AWS re:Inforce took place in Anaheim, California, on June 13–14, 2023. AWS customers, partners, and industry peers participated in hundreds of technical and non-technical security-focused sessions across six tracks, an Expo featuring AWS experts and AWS Security Competency Partners, and keynote and leadership sessions.
The threat detection and incident response track showcased how AWS customers can get the visibility they need to help improve their security posture, identify issues before they impact business, and investigate and respond quickly to security incidents across their environment.
With dozens of service and feature announcements—and innumerable best practices shared by AWS experts, customers, and partners—distilling highlights is a challenge. From an incident response perspective, three key themes emerged.
Proactively detect, contextualize, and visualize security events
When it comes to effectively responding to security events, rapid detection is key. Among the launches announced during the keynote was the expansion of Amazon Detective finding groups to include Amazon Inspector findings in addition to Amazon GuardDuty findings.
Detective, GuardDuty, and Inspector are part of a broad set of fully managed AWS security services that help you identify potential security risks, so that you can respond quickly and confidently.
Using machine learning, Detective finding groups can help you conduct faster investigations, identify the root cause of events, and map to the MITRE ATT&CK framework to quickly run security issues to ground. The finding group visualization panel shown in the following figure displays findings and entities involved in a finding group. This interactive visualization can help you analyze, understand, and triage the impact of finding groups.
With the expanded threat and vulnerability findings announced at re:Inforce, you can prioritize where to focus your time by answering questions such as “was this EC2 instance compromised because of a software vulnerability?” or “did this GuardDuty finding occur because of unintended network exposure?”
In the session Streamline security analysis with Amazon Detective, AWS Principal Product Manager Rich Vorwaller, AWS Senior Security Engineer Rima Tanash, and AWS Program Manager Jordan Kramer demonstrated how to use graph analysis techniques and machine learning in Detective to identify related findings and resources, and investigate them together to accelerate incident analysis.
In addition to Detective, you can also use Amazon Security Lake to contextualize and visualize security events. Security Lake became generally available on May 30, 2023, and several re:Inforce sessions focused on how you can use this new service to assist with investigations and incident response.
As detailed in the following figure, Security Lake automatically centralizes security data from AWS environments, SaaS providers, on-premises environments, and cloud sources into a purpose-built data lake stored in your account. Security Lake makes it simpler to analyze security data, gain a more comprehensive understanding of security across an entire organization, and improve the protection of workloads, applications, and data. Security Lake automates the collection and management of security data from multiple accounts and AWS Regions, so you can use your preferred analytics tools while retaining complete control and ownership over your security data. Security Lake has adopted the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), an open standard. With OCSF support, the service normalizes and combines security data from AWS and a broad range of enterprise security data sources.
To date, 57 AWS security partners have announced integrations with Security Lake, and we now have more than 70 third-party sources, 16 analytics subscribers, and 13 service partners.
In Gaining insights from Amazon Security Lake, AWS Principal Solutions Architect Mark Keating and AWS Security Engineering Manager Keith Gilbert detailed how to get the most out of Security Lake. Addressing questions such as, “How do I get access to the data?” and “What tools can I use?,” they demonstrated how analytics services and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions can connect to and use data stored within Security Lake to investigate security events and identify trends across an organization. They emphasized how bringing together logs in multiple formats and normalizing them into a single format empowers security teams to gain valuable context from security data, and more effectively respond to events. Data can be queried with Amazon Athena, or pulled by Amazon OpenSearch Service or your SIEM system directly from Security Lake.
Build your security data lake with Amazon Security Lake featured AWS Product Manager Jonathan Garzon, AWS Product Solutions Architect Ross Warren, and Global CISO of Interpublic Group (IPG) Troy Wilkinson demonstrating how Security Lake helps address common challenges associated with analyzing enterprise security data, and detailing how IPG is using the service. Wilkinson noted that IPG’s objective is to bring security data together in one place, improve searches, and gain insights from their data that they haven’t been able to before.
“With Security Lake, we found that it was super simple to bring data in. Not just the third-party data and Amazon data, but also our on-premises data from custom apps that we built.” — Troy Wilkinson, global CISO, Interpublic Group
Use automation and machine learning to reduce mean time to response
Incident response automation can help free security analysts from repetitive tasks, so they can spend their time identifying and addressing high-priority security issues.
In How LLA reduces incident response time with AWS Systems Manager, telecommunications provider Liberty Latin America (LLA) detailed how they implemented a security framework to detect security issues and automate incident response in more than 180 AWS accounts accessed by internal stakeholders and third-party partners by using AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager, AWS Organizations, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS Security Hub.
LLA operates in over 20 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. After completing multiple acquisitions, LLA needed a centralized security operations team to handle incidents and notify the teams responsible for each AWS account. They used GuardDuty, Security Hub, and Systems Manager Incident Manager to automate and streamline detection and response, and they configured the services to initiate alerts whenever there was an issue requiring attention.
Speaking alongside AWS Principal Solutions Architect Jesus Federico and AWS Principal Product Manager Sarah Holberg, LLA Senior Manager of Cloud Services Joaquin Cameselle noted that when GuardDuty identifies a critical issue, it generates a new finding in Security Hub. This finding is then forwarded to Systems Manager Incident Manager through an Amazon EventBridge rule. This configuration helps ensure the involvement of the appropriate individuals associated with each account.
“We have deployed a security framework in Liberty Latin America to identify security issues and streamline incident response across over 180 AWS accounts. The framework that leverages AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS Security Hub enabled us to detect and respond to incidents with greater efficiency. As a result, we have reduced our reaction time by 90%, ensuring prompt engagement of the appropriate teams for each AWS account and facilitating visibility of issues for the central security team.” — Joaquin Cameselle, senior manager, cloud services, Liberty Latin America
How Citibank (Citi) advanced their containment capabilities through automation outlined how the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Incident Response framework is applied to AWS services, and highlighted Citi’s implementation of a highly scalable cloud incident response framework designed to support the 28 AWS services in their cloud environment.
After describing the four phases of the incident response process — preparation and prevention; detection and analysis; containment, eradication, and recovery; and post-incident activity—AWS ProServe Global Financial Services Senior Engagement Manager Harikumar Subramonion noted that, to fully benefit from the cloud, you need to embrace automation. Automation benefits the third phase of the incident response process by speeding up containment, and reducing mean time to response.
Citibank Head of Cloud Security Operations Elvis Velez and Vice President of Cloud Security Damien Burks described how Citi built the Cloud Containment Automation Framework (CCAF) from the ground up by using AWS Step Functions and AWS Lambda, enabling them to respond to events 24/7 without human error, and reduce the time it takes to contain resources from 4 hours to 15 minutes. Velez described how Citi uses adversary emulation exercises that use the MITRE ATT&CK Cloud Matrix to simulate realistic attacks on AWS environments, and continuously validate their ability to effectively contain incidents.
Innovate and do more with less
Security operations teams are often understaffed, making it difficult to keep up with alerts. According to data from CyberSeek, there are currently 69 workers available for every 100 cybersecurity job openings.
Effectively evaluating security and compliance posture is critical, despite resource constraints. In Centralizing security at scale with Security Hub and Intuit’s experience, AWS Senior Solutions Architect Craig Simon, AWS Senior Security Hub Product Manager Dora Karali, and Intuit Principal Software Engineer Matt Gravlin discussed how to ease security management with Security Hub. Fortune 500 financial software provider Intuit has approximately 2,000 AWS accounts, 10 million AWS resources, and receives 20 million findings a day from AWS services through Security Hub. Gravlin detailed Intuit’s Automated Compliance Platform (ACP), which combines Security Hub and AWS Config with an internal compliance solution to help Intuit reduce audit timelines, effectively manage remediation, and make compliance more consistent.
“By using Security Hub, we leveraged AWS expertise with their regulatory controls and best practice controls. It helped us keep up to date as new controls are released on a regular basis. We like Security Hub’s aggregation features that consolidate findings from other AWS services and third-party providers. I personally call it the super aggregator. A key component is the Security Hub to Amazon EventBridge integration. This allowed us to stream millions of findings on a daily basis to be inserted into our ACP database.” — Matt Gravlin, principal software engineer, Intuit
At AWS re:Inforce, we launched a new Security Hub capability for automating actions to update findings. You can now use rules to automatically update various fields in findings that match defined criteria. This allows you to automatically suppress findings, update the severity of findings according to organizational policies, change the workflow status of findings, and add notes. With automation rules, Security Hub provides you a simplified way to build automations directly from the Security Hub console and API. This reduces repetitive work for cloud security and DevOps engineers and can reduce mean time to response.
In Continuous innovation in AWS detection and response services, AWS Worldwide Security Specialist Senior Manager Himanshu Verma and GuardDuty Senior Manager Ryan Holland highlighted new features that can help you gain actionable insights that you can use to enhance your overall security posture. After mapping AWS security capabilities to the core functions of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Verma and Holland provided an overview of AWS threat detection and response services that included a technical demonstration.
Bolstering incident response with AWS Wickr enterprise integrations highlighted how incident responders can collaborate securely during a security event, even on a compromised network. AWS Senior Security Specialist Solutions Architect Wes Wood demonstrated an innovative approach to incident response communications by detailing how you can integrate the end-to-end encrypted collaboration service AWS Wickr Enterprise with GuardDuty and AWS WAF. Using Wickr Bots, you can build integrated workflows that incorporate GuardDuty and third-party findings into a more secure, out-of-band communication channel for dedicated teams.
Evolve your incident response maturity
AWS re:Inforce featured many more highlights on incident response, including How to run security incident response in your Amazon EKS environment and Investigating incidents with Amazon Security Lake and Jupyter notebooks code talks, as well as the announcement of our Cyber Insurance Partners program. Content presented throughout the conference made one thing clear: AWS is working harder than ever to help you gain the insights that you need to strengthen your organization’s security posture, and accelerate incident response in the cloud.
To watch AWS re:Inforce sessions on demand, see the AWS re:Inforce playlists on YouTube.
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