElastiCache with Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB capability). While the approach in this example help achieve great performance and reliability through the elasticity and the ability to scale up or down the number of EC2 instances in order to accommodate the load on the application, there is still however some operational overhead you still have to manage the EC2 instances yourself. One way of addressing the operational overhead issue and related costs could be to transform the application into a serverless architecture.

The example in this blog post uses an application that provides a similar use case, leveraging a serverless architecture showcasing some of the tools that are being leveraged by customers transitioning from lift-and-shift to building cloud-native applications. It uses Amazon API Gateway to provide the REST API endpoint connected to an AWS Lambda function to provide the business logic to read and write from an Amazon Aurora Serverless database. It also showcases the deployment of most of the infrastructure with the AWS Cloud Development Kit, known as the CDK. By moving your applications to cloud native architecture like the example showcased in this blog post, you will be able to realize a number of benefits including:

  • Fast and clean deployment of your application thereby achieving fast time to market
  • Reduce operational costs by serverless and managed services

Architecture Diagram

At the end of this blog, you have an AWS Cloud9 instance environment containing a CDK project which deploys an API Gateway and Lambda function. This Lambda function leverages a secret stored in your AWS Secrets Manager to read and write from your Aurora Serverless database through the data API, as shown in the following diagram.

 

Architecture diagram for deploying a serverless application using AWS CDK

This above architecture diagram showcases the resources to be deployed in your AWS Account

Through the blog post you will be creating the following resources:

  1. Deploy an Amazon Aurora Serverless database cluster
  2. Secure the cluster credentials in AWS Secrets Manager
  3. Create and populate your database in the AWS Console
  4. Deploy an AWS Cloud9 instance used as a development environment
  5. Initialize and configure an AWS Cloud Development Kit project including the definition of your Amazon API Gateway endpoint and AWS Lambda function
  6. Deploy an AWS CloudFormation template through the AWS Cloud Development Kit

Prerequisites

In order to deploy the CDK application, there are a few prerequisites that need to be met:

  1. Create an AWS account or use an existing account.
  2. Install Postman for testing purposes

Amazon Aurora serverless cluster creation

To begin, navigate to the AWS console to create a new Amazon RDS database.

  1. Select Create Database from the Amazon RDS service.
  2. Select Standard Create under Choose a database creation method.
  3. Select Serverless under Database features.
  4. Select Amazon Aurora as the engine type under Engine options.
  5. Enter db-blog for your DB Cluster Identifier.
  6. Expand the Additional Connectivity section and select the Data API option. This functionality enables you to access Aurora Serverless with web services-based applications. It also allows you to use the query editor feature for Aurora Serverless in order to run SQL queries against your database instance.
  7. Leave the default selection for everything else and choose Create Database.

Your database instance is created in a single availability zone (AZ), but an Aurora Serverless database cluster has a capability known as automatic multi-AZ failover, which enables Aurora to recreate the database instance in a different AZ should the current database instance or the AZ become unavailable. The storage volume for the cluster is spread across multiple AZs, since Aurora separates computation capacity and storage. This allows for data to remain available even if the database instance or the associated AZ is affected by an outage.

Securing database credentials with AWS Secrets Manager

After creating the database instance, the next step is to store your secrets for your database in AWS Secrets Manager.

  • Navigate to AWS Secrets Manager, and select Store a New Secret.
  • Leave the default selection (Credentials for RDS database) for the secret type. Enter your database username and password and then select the radio button for the database you created in the previous step (in this example, db-blog), as shown in the following screenshot.

database search in aws secrets manager

  •  Choose Next.
  • Enter a name and optionally a description. For the name, make sure to add the prefix rds-db-credentials/ as shown in the following screenshot.

AWS Secrets Manager Store a new secret window

  • Choose Next and leave the default selection.
  • Review your settings on the last page and choose Store to have your secrets created and stored in AWS Secrets Manager, which you can now use to connect to your database.

Creating and populating your Amazon Aurora Serverless database

After creating the DB cluster, create the database instance; create your tables and populate them; and finally, test a connection to ensure that you can query your database.

  • Navigate to the Amazon RDS service from the AWS console, and select your db-blog database cluster.
  • Select Query under Actions to open the Connect to database window as shown in the screenshot below . Enter your database connection details. You can copy your secret manager ARN from the Secrets Manager service and paste it into the corresponding field in the database connection window.

Amazon RDS connect to database window

  • To create the DB instance run the following SQL query: CREATE DATABASE recordstore;from the Query editor shown in the screenshot below:

 

Amazon RDS Query editor

  • Before you can run the following commands, make sure you are using the Recordstore database you just created by running the command:
USE recordstore;
  • Create a records table using the following command:
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS records (recordid INT PRIMARY KEY, title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, release_date DATE);
  • Create a singers table using the following command:
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS singers (id INT PRIMARY KEY, name VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, nationality VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, recordid INT NOT NULL, FOREIGN KEY (recordid) REFERENCES records (recordid) ON UPDATE RESTRICT ON DELETE CASCADE);
  • Add a record to your records table and a singer to your singers table.
INSERT INTO records(recordid,title,release_date) VALUES(001,'Liberian Girl','2012-05-03');
INSERT INTO singers(id,name,nationality,recordid) VALUES(100,'Michael Jackson','American',001);

If you have the AWS CLI set up on your computer, you can connect to your database and retrieve records.

To test it, use the rds-data execute-statement API within the AWS CLI to connect to your database via the data API web service and query the singers table, as shown below:

aws rds-data execute-statement —secret-arn "arn:aws:secretsmanager:REGION:xxxxxxxxxxx:secret:rds-db-credentials/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" —resource-arn "arn:aws:rds:us-east-1:xxxxxxxxxx:cluster:db-blog" —database demodb —sql "select * from singers" —output json

You should see the following result:

    "numberOfRecordsUpdated": 0,
    "records": [
        [
            {
                "longValue": 100
            },
            {
                "stringValue": "Michael Jackson"
            },
            {
                "stringValue": "American"
            },
            {
                "longValue": 1
            }
        ]
    ]
}

Creating a Cloud9 instance

To create a Cloud9 instance:

  1. Navigate to the Cloud9 console and select Create Environment.
  2. Name your environment AuroraServerlessBlog.
  3. Keep the default values under the Environment Settings.

Once your instance is launched, you see the screen shown in the following screenshot:

AWS Cloud9

 

You can now install the CDK in your environment. Run the following command inside your bash terminal on the blue section at the bottom of your screen:

npm install -g [email protected]

For the next section of this example, you mostly work on the command line of your Cloud9 terminal and on your file explorer.

Creating the CDK deployment

The AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK) is an open-source software development framework to model and provision your cloud application resources using familiar programming languages. If you would like to familiarize yourself the CDKWorkshop is a great place to start.

First, create a working directory called RecordsApp and initialize a CDK project from a template.

Run the following commands:

mkdir RecordsApp
cd RecordsApp
cdk init app --language typescript
mkdir resources
npm install @aws-cdk/[email protected] @aws-cdk/[email protected] @aws-cdk/[email protected]

Now your instance should look like the example shown in the following screenshot:

AWS Cloud9 shell

 

You are mainly working in two directories:

  • Resources
  • Lib

Your initial set up is ready, and you can move into creating specific services and deploying them to your account.

Creating AWS resources using the CDK

  1. Follow these steps to create AWS resources using the CDK:
  2. Under the /lib folder,  create a new file called records_service.ts.
    • Inside of your new file, paste the following code with these changes:
    • Replace the dbARN with the ARN of your AuroraServerless DB ARN from the previous steps.

Replace the dbSecretARN with the ARN of your Secrets Manager secret ARN from the previous steps.

import core = require("@aws-cdk/core");
import apigateway = require("@aws-cdk/aws-apigateway");
import lambda = require("@aws-cdk/aws-lambda");
import iam = require("@aws-cdk/aws-iam");

//REPLACE THIS
const dbARN = "arn:aws:rds:XXXX:XXXX:cluster:aurora-serverless-blog";
//REPLACE THIS
const dbSecretARN = "arn:aws:secretsmanager:XXXXX:XXXXX:secret:rds-db-credentials/XXXXX";

export class RecordsService extends core.Construct {
  constructor(scope: core.Construct, id: string) {
    super(scope, id);

    const lambdaRole = new iam.Role(this, 'AuroraServerlessBlogLambdaRole', {
      assumedBy: new iam.ServicePrincipal('lambda.amazonaws.com'),
      managedPolicies: [
            iam.ManagedPolicy.fromAwsManagedPolicyName('AmazonRDSDataFullAccess'),
            iam.ManagedPolicy.fromAwsManagedPolicyName('service-role/AWSLambdaBasicExecutionRole')
        ]
    });

    const handler = new lambda.Function(this, "RecordsHandler", {
     role: lambdaRole,
     runtime: lambda.Runtime.NODEJS_12_X, // So we can use async in widget.js
     code: lambda.Code.asset("resources"),
     handler: "records.main",
     environment: {
       TABLE: dbARN,
       TABLESECRET: dbSecretARN,
       DATABASE: "recordstore"
     }
   });

    const api = new apigateway.RestApi(this, "records-api", {
      restApiName: "Records Service",
      description: "This service serves records."
   });

    const getRecordsIntegration = new apigateway.LambdaIntegration(handler, {
      requestTemplates: { "application/json": '{ "statusCode": 200 }' }
    });

    api.root.addMethod("GET", getRecordsIntegration); // GET /

    const record = api.root.addResource("{id}");
    const postRecordIntegration = new apigateway.LambdaIntegration(handler);
    const getRecordIntegration = new apigateway.LambdaIntegration(handler);

    record.addMethod("POST", postRecordIntegration); // POST /{id}
    record.addMethod("GET", getRecordIntegration); // GET/{id}
  }
}

This snippet of code will instruct the AWS CDK to create the following resources:

  • IAM role: AuroraServerlessBlogLambdaRole containing the following managed policies:
    • AmazonRDSDataFullAccess
    • service-role/AWSLambdaBasicExecutionRole
  • Lambda function: RecordsHandler, which has a Node.js 8.10 runtime and three environmental variables
  • API Gateway: Records Service, which has the following characteristics:
    • GET Method
      • GET /
    • { id } Resource
      • GET method
        • GET /{id}
      • POST method
        • POST /{id}

Now that you have a service, you need to add it to your stack under the /lib directory.

  1. Open the records_app-stack.ts
  2. Replace the contents of this file with the following:
import cdk = require('@aws-cdk/core'); 
import records_service = require('../lib/records_service'); 
export class RecordsAppStack extends cdk.Stack { 
  constructor(scope: cdk.Construct, id: string, props?
: cdk.StackProps) { 
    super(scope, id, props); 
    new records_service.RecordsService(this, 'Records'
); 
  } 
}
  1. Create the Lambda code that is invoked from the API Gateway endpoint. Under the /resources directory, create a file called records.js and paste the following code in this file
const AWS = require('aws-sdk');
var rdsdataservice = new AWS.RDSDataService();

exports.main = async function(event, context) {
  try {
    var method = event.httpMethod;
    var recordName = event.path.startsWith('/') ? event.path.substring(1) : event.path;
// Defining parameters for rdsdataservice
    var params = {
      resourceArn: process.env.TABLE,
      secretArn: process.env.TABLESECRET,
      database: process.env.DATABASE,
   }
   if (method === "GET") {
      if (event.path === "/") {
       //Here is where we are defining the SQL query that will be run at the DATA API
       params['sql'] = 'select * from records';
       const data = await rdsdataservice.executeStatement(params).promise();
       var body = {
           records: data
       };
       return {
         statusCode: 200,
         headers: {},
         body: JSON.stringify(body)
       };
     }
     else if (recordName) {
       params['sql'] = `SELECT singers.id, singers.name, singers.nationality, records.title FROM singers INNER JOIN records on records.recordid = singers.recordid WHERE records.title LIKE '${recordName}%';`
       const data = await rdsdataservice.executeStatement(params).promise();
       var body = {
           singer: data
       };
       return {
         statusCode: 200,
         headers: {},
         body: JSON.stringify(body)
       };
     }
   }
   else if (method === "POST") {
     var payload = JSON.parse(event.body);
     if (!payload) {
       return {
         statusCode: 400,
         headers: {},
         body: "The body is missing"
       };
     }

     //Generating random IDs
     var recordId = uuidv4();
     var singerId = uuidv4();

     //Parsing the payload from body
     var recordTitle = `${payload.recordTitle}`;
     var recordReleaseDate = `${payload.recordReleaseDate}`;
     var singerName = `${payload.singerName}`;
     var singerNationality = `${payload.singerNationality}`;

      //Making 2 calls to the data API to insert the new record and singer
      params['sql'] = `INSERT INTO records(recordid,title,release_date) VALUES(${recordId},"${recordTitle}","${recordReleaseDate}");`;
      const recordsWrite = await rdsdataservice.executeStatement(params).promise();
      params['sql'] = `INSERT INTO singers(recordid,id,name,nationality) VALUES(${recordId},${singerId},"${singerName}","${singerNationality}");`;
      const singersWrite = await rdsdataservice.executeStatement(params).promise();

      return {
        statusCode: 200,
        headers: {},
        body: JSON.stringify("Your record has been saved")
      };

    }
    // We got something besides a GET, POST, or DELETE
    return {
      statusCode: 400,
      headers: {},
      body: "We only accept GET, POST, and DELETE, not " + method
    };
  } catch(error) {
    var body = error.stack || JSON.stringify(error, null, 2);
    return {
      statusCode: 400,
      headers: {},
      body: body
    }
  }
}
function uuidv4() {
  return 'xxxx'.replace(/[xy]/g, function(c) {
    var r = Math.random() * 16 | 0, v = c == 'x' ? r : (r & 0x3 | 0x8);
    return v;
  });
}

Take a look at what this Lambda function is doing. You have two functions inside of your Lambda function. The first is the exported handler, which is defined as an asynchronous function. The second is a unique identifier function to generate four-digit random numbers you use as UIDs for your database records. In your handler function, you handle the following actions based on the event you get from API Gateway:

  • Method GETwith empty path /:
    • This calls the data API executeStatement method with the following SQL query:
SELECT * from records
  • Method GET with a record name in the path /{recordName}:
    • This calls the data API executeStatmentmethod with the following SQL query:
SELECT singers.id, singers.name, singers.nationality, records.title FROM singers INNER JOIN records on records.recordid = singers.recordid WHERE records.title LIKE '${recordName}%';
  • Method POST with a payload in the body:
    • This makes two calls to the data API executeStatement with the following SQL queries:
INSERT INTO records(recordid,titel,release_date) VALUES(${recordId},"${recordTitle}",“${recordReleaseDate}”);<br />INSERT INTO singers(recordid,id,name,nationality) VALUES(${recordId},${singerId},"${singerName}","${singerNationality}");

Now you have all the pieces you need to deploy your endpoint and Lambda function by running the following commands:

npm run build
cdk synth
cdk bootstrap
cdk deploy

If you change the Lambda code or add aditional AWS resources to your CDK deployment, you can redeploy the application by running all four commands in a single line:

npm run build; cdk synth; cdk bootstrap; cdk deploy

Testing with Postman

Once it’s done, you can test it using Postman:

GET = ‘RecordName’ in the path

  • example:
    • ENDPOINT/RecordName

POST = Payload in the body

  • example:
{
   "recordTitle" : "BlogTest",
   "recordReleaseDate" : "2020-01-01",
   "singerName" : "BlogSinger",
   "singerNationality" : "AWS"
}

Clean up

To clean up the resources created by the CDK, run the following command in your Cloud9 instance:

cdk destroy

To clean up the resources created manually, run the following commands:

aws rds delete-db-cluster --db-cluster-identifier Serverless-blog --skip-final-snapshot
aws secretsmanager delete-secret --secret-id XXXXX --recovery-window-in-days 7

Conclusion

This blog post demonstrated how to transform an application running on Amazon EC2 from a previous blog into serverless architecture by leveraging services such as Amazon API Gateway, Lambda, Cloud 9, AWS CDK, and Aurora Serverless. The benefit of serverless architecture is that it takes away the overhead of having to manage a server and helps reduce costs, as you only pay for the time in which your code executes.

This example used a record-store application written in Node.js that allows users to find their favorite singer’s record titles, as well as the dates when they were released. This example could be expanded, for instance, by adding a payment gateway and a shopping cart to allow users to shop and pay for their favorite records. You could then incorporate some machine learning into the application to predict user choice based on previous visits, purchases, or information provided through registration profiles.

 


 

About the Authors

Luis Lopez Soria is an AI/ML specialist solutions architect working with the AWS machine learning team. He works with AWS customers to help them with the adoption of Machine Learning on a large scale. He enjoys doing sports in addition to traveling around the world, exploring new foods and cultures.

 

 

 

 Georges Leschener is a Partner Solutions Architect in the Global System Integrator (GSI) team at Amazon Web Services. He works with our GSIs partners to help migrate customers’ workloads to AWS cloud, design and architect innovative solutions on AWS by applying AWS recommended best practices.

 

How to Design Your Serverless Apps for Massive Scale

Post Syndicated from George Mao original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/how-to-design-your-serverless-apps-for-massive-scale/

Serverless is one of the hottest design patterns in the cloud today, allowing you to focus on building and innovating, rather than worrying about the heavy lifting of server and OS operations. In this series of posts, we’ll discuss topics that you should consider when designing your serverless architectures. First, we’ll look at architectural patterns designed to achieve massive scale with serverless.

Scaling Considerations

In general, developers in a “serverful” world need to be worried about how many total requests can be served throughout the day, week, or month, and how quickly their system can scale. As you move into the serverless world, the most important question you should understand becomes: “What is the concurrency that your system is designed to handle?”

The AWS Serverless platform allows you to scale very quickly in response to demand. Below is an example of a serverless design that is fully synchronous throughout the application. During periods of extremely high demand, Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda will scale in response to your incoming load. This design places extremely high load on your backend relational database because Lambda can easily scale from thousands to tens of thousands of concurrent requests. In most cases, your relational databases are not designed to accept the same number of concurrent connections.

Serverless at scale-1

This design risks bottlenecks at your relational database and may cause service outages. This design also risks data loss due to throttling or database connection exhaustion.

Cloud Native Design

Instead, you should consider decoupling your architecture and moving to an asynchronous model. In this architecture, you use an intermediary service to buffer incoming requests, such as Amazon Kinesis or Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS). You can configure Kinesis or SQS as out of the box event sources for Lambda. In design below, AWS will automatically poll your Kinesis stream or SQS resource for new records and deliver them to your Lambda functions. You can control the batch size per delivery and further place throttles on a per Lambda function basis.

Serverless at scale - 2

This design allows you to accept extremely high volume of requests, store the requests in a durable datastore, and process them at the speed which your system can handle.

Conclusion

Serverless computing allows you to scale much quicker than with server-based applications, but that means application architects should always consider the effects of scaling to your downstream services. Always keep in mind cost, speed, and reliability when you’re building your serverless applications.

Our next post in this series will discuss the different ways to invoke your Lambda functions and how to design your applications appropriately.

About the Author

George MaoGeorge Mao is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. George is responsible for helping customers design and operate Serverless applications using services like Lambda, API Gateway, Cognito, and DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS Summits, re:Invent, and various tech events. George is a software engineer and enjoys contributing to open source projects, delivering technical presentations at technology events, and working with customers to design their applications in the Cloud. George holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Masters of IT from Virginia Tech.

Use AWS Secrets Manager client-side caching libraries to improve the availability and latency of using your secrets

Post Syndicated from Lanre Ogunmola original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/use-aws-secrets-manager-client-side-caching-libraries-to-improve-the-availability-and-latency-of-using-your-secrets/

At AWS, we offer features that make it easier for you to follow the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) best practice of using short-term credentials. For example, you can use an IAM role that rotates and distributes short-term AWS credentials to your applications automatically. Similarly, you can configure AWS Secrets Manager to rotate a database credential daily, turning a typical, long-term credential in to a short-term credential that is rotated automatically. Today, AWS Secrets Manager introduced a client-side caching library for Java and a client-side caching library of Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) drivers that make it easier to distribute these credentials to your applications. Client-side caching can help you improve the availability and latency of using your secrets. It can also help you reduce the cost associated with retrieving secrets. In this post, we’ll walk you through the following topics:

  • Benefits of the Secrets Manager client-side caching libraries
  • Overview of the Secrets Manager client-side caching library for JDBC
  • Using the client-side caching library for JDBC to connect your application to a database

Benefits of the Secrets Manager client-side caching libraries

The key benefits of the client-side caching libraries are:

  • Improved availability: You can cache secrets to reduce the impact of network availability issues, such as increased response times and temporary loss of network connectivity.
  • Improved latency: Retrieving secrets from the cache is faster than retrieving secrets by sending API requests to Secrets Manager within a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or over the Internet.
  • Reduced cost: Retrieving secrets from the cache can reduce the number of API requests made to and billed by Secrets Manager.
  • Automatic distribution of secrets: The library updates the cache periodically, ensuring your applications use the most up to date secret value, which you may have configured to rotate regularly.
  • Update your applications to use client-side caching in two steps: Add the library dependency to your application and then provide the identifier of the secret that you want the library to use.

Overview of the Secrets Manager client-side caching library for JDBC

Java applications use JDBC drivers to interact with databases and connection pooling tools, such as c3p0, to manage connections to databases. The client-side caching library for JDBC operates by retrieving secrets from Secrets Manager and providing these to the JDBC driver transparently, eliminating the need to hard-code the database user name and password in the connection pooling tool. To see how the client-side caching library works, review the diagram below.
 

Figure 1: Diagram showing how the client-side caching library works

Figure 1: Diagram showing how the client-side caching library works

When an application attempts to connect to a database (step 1), the client-side caching library calls the GetSecretValue command (steps 2) to retrieve the secret (step 3) required to establish this connection. Next, the library provides the secret to the JDBC driver transparently to connect the application to the database (steps 4 and 5). The library also caches the secret. If the application attempts to connect to the database again (step 6), the library retrieves the secret from the cache and calls the JDBC driver to connect to the database (steps 7 and 8).

The library refreshes the cache every hour. The library also handles stale credentials in the cache automatically. For example, after a secret is rotated, an application’s attempt to create new connections using the cached credentials will result in authentication failure. When this happens, the library will catch these authentication failures, refresh the cache, and retry the database connection automatically.

Use the client-side caching library for JDBC to connect your application to a database

Now that you’re familiar with the benefits and functions of client-side caching, we’ll show you how to use the client-side caching library for JDBC to connect your application to a database. These instructions assume your application is built in Java 8 or higher, uses the open-source c3po JDBC connection pooling library to manage connections between the application and the database, and uses the open-source tool Maven for building and managing the application. To get started, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the Secrets Manager console and store the user name and password for a MySQL database user. We’ll use the placeholder, CachingLibraryDemo, to denote this secret and the placeholder ARN-CachingLibraryDemo to denote the ARN of this secret. Remember to replace these with the name and ARN of your secret. Note: For step-by-step instructions on storing a secret, read the post on How to use AWS Secrets Manager to rotate credentials for all Amazon RDS database types.
  2. Next, update your application to consume the client-side caching library jar from the Sonatype Maven repository. To make this change, add the following profile to the ~/.m2/settings.xml file.
    
    <profiles>
      <profile>
        <id>allow-snapshots</id>
        <activation><activeByDefault>true</activeByDefault></activation>
        <repositories>
          <repository>
            <id>snapshots-repo</id>
            <url>https://oss.sonatype.org/content/repositories/snapshots</url>
            <releases><enabled>false</enabled></releases>
            <snapshots><enabled>true</enabled></snapshots>
          </repository>
        </repositories>
      </profile>
    </profiles>
    
    

  3. Update your Maven build file to include the Java cache and JDBC driver dependencies. This ensures your application will include the relevant libraries at run time. To make this change, add the following dependency to the pom.xml file.
    
     <dependency>
      <groupId>com.amazonaws.secretsmanager</groupId>
      <artifactId>aws-secretsmanager-caching-java</artifactId>
      <version>1.0.0</version>
    </dependency>
    <dependency>
        <groupId>com.amazonaws.secretsmanager</groupId>
        <artifactId>aws-secretsmanager-jdbc</artifactId>
        <version>1.0.0</version>
    </dependency>
    
    

  4. For this post, we assume your application uses c3p0 to manage connections to the database. Configuring c3p0 requires providing the database user name and password as parameters. Here’s what the typical c3p0 configuration looks like:
    
    # c3p0.properties
    c3p0.user=sampleusername
    c3p0.password=samplepassword
    c3p0.driverClass=com.mysql.jdbc.Driver
    c3p0.jdbcUrl=jdbc:mysql://my-sample-mysql-instance.rds.amazonaws.com:3306
    
    

    Now, update the c3p0 configuration to retrieve this information from the client-side cache by replacing the user name with the ARN of the secret and adding the prefix jdbc-secretsmanager to the JDBC URL. You can provide the name of the secret instead of the ARN.

    
    # c3p0.properties
    c3p0.user= ARN-CachingLibraryDemo
    c3p0.driverClass=com.amazonaws.secretsmanager.sql.AWSSecretsManagerMySQLDriver
    c3p0.jdbcUrl= jdbc-secretsmanager::mysql://my-sample-mysql-instance.rds.amazonaws.com:3306
    
    

Note: In our code snippet, the JDBC URL points to our database. Update the string my-sample-mysql-instance.rds.amazonaws.com:3306 to point to your database.

You’ve successfully updated your application to use the client-side caching library for JDBC.

Summary

In this post, we’ve showed how you can improve availability, reduce latency, and reduce cost of using your secrets by using the Secrets Manager client-side caching library for JDBC. To get started managing secrets, open the Secrets Manager console. To learn more, read How to Store, Distribute, and Rotate Credentials Securely with Secret Manager or refer to the Secrets Manager documentation.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have questions about anything in this post, start a new thread on the Secrets Manager forum or contact AWS Support.

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Author

Lanre Ogunmola

Lanre is a Cloud Support Engineer at AWS. He enjoys the culture at Amazon because it aligns with his dedication to lifelong learning. Outside of work, he loves watching soccer. He holds an MS in Cyber Security from the University of Nebraska, and CISA, CISM, and AWS Security Specialist certifications.

Apurv Awasthi

Apurv is the product manager for credentials management services at AWS, including AWS Secrets Manager and IAM Roles. He enjoys the “Day 1” culture at Amazon because it aligns with his experience building startups in the sports and recruiting industries. Outside of work, Apurv enjoys hiking. He holds an MBA from UCLA and an MS in computer science from University of Kentucky.

How to create and retrieve secrets managed in AWS Secrets Manager using AWS CloudFormation template

Post Syndicated from Apurv Awasthi original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-create-and-retrieve-secrets-managed-in-aws-secrets-manager-using-aws-cloudformation-template/

AWS Secrets Manager now integrates with AWS CloudFormation so you can create and retrieve secrets securely using CloudFormation. This integration makes it easier to automate provisioning your AWS infrastructure. For example, without any code changes, you can generate unique secrets for your resources with every execution of your CloudFormation template. This also improves the security of your infrastructure by storing secrets securely, encrypting automatically, and enabling rotation more easily.

Secrets Manager helps you protect the secrets needed to access your applications, services, and IT resources. In this post, I show how you can get the benefits of Secrets Manager for resources provisioned through CloudFormation. First, I describe the new Secrets Manager resource types supported in CloudFormation. Next, I show a sample CloudFormation template that launches a MySQL database on Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS). This template uses the new resource types to create, rotate, and retrieve the credentials (user name and password) of the database superuser required to launch the MySQL database.

Why use Secrets Manager with CloudFormation?

CloudFormation helps you model your AWS resources as templates and execute these templates to provision AWS resources at scale. Some AWS resources require secrets as part of the provisioning process. For example, to provision a MySQL database, you must provide the credentials for the database superuser. You can use Secrets Manager, the AWS dedicated secrets management service, to create and manage such secrets.

Secrets Manager makes it easier to rotate, manage, and retrieve database credentials, API keys, and other secrets throughout their lifecycle. You can now reference Secrets Manager in your CloudFormation templates to create unique secrets with every invocation of your template. By default, Secrets Manager encrypts these secrets with encryption keys that you own and control. Secrets Manager ensures the secret isn’t logged or persisted by CloudFormation by using a dynamic reference to the secret. You can configure Secrets Manager to rotate your secrets automatically without disrupting your applications. Secrets Manager offers built-in integrations for rotating credentials for all Amazon RDS databases and supports extensibility with AWS Lambda so you can meet your custom rotation requirements.

New Secrets Manager resource types supported in CloudFormation

  1. AWS::SecretsManager::Secret — Create a secret and store it in Secrets Manager.
  2. AWS::SecretsManager::ResourcePolicy — Create a resource-based policy and attach it to a secret. Resource-based policies enable you to control access to secrets.
  3. AWS::SecretsManager::SecretTargetAttachment — Configure Secrets Manager to rotate the secret automatically.
  4. AWS::SecretsManager::RotationSchedule — Define the Lambda function that will be used to rotate the secret.

How to use Secrets Manager in CloudFormation

Now that you’re familiar with the new Secrets Manager resource types supported in CloudFormation, I’ll show how you can use these in a CloudFormation template. I will use a sample template that creates a MySQL database in Amazon RDS and uses Secrets Manager to create the credentials for the superuser. The template also configures the secret to rotate every 30 days automatically.

  1. Create a stack on the AWS CloudFormation console by copying the following sample template.
    
    ---
    Description: "How to create and retrieve secrets securely using an AWS CloudFormation template"
    Resources:
    
    # Create a secret with the username admin and a randomly generated password in JSON.  
      MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret:
        Type: AWS::SecretsManager::Secret
        Properties:
          Description: 'This is the secret for my RDS instance'
          GenerateSecretString:
            SecretStringTemplate: '{"username": "admin"}'
            GenerateStringKey: 'password'
            PasswordLength: 16
            ExcludeCharacters: '"@/'
    
    
    
    # Create a MySQL database of size t2.micro.
    # The secret (username and password for the superuser) will be dynamically 
    # referenced. This ensures CloudFormation will not log or persist the resolved 
    # value. 
      MyDBInstance:
        Type: AWS::RDS::DBInstance
        Properties:
          AllocatedStorage: 20
          DBInstanceClass: db.t2.micro
          Engine: mysql
          MasterUsername: !Join ['', ['{{resolve:secretsmanager:', !Ref MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret, ':SecretString:username}}' ]]
          MasterUserPassword: !Join ['', ['{{resolve:secretsmanager:', !Ref MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret, ':SecretString:password}}' ]]
          BackupRetentionPeriod: 0
          DBInstanceIdentifier: 'rotation-instance'
    
    
    
    # Update the referenced secret with properties of the RDS database.
    # This is required to enable rotation. To learn more, visit our documentation
    # https://docs.aws.amazon.com/secretsmanager/latest/userguide/rotating-secrets.html
      SecretRDSInstanceAttachment:
        Type: AWS::SecretsManager::SecretTargetAttachment
        Properties:
          SecretId: !Ref MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret
          TargetId: !Ref MyDBInstance
          TargetType: AWS::RDS::DBInstance
    
    
    
    # Schedule rotating the secret every 30 days. 
    # Note, the first rotation is triggered immediately. 
    # This enables you to verify that rotation is configured appropriately.
    # Subsequent rotations are scheduled according to the configured rotation. 
      MySecretRotationSchedule:
        Type: AWS::SecretsManager::RotationSchedule
        DependsOn: SecretRDSInstanceAttachment
        Properties:
          SecretId: !Ref MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret
          RotationLambdaARN: <% replace-with-lambda-arn %>
          RotationRules:
            AutomaticallyAfterDays: 30
     
    

  2. Next, execute the stack.
     
    Figure 1: Execute the stack

    Figure 1: Execute the stack

  3. After you execute the stack, open the RDS console to verify the database, rotation-instance, has been successfully created.
     
    Figure 2: Verify the database has been created

    Figure 2: Verify the database has been created

  4. Open the Secrets Manager console and verify the stack successfully created the secret, MyRDSInstanceRotationSecret.
     
    Figure 3: Verify the stack successfully created the secret

    Figure 3: Verify the stack successfully created the secret

Summary

I showed you how to create and retrieve secrets in CloudFormation. This improves the security of your infrastructure and makes it easier to automate infrastructure provisioning. To get started managing secrets, open the Secrets Manager console. To learn more, read How to Store, Distribute, and Rotate Credentials Securely with Secret Manager or refer to the Secrets Manager documentation.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have questions about anything in this post, start a new thread on the Secrets Manager forum or contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

Apurv Awasthi

Apurv is the product manager for credentials management services at AWS, including AWS Secrets Manager and IAM Roles. He enjoys the “Day 1” culture at Amazon because it aligns with his experience building startups in the sports and recruiting industries. Outside of work, Apurv enjoys hiking. He holds an MBA from UCLA and an MS in computer science from University of Kentucky.

How to use AWS Secrets Manager to rotate credentials for all Amazon RDS database types, including Oracle

Post Syndicated from Apurv Awasthi original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-use-aws-secrets-manager-rotate-credentials-amazon-rds-database-types-oracle/

You can now use AWS Secrets Manager to rotate credentials for Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, or MariaDB databases hosted on Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) automatically. Previously, I showed how to rotate credentials for a MySQL database hosted on Amazon RDS automatically with AWS Secrets Manager. With today’s launch, you can use Secrets Manager to automatically rotate credentials for all types of databases hosted on Amazon RDS.

In this post, I review the key features of Secrets Manager. You’ll then learn:

  1. How to store the database credential for the superuser of an Oracle database hosted on Amazon RDS
  2. How to store the Oracle database credential used by an application
  3. How to configure Secrets Manager to rotate both Oracle credentials automatically on a schedule that you define

Key features of Secrets Manager

AWS Secrets Manager makes it easier to rotate, manage, and retrieve database credentials, API keys, and other secrets throughout their lifecycle. The key features of this service include the ability to:

  1. Secure and manage secrets centrally. You can store, view, and manage all your secrets centrally. By default, Secrets Manager encrypts these secrets with encryption keys that you own and control. You can use fine-grained IAM policies or resource-based policies to control access to your secrets. You can also tag secrets to help you discover, organize, and control access to secrets used throughout your organization.
  2. Rotate secrets safely. You can configure Secrets Manager to rotate secrets automatically without disrupting your applications. Secrets Manager offers built-in integrations for rotating credentials for all Amazon RDS databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MariaDB, and Amazon Aurora.) You can also extend Secrets Manager to meet your custom rotation requirements by creating an AWS Lambda function to rotate other types of secrets.
  3. Transmit securely. Secrets are transmitted securely over Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol 1.2. You can also use Secrets Manager with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) endpoints powered by AWS Privatelink to keep this communication within the AWS network and help meet your compliance and regulatory requirements to limit public internet connectivity.
  4. Pay as you go. Pay for the secrets you store in Secrets Manager and for the use of these secrets; there are no long-term contracts, licensing fees, or infrastructure and personnel costs. For example, a typical production-scale web application will generate an estimated monthly bill of $6. If you follow along the instructions in this blog post, your estimated monthly bill for Secrets Manager will be $1. Note: you may incur additional charges for using Amazon RDS and Amazon Lambda, if you’ve already consumed the free tier for these services.

Now that you’re familiar with Secrets Manager features, I’ll show you how to store and automatically rotate credentials for an Oracle database hosted on Amazon RDS. I divided these instructions into three phases:

  1. Phase 1: Store and configure rotation for the superuser credential
  2. Phase 2: Store and configure rotation for the application credential
  3. Phase 3: Retrieve the credential from Secrets Manager programmatically

Prerequisites

To follow along, your AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) principal (user or role) requires the SecretsManagerReadWrite AWS managed policy to store the secrets. Your principal also requires the IAMFullAccess AWS managed policy to create and configure permissions for the IAM role used by Lambda for executing rotations. You can use IAM permissions boundaries to grant an employee the ability to configure rotation without also granting them full administrative access to your account.

Phase 1: Store and configure rotation for the superuser credential

From the Secrets Manager console, on the right side, select Store a new secret.

Since I’m storing credentials for database hosted on Amazon RDS, I select Credentials for RDS database. Next, I input the user name and password for the superuser. I start by securing the superuser because it’s the most powerful database credential and has full access to the database.
 

Figure 1: For "Select secret type," choose "Credentials for RDS database"

Figure 1: For “Select secret type,” choose “Credentials for RDS database”

For this example, I choose to use the default encryption settings. Secrets Manager will encrypt this secret using the Secrets Manager DefaultEncryptionKey in this account. Alternatively, I can choose to encrypt using a customer master key (CMK) that I have stored in AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). To learn more, read the Using Your AWS KMS CMK documentation.
 

Figure 2: Choose either DefaultEncryptionKey or use a CMK

Figure 2: Choose either DefaultEncryptionKey or use a CMK

Next, I view the list of Amazon RDS instances in my account and select the database this credential accesses. For this example, I select the DB instance oracle-rds-database from the list, and then I select Next.

I then specify values for Secret name and Description. For this example, I use Database/Development/Oracle-Superuser as the name and enter a description of this secret, and then select Next.
 

Figure 3: Provide values for "Secret name" and "Description"

Figure 3: Provide values for “Secret name” and “Description”

Since this database is not yet being used, I choose to enable rotation. To do so, I select Enable automatic rotation, and then set the rotation interval to 60 days. Remember, if this database credential is currently being used, first update the application (see phase 3) to use Secrets Manager APIs to retrieve secrets before enabling rotation.
 

Figure 4: Select "Enable automatic rotation"

Figure 4: Select “Enable automatic rotation”

Next, Secrets Manager requires permissions to rotate this secret on my behalf. Because I’m storing the credentials for the superuser, Secrets Manager can use this credential to perform rotations. Therefore, on the same screen, I select Use a secret that I have previously stored in AWS Secrets Manager, and then select Next.

Finally, I review the information on the next screen. Everything looks correct, so I select Store. I have now successfully stored a secret in Secrets Manager.

Note: Secrets Manager will now create a Lambda function in the same VPC as my Oracle database and trigger this function periodically to change the password for the superuser. I can view the name of the Lambda function on the Rotation configuration section of the Secret Details page.

The banner on the next screen confirms that I’ve successfully configured rotation and the first rotation is in progress, which enables me to verify that rotation is functioning as expected. Secrets Manager will rotate this credential automatically every 60 days.
 

Figure 5: The confirmation notification

Figure 5: The confirmation notification

Phase 2: Store and configure rotation for the application credential

The superuser is a powerful credential that should be used only for administrative tasks. To enable your applications to access a database, create a unique database credential per application and grant these credentials limited permissions. You can use these database credentials to read or write to database tables required by the application. As a security best practice, deny the ability to perform management actions, such as creating new credentials.

In this phase, I will store the credential that my application will use to connect to the Oracle database. To get started, from the Secrets Manager console, on the right side, select Store a new secret.

Next, I select Credentials for RDS database, and input the user name and password for the application credential.

I continue to use the default encryption key. I select the DB instance oracle-rds-database, and then select Next.

I specify values for Secret Name and Description. For this example, I use Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User as the name and enter a description of this secret, and then select Next.

I now configure rotation. Once again, since my application is not using this database credential yet, I’ll configure rotation as part of storing this secret. I select Enable automatic rotation, and set the rotation interval to 60 days.

Next, Secrets Manager requires permissions to rotate this secret on behalf of my application. Earlier in the post, I mentioned that applications credentials have limited permissions and are unable to change their password. Therefore, I will use the superuser credential, Database/Development/Oracle-Superuser, that I stored in Phase 1 to rotate the application credential. With this configuration, Secrets Manager creates a clone application user.
 

Figure 6: Select the superuser credential

Figure 6: Select the superuser credential

Note: Creating a clone application user is the preferred mechanism of rotation because the old version of the secret continues to operate and handle service requests while the new version is prepared and tested. There’s no application downtime while changing between versions.

I review the information on the next screen. Everything looks correct, so I select Store. I have now successfully stored the application credential in Secrets Manager.

As mentioned in Phase 1, AWS Secrets Manager creates a Lambda function in the same VPC as the database and then triggers this function periodically to rotate the secret. Since I chose to use the existing superuser secret to rotate the application secret, I will grant the rotation Lambda function permissions to retrieve the superuser secret. To grant this permission, I first select role from the confirmation banner.
 

Figure 7: Select the "role" link that's in the confirmation notification

Figure 7: Select the “role” link that’s in the confirmation notification

Next, in the Permissions tab, I select SecretsManagerRDSMySQLRotationMultiUserRolePolicy0. Then I select Edit policy.
 

Figure 8: Edit the policy on the "Permissions" tab

Figure 8: Edit the policy on the “Permissions” tab

In this step, I update the policy (see below) and select Review policy. When following along, remember to replace the placeholder ARN-OF-SUPERUSER-SECRET with the ARN of the secret you stored in Phase 1.


{
  "Statement": [
    {
        "Effect": "Allow",
        "Action": [
            "ec2:CreateNetworkInterface",
			"ec2:DeleteNetworkInterface",
			"ec2:DescribeNetworkInterfaces",
			"ec2:DetachNetworkInterface"
		],
		"Resource": "*"
	},
	{
	    "Sid": "GrantPermissionToUse",
		"Effect": "Allow",
		"Action": [
            "secretsmanager:GetSecretValue"
        ],
		"Resource": "ARN-OF-SUPERUSER-SECRET"
	}
  ]
}

Here’s what it will look like:
 

Figure 9: Edit the policy

Figure 9: Edit the policy

Next, I select Save changes. I have now completed all the steps required to configure rotation for the application credential, Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User.

Phase 3: Retrieve the credential from Secrets Manager programmatically

Now that I have stored the secret in Secrets Manager, I add code to my application to retrieve the database credential from Secrets Manager. I use the sample code from Phase 2 above. This code sets up the client and retrieves and decrypts the secret Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User.

Remember, applications require permissions to retrieve the secret, Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User, from Secrets Manager. My application runs on Amazon EC2 and uses an IAM role to obtain access to AWS services. I attach the following policy to my IAM role. This policy uses the GetSecretValue action to grant my application permissions to read secret from Secrets Manager. This policy also uses the resource element to limit my application to read only the Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User secret from Secrets Manager. You can refer to the Secrets Manager Documentation to understand the minimum IAM permissions required to retrieve a secret.


{
 "Version": "2012-10-17",
 "Statement": {
    "Sid": "RetrieveDbCredentialFromSecretsManager",
    "Effect": "Allow",
    "Action": "secretsmanager:GetSecretValue",
    "Resource": "arn:aws:secretsmanager:<AWS-REGION>:<ACCOUNT-NUMBER>:secret: Database/Development/Oracle-Application-User     
 }
}

In the above policy, remember to replace the placeholder <AWS-REGION> with the AWS region that you’re using and the placeholder <ACCOUNT-NUMBER> with the number of your AWS account.

Summary

I explained the key benefits of Secrets Manager as they relate to RDS and showed you how to help meet your compliance requirements by configuring Secrets Manager to rotate database credentials automatically on your behalf. Secrets Manager helps you protect access to your applications, services, and IT resources without the upfront investment and on-going maintenance costs of operating your own secrets management infrastructure. To get started, visit the Secrets Manager console. To learn more, visit Secrets Manager documentation.

If you have comments about this post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have questions about anything in this post, start a new thread on the Secrets Manager forum.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

Apurv Awasthi

Apurv is the product manager for credentials management services at AWS, including AWS Secrets Manager and IAM Roles. He enjoys the “Day 1” culture at Amazon because it aligns with his experience building startups in the sports and recruiting industries. Outside of work, Apurv enjoys hiking. He holds an MBA from UCLA and an MS in computer science from University of Kentucky.

Storing Encrypted Credentials In Git

Post Syndicated from Bozho original https://techblog.bozho.net/storing-encrypted-credentials-in-git/

We all know that we should not commit any passwords or keys to the repo with our code (no matter if public or private). Yet, thousands of production passwords can be found on GitHub (and probably thousands more in internal company repositories). Some have tried to fix that by removing the passwords (once they learned it’s not a good idea to store them publicly), but passwords have remained in the git history.

Knowing what not to do is the first and very important step. But how do we store production credentials. Database credentials, system secrets (e.g. for HMACs), access keys for 3rd party services like payment providers or social networks. There doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon solution.

I’ve previously argued with the 12-factor app recommendation to use environment variables – if you have a few that might be okay, but when the number of variables grow (as in any real application), it becomes impractical. And you can set environment variables via a bash script, but you’d have to store it somewhere. And in fact, even separate environment variables should be stored somewhere.

This somewhere could be a local directory (risky), a shared storage, e.g. FTP or S3 bucket with limited access, or a separate git repository. I think I prefer the git repository as it allows versioning (Note: S3 also does, but is provider-specific). So you can store all your environment-specific properties files with all their credentials and environment-specific configurations in a git repo with limited access (only Ops people). And that’s not bad, as long as it’s not the same repo as the source code.

Such a repo would look like this:

project
└─── production
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── staging
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── on-premise-client1
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── on-premise-client2
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks

Since many companies are using GitHub or BitBucket for their repositories, storing production credentials on a public provider may still be risky. That’s why it’s a good idea to encrypt the files in the repository. A good way to do it is via git-crypt. It is “transparent” encryption because it supports diff and encryption and decryption on the fly. Once you set it up, you continue working with the repo as if it’s not encrypted. There’s even a fork that works on Windows.

You simply run git-crypt init (after you’ve put the git-crypt binary on your OS Path), which generates a key. Then you specify your .gitattributes, e.g. like that:

secretfile filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.key filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.properties filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.jks filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt

And you’re done. Well, almost. If this is a fresh repo, everything is good. If it is an existing repo, you’d have to clean up your history which contains the unencrypted files. Following these steps will get you there, with one addition – before calling git commit, you should call git-crypt status -f so that the existing files are actually encrypted.

You’re almost done. We should somehow share and backup the keys. For the sharing part, it’s not a big issue to have a team of 2-3 Ops people share the same key, but you could also use the GPG option of git-crypt (as documented in the README). What’s left is to backup your secret key (that’s generated in the .git/git-crypt directory). You can store it (password-protected) in some other storage, be it a company shared folder, Dropbox/Google Drive, or even your email. Just make sure your computer is not the only place where it’s present and that it’s protected. I don’t think key rotation is necessary, but you can devise some rotation procedure.

git-crypt authors claim to shine when it comes to encrypting just a few files in an otherwise public repo. And recommend looking at git-remote-gcrypt. But as often there are non-sensitive parts of environment-specific configurations, you may not want to encrypt everything. And I think it’s perfectly fine to use git-crypt even in a separate repo scenario. And even though encryption is an okay approach to protect credentials in your source code repo, it’s still not necessarily a good idea to have the environment configurations in the same repo. Especially given that different people/teams manage these credentials. Even in small companies, maybe not all members have production access.

The outstanding questions in this case is – how do you sync the properties with code changes. Sometimes the code adds new properties that should be reflected in the environment configurations. There are two scenarios here – first, properties that could vary across environments, but can have default values (e.g. scheduled job periods), and second, properties that require explicit configuration (e.g. database credentials). The former can have the default values bundled in the code repo and therefore in the release artifact, allowing external files to override them. The latter should be announced to the people who do the deployment so that they can set the proper values.

The whole process of having versioned environment-speific configurations is actually quite simple and logical, even with the encryption added to the picture. And I think it’s a good security practice we should try to follow.

The post Storing Encrypted Credentials In Git appeared first on Bozho's tech blog.

New – Pay-per-Session Pricing for Amazon QuickSight, Another Region, and Lots More

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-pay-per-session-pricing-for-amazon-quicksight-another-region-and-lots-more/

Amazon QuickSight is a fully managed cloud business intelligence system that gives you Fast & Easy to Use Business Analytics for Big Data. QuickSight makes business analytics available to organizations of all shapes and sizes, with the ability to access data that is stored in your Amazon Redshift data warehouse, your Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) relational databases, flat files in S3, and (via connectors) data stored in on-premises MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases. QuickSight scales to accommodate tens, hundreds, or thousands of users per organization.

Today we are launching a new, session-based pricing option for QuickSight, along with additional region support and other important new features. Let’s take a look at each one:

Pay-per-Session Pricing
Our customers are making great use of QuickSight and take full advantage of the power it gives them to connect to data sources, create reports, and and explore visualizations.

However, not everyone in an organization needs or wants such powerful authoring capabilities. Having access to curated data in dashboards and being able to interact with the data by drilling down, filtering, or slicing-and-dicing is more than adequate for their needs. Subscribing them to a monthly or annual plan can be seen as an unwarranted expense, so a lot of such casual users end up not having access to interactive data or BI.

In order to allow customers to provide all of their users with interactive dashboards and reports, the Enterprise Edition of Amazon QuickSight now allows Reader access to dashboards on a Pay-per-Session basis. QuickSight users are now classified as Admins, Authors, or Readers, with distinct capabilities and prices:

Authors have access to the full power of QuickSight; they can establish database connections, upload new data, create ad hoc visualizations, and publish dashboards, all for $9 per month (Standard Edition) or $18 per month (Enterprise Edition).

Readers can view dashboards, slice and dice data using drill downs, filters and on-screen controls, and download data in CSV format, all within the secure QuickSight environment. Readers pay $0.30 for 30 minutes of access, with a monthly maximum of $5 per reader.

Admins have all authoring capabilities, and can manage users and purchase SPICE capacity in the account. The QuickSight admin now has the ability to set the desired option (Author or Reader) when they invite members of their organization to use QuickSight. They can extend Reader invites to their entire user base without incurring any up-front or monthly costs, paying only for the actual usage.

To learn more, visit the QuickSight Pricing page.

A New Region
QuickSight is now available in the Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Region:

The UI is in English, with a localized version in the works.

Hourly Data Refresh
Enterprise Edition SPICE data sets can now be set to refresh as frequently as every hour. In the past, each data set could be refreshed up to 5 times a day. To learn more, read Refreshing Imported Data.

Access to Data in Private VPCs
This feature was launched in preview form late last year, and is now available in production form to users of the Enterprise Edition. As I noted at the time, you can use it to implement secure, private communication with data sources that do not have public connectivity, including on-premises data in Teradata or SQL Server, accessed over an AWS Direct Connect link. To learn more, read Working with AWS VPC.

Parameters with On-Screen Controls
QuickSight dashboards can now include parameters that are set using on-screen dropdown, text box, numeric slider or date picker controls. The default value for each parameter can be set based on the user name (QuickSight calls this a dynamic default). You could, for example, set an appropriate default based on each user’s office location, department, or sales territory. Here’s an example:

To learn more, read about Parameters in QuickSight.

URL Actions for Linked Dashboards
You can now connect your QuickSight dashboards to external applications by defining URL actions on visuals. The actions can include parameters, and become available in the Details menu for the visual. URL actions are defined like this:

You can use this feature to link QuickSight dashboards to third party applications (e.g. Salesforce) or to your own internal applications. Read Custom URL Actions to learn how to use this feature.

Dashboard Sharing
You can now share QuickSight dashboards across every user in an account.

Larger SPICE Tables
The per-data set limit for SPICE tables has been raised from 10 GB to 25 GB.

Upgrade to Enterprise Edition
The QuickSight administrator can now upgrade an account from Standard Edition to Enterprise Edition with a click. This enables provisioning of Readers with pay-per-session pricing, private VPC access, row-level security for dashboards and data sets, and hourly refresh of data sets. Enterprise Edition pricing applies after the upgrade.

Available Now
Everything I listed above is available now and you can start using it today!

You can try QuickSight for 60 days at no charge, and you can also attend our June 20th Webinar.

Jeff;

 

Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/augenblick-camera/

Warning: a GIF used in today’s blog contains flashing images.

Students at the University of Bremen, Germany, have built a wearable camera that records the seconds of vision lost when you blink. Augenblick uses a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera Module alongside muscle sensors to record footage whenever you close your eyes, producing a rather disjointed film of the sights you miss out on.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Blink and you’ll miss it

The average person blinks up to five times a minute, with each blink lasting 0.5 to 0.8 seconds. These half-seconds add up to about 30 minutes a day. What sights are we losing during these minutes? That is the question asked by students Manasse Pinsuwan and René Henrich when they set out to design Augenblick.

Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Every day we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss.

Capturing lost moments

For Augenblick, the wearer sticks MyoWare Muscle Sensor pads to their face, and these detect the electrical impulses that trigger blinking.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Two pads are applied over the orbicularis oculi muscle that forms a ring around the eye socket, while the third pad is attached to the cheek as a neutral point.

Biology fact: there are two muscles responsible for blinking. The orbicularis oculi muscle closes the eye, while the levator palpebrae superioris muscle opens it — and yes, they both sound like the names of Harry Potter spells.

The sensor is read 25 times a second. Whenever it detects that the orbicularis oculi is active, the Camera Module records video footage.

Augenblick blink recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Pressing a button on the side of the Augenblick glasses set the code running. An LED lights up whenever the camera is recording and also serves to confirm the correct placement of the sensor pads.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

The Pi Zero saves the footage so that it can be stitched together later to form a continuous, if disjointed, film.

Learn more about the Augenblick blink camera

You can find more information on the conception, design, and build process of Augenblick here in German, with a shorter explanation including lots of photos here in English.

And if you’re keen to recreate this project, our free project resource for a wearable Pi Zero time-lapse camera will come in handy as a starting point.

The post Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Enchanting images with Inky Lines, a Pi‑powered polargraph

Post Syndicated from Helen Lynn original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/enchanting-images-inky-lines-pi-powered-polargraph/

A hanging plotter, also known as a polar plotter or polargraph, is a machine for drawing images on a vertical surface. It does so by using motors to control the length of two cords that form a V shape, supporting a pen where they meet. We’ve featured one on this blog before: Norbert “HomoFaciens” Heinz’s video is a wonderfully clear introduction to how a polargraph works and what you have to consider when you’re putting one together.

Today, we look at Inky Lines, by John Proudlock. With it, John is creating a series of captivating and beautiful pieces, and with his most recent work, each rendering of an image is unique.

The Inky Lines plotter draws a flock of seagulls in blue ink on white paper. The print head is suspended near the bottom left corner of the image, as the pen inks the wing of a gull

An evolving project

The project isn’t new – John has been working on it for at least a couple of years – but it is constantly evolving. When we first spotted it, John had just implemented code to allow the plotter to produce mesmeric, spiralling patterns.

A blue spiral pattern featuring overlapping "bubbles"
A dense pink spiral pattern, featuring concentric circles and reminiscent of a mandala
A blue spirograph-type pattern formed of large overlapping squares, each offset from its neighbour by a few degrees, producing a four-spiral-armed "galaxy" shape where lines overlap. The plotter's print head is visible in a corner of the image

But we’re skipping ahead. Let’s go back to the beginning.

From pixels to motor movements

John starts by providing an image, usually no more than 100 pixels wide, to a Raspberry Pi. Custom software that he wrote evaluates the darkness of each pixel and selects a pattern of a suitable density to represent it.

The two cords supporting the plotter’s pen are wound around the shafts of two stepper motors, such that the movement of the motors controls the length of the cords: the program next calculates how much each motor must move in order to produce the pattern. The Raspberry Pi passes corresponding instructions to two motor circuits, which transform the signals to a higher voltage and pass them to the stepper motors. These turn by very precise amounts, winding or unwinding the cords and, very slowly, dragging the pen across the paper.

A Raspberry Pi in a case, with a wide flex connected to a GPIO header
The Inky Lines plotter's print head, featuring cardboard and tape, draws an apparently random squiggle
A large area of apparently random pattern drawn by the plotter

John explains,

Suspended in-between the two motors is a print head, made out of a new 3-d modelling material I’ve been prototyping called cardboard. An old coat hanger and some velcro were also used.

(He’s our kind of maker.)

Unique images

The earlier drawings that John made used a repeatable method to render image files as lines on paper. That is, if the machine drew the same image a number of times, each copy would be identical. More recently, though, he has been using a method that yields random movements of the pen:

The pen point is guided around the image, but moves to each new point entirely at random. Up close this looks like a chaotic squiggle, but from a distance of a couple of meters, the human eye (and brain) make order from the chaos and view an infinite number of shades and a smoother, less mechanical image.

An apparently chaotic squiggle

This method means that no matter how many times the polargraph repeats the same image, each copy will be unique.

A gallery of work

Inky Lines’ website and its Instagram feed offer a collection of wonderful pieces John has drawn with his polargraph, and he discusses the different techniques and types of image that he is exploring.

A 3 x 3 grid of varied and colourful images from inkylinespolargraph's Instagram feed

They range from holiday photographs, processed to extract particular features and rendered in silhouette, to portraits, made with a single continuous line that can be several hundred metres long, to generative images spirograph images like those pictured above, created by an algorithm rather than rendered from a source image.

The post Enchanting images with Inky Lines, a Pi‑powered polargraph appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Use Slack ChatOps to Deploy Your Code – How to Integrate Your Pipeline in AWS CodePipeline with Your Slack Channel

Post Syndicated from Rumi Olsen original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/devops/use-slack-chatops-to-deploy-your-code-how-to-integrate-your-pipeline-in-aws-codepipeline-with-your-slack-channel/

Slack is widely used by DevOps and development teams to communicate status. Typically, when a build has been tested and is ready to be promoted to a staging environment, a QA engineer or DevOps engineer kicks off the deployment. Using Slack in a ChatOps collaboration model, the promotion can be done in a single click from a Slack channel. And because the promotion happens through a Slack channel, the whole development team knows what’s happening without checking email.

In this blog post, I will show you how to integrate AWS services with a Slack application. I use an interactive message button and incoming webhook to promote a stage with a single click.

To follow along with the steps in this post, you’ll need a pipeline in AWS CodePipeline. If you don’t have a pipeline, the fastest way to create one for this use case is to use AWS CodeStar. Go to the AWS CodeStar console and select the Static Website template (shown in the screenshot). AWS CodeStar will create a pipeline with an AWS CodeCommit repository and an AWS CodeDeploy deployment for you. After the pipeline is created, you will need to add a manual approval stage.

You’ll also need to build a Slack app with webhooks and interactive components, write two Lambda functions, and create an API Gateway API and a SNS topic.

As you’ll see in the following diagram, when I make a change and merge a new feature into the master branch in AWS CodeCommit, the check-in kicks off my CI/CD pipeline in AWS CodePipeline. When CodePipeline reaches the approval stage, it sends a notification to Amazon SNS, which triggers an AWS Lambda function (ApprovalRequester).

The Slack channel receives a prompt that looks like the following screenshot. When I click Yes to approve the build promotion, the approval result is sent to CodePipeline through API Gateway and Lambda (ApprovalHandler). The pipeline continues on to deploy the build to the next environment.

Create a Slack app

For App Name, type a name for your app. For Development Slack Workspace, choose the name of your workspace. You’ll see in the following screenshot that my workspace is AWS ChatOps.

After the Slack application has been created, you will see the Basic Information page, where you can create incoming webhooks and enable interactive components.

To add incoming webhooks:

  1. Under Add features and functionality, choose Incoming Webhooks. Turn the feature on by selecting Off, as shown in the following screenshot.
  2. Now that the feature is turned on, choose Add New Webhook to Workspace. In the process of creating the webhook, Slack lets you choose the channel where messages will be posted.
  3. After the webhook has been created, you’ll see its URL. You will use this URL when you create the Lambda function.

If you followed the steps in the post, the pipeline should look like the following.

Write the Lambda function for approval requests

This Lambda function is invoked by the SNS notification. It sends a request that consists of an interactive message button to the incoming webhook you created earlier.  The following sample code sends the request to the incoming webhook. WEBHOOK_URL and SLACK_CHANNEL are the environment variables that hold values of the webhook URL that you created and the Slack channel where you want the interactive message button to appear.

# This function is invoked via SNS when the CodePipeline manual approval action starts.
# It will take the details from this approval notification and sent an interactive message to Slack that allows users to approve or cancel the deployment.

import os
import json
import logging
import urllib.parse

from base64 import b64decode
from urllib.request import Request, urlopen
from urllib.error import URLError, HTTPError

# This is passed as a plain-text environment variable for ease of demonstration.
# Consider encrypting the value with KMS or use an encrypted parameter in Parameter Store for production deployments.
SLACK_WEBHOOK_URL = os.environ['SLACK_WEBHOOK_URL']
SLACK_CHANNEL = os.environ['SLACK_CHANNEL']

logger = logging.getLogger()
logger.setLevel(logging.INFO)

def lambda_handler(event, context):
    print("Received event: " + json.dumps(event, indent=2))
    message = event["Records"][0]["Sns"]["Message"]
    
    data = json.loads(message) 
    token = data["approval"]["token"]
    codepipeline_name = data["approval"]["pipelineName"]
    
    slack_message = {
        "channel": SLACK_CHANNEL,
        "text": "Would you like to promote the build to production?",
        "attachments": [
            {
                "text": "Yes to deploy your build to production",
                "fallback": "You are unable to promote a build",
                "callback_id": "wopr_game",
                "color": "#3AA3E3",
                "attachment_type": "default",
                "actions": [
                    {
                        "name": "deployment",
                        "text": "Yes",
                        "style": "danger",
                        "type": "button",
                        "value": json.dumps({"approve": True, "codePipelineToken": token, "codePipelineName": codepipeline_name}),
                        "confirm": {
                            "title": "Are you sure?",
                            "text": "This will deploy the build to production",
                            "ok_text": "Yes",
                            "dismiss_text": "No"
                        }
                    },
                    {
                        "name": "deployment",
                        "text": "No",
                        "type": "button",
                        "value": json.dumps({"approve": False, "codePipelineToken": token, "codePipelineName": codepipeline_name})
                    }  
                ]
            }
        ]
    }

    req = Request(SLACK_WEBHOOK_URL, json.dumps(slack_message).encode('utf-8'))

    response = urlopen(req)
    response.read()
    
    return None

 

Create a SNS topic

Create a topic and then create a subscription that invokes the ApprovalRequester Lambda function. You can configure the manual approval action in the pipeline to send a message to this SNS topic when an approval action is required. When the pipeline reaches the approval stage, it sends a notification to this SNS topic. SNS publishes a notification to all of the subscribed endpoints. In this case, the Lambda function is the endpoint. Therefore, it invokes and executes the Lambda function. For information about how to create a SNS topic, see Create a Topic in the Amazon SNS Developer Guide.

Write the Lambda function for handling the interactive message button

This Lambda function is invoked by API Gateway. It receives the result of the interactive message button whether or not the build promotion was approved. If approved, an API call is made to CodePipeline to promote the build to the next environment. If not approved, the pipeline stops and does not move to the next stage.

The Lambda function code might look like the following. SLACK_VERIFICATION_TOKEN is the environment variable that contains your Slack verification token. You can find your verification token under Basic Information on Slack manage app page. When you scroll down, you will see App Credential. Verification token is found under the section.

# This function is triggered via API Gateway when a user acts on the Slack interactive message sent by approval_requester.py.

from urllib.parse import parse_qs
import json
import os
import boto3

SLACK_VERIFICATION_TOKEN = os.environ['SLACK_VERIFICATION_TOKEN']

#Triggered by API Gateway
#It kicks off a particular CodePipeline project
def lambda_handler(event, context):
	#print("Received event: " + json.dumps(event, indent=2))
	body = parse_qs(event['body'])
	payload = json.loads(body['payload'][0])

	# Validate Slack token
	if SLACK_VERIFICATION_TOKEN == payload['token']:
		send_slack_message(json.loads(payload['actions'][0]['value']))
		
		# This will replace the interactive message with a simple text response.
		# You can implement a more complex message update if you would like.
		return  {
			"isBase64Encoded": "false",
			"statusCode": 200,
			"body": "{\"text\": \"The approval has been processed\"}"
		}
	else:
		return  {
			"isBase64Encoded": "false",
			"statusCode": 403,
			"body": "{\"error\": \"This request does not include a vailid verification token.\"}"
		}


def send_slack_message(action_details):
	codepipeline_status = "Approved" if action_details["approve"] else "Rejected"
	codepipeline_name = action_details["codePipelineName"]
	token = action_details["codePipelineToken"] 

	client = boto3.client('codepipeline')
	response_approval = client.put_approval_result(
							pipelineName=codepipeline_name,
							stageName='Approval',
							actionName='ApprovalOrDeny',
							result={'summary':'','status':codepipeline_status},
							token=token)
	print(response_approval)

 

Create the API Gateway API

  1. In the Amazon API Gateway console, create a resource called InteractiveMessageHandler.
  2. Create a POST method.
    • For Integration type, choose Lambda Function.
    • Select Use Lambda Proxy integration.
    • From Lambda Region, choose a region.
    • In Lambda Function, type a name for your function.
  3.  Deploy to a stage.

For more information, see Getting Started with Amazon API Gateway in the Amazon API Developer Guide.

Now go back to your Slack application and enable interactive components.

To enable interactive components for the interactive message (Yes) button:

  1. Under Features, choose Interactive Components.
  2. Choose Enable Interactive Components.
  3. Type a request URL in the text box. Use the invoke URL in Amazon API Gateway that will be called when the approval button is clicked.

Now that all the pieces have been created, run the solution by checking in a code change to your CodeCommit repo. That will release the change through CodePipeline. When the CodePipeline comes to the approval stage, it will prompt to your Slack channel to see if you want to promote the build to your staging or production environment. Choose Yes and then see if your change was deployed to the environment.

Conclusion

That is it! You have now created a Slack ChatOps solution using AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodePipeline, AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon Simple Notification Service.

Now that you know how to do this Slack and CodePipeline integration, you can use the same method to interact with other AWS services using API Gateway and Lambda. You can also use Slack’s slash command to initiate an action from a Slack channel, rather than responding in the way demonstrated in this post.

HackSpace magazine 7: Internet of Everything

Post Syndicated from Andrew Gregory original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hackspace-magazine-7-internet-of-everything/

We’re usually averse to buzzwords at HackSpace magazine, but not this month: in issue 7, we’re taking a deep dive into the Internet of Things.HackSpace magazine issue 7 cover

Internet of Things (IoT)

To many people, IoT is a shady term used by companies to sell you something you already own, but this time with WiFi; to us, it’s a way to make our builds smarter, more useful, and more connected. In HackSpace magazine #7, you can join us on a tour of the boards that power IoT projects, marvel at the ways in which other makers are using IoT, and get started with your first IoT project!

Awesome projects

DIY retro computing: this issue, we’re taking our collective hat off to Spencer Owen. He stuck his home-brew computer on Tindie thinking he might make a bit of beer money — now he’s paying the mortgage with his making skills and inviting others to build modules for his machine. And if that tickles your fancy, why not take a crack at our Z80 tutorial? Get out your breadboard, assemble your jumper wires, and prepare to build a real-life computer!

Inside HackSpace magazine issue 7

Shameless patriotism: combine Lego, Arduino, and the car of choice for 1960 gold bullion thieves, and you’ve got yourself a groovy weekend project. We proudly present to you one man’s epic quest to add LED lights (controllable via a smartphone!) to his daughter’s LEGO Mini Cooper.

Makerspaces

Patriotism intensifies: for the last 200-odd years, the Black Country has been a hotbed of making. Urban Hax, based in Walsall, is the latest makerspace to show off its riches in the coveted Space of the Month pages. Every space has its own way of doing things, but not every space has a portrait of Rob Halford on the wall. All hail!

Inside HackSpace magazine issue 7

Diversity: advice on diversity often boils down to ‘Be nice to people’, which might feel more vague than actionable. This is where we come in to help: it is truly worth making the effort to give people of all backgrounds access to your makerspace, so we take a look at why it’s nice to be nice, and at the ways in which one makerspace has put niceness into practice — with great results.

And there’s more!

We also show you how to easily calculate the size and radius of laser-cut gears, use a bank of LEDs to etch PCBs in your own mini factory, and use chemistry to mess with your lunch menu.

Inside HackSpace magazine issue 7
Helen Steer inside HackSpace magazine issue 7
Inside HackSpace magazine issue 7

All this plus much, much more waits for you in HackSpace magazine issue 7!

Get your copy of HackSpace magazine

If you like the sound of that, you can find HackSpace magazine in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and independent newsagents in the UK. If you live in the US, check out your local Barnes & Noble, Fry’s, or Micro Center next week. We’re also shipping to stores in Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Belgium, and Brazil, so be sure to ask your local newsagent whether they’ll be getting HackSpace magazine.

And if you can’t get to the shops, fear not: you can subscribe from £4 an issue from our online shop. And if you’d rather try before you buy, you can always download the free PDF. Happy reading, and happy making!

The post HackSpace magazine 7: Internet of Everything appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

The devil wears Pravda

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/05/the-devil-wears-pravda.html

Classic Bond villain, Elon Musk, has a new plan to create a website dedicated to measuring the credibility and adherence to “core truth” of journalists. He is, without any sense of irony, going to call this “Pravda”. This is not simply wrong but evil.

Musk has a point. Journalists do suck, and many suck consistently. I see this in my own industry, cybersecurity, and I frequently criticize them for their suckage.

But what he’s doing here is not correcting them when they make mistakes (or what Musk sees as mistakes), but questioning their legitimacy. This legitimacy isn’t measured by whether they follow established journalism ethics, but whether their “core truths” agree with Musk’s “core truths”.

An example of the problem is how the press fixates on Tesla car crashes due to its “autopilot” feature. Pretty much every autopilot crash makes national headlines, while the press ignores the other 40,000 car crashes that happen in the United States each year. Musk spies on Tesla drivers (hello, classic Bond villain everyone) so he can see the dip in autopilot usage every time such a news story breaks. He’s got good reason to be concerned about this.

He argues that autopilot is safer than humans driving, and he’s got the statistics and government studies to back this up. Therefore, the press’s fixation on Tesla crashes is illegitimate “fake news”, titillating the audience with distorted truth.

But here’s the thing: that’s still only Musk’s version of the truth. Yes, on a mile-per-mile basis, autopilot is safer, but there’s nuance here. Autopilot is used primarily on freeways, which already have a low mile-per-mile accident rate. People choose autopilot only when conditions are incredibly safe and drivers are unlikely to have an accident anyway. Musk is therefore being intentionally deceptive comparing apples to oranges. Autopilot may still be safer, it’s just that the numbers Musk uses don’t demonstrate this.

And then there is the truth calling it “autopilot” to begin with, because it isn’t. The public is overrating the capabilities of the feature. It’s little different than “lane keeping” and “adaptive cruise control” you can now find in other cars. In many ways, the technology is behind — my Tesla doesn’t beep at me when a pedestrian walks behind my car while backing up, but virtually every new car on the market does.

Yes, the press unduly covers Tesla autopilot crashes, but Musk has only himself to blame by unduly exaggerating his car’s capabilities by calling it “autopilot”.

What’s “core truth” is thus rather difficult to obtain. What the press satisfies itself with instead is smaller truths, what they can document. The facts are in such cases that the accident happened, and they try to get Tesla or Musk to comment on it.

What you can criticize a journalist for is therefore not “core truth” but whether they did journalism correctly. When such stories criticize “autopilot”, but don’t do their diligence in getting Tesla’s side of the story, then that’s a violation of journalistic practice. When I criticize journalists for their poor handling of stories in my industry, I try to focus on which journalistic principles they get wrong. For example, the NYTimes reporters do a lot of stories quoting anonymous government sources in clear violation of journalistic principles.

If “credibility” is the concern, then it’s the classic Bond villain here that’s the problem: Musk himself. His track record on business statements is abysmal. For example, when he announced the Model 3 he claimed production targets that every Wall Street analyst claimed were absurd. He didn’t make those targets, he didn’t come close. Model 3 production is still lagging behind Musk’s twice adjusted targets.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-tesla-tracker/

So who has a credibility gap here, the press, or Musk himself?

Not only is Musk’s credibility problem ironic, so is the name he chose, “Pravada”, the Russian word for truth that was the name of the Soviet Union Communist Party’s official newspaper. This is so absurd this has to be a joke, yet Musk claims to be serious about all this.

Yes, the press has a lot of problems, and if Musk were some journalism professor concerned about journalists meeting the objective standards of their industry (e.g. abusing anonymous sources), then this would be a fine thing. But it’s not. It’s Musk who is upset the press’s version of “core truth” does not agree with his version — a version that he’s proven time and time again differs from “real truth”.

Just in case Musk is serious, I’ve already registered “www.antipravda.com” to start measuring the credibility of statements by billionaire playboy CEOs. Let’s see who blinks first.


I stole the title, with permission, from this tweet:

C is to low level

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/05/c-is-too-low-level.html

I’m in danger of contradicting myself, after previously pointing out that x86 machine code is a high-level language, but this article claiming C is a not a low level language is bunk. C certainly has some problems, but it’s still the closest language to assembly. This is obvious by the fact it’s still the fastest compiled language. What we see is a typical academic out of touch with the real world.

The author makes the (wrong) observation that we’ve been stuck emulating the PDP-11 for the past 40 years. C was written for the PDP-11, and since then CPUs have been designed to make C run faster. The author imagines a different world, such as where CPU designers instead target something like LISP as their preferred language, or Erlang. This misunderstands the state of the market. CPUs do indeed supports lots of different abstractions, and C has evolved to accommodate this.


The author criticizes things like “out-of-order” execution which has lead to the Spectre sidechannel vulnerabilities. Out-of-order execution is necessary to make C run faster. The author claims instead that those resources should be spent on having more slower CPUs, with more threads. This sacrifices single-threaded performance in exchange for a lot more threads executing in parallel. The author cites Sparc Tx CPUs as his ideal processor.

But here’s the thing, the Sparc Tx was a failure. To be fair, it’s mostly a failure because most of the time, people wanted to run old C code instead of new Erlang code. But it was still a failure at running Erlang.

Time after time, engineers keep finding that “out-of-order”, single-threaded performance is still the winner. A good example is ARM processors for both mobile phones and servers. All the theory points to in-order CPUs as being better, but all the products are out-of-order, because this theory is wrong. The custom ARM cores from Apple and Qualcomm used in most high-end phones are so deeply out-of-order they give Intel CPUs competition. The same is true on the server front with the latest Qualcomm Centriq and Cavium ThunderX2 processors, deeply out of order supporting more than 100 instructions in flight.

The Cavium is especially telling. Its ThunderX CPU had 48 simple cores which was replaced with the ThunderX2 having 32 complex, deeply out-of-order cores. The performance increase was massive, even on multithread-friendly workloads. Every competitor to Intel’s dominance in the server space has learned the lesson from Sparc Tx: many wimpy cores is a failure, you need fewer beefy cores. Yes, they don’t need to be as beefy as Intel’s processors, but they need to be close.

Even Intel’s “Xeon Phi” custom chip learned this lesson. This is their GPU-like chip, running 60 cores with 512-bit wide “vector” (sic) instructions, designed for supercomputer applications. Its first version was purely in-order. Its current version is slightly out-of-order. It supports four threads and focuses on basic number crunching, so in-order cores seems to be the right approach, but Intel found in this case that out-of-order processing still provided a benefit. Practice is different than theory.

As an academic, the author of the above article focuses on abstractions. The criticism of C is that it has the wrong abstractions which are hard to optimize, and that if we instead expressed things in the right abstractions, it would be easier to optimize.

This is an intellectually compelling argument, but so far bunk.

The reason is that while the theoretical base language has issues, everyone programs using extensions to the language, like “intrinsics” (C ‘functions’ that map to assembly instructions). Programmers write libraries using these intrinsics, which then the rest of the normal programmers use. In other words, if your criticism is that C is not itself low level enough, it still provides the best access to low level capabilities.

Given that C can access new functionality in CPUs, CPU designers add new paradigms, from SIMD to transaction processing. In other words, while in the 1980s CPUs were designed to optimize C (stacks, scaled pointers), these days CPUs are designed to optimize tasks regardless of language.

The author of that article criticizes the memory/cache hierarchy, claiming it has problems. Yes, it has problems, but only compared to how well it normally works. The author praises the many simple cores/threads idea as hiding memory latency with little caching, but misses the point that caches also dramatically increase memory bandwidth. Intel processors are optimized to read a whopping 256 bits every clock cycle from L1 cache. Main memory bandwidth is orders of magnitude slower.

The author goes onto criticize cache coherency as a problem. C uses it, but other languages like Erlang don’t need it. But that’s largely due to the problems each languages solves. Erlang solves the problem where a large number of threads work on largely independent tasks, needing to send only small messages to each other across threads. The problems C solves is when you need many threads working on a huge, common set of data.

For example, consider the “intrusion prevention system”. Any thread can process any incoming packet that corresponds to any region of memory. There’s no practical way of solving this problem without a huge coherent cache. It doesn’t matter which language or abstractions you use, it’s the fundamental constraint of the problem being solved. RDMA is an important concept that’s moved from supercomputer applications to the data center, such as with memcached. Again, we have the problem of huge quantities (terabytes worth) shared among threads rather than small quantities (kilobytes).

The fundamental issue the author of the the paper is ignoring is decreasing marginal returns. Moore’s Law has gifted us more transistors than we can usefully use. We can’t apply those additional registers to just one thing, because the useful returns we get diminish.

For example, Intel CPUs have two hardware threads per core. That’s because there are good returns by adding a single additional thread. However, the usefulness of adding a third or fourth thread decreases. That’s why many CPUs have only two threads, or sometimes four threads, but no CPU has 16 threads per core.

You can apply the same discussion to any aspect of the CPU, from register count, to SIMD width, to cache size, to out-of-order depth, and so on. Rather than focusing on one of these things and increasing it to the extreme, CPU designers make each a bit larger every process tick that adds more transistors to the chip.

The same applies to cores. It’s why the “more simpler cores” strategy fails, because more cores have their own decreasing marginal returns. Instead of adding cores tied to limited memory bandwidth, it’s better to add more cache. Such cache already increases the size of the cores, so at some point it’s more effective to add a few out-of-order features to each core rather than more cores. And so on.

The question isn’t whether we can change this paradigm and radically redesign CPUs to match some academic’s view of the perfect abstraction. Instead, the goal is to find new uses for those additional transistors. For example, “message passing” is a useful abstraction in languages like Go and Erlang that’s often more useful than sharing memory. It’s implemented with shared memory and atomic instructions, but I can’t help but think it couldn’t better be done with direct hardware support.

Of course, as soon as they do that, it’ll become an intrinsic in C, then added to languages like Go and Erlang.

Summary

Academics live in an ideal world of abstractions, the rest of us live in practical reality. The reality is that vast majority of programmers work with the C family of languages (JavaScript, Go, etc.), whereas academics love the epiphanies they learned using other languages, especially function languages. CPUs are only superficially designed to run C and “PDP-11 compatibility”. Instead, they keep adding features to support other abstractions, abstractions available to C. They are driven by decreasing marginal returns — they would love to add new abstractions to the hardware because it’s a cheap way to make use of additional transitions. Academics are wrong believing that the entire system needs to be redesigned from scratch. Instead, they just need to come up with new abstractions CPU designers can add.

The Benefits of Side Projects

Post Syndicated from Bozho original https://techblog.bozho.net/the-benefits-of-side-projects/

Side projects are the things you do at home, after work, for your own “entertainment”, or to satisfy your desire to learn new stuff, in case your workplace doesn’t give you that opportunity (or at least not enough of it). Side projects are also a way to build stuff that you think is valuable but not necessarily “commercialisable”. Many side projects are open-sourced sooner or later and some of them contribute to the pool of tools at other people’s disposal.

I’ve outlined one recommendation about side projects before – do them with technologies that are new to you, so that you learn important things that will keep you better positioned in the software world.

But there are more benefits than that – serendipitous benefits, for example. And I’d like to tell some personal stories about that. I’ll focus on a few examples from my list of side projects to show how, through a sort-of butterfly effect, they helped shape my career.

The computoser project, no matter how cool algorithmic music composition, didn’t manage to have much of a long term impact. But it did teach me something apart from niche musical theory – how to read a bulk of scientific papers (mostly computer science) and understand them without being formally trained in the particular field. We’ll see how that was useful later.

Then there was the “State alerts” project – a website that scraped content from public institutions in my country (legislation, legislation proposals, decisions by regulators, new tenders, etc.), made them searchable, and “subscribable” – so that you get notified when a keyword of interest is mentioned in newly proposed legislation, for example. (I obviously subscribed for “information technologies” and “electronic”).

And that project turned out to have a significant impact on the following years. First, I chose a new technology to write it with – Scala. Which turned out to be of great use when I started working at TomTom, and on the 3rd day I was transferred to a Scala project, which was way cooler and much more complex than the original one I was hired for. It was a bit ironic, as my colleagues had just read that “I don’t like Scala” a few weeks earlier, but nevertheless, that was one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on, and it went on for two years. Had I not known Scala, I’d probably be gone from TomTom much earlier (as the other project was restructured a few times), and I would not have learned many of the scalability, architecture and AWS lessons that I did learn there.

But the very same project had an even more important follow-up. Because if its “civic hacking” flavour, I was invited to join an informal group of developers (later officiated as an NGO) who create tools that are useful for society (something like MySociety.org). That group gathered regularly, discussed both tools and policies, and at some point we put up a list of policy priorities that we wanted to lobby policy makers. One of them was open source for the government, the other one was open data. As a result of our interaction with an interim government, we donated the official open data portal of my country, functioning to this day.

As a result of that, a few months later we got a proposal from the deputy prime minister’s office to “elect” one of the group for an advisor to the cabinet. And we decided that could be me. So I went for it and became advisor to the deputy prime minister. The job has nothing to do with anything one could imagine, and it was challenging and fascinating. We managed to pass legislation, including one that requires open source for custom projects, eID and open data. And all of that would not have been possible without my little side project.

As for my latest side project, LogSentinel – it became my current startup company. And not without help from the previous two mentioned above – the computer science paper reading was of great use when I was navigating the crypto papers landscape, and from the government job I not only gained invaluable legal knowledge, but I also “got” a co-founder.

Some other side projects died without much fanfare, and that’s fine. But the ones above shaped my “story” in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.

And I agree that such serendipitous chain of events could have happened without side projects – I could’ve gotten these opportunities by meeting someone at a bar (unlikely, but who knows). But we, as software engineers, are capable of tilting chance towards us by utilizing our skills. Side projects are our “extracurricular activities”, and they often lead to unpredictable, but rather positive chains of events. They would rarely be the only factor, but they are certainly great at unlocking potential.

The post The Benefits of Side Projects appeared first on Bozho's tech blog.

The Practical Effects of GDPR at Backblaze

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/the-practical-effects-of-gdpr-at-backblaze/


GDPR day, May 25, 2018, is nearly here. On that day, will your inbox explode with update notices, opt-in agreements, and offers from lawyers searching for GDPR violators? Perhaps all the companies on earth that are not GDPR ready will just dissolve into dust. More likely, there will be some changes, but business as usual will continue and we’ll all be more aware of data privacy. Let’s go with the last one.

What’s Different With GDPR at Backblaze

The biggest difference you’ll notice is a completely updated Privacy Policy. Last week we sent out a service email announcing the new Privacy Policy. Some people asked what was different. Basically everything. About 95% of the agreement was rewritten. In the agreement, we added in the appropriate provisions required by GDPR, and hopefully did a better job specifying the data we collect from you, why we collect it, and what we are going to do with it.

As a reminder, at Backblaze your data falls into two catagories. The first type of data is the data you store with us — stored data. These are the files and objects you upload and store, and as needed, restore. We do not share this data. We do not process this data, except as requested by you to store and restore the data. We do not analyze this data looking for keywords, tags, images, etc. No one outside of Backblaze has access to this data unless you explicitly shared the data by providing that person access to one or more files.

The second type of data is your account data. Some of your account data is considered personal data. This is the information we collect from you to provide our Personal Backup, Business Backup and B2 Cloud Storage services. Examples include your email address to provide access to your account, or the name of your computer so we can organize your files like they are arranged on your computer to make restoration easier. We have written a number of Help Articles covering the different ways this information is collected and processed. In addition, these help articles outline the various “rights” granted via GDPR. We will continue to add help articles over the coming weeks to assist in making it easy to work with us to understand and exercise your rights.

What’s New With GDPR at Backblaze

The most obvious addition is the Data Processing Addendum (DPA). This covers how we protect the data you store with us, i.e. stored data. As noted above, we don’t do anything with your data, except store it and keep it safe until you need it. Now we have a separate document saying that.

It is important to note the new Data Processing Addendum is now incorporated by reference into our Terms of Service, which everyone agrees to when they sign up for any of our services. Now all of our customers have a shiny new Data Processing Agreement to go along with the updated Privacy Policy. We promise they are not long or complicated, and we encourage you to read them. If you have any questions, stop by our GDPR help section on our website.

Patience, Please

Every company we have dealt with over the last few months is working hard to comply with GDPR. It has been a tough road whether you tried to do it yourself or like Backblaze, hired an EU-based law firm for advice. Over the coming weeks and months as you reach out to discover and assert your rights, please have a little patience. We are all going through a steep learning curve as GDPR gets put into practice. Along the way there are certain to be some growing pains — give us a chance, we all want to get it right.

Regardless, at Backblaze we’ve been diligently protecting our customers’ data for over 11 years and nothing that will happen on May 25th will change that.

The post The Practical Effects of GDPR at Backblaze appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

AWS GDPR Data Processing Addendum – Now Part of Service Terms

Post Syndicated from Chad Woolf original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-gdpr-data-processing-addendum/

Today, we’re happy to announce that the AWS GDPR Data Processing Addendum (GDPR DPA) is now part of our online Service Terms. This means all AWS customers globally can rely on the terms of the AWS GDPR DPA which will apply automatically from May 25, 2018, whenever they use AWS services to process personal data under the GDPR. The AWS GDPR DPA also includes EU Model Clauses, which were approved by the European Union (EU) data protection authorities, known as the Article 29 Working Party. This means that AWS customers wishing to transfer personal data from the European Economic Area (EEA) to other countries can do so with the knowledge that their personal data on AWS will be given the same high level of protection it receives in the EEA.

As we approach the GDPR enforcement date this week, this announcement is an important GDPR compliance component for us, our customers, and our partners. All customers which that are using cloud services to process personal data will need to have a data processing agreement in place between them and their cloud services provider if they are to comply with GDPR. As early as April 2017, AWS announced that AWS had a GDPR-ready DPA available for its customers. In this way, we started offering our GDPR DPA to customers over a year before the May 25, 2018 enforcement date. Now, with the DPA terms included in our online service terms, there is no extra engagement needed by our customers and partners to be compliant with the GDPR requirement for data processing terms.

The AWS GDPR DPA also provides our customers with a number of other important assurances, such as the following:

  • AWS will process customer data only in accordance with customer instructions.
  • AWS has implemented and will maintain robust technical and organizational measures for the AWS network.
  • AWS will notify its customers of a security incident without undue delay after becoming aware of the security incident.
  • AWS will make available certificates issued in relation to the ISO 27001 certification, the ISO 27017 certification, and the ISO 27018 certification to further help customers and partners in their own GDPR compliance activities.

Customers who have already signed an offline version of the AWS GDPR DPA can continue to rely on that GDPR DPA. By incorporating our GDPR DPA into the AWS Service Terms, we are simply extending the terms of our GDPR DPA to all customers globally who will require it under GDPR.

AWS GDPR DPA is only part of the story, however. We are continuing to work alongside our customers and partners to help them on their journey towards GDPR compliance.

If you have any questions about the GDPR or the AWS GDPR DPA, please contact your account representative, or visit the AWS GDPR Center at: https://aws.amazon.com/compliance/gdpr-center/

-Chad

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CloudFrunt – Identify Misconfigured CloudFront Domains

Post Syndicated from Darknet original https://www.darknet.org.uk/2018/05/cloudfrunt-identify-misconfigured-cloudfront-domains/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=darknetfeed

CloudFrunt – Identify Misconfigured CloudFront Domains

CloudFrunt is a Python-based tool for identifying misconfigured CloudFront domains, it uses DNS and looks for CNAMEs which may be allowed to be associated with CloudFront distributions. This effectively allows for domain hijacking.

How CloudFrunt Works For Misconfigured CloudFront

CloudFront is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). CloudFront users create “distributions” that serve content from specific sources (an S3 bucket, for example).

Each CloudFront distribution has a unique endpoint for users to point their DNS records to (ex.

Read the rest of CloudFrunt – Identify Misconfigured CloudFront Domains now! Only available at Darknet.