Tag Archives: threat detection

Your guide to the threat detection and incident response track at re:Inforce 2023

Post Syndicated from Celeste Bishop original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/your-guide-to-the-threat-detection-and-incident-response-track-at-reinforce-2023/

reInforce 2023

A full conference pass is $1,099. Register today with the code secure150off to receive a limited time $150 discount, while supplies last.

AWS re:Inforce is back, and we can’t wait to welcome security builders to Anaheim, CA, on June 13 and 14. AWS re:Inforce is a security learning conference where you can gain skills and confidence in cloud security, compliance, identity, and privacy. As an attendee, you will have access to hundreds of technical and non-technical sessions, an Expo featuring AWS experts and security partners with AWS Security Competencies, and keynote and leadership sessions featuring Security leadership. re:Inforce 2023 features content across the following six areas:

  • Data protection
  • Governance, risk, and compliance
  • Identity and access management
  • Network and infrastructure security
  • Threat detection and incident response
  • Application security

The threat detection and incident response track is designed to showcase how AWS, customers, and partners can intelligently detect potential security risks, centralize and streamline security management at scale, investigate and respond quickly to security incidents across their environment, and unlock security innovation across hybrid cloud environments.

Breakout sessions, chalk talks, and lightning talks

TDR201 | Breakout session | How Citi advanced their containment capabilities through automation
Incident response is critical for maintaining the reliability and security of AWS environments. To support the 28 AWS services in their cloud environment, Citi implemented a highly scalable cloud incident response framework specifically designed for their workloads on AWS. Using AWS Step Functions and AWS Lambda, Citi’s automated and orchestrated incident response plan follows NIST guidelines and has significantly improved its response time to security events. In this session, learn from real-world scenarios and examples on how to use AWS Step Functions and other core AWS services to effectively build and design scalable incident response solutions.

TDR202 | Breakout session | Wix’s layered security strategy to discover and protect sensitive data
Wix is a leading cloud-based development platform that empowers users to get online with a personalized, professional web presence. In this session, learn how the Wix security team layers AWS security services including Amazon Macie, AWS Security Hub, and AWS Identity and Access Management Access Analyzer to maintain continuous visibility into proper handling and usage of sensitive data. Using AWS security services, Wix can discover, classify, and protect sensitive information across terabytes of data stored on AWS and in public clouds as well as SaaS applications, while empowering hundreds of internal developers to drive innovation on the Wix platform.

TDR203 | Breakout session | Vulnerability management at scale drives enterprise transformation
Automating vulnerability management at scale can help speed up mean time to remediation and identify potential business-impacting issues sooner. In this session, explore key challenges that organizations face when approaching vulnerability management across large and complex environments, and consider the innovative solutions that AWS provides to help overcome them. Learn how customers use AWS services such as Amazon Inspector to automate vulnerability detection, streamline remediation efforts, and improve compliance posture. Whether you’re just getting started with vulnerability management or looking to optimize your existing approach, gain valuable insights and inspiration to help you drive innovation and enhance your security posture with AWS.

TDR204 | Breakout session | Continuous innovation in AWS detection and response services
Join this session to learn about the latest advancements and most recent AWS launches in detection and response. This session focuses on use cases such as automated threat detection, continual vulnerability management, continuous cloud security posture management, and unified security data management. Through these examples, gain a deeper understanding of how you can seamlessly integrate AWS services into your existing security framework to gain greater control and insight, quickly address security risks, and maintain the security of your AWS environment.

TDR205 | Breakout session | Build your security data lake with Amazon Security Lake, featuring Interpublic Group
Security teams want greater visibility into security activity across their entire organizations to proactively identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. Amazon Security Lake automatically centralizes security data from cloud, on-premises, and custom sources into a purpose-built data lake stored in your account and allows you to use industry-leading AWS and third-party analytics and ML tools to gain insights from your data and identify security risks that require immediate attention. Discover how Security Lake can help you consolidate and streamline security logging at scale and speed, and hear from an AWS customer, Interpublic Group (IPG), on their experience.

TDR209 | Breakout session | Centralizing security at scale with Security Hub & Intuit’s experience
As organizations move their workloads to the cloud, it becomes increasingly important to have a centralized view of security across their cloud resources. AWS Security Hub is a powerful tool that allows organizations to gain visibility into their security posture and compliance status across their AWS accounts and Regions. In this session, learn about Security Hub’s new capabilities that help simplify centralizing and operationalizing security. Then, hear from Intuit, a leading financial software company, as they share their experience and best practices for setting up and using Security Hub to centralize security management.

TDR210 | Breakout session | Streamline security analysis with Amazon Detective
Join us to discover how to streamline security investigations and perform root-cause analysis with Amazon Detective. Learn how to leverage the graph analysis techniques in Detective to identify related findings and resources and investigate them together to accelerate incident analysis. Also hear a customer story about their experience using Detective to analyze findings automatically ingested from Amazon GuardDuty, and walk through a sample security investigation.

TDR310 | Breakout session | Developing new findings using machine learning in Amazon GuardDuty
Amazon GuardDuty provides threat detection at scale, helping you quickly identify and remediate security issues with actionable insights and context. In this session, learn how GuardDuty continuously enhances its intelligent threat detection capabilities using purpose-built machine learning models. Discover how new findings are developed for new data sources using novel machine learning techniques and how they are rigorously evaluated. Get a behind-the-scenes look at GuardDuty findings from ideation to production, and learn how this service can help you strengthen your security posture.

TDR311 | Breakout session | Securing data and democratizing the alert landscape with an event-driven architecture
Security event monitoring is a unique challenge for businesses operating at scale and seeking to integrate detections into their existing security monitoring systems while using multiple detection tools. Learn how organizations can triage and raise relevant cloud security findings across a breadth of detection tools and provide results to downstream security teams in a serverless manner at scale. We discuss how to apply a layered security approach to evaluate the security posture of your data, protect your data from potential threats, and automate response and remediation to help with compliance requirements.

TDR231 | Chalk talk | Operationalizing security findings at scale
You enabled AWS Security Hub standards and checks across your AWS organization and in all AWS Regions. What should you do next? Should you expect zero critical and high findings? What is your ideal state? Is achieving zero findings possible? In this chalk talk, learn about a framework you can implement to triage Security Hub findings. Explore how this framework can be applied to several common critical and high findings, and take away mechanisms to prioritize and respond to security findings at scale.

TDR232 | Chalk talk | Act on security findings using Security Hub’s automation capabilities
Alert fatigue, a shortage of skilled staff, and keeping up with dynamic cloud resources are all challenges that exist when it comes to customers successfully achieving their security goals in AWS. In order to achieve their goals, customers need to act on security findings associated with cloud-based resources. In this session, learn how to automatically, or semi-automatically, act on security findings aggregated in AWS Security Hub to help you secure your organization’s cloud assets across a diverse set of accounts and Regions.

TDR233 | Chalk talk | How LLA reduces incident response time with AWS Systems Manager
Liberty Latin America (LLA) is a leading telecommunications company operating in over 20 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. LLA offers communications and entertainment services, including video, broadband internet, telephony, and mobile services. In this chalk talk, discover how LLA 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 using AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager, AWS Organizations, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS Security Hub.

TDR432 | Chalk talk | Deep dive into exposed credentials and how to investigate them
In this chalk talk, sharpen your detection and investigation skills to spot and explore common security events like unauthorized access with exposed credentials. Learn how to recognize the indicators of such events, as well as logs and techniques that unauthorized users use to evade detection. The talk provides knowledge and resources to help you immediately prepare for your own security investigations.

TDR332 | Chalk talk | Speed up zero-day vulnerability response
In this chalk talk, learn how to scale vulnerability management for Amazon EC2 across multiple accounts and AWS Regions. Explore how to use Amazon Inspector, AWS Systems Manager, and AWS Security Hub to respond to zero-day vulnerabilities, and leave knowing how to plan, perform, and report on proactive and reactive remediations.

TDR333 | Chalk talk | Gaining insights from Amazon Security Lake
You’ve created a security data lake, and you’re ingesting data. Now what? How do you use that data to gain insights into what is happening within your organization or assist with investigations and incident response? Join this chalk talk to learn how analytics services and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions can connect to and use data stored within Amazon Security Lake to investigate security events and identify trends across your organization. Leave with a better understanding of how you can integrate Amazon Security Lake with other business intelligence and analytics tools to gain valuable insights from your security data and respond more effectively to security events.

TDR431 | Chalk talk | The anatomy of a ransomware event
Ransomware events can cost governments, nonprofits, and businesses billions of dollars and interrupt operations. Early detection and automated responses are important steps that can limit your organization’s exposure. In this chalk talk, examine the anatomy of a ransomware event that targets data residing in Amazon RDS and get detailed best practices for detection, response, recovery, and protection.

TDR221 | Lightning talk | Streamline security operations and improve threat detection with OCSF
Security operations centers (SOCs) face significant challenges in monitoring and analyzing security telemetry data from a diverse set of sources. This can result in a fragmented and siloed approach to security operations that makes it difficult to identify and investigate incidents. In this lightning talk, get an introduction to the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF) and its taxonomy constructs, and see a quick demo on how this normalized framework can help SOCs improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their security operations.

TDR222 | Lightning talk | Security monitoring for connected devices across OT, IoT, edge & cloud
With the responsibility to stay ahead of cybersecurity threats, CIOs and CISOs are increasingly tasked with managing cybersecurity risks for their connected devices including devices on the operational technology (OT) side of the company. In this lightning talk, learn how AWS makes it simpler to monitor, detect, and respond to threats across the entire threat surface, which includes OT, IoT, edge, and cloud, while protecting your security investments in existing third-party security tools.

TDR223 | Lightning talk | Bolstering incident response with AWS Wickr enterprise integrations
Every second counts during a security event. AWS Wickr provides end-to-end encrypted communications to help incident responders collaborate safely during a security event, even on a compromised network. Join this lightning talk to learn how to integrate AWS Wickr with AWS security services such as Amazon GuardDuty and AWS WAF. Learn how you can strengthen your incident response capabilities by creating an integrated workflow that incorporates GuardDuty findings into a secure, out-of-band communication channel for dedicated teams.

TDR224 | Lightning talk | Securing the future of mobility: Automotive threat modeling
Many existing automotive industry cybersecurity threat intelligence offerings lack the connected mobility insights required for today’s automotive cybersecurity threat landscape. Join this lightning talk to learn about AWS’s approach to developing an automotive industry in-vehicle, domain-specific threat intelligence solution using AWS AI/ML services that proactively collect, analyze, and deduce threat intelligence insights for use and adoption across automotive value chains.

Hands-on sessions (builders’ sessions and workshops)

TDR251 | Builders’ session | Streamline and centralize security operations with AWS Security Hub
AWS Security Hub provides you with a comprehensive view of the security state of your AWS resources by collecting security data from across AWS accounts, Regions, and services. In this builders’ session, explore best practices for using Security Hub to manage security posture, prioritize security alerts, generate insights, automate response, and enrich findings. Come away with a better understanding of how to use Security Hub features and practical tips for getting the most out of this powerful service.

TDR351 | Builders’ session | Broaden your scope: Analyze and investigate potential security issues
In this builders’ session, learn how you can more efficiently triage potential security issues with a dynamic visual representation of the relationship between security findings and associated entities such as accounts, IAM principals, IP addresses, Amazon S3 buckets, and Amazon EC2 instances. With Amazon Detective finding groups, you can group related Amazon GuardDuty findings to help reduce time spent in security investigations and in understanding the scope of a potential issue. Leave this hands-on session knowing how to quickly investigate and discover the root cause of an incident.

TDR352 | Builders’ session | How to automate containment and forensics for Amazon EC2
In this builders’ session, learn how to deploy and scale the self-service Automated Forensics Orchestrator for Amazon EC2 solution, which gives you a standardized and automated forensics orchestration workflow capability to help you respond to Amazon EC2 security events. Explore the prerequisites and ways to customize the solution to your environment.

TDR353 | Builders’ session | Detecting suspicious activity in Amazon S3
Have you ever wondered how to uncover evidence of unauthorized activity in your AWS account? In this builders’ session, join the AWS Customer Incident Response Team (CIRT) for a guided simulation of suspicious activity within an AWS account involving unauthorized data exfiltration and Amazon S3 bucket and object data deletion. Learn how to detect and respond to this malicious activity using AWS services like AWS CloudTrail, Amazon Athena, Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon CloudWatch, and nontraditional threat detection services like AWS Billing to uncover evidence of unauthorized use.

TDR354 | Builders’ session | Simulate and detect unwanted IMDS access due to SSRF
Using appropriate security controls can greatly reduce the risk of unauthorized use of web applications. In this builders’ session, find out how the server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability works, how unauthorized users may try to use it, and most importantly, how to detect it and prevent it from being used to access the instance metadata service (IMDS). Also, learn some of the detection activities that the AWS Customer Incident Response Team (CIRT) performs when responding to security events of this nature.

TDR341 | Code talk | Investigating incidents with Amazon Security Lake & Jupyter notebooks
In this code talk, watch as experts live code and build an incident response playbook for your AWS environment using Jupyter notebooks, Amazon Security Lake, and Python code. Leave with a better understanding of how to investigate and respond to a security event and how to use these technologies to more effectively and quickly respond to disruptions.

TDR441 | Code talk | How to run security incident response in your Amazon EKS environment
Join this Code Talk to get both an adversary’s and a defender’s point of view as AWS experts perform live exploitation of an application running on multiple Amazon EKS clusters, invoking an alert in Amazon GuardDuty. Experts then walk through incident response procedures to detect, contain, and recover from the incident in near real-time. Gain an understanding of how to respond and recover to Amazon EKS-specific incidents as you watch the events unfold.

TDR271-R | Workshop | Chaos Kitty: Gamifying incident response with chaos engineering
When was the last time you simulated an incident? In this workshop, learn to build a sandbox environment to gamify incident response with chaos engineering. You can use this sandbox to test out detection capabilities, play with incident response runbooks, and illustrate how to integrate AWS resources with physical devices. Walk away understanding how to get started with incident response and how you can use chaos engineering principles to create mechanisms that can improve your incident response processes.

TDR371-R | Workshop | Threat detection and response on AWS
Join AWS experts for a hands-on threat detection and response workshop using Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Security Hub, and Amazon Detective. This workshop simulates security events for different types of resources and behaviors and illustrates both manual and automated responses with AWS Lambda. Dive in and learn how to improve your security posture by operationalizing threat detection and response on AWS.

TDR372-R | Workshop | Container threat detection with AWS security services
Join AWS experts for a hands-on container security workshop using AWS threat detection and response services. This workshop simulates scenarios and security events while using Amazon EKS and demonstrates how to use different AWS security services to detect and respond to events and improve your security practices. Dive in and learn how to improve your security posture when running workloads on Amazon EKS.

Browse the full re:Inforce catalog to get details on additional sessions and content at the event, including gamified learning, leadership sessions, partner sessions, and labs.

If you want to learn the latest threat detection and incident response best practices and updates, join us in California by registering for re:Inforce 2023. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Celeste Bishop

Celeste Bishop

Celeste is a Product Marketing Manager in AWS Security, focusing on threat detection and incident response solutions. Her background is in experience marketing and also includes event strategy at Fortune 100 companies. Passionate about soccer, you can find her on any given weekend cheering on Liverpool FC, and her local home club, Austin FC.


Himanshu Verma

Himanshu is a Worldwide Specialist for AWS Security Services. In this role, he leads the go-to-market creation and execution for AWS Security Services, field enablement, and strategic customer advisement. Prior to AWS, he held several leadership roles in Product Management, engineering and development, working on various identity, information security and data protection technologies. He obsesses brainstorming disruptive ideas, venturing outdoors, photography and trying various “hole in the wall” food and drinking establishments around the globe.

Gain insights and knowledge at AWS re:Inforce 2023

Post Syndicated from CJ Moses original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/gain-insights-and-knowledge-at-aws-reinforce-2023/

I’d like to personally invite you to attend the Amazon Web Services (AWS) security conference, AWS re:Inforce 2023, in Anaheim, CA on June 13–14, 2023. You’ll have access to interactive educational content to address your security, compliance, privacy, and identity management needs. Join security experts, peers, leaders, and partners from around the world who are committed to the highest security standards, and learn how your business can stay ahead in the rapidly evolving security landscape.

As Chief Information Security Officer of AWS, my primary job is to help you navigate your security journey while keeping the AWS environment secure. AWS re:Inforce offers an opportunity for you to dive deep into how to use security to drive adaptability and speed for your business. With headlines currently focused on the macroeconomy and broader technology topics such as the intersection between AI and security, this is your chance to learn the tactical and strategic lessons that will help you develop a security culture that facilitates business innovation.

Here are a few reasons I’m especially looking forward to this year’s program:

Sharing my keynote, including the latest innovations in cloud security and what AWS Security is focused on

AWS re:Inforce 2023 will kick off with my keynote on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 9 AM PST. I’ll be joined by Steve Schmidt, Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Amazon, and other industry-leading guest speakers. You’ll hear all about the latest innovations in cloud security from AWS and learn how you can improve the security posture of your business, from the silicon to the top of the stack. Take a look at my most recent re:Invent presentation, What we can learn from customers: Accelerating innovation at AWS Security and the latest re:Inforce keynote for examples of the type of content to expect.

Engaging sessions with real-world examples of how security is embedded into the way businesses operate

AWS re:Inforce offers an opportunity to learn how to prioritize and optimize your security investments, be more efficient, and respond faster to an evolving landscape. Using the Security pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, these sessions will demonstrate how you can build practical and prescriptive measures to protect your data, systems, and assets.

Sessions are offered at all levels and all backgrounds. Depending on your interests and educational needs, AWS re:Inforce is designed to meet you where you are on your cloud security journey. There are learning opportunities in several hundred sessions across six tracks: Data Protection; Governance, Risk & Compliance; Identity & Access Management; Network & Infrastructure Security, Threat Detection & Incident Response; and, this year, Application Security—a brand-new track. In this new track, discover how AWS experts, customers, and partners move fast while maintaining the security of the software they are building. You’ll hear from AWS leaders and get hands-on experience with the tools that can help you ship quickly and securely.

Shifting security into the “department of yes”

Rather than being seen as the proverbial “department of no,” IT teams have the opportunity to make security a business differentiator, especially when they have the confidence and tools to do so. AWS re:Inforce provides unique opportunities to connect with and learn from AWS experts, customers, and partners who share insider insights that can be applied immediately in your everyday work. The conference sessions, led by AWS leaders who share best practices and trends, will include interactive workshops, chalk talks, builders’ sessions, labs, and gamified learning. This means you’ll be able to work with experts and put best practices to use right away.

Our Expo offers opportunities to connect face-to-face with AWS security solution builders who are the tip of the spear for security. You can ask questions and build solutions together. AWS Partners that participate in the Expo have achieved security competencies and are there to help you find ways to innovate and scale your business.

A full conference pass is $1,099. Register today with the code ALUMwrhtqhv to receive a limited time $300 discount, while supplies last.

I’m excited to see everyone at re:Inforce this year. Please join us for this unique event that showcases our commitment to giving you direct access to the latest security research and trends. Our teams at AWS will continue to release additional details about the event on our website, and you can get real-time updates by following @awscloud and @AWSSecurityInfo.

I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim and providing insight into how we prioritize security at AWS to help you navigate your cloud security investments.

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

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

CJ Moses

CJ Moses

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

Three key security themes from AWS re:Invent 2022

Post Syndicated from Anne Grahn original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/three-key-security-themes-from-aws-reinvent-2022/

AWS re:Invent returned to Las Vegas, Nevada, November 28 to December 2, 2022. After a virtual event in 2020 and a hybrid 2021 edition, spirits were high as over 51,000 in-person attendees returned to network and learn about the latest AWS innovations.

Now in its 11th year, the conference featured 5 keynotes, 22 leadership sessions, and more than 2,200 breakout sessions and hands-on labs at 6 venues over 5 days.

With well over 100 service and feature announcements—and innumerable best practices shared by AWS executives, customers, and partners—distilling highlights is a challenge. From a security perspective, three key themes emerged.

Turn data into actionable insights

Security teams are always looking for ways to increase visibility into their security posture and uncover patterns to make more informed decisions. However, as AWS Vice President of Data and Machine Learning, Swami Sivasubramanian, pointed out during his keynote, data often exists in silos; it isn’t always easy to analyze or visualize, which can make it hard to identify correlations that spark new ideas.

“Data is the genesis for modern invention.” – Swami Sivasubramanian, AWS VP of Data and Machine Learning

At AWS re:Invent, we launched new features and services that make it simpler for security teams to store and act on data. One such service is Amazon Security Lake, which brings together security data from cloud, on-premises, and custom sources in a purpose-built data lake stored in your account. The service, which is now in preview, automates the sourcing, aggregation, normalization, enrichment, and management of security-related data across an entire organization for more efficient storage and query performance. It empowers you to use the security analytics solutions of your choice, while retaining control and ownership of your security data.

Amazon Security Lake has adopted the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), which AWS cofounded with a number of organizations in the cybersecurity industry. The OCSF helps standardize and combine security data from a wide range of security products and services, so that it can be shared and ingested by analytics tools. More than 37 AWS security partners have announced integrations with Amazon Security Lake, enhancing its ability to transform security data into a powerful engine that helps drive business decisions and reduce risk. With Amazon Security Lake, analysts and engineers can gain actionable insights from a broad range of security data and improve threat detection, investigation, and incident response processes.

Strengthen security programs

According to Gartner, by 2026, at least 50% of C-Level executives will have performance requirements related to cybersecurity risk built into their employment contracts. Security is top of mind for organizations across the globe, and as AWS CISO CJ Moses emphasized during his leadership session, we are continuously building new capabilities to help our customers meet security, risk, and compliance goals.

In addition to Amazon Security Lake, several new AWS services announced during the conference are designed to make it simpler for builders and security teams to improve their security posture in multiple areas.

Identity and networking

Authorization is a key component of applications. Amazon Verified Permissions is a scalable, fine-grained permissions management and authorization service for custom applications that simplifies policy-based access for developers and centralizes access governance. The new service gives developers a simple-to-use policy and schema management system to define and manage authorization models. The policy-based authorization system that Amazon Verified Permissions offers can shorten development cycles by months, provide a consistent user experience across applications, and facilitate integrated auditing to support stringent compliance and regulatory requirements.

Additional services that make it simpler to define authorization and service communication include Amazon VPC Lattice, an application-layer service that consistently connects, monitors, and secures communications between your services, and AWS Verified Access, which provides secure access to corporate applications without a virtual private network (VPN).

Threat detection and monitoring

Monitoring for malicious activity and anomalous behavior just got simpler. Amazon GuardDuty RDS Protection expands the threat detection capabilities of GuardDuty by using tailored machine learning (ML) models to detect suspicious logins to Amazon Aurora databases. You can enable the feature with a single click in the GuardDuty console, with no agents to manually deploy, no data sources to enable, and no permissions to configure. When RDS Protection detects a potentially suspicious or anomalous login attempt that indicates a threat to your database instance, GuardDuty generates a new finding with details about the potentially compromised database instance. You can view GuardDuty findings in AWS Security Hub, Amazon Detective (if enabled), and Amazon EventBridge, allowing for integration with existing security event management or workflow systems.

To bolster vulnerability management processes, Amazon Inspector now supports AWS Lambda functions, adding automated vulnerability assessments for serverless compute workloads. With this expanded capability, Amazon Inspector automatically discovers eligible Lambda functions and identifies software vulnerabilities in application package dependencies used in the Lambda function code. Actionable security findings are aggregated in the Amazon Inspector console, and pushed to Security Hub and EventBridge to automate workflows.

Data protection and privacy

The first step to protecting data is to find it. Amazon Macie now automatically discovers sensitive data, providing continual, cost-effective, organization-wide visibility into where sensitive data resides across your Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) estate. With this new capability, Macie automatically and intelligently samples and analyzes objects across your S3 buckets, inspecting them for sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII), financial data, and AWS credentials. Macie then builds and maintains an interactive data map of your sensitive data in S3 across your accounts and Regions, and provides a sensitivity score for each bucket. This helps you identify and remediate data security risks without manual configuration and reduce monitoring and remediation costs.

Encryption is a critical tool for protecting data and building customer trust. The launch of the end-to-end encrypted enterprise communication service AWS Wickr offers advanced security and administrative controls that can help you protect sensitive messages and files from unauthorized access, while working to meet data retention requirements.

Management and governance

Maintaining compliance with regulatory, security, and operational best practices as you provision cloud resources is key. AWS Config rules, which evaluate the configuration of your resources, have now been extended to support proactive mode, so that they can be incorporated into infrastructure-as-code continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines to help identify noncompliant resources prior to provisioning. This can significantly reduce time spent on remediation.

Managing the controls needed to meet your security objectives and comply with frameworks and standards can be challenging. To make it simpler, we launched comprehensive controls management with AWS Control Tower. You can use it to apply managed preventative, detective, and proactive controls to accounts and organizational units (OUs) by service, control objective, or compliance framework. You can also use AWS Control Tower to turn on Security Hub detective controls across accounts in an OU. This new set of features reduces the time that it takes to define and manage the controls required to meet specific objectives, such as supporting the principle of least privilege, restricting network access, and enforcing data encryption.

Do more with less

As we work through macroeconomic conditions, security leaders are facing increased budgetary pressures. In his opening keynote, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky emphasized the effects of the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruption, energy prices, and geopolitical events that continue to impact organizations.

Now more than ever, it is important to maintain your security posture despite resource constraints. Citing specific customer examples, Selipsky underscored how the AWS Cloud can help organizations move faster and more securely. By moving to the cloud, agricultural machinery manufacturer Agco reduced costs by 78% while increasing data retrieval speed, and multinational HVAC provider Carrier Global experienced a 40% reduction in the cost of running mission-critical ERP systems.

“If you’re looking to tighten your belt, the cloud is the place to do it.” – Adam Selipsky, AWS CEO

Security teams can do more with less by maximizing the value of existing controls, and bolstering security monitoring and analytics capabilities. Services and features announced during AWS re:Invent—including Amazon Security Lake, sensitive data discovery with Amazon Macie, support for Lambda functions in Amazon Inspector, Amazon GuardDuty RDS Protection, and more—can help you get more out of the cloud and address evolving challenges, no matter the economic climate.

Security is our top priority

AWS re:Invent featured many more highlights on a variety of topics, such as Amazon EventBridge Pipes and the pre-announcement of GuardDuty EKS Runtime protection, as well as Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels’ keynote, and the security partnerships showcased on the Expo floor. It was a whirlwind week, but one thing is clear: AWS is working harder than ever to make our services better and to collaborate on solutions that ease the path to proactive security, so that you can focus on what matters most—your business.

For more security-related announcements and on-demand sessions, see A recap for security, identity, and compliance sessions at AWS re:Invent 2022 and the AWS re:Invent Security, Identity, and Compliance playlist on YouTube.

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

Anne Grahn

Anne Grahn

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


Paul Hawkins

Paul helps customers of all sizes understand how to think about cloud security so they can build the technology and culture where security is a business enabler. He takes an optimistic approach to security and believes that getting the foundations right is the key to improving your security posture.

AWS CIRT announces the release of five publicly available workshops

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

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

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

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

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

Unauthorized IAM Credential Use – Security Event Simulation and Detection

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

Ransomware on S3 – Security Event Simulation and Detection

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

Cryptominer Based Security Events – Simulation and Detection

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

SSRF on IMDSv1 – Simulation and Detection

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

AWS CIRT Toolkit For Automating Incident Response Preparedness

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

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

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Steve de Vera

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

How to investigate and take action on security issues in Amazon EKS clusters with Amazon Detective – Part 2

Post Syndicated from Marshall Jones original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-investigate-and-take-action-on-security-issues-in-amazon-eks-clusters-with-amazon-detective-part-2/

In part 1 of this of this two-part series, How to detect security issues in Amazon EKS cluster using Amazon GuardDuty, we walked through a real-world observed security issue in an Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) cluster and saw how Amazon GuardDuty detected each phase by following MITRE ATT&CK tactics.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through investigative techniques to use with Amazon Detective, paired with the GuardDuty EKS and malware findings from the security issue. After we have identified impacted resources through our investigation, we’ll provide example remediation tactics and preventative controls to address and help prevent security issues in EKS clusters.

Amazon Detective can help you investigate security issues and related resources in your account. Detective provides EKS coverage that you can enable within your accounts. When this coverage is enabled, Detective can help investigate and remediate potentially unauthorized EKS activity that results from misconfiguration of the control plane nodes or application. Although GuardDuty is not a prerequisite to enable Detective, it is recommended that you enable GuardDuty to enhance the visualization capabilities in Detective with GuardDuty findings.


You must have the following services enabled in your AWS account to generate and investigate findings associated with EKS security events in a similar manner as outlined in this blog. If you do not have GuardDuty enabled, you can still investigate with Detective, but in a limited capacity.

Investigate with Amazon Detective

In the five phases we walked through in part 1, we discussed GuardDuty findings and MITRE ATT&CK tactics that can help you detect and understand each phase of the unauthorized activity, from the initial misconfiguration to the impact on our application when the EKS cluster is used for crypto mining.

The next recommended step is to investigate the EKS cluster and any associated resources. Amazon Detective can help you to investigate whether there was any other related unauthorized activity in the environment. We will walk through Detective capabilities for visualizing and gathering important information to effectively respond to the security issue. If you’re interested in creating detailed incident response playbooks for your security team to follow in your own environment, refer to these sample AWS incident response playbooks.

Depending on your scenario, there are various resources you can use to start your investigation, such as Security Hub findings, GuardDuty findings, related Kubernetes subjects, or an AWS account’s AWS CloudTrail activity. For our walkthrough, we’ll start our investigation from the GuardDuty finding and use the EKS cluster resource to pivot to the Detective console, as shown in Figure 7. Although we initially focus on the EKS cluster, you could start from any entities that are supported in the Detective behavior graph structure in the Amazon Detective User Guide. For example, we could start directly with the Kubernetes subject system:anonymous and find activity associated with the anonymous user.

Figure 7: Example Detective popup from GuardDuty finding for EKS cluster

Figure 7: Example Detective popup from GuardDuty finding for EKS cluster

We’ll now go over the information that you would need to gather from Detective in order to investigate the example security issue.

To investigate EKS cluster findings with Detective

  1. In the GuardDuty console, navigate to an individual finding and hover over Investigate with Detective. Choose one of the specific resources to start. In the image below, we selected the EKS cluster resource to investigate with Detective. You will need to gather some preliminary information about the IAM roles associated with the EKS cluster.
    • Questions: When was the cluster created? What IAM role created the cluster? What IAM role is assigned to the cluster?
    • Why it matters: If you are an incident responder, these details can potentially help you identify the owner of the cluster and help you determine what IAM principals are involved.
    • What next: Start looking into each IAM principal’s activity, as seen in CloudTrail, to investigate whether the IAM entity itself is potentially compromised or what other resources may have been impacted.
    Figure 8: Detective summary page for EKS cluster metadata details

    Figure 8: Detective summary page for EKS cluster metadata details

  2. Next, on the EKS cluster overview page, you can see the container details associated with the cluster.
    • Question: What are some of the other container details for the cluster? Does anything look out of the ordinary? Is it using a public image? Is it missing a network policy?
    • Why it matters: Based on the architecture related to this cluster, you might be able to use this information to determine whether there are unauthorized containers. The contents of unauthorized containers will depend on your organization but typically consist of public images or unauthorized RBAC, pod security policies, or network policy configurations. It’s important to keep in mind that when you look at data in Detective, the scope time is very important. When you pivot from a GuardDuty finding, the scope time will be set to the first time the GuardDuty finding was seen to the last time the finding was seen. The container details reflect the containers that were running during the selected scope time. Changing the scope time might change the containers that are listed in the table shown in Figure 9.
    • What next: Information found on this page can help to highlight unauthorized resources or configurations that will need to be remediated. You will also need to look at how these resources were initially created and if there are missing guardrails that should have been created during the provisioning of the cluster.
    Figure 9: Detective summary page for EKS container metadata details

    Figure 9: Detective summary page for EKS container metadata details

  3. Finally, you will see associated security findings with this specific EKS cluster, similar to Figure 10, at the bottom of the EKS cluster overview page in Detective.
    • Question: Are there any other security findings associated with this cluster that I previously was not aware of?
    • Why it matters: In our example scenario, we walked through the findings that were initially detected and the events that unfolded from those findings. After further investigation, you might see other findings that were not part of the original investigation. This can occur if your security team is only investigating specific findings or severity values. The finding for PrivilegeEscalation:Kubernetes/PrivilegedContainer informs you that a privileged container was launched on your Kubernetes cluster by using an image that has never before been used to launch privileged containers in your cluster. A privileged container has root level access to the host. The other finding, Persistence:Kubernetes/ContainerWithSensitiveMount, informs you that a container was launched with a configuration that included a sensitive host path with write access in the volumeMounts section. This makes the sensitive host path accessible and writable from inside the container. Any finding associated to the suspicious or compromised cluster is valuable because it provides additional insight into what the unauthorized entity was trying to accomplish after the initial detection.
    • What next: With Detective, you might want to continue your investigation by selecting each of these findings and reviewing all details related to the finding. Depending on the findings, you could bring in additional team members to help investigate further. For this example, we will move on to the next step.
    Figure 10: Example Detective summary of security findings associated with the EKS cluster

    Figure 10: Example Detective summary of security findings associated with the EKS cluster

  4. Shift from the EKS cluster overview section to the Kubernetes API activity section, similar to Figure 11 below. This will give you the opportunity to dig into the API activity associated with this cluster.
    1. Question: What other Kubernetes API activity was attempted from the cluster? Which API calls were successful? Which API calls failed? What was the unauthorized user trying to do?
    2. Why it matters: It’s important to determine which actions were successfully invoked by the unauthorized user so that appropriate remediation actions can be taken. You can look at trends of successful and failed API calls, and can even search by Subject, IP address, or Kubernetes API call.
    3. What next: You might want to look at all cluster role binding from days before the first GuardDuty finding was seen to determine if there was any other suspicious activity you should be investigating regarding the cluster.
    Figure 11: Example Detective summary page for Kubernetes API activity on the EKS cluster

    Figure 11: Example Detective summary page for Kubernetes API activity on the EKS cluster

  5. Next, you will want to look at the Newly observed Kubernetes API calls section, similar to Figure 12 below.
    • Question: What are some of the more recent Kubernetes API calls? What are they trying to access right now and are they successful? Do I need to start taking action for other resources outside of EKS?
    • Why it matters: This data shows Kubernetes subjects who were observed issuing API calls to this cluster for the first time during our scope time. Detective provides you this information by keeping a baseline of the activity associated with supported AWS resources. This can help you more quickly determine whether activity might be suspicious and worth looking into. In our example, we used the search functionality to look at API calls associated with the built-in Kubernetes secrets management. A common way to start your search is to see if an unauthorized user has successfully accessed any secrets, which can help you determine what information you might want to search in the overall API call volume section discussed in step 4.
    • What next: If the unauthorized user has successfully accessed any secret, those secrets should be marked as compromised, and they should be rotated immediately.
    Figure 12: Example Detective summary for newly observed Kubernetes API calls from the EKS cluster

    Figure 12: Example Detective summary for newly observed Kubernetes API calls from the EKS cluster

  6. You can also consider the following question when you look at the Newly observed Kubernetes API calls section.
    • Question: Has the IP address associated with the finding been communicating with any other resources in our environment, and if so, what are the details of that communication?
    • Why it matters: To answer this question, you can use Detective’s search functionality and the ability to use wild cards to search for IP addresses with the same first three octets. Also note that you can use CIDR notation to search, as well. Based on the results in the example in Figure 13, you can see that there are a number of related IP addresses associated with the environment. With this information, you now can look at the traffic associated with these different IPs and what resources they were communicating with.
    Figure 13: Example Detective results page from a query against IP addresses associated with the EKS cluster

    Figure 13: Example Detective results page from a query against IP addresses associated with the EKS cluster

  7. You can select one of the IP addresses in the search results to get more information related to it, similar to Figure 14 below.
    1. Question: What was the first time an IP address was observed in the environment? When was the last time it was observed?
    2. Why it matters: You can use this information to start isolating where unauthorized activity is coming from and what actions are being taken. You can also start creating a time series of unauthorized activity and scope.
    3. What next: You can repeat some of the previous investigation steps for each IP address, like looking at the different tabs to review New behavior, Resource interaction, and Kubernetes activity.
    Figure 14: Example Detective results page for specific IP address and associated metadata details

    Figure 14: Example Detective results page for specific IP address and associated metadata details

In summary, we began our investigation with a GuardDuty finding about an anonymous API request that was successful in using system:anonymous on one of our EKS clusters. We then used Detective to investigate and visualize activity associated with that EKS cluster, such as volume of successful or unsuccessful API requests, where and when those actions were attempted and other security findings associated with the resource. Once we have completed the investigation, we can confirm scope and impact of the security event and start moving towards taking action.

Remediation techniques for Amazon EKS

In this section, we will focus on how to remediate the security issue in our example. Your actions will vary based on your organization and the resources affected. It’s important to note that these actions will impact the EKS cluster and associated workloads, and should accordingly be performed by or coordinated with the cluster operator.

Before you take action on the EKS cluster, you will need to preserve forensic artifacts and evidence for the impacted EKS resources. The order of operations for these actions matters, because you want to get all the data from forensic artifacts in order to determine the overall impact to the resources affected. If you quarantine resources before you capture forensic artifacts, there is a risk that running processes will be interrupted or that the malware attempts to destroy resources that are valuable to a forensics investigation, to cover its tracks.

To preserve forensic evidence

  1. Enable termination protection on the impacted worker node and change the shutdown behavior to Stop.
  2. Label the offending pod or node with a label indicating that it is part of an active investigation.
  3. Cordon the worker node.
  4. Capture both volatile (temporary memory) and non-volatile (Amazon EBS snapshots) artifacts on the worker node.

Now that you have the forensic evidence, you can start to quarantine your EKS resources to restrict unauthorized network communication. The main objective is to prevent the affected EKS pods from communicating with internal resources or exfiltrating data externally.

To quarantine EKS resources

  1. Isolate the pod by creating a network policy that denies ingress and egress traffic to the pod.
  2. Attach a security group to the host and remove inbound and outbound rules. Take this action if you believe the underlying host has been compromised.

    Depending on existing inbound and outbound rules on the security group, the connections will either be tracked or untracked. Applying an isolation security group will drop untracked connections. For tracked connections, new connections with the host will not be allowed from the isolation security group, but existing tracked connections will not be interrupted.

    Important: This action will affect all containers running on the host.

  3. Attach a deny rule for the EKS resources in a network access control list (network ACL). Because network ACLs are stateless firewalls, all connections will be interrupted, whether they are tracked or untracked connections.

    Important: This action will affect all subnets using the network ACL and all resources within those subnets.

At this point, the affected EKS resources are quarantined, but the cluster is still configured to allow anonymous, unauthenticated access. You will need to remove all unauthorized permissions that were created or added.

To remove unauthorized permissions

  1. Update the RBAC configuration to remove system:anonymous access.
  2. Revoke temporary security credentials that are assigned to the pod or worker node, if necessary. You can also remove the IAM role associated with the EKS resources.

    Note: Removing IAM policies or attaching IAM policies to restrict permissions will affect the resources that are using the IAM role.

  3. Remove any unauthorized ClusterRoleBinding created by the system:anonymous user.
  4. Redeploy the compromised pod or workload resource.

The actions taken so far primarily target the EKS resource, but based on our Detective investigation, there are other actions you might need to take. Because secrets were involved that could be used outside of the EKS cluster, those secrets will need to be rotated wherever they are referenced. Detective will also suggest additional areas where you can investigate and remediate additional unauthorized activity in your AWS account.

It is important that your team go through game days or run-throughs for investigating and responding to different scenarios in order to make sure the team is prepared. You can run through the EKS security workshop to get your security team more familiar with remediation for EKS.

For more information about responding to EKS cluster related security issues, refer to GuardDuty EKS remediation in the GuardDuty User Guide and the EKS Best Practices Guide.

Preventative controls for EKS

This section covers several preventative controls that you can use to protect EKS clusters.

How can I prevent external access to the EKS cluster?

To help prevent external access to your EKS clusters, limit the exposure of your API server. You can achieve that in two ways:

  1. Set the API server endpoint access to Private. This will effectively forbid anyone outside of the VPC to send Kubernetes API requests to your EKS cluster.
  2. Set an IP address allow list for the EKS cluster public access endpoint.

How can I prevent giving admin access to the EKS cluster?

To help prevent an EKS cluster user from granting any type of access to anonymous or unauthenticated users, you can set up a ValidatingAdmissionWebhook. This is a special type of Kubernetes admission controller that can be configured in the Kubernetes API. (To learn how to build serverless admission webhooks, see the blog post Building serverless admission webhooks for Kubernetes with AWS SAM.)

The ValidatingAdmissionWebhook will deny a Kubernetes API request that matches all of the following checks:

  1. The request is creating or modifying a ClusterRoleBinding or RoleBinding.
  2. The subjects section contains either of the following:
    • The user system:anonymous
    • The group system:unauthenticated

How can I prevent malicious images from being deployed?

Now that you have set controls to prevent external access to the EKS cluster and prevent granting access to anonymous users, you can focus on preventing the deployment of potentially malicious images.

Malicious container images can have different origins, including:

  1. Images stored in public or unauthorized registries
  2. Images replacing the ones that are stored in authorized registries
  3. Authorized images that contain software with existing or newly discovered vulnerabilities

You can address these sources of malicious images by doing the following:

  1. Use admission controllers to verify that images meet your organization’s requirements, including for the image origin. You can also refer to this this blog post to implement a solution with a webhook and admission controllers.
  2. Enable tag immutability in your registry, a control that prevents an actor from maliciously replacing container images without changing the image’s tags. Additionally, you can enable an AWS Config rule to check tag immutability
  3. Configure another ValidatingAdmissionWebhook that will only accept images if they meet all of the following criteria.
    1. Images that come from approved registries.
    2. Images that pass the vulnerability scan during deployment time.
    3. Images that are signed by a trusted party. Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR) is working on a product enhancement to store image signatures. Currently, you can use an open-source cosign tool to verify and store image signatures.

      Note: These criteria can vary based on your use case and internal security and compliance standards.

The above controls will help prevent the deployment of a vulnerable, unauthorized, or potentially malicious container image.

How can I prevent lateral movement inside the cluster?

To prevent lateral movement inside the cluster, it is recommended to use network policies, as follows:

  • Enforce Kubernetes network policies to enforce ingress and egress controls within the cluster. You can implement these policies by following the steps in the Securing your cluster with network policies EKS workshop.

It’s important to note that you could use security groups for the same purpose, but pod security groups should only be used if the cluster is compromised and when you want to control the traffic between a pod and a resource that resides in the VPC, not inter-pod traffic.

In this section, we’ve reviewed different preventative controls that could have helped mitigate our example security incident. With the first preventative control, we could have prevented external actors from connecting to the API server. The second control could have prevented granting access to anonymous users. The third control could have prevented the deployment of an unauthorized or vulnerable container image. Finally, the fourth control could have helped limit the impact of the deployed vulnerable images to only the pods where the images were deployed, making it harder to laterally move to other pods in the cluster.


In this post, we walked you through how to investigate an EKS cluster related security issue with Amazon Detective. We also provided some recommended remediation and preventative controls to put in place for the EKS cluster specific security issues. When pairing GuardDuty’s ability for continuous threat detection and monitoring with Detective’s organization and visualization capabilities, you enable your security team to conduct faster and more effective investigation. By providing the security team the ability quickly view an organized set of data associated with security events within your AWS account, you reduce the overall Mean Time to Respond (MTTR).

Now that you understand the investigative capabilities with Detective, it’s time to try things out! It is important that you provide a mechanism for your security team to practice detection, investigation, and remediation techniques using security incident response simulations. By periodically running simulations, your security team will be prepared to quickly respond to possible security events. You can find more detailed incident response playbooks that can assist you in preparing for events in your environment, see these sample AWS incident response playbooks.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, start a thread on Amazon GuardDuty re:Post.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Marshall Jones

Marshall is a worldwide senior security specialist solutions architect at AWS. His background is in AWS consulting and security architecture, focused on a variety of security domains including edge, threat detection, and compliance. Today, he helps enterprise customers adopt and operationalize AWS security services to increase security effectiveness and reduce risk.

Jonathan Nguyen

Jonathan Nguyen

Jonathan is a shared delivery team senior security consultant at AWS. His background is in AWS security, with a focus on threat detection and incident response. He helps enterprise customers develop a comprehensive AWS security strategy, deploy security solutions at scale, and train customers on AWS security best practices.

Manuel Martinez Arizmendi

Manuel Martinez Arizmendi

Manuel works a Security Engineer at Amazon Detective providing new security investigation capabilities to AWS customers. Based on Boston,MA and originally from Madrid, Spain, when he’s not at work, he enjoys playing and watching soccer, playing videogames, and hanging out with his friends.

How to detect security issues in Amazon EKS clusters using Amazon GuardDuty – Part 1

Post Syndicated from Marshall Jones original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-detect-security-issues-in-amazon-eks-clusters-using-amazon-guardduty-part-1/

In this two-part blog post, we’ll discuss how to detect and investigate security issues in an Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) cluster with Amazon GuardDuty and Amazon Detective.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) is a managed service that you can use to run and scale container workloads by using Kubernetes in the AWS Cloud, which can help increase the speed of deployment and portability of modern applications. Amazon EKS provides secure, managed Kubernetes clusters on the AWS control plane by default. Kubernetes configurations such as pod security policies, runtime security, and network policies and configurations are specific for your organization’s use-case and securing them adequately would be a customer’s responsibility within AWS’ shared responsibility model.

Amazon GuardDuty can help you continuously monitor and detect suspicious activity related to AWS resources in your account. GuardDuty for EKS protection is a feature that you can enable within your accounts. When this feature is enabled, GuardDuty can help detect potentially unauthorized EKS activity resulting from misconfiguration of the control plane nodes or application.

In this post, we’ll walk through the events leading up to a real-world security issue that occurred due to EKS cluster misconfiguration, discuss how those misconfigurations could be used by a malicious actor, and how Amazon GuardDuty monitors and identifies suspicious activity throughout the EKS security event. In part 2 of the post, we’ll cover Amazon Detective investigation capabilities, possible remediation techniques, and preventative controls for EKS cluster related security issues.


You must have AWS GuardDuty enabled in your AWS account in order to monitor and generate findings associated with an EKS cluster related security issue in your environment.

EKS security issue walkthrough

Before jumping into the security issue, it is important to understand how the AWS shared responsibility model applies to the Amazon EKS managed service. AWS is responsible for the EKS managed Kubernetes control plane and the infrastructure to deliver EKS in a secure and reliable manner. You have the ability to configure EKS and how it interacts with other applications and services, where you are responsible for making sure that secure configurations are being used.

The following scenario is based on a real-world observed event, where a malicious actor used Kubernetes compromise tactics and techniques to expose and access an EKS cluster. We use this example to show how you can use AWS security services to identify and investigate each step of this security event. For a security event in your own environment, the order of operations and the investigative and remediation techniques used might be different. The scenario is broken down into the following phases and associated MITRE ATT&CK tactics:

  • Phase 1 – EKS cluster misconfiguration
  • Phase 2 (Discovery) – Discovery of vulnerable EKS clusters
  • Phase 3 (Initial Access) – Credential access to obtain Kubernetes secrets
  • Phase 4 (Persistence) – Impact to persist unauthorized access to the cluster
  • Phase 5 (Impact) – Impact to manipulate resources for unauthorized activity

Phase 1 – EKS cluster misconfiguration

By default, when you provision an EKS cluster, the API cluster endpoint is set to public, meaning that it can be accessed from the internet. Despite being accessible from the internet, the endpoint is still considered secure because it requires all API requests to be authenticated by AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) and then authorized by Kubernetes role-based access control (RBAC). Also, the entity (user or role) that creates the EKS cluster is automatically granted system:masters permissions, which allows the entity to modify the EKS cluster’s RBAC configuration.

This example scenario starts with a developer who has access to administer EKS clusters in an AWS account. The developer wants to work from their home network and doesn’t want to connect to their enterprise VPN for IAM role federation. They configure an EKS cluster API without setting up the proper authentication and authorization components. Instead, the developer grants explicit access to the system:anonymous user in the cluster’s RBAC configuration. (Alternatively, an unauthorized RBAC configuration could be introduced into your environment after a developer unknowingly installs a malicious helm chart from the internet without reviewing or inspecting it first.)

In Kubernetes anonymous requests, unauthenticated and unrejected HTTP requests are treated as anonymous access and are identified as a system:anonymous user belonging to a system:unauthenticated group. This means that any entity on the internet can access the cluster and make API requests that are permitted by the role. There aren’t many legitimate use cases for this type of activity, because it’s considered a best practice to use RBAC instead. Anonymous requests are primarily used for setting up health endpoints and custom authentication.

By monitoring EKS audit logs, GuardDuty identifies this activity and generates the finding Policy:Kubernetes/AnonymousAccessGranted, as shown in Figure 1. This finding informs you that a user on your Kubernetes cluster successfully created a ClusterRoleBinding or RoleBinding to bind the user system:anonymous to a role. This action enables unauthenticated access to the API operations permitted by the role.

Figure 1: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes anonymous access granted

Figure 1: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes anonymous access granted

Phase 2 (Discovery) – Discovery of vulnerable EKS clusters

Port scanning is a method that malicious actors use to determine if resources are publicly exposed, with open ports and known vulnerabilities. As an increasing number of open-source tools allows users to search for endpoints connected to the internet, finding these endpoints has become even easier. Security teams can use these open-source tools to their advantage by proactively scanning for and identifying externally exposed resources in their organization.

This brings us to the discovery phase of our misconfigured EKS cluster. The discovery phase is defined by MITRE as follows: “Discovery consists of techniques an adversary may use to gain knowledge about the system and internal network. These techniques help adversaries observe the environment and orient themselves before deciding how to act.”

By granting system:anonymous access to the EKS cluster in our example, the developer allowed requests from any public unauthenticated source. This can result in external web crawlers probing the cluster API, which can often happen within seconds of the system:anonymous access being granted. GuardDuty identifies this activity and generates the finding Discovery:Kubernetes/SuccessfulAnonymousAccess, as shown in Figure 2. This finding informs you that an API operation to discover resources in a cluster was successfully invoked by the system:anonymous user. Remember, all API calls made by system:anonymous are unauthenticated, in addition to /healthz and /version calls that are always unauthenticated regardless of the user identity, and any entity can make use of this user within the EKS cluster.

In the screenshot, under the Action section in the finding details, you can see that the anonymous user made a get request to “/”. This is a generic request that is not specific to a Kubernetes cluster, which may indicate that the crawler is not specifically targeting Kubernetes clusters. You can further see that the Status code is 200, indicating that the request was successful. If this activity is malicious, then the actor is now aware that there is an exposed resource.

Figure 2: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful anonymous access

Figure 2: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful anonymous access

Phase 3 (Initial Access) – Credential access to obtain Kubernetes secrets

Next, in this phase, you might start observing more targeted API calls for establishing initial access from unauthorized users. MITRE defines initial access as “techniques that use various entry vectors to gain their initial foothold within a network. Techniques used to gain a foothold include targeted spearphishing and exploiting weaknesses on public-facing web servers. Footholds gained through initial access may allow for continued access, like valid accounts and use of external remote services, or may be limited-use due to changing passwords.”

In our example, the malicious actor has established initial access for the EKS cluster which is evident in the next GuardDuty finding, CredentialAccess:Kubernetes/SuccessfulAnonymousAccess, as shown in Figure 3. This finding informs you that an API call to access credentials or secrets was successfully invoked by the system:anonymous user. The observed API call is commonly associated with the credential access tactic where an adversary is attempting to collect passwords, usernames, and access keys for a Kubernetes cluster.

You can see that in this GuardDuty finding, in the Action section, the Request uri is targeted at a Kubernetes cluster, specifically /api/v1/namespaces/kube-system/secrets. This request seems to be targeting the secrets management capabilities that are built into Kubernetes. You can find more information about this secrets management capability in the Kubernetes documentation.

Figure 3: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful credential access from anonymous user

Figure 3: Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful credential access from anonymous user

Phase 4 (Persistence) – Impact to persist unauthorized access to the cluster

The next phase of this scenario is likely to be an impact in the EKS cluster to enable persistence by the malicious actor. MITRE defines impact as “techniques that adversaries use to disrupt availability or compromise integrity by manipulating business and operational processes.” Following the MITRE definitions, “Persistence consists of techniques that adversaries use to keep access to systems across restarts, changed credentials, and other interruptions that could cut off their access. Techniques used for persistence include any access, action, or configuration changes that let them maintain their foothold on systems, such as replacing or hijacking legitimate code or adding startup code.”

In the GuardDuty finding Impact:Kubernetes/SuccessfulAnonymousAccess, shown in Figure 4, you can see the Kubernetes user details and Action sections that indicate that a successful Kubernetes API call was made to create a ClusterRoleBinding by the system:anonymous username. This finding informs you that a write API operation to tamper with resources was successfully invoked by the system:anonymous user. The observed API call is commonly associated with the impact stage of an attack, when an adversary is tampering with resources in your cluster. This activity shows that the system:anonymous user has now created their own role to enable persistent access the EKS cluster. If the user is malicious, they can now access the cluster even if access is removed in the RBAC configuration for the system:anonymous user.

Figure 4 Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful credential change by anonymous user

Figure 4 Example GuardDuty finding for Kubernetes successful credential change by anonymous user

Phase 5 (Impact) – Impact to manipulate resources for unauthorized activity

The fifth phase of this scenario is where the unauthorized user is likely to focus on impact techniques in order to use the access for malicious purpose. MITRE says of the impact phase: “Techniques used for impact can include destroying or tampering with data. In some cases, business processes can look fine, but may have been altered to benefit the adversaries’ goals. These techniques might be used by adversaries to follow through on their end goal or to provide cover for a confidentiality breach.” Typically, once a malicious actor has access into a system, they will introduce malware to the system to manipulate the compromised resource and possibly also other resources.

With the introduction of GuardDuty Malware Protection, when an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or container-related GuardDuty finding that indicates potentially suspicious activity is generated, an agentless scan on the volumes will initiate and detect the presence of malware. Existing GuardDuty customers need to enable Malware Protection, and for new customers this feature is on by default when they enable GuardDuty for the first time. Malware Protection comes with a 30-day free trial for both existing and new GuardDuty customers. You can see a list of findings that initiates a malware scan in the GuardDuty User Guide.

In this example, the malicious actor now uses access to the cluster to perform unauthorized cryptocurrency mining. GuardDuty monitors the DNS requests from the EC2 instances used to host the EKS cluster. This allows GuardDuty to identify a DNS request made to a domain name associated with a cryptocurrency mining pool, and generate the finding CryptoCurrency:EC2/BitcoinTool.B!DNS, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Example GuardDuty finding for EC2 instance querying bitcoin domain name

Figure 5: Example GuardDuty finding for EC2 instance querying bitcoin domain name

Because this is an EC2 related GuardDuty finding and GuardDuty Malware Protection is enabled in the account, GuardDuty then conducts an agentless scan on the volumes of the EC2 instance to detect malware. If the scan results in a successful detection of one or more malicious files, another GuardDuty finding for Execution:EC2/MaliciousFile is generated, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Example GuardDuty finding for detection of a malicious file on EC2

Figure 6: Example GuardDuty finding for detection of a malicious file on EC2

The first GuardDuty finding detects crypto mining activity, while the proceeding malware protection finding provides context on the malware associated with this activity. This context is very valuable for the incident response process.


In this post, we walked you through each of the five phases where we outlined how an initial misconfiguration could result in a malicious actor gaining control of EKS resources within an AWS account and how GuardDuty is able to continually monitor and detect the progression of the security event. As previously stated, this is just one example where a misconfiguration in an EKS cluster could result in a security event.

Now that you have a good understanding of GuardDuty capabilities to continuously monitor and detect EKS security events, you will need to establish processes and procedures to enable your security team to investigate these events. You can enable Amazon Detective to help accelerate your security team’s mean time to respond (MTTR) by providing an efficient mechanism to analyze, investigate, and identify the root cause of security events. Follow along in part 2 of this series, How to investigate and take action on an Amazon EKS cluster related security issue with Amazon Detective, where we’ll cover techniques you can use with Amazon Detective to identify impacted EKS resources in your AWS account, possible remediation actions to take on the cluster, and preventative controls you can implement.

If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this post, start a thread on Amazon GuardDuty re:Post.

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Marshall Jones

Marshall is a worldwide senior security specialist solutions architect at AWS. His background is in AWS consulting and security architecture, focused on a variety of security domains including edge, threat detection, and compliance. Today, he helps enterprise customers adopt and operationalize AWS security services to increase security effectiveness and reduce risk.

Jonathan Nguyen

Jonathan Nguyen

Jonathan is a shared delivery team senior security consultant at AWS. His background is in AWS security, with a focus on threat detection and incident response. He helps enterprise customers develop a comprehensive AWS security strategy, deploy security solutions at scale, and train customers on AWS security best practices.

Manuel Martinez Arizmendi

Manuel Martinez Arizmendi

Manuel works a Security Engineer at Amazon Detective providing new security investigation capabilities to AWS customers. Based on Boston,MA and originally from Madrid, Spain, when he’s not at work, he enjoys playing and watching soccer, playing videogames, and hanging out with his friends.

AWS re:Inforce 2022: Threat detection and incident response track preview

Post Syndicated from Celeste Bishop original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-reinforce-2022-threat-detection-and-incident-response-track-preview/

Register now with discount code SALXTDVaB7y to get $150 off your full conference pass to AWS re:Inforce. For a limited time only and while supplies last.

Today we’re going to highlight just some of the sessions focused on threat detection and incident response that are planned for AWS re:Inforce 2022. AWS re:Inforce is a learning conference focused on security, compliance, identity, and privacy. The event features access to hundreds of technical and business sessions, an AWS Partner expo hall, a keynote featuring AWS Security leadership, and more. AWS re:Inforce 2022 will take place in-person in Boston, MA on July 26-27.

AWS re:Inforce organizes content across multiple themed tracks: identity and access management; threat detection and incident response; governance, risk, and compliance; networking and infrastructure security; and data protection and privacy. This post highlights some of the breakout sessions, chalk talks, builders’ sessions, and workshops planned for the threat detection and incident response track. For additional sessions and descriptions, see the re:Inforce 2022 catalog preview. For other highlights, see our sneak peek at the identity and access management sessions and sneak peek at the data protection and privacy sessions.

Breakout sessions

These are lecture-style presentations that cover topics at all levels and delivered by AWS experts, builders, customers, and partners. Breakout sessions typically include 10–15 minutes of Q&A at the end.

TDR201: Running effective security incident response simulations
Security incidents provide learning opportunities for improving your security posture and incident response processes. Ideally you want to learn these lessons before having a security incident. In this session, walk through the process of running and moderating effective incident response simulations with your organization’s playbooks. Learn how to create realistic real-world scenarios, methods for collecting valuable learnings and feeding them back into implementation, and documenting correction-of-error proceedings to improve processes. This session provides knowledge that can help you begin checking your organization’s incident response process, procedures, communication paths, and documentation.

TDR202: What’s new with AWS threat detection services
AWS threat detection teams continue to innovate and improve the foundational security services for proactive and early detection of security events and posture management. Keeping up with the latest capabilities can improve your security posture, raise your security operations efficiency, and reduce your mean time to remediation (MTTR). In this session, learn about recent launches that can be used independently or integrated together for different use cases. Services covered in this session include Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon Detective, Amazon Inspector, Amazon Macie, and centralized cloud security posture assessment with AWS Security Hub.

TDR301: A proactive approach to zero-days: Lessons learned from Log4j
In the run-up to the 2021 holiday season, many companies were hit by security vulnerabilities in the widespread Java logging framework, Apache Log4j. Organizations were in a reactionary position, trying to answer questions like: How do we figure out if this is in our environment? How do we remediate across our environment? How do we protect our environment? In this session, learn about proactive measures that you should implement now to better prepare for future zero-day vulnerabilities.

TDR303: Zoom’s journey to hyperscale threat detection and incident response
Zoom, a leader in modern enterprise video communications, experienced hyperscale growth during the pandemic. Their customer base expanded by 30x and their daily security logs went from being measured in gigabytes to terabytes. In this session, Zoom shares how their security team supported this breakneck growth by evolving to a centralized infrastructure, updating their governance process, and consolidating to a single pane of glass for a more rapid response to security concerns. Solutions used to accomplish their goals include Splunk, AWS Security Hub, Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon S3, and others.

Builders’ sessions

These are small-group sessions led by an AWS expert who guides you as you build the service or product on your own laptop.

TDR351: Using Kubernetes audit logs for incident response automation
In this hands-on builders’ session, learn how to use Amazon CloudWatch and Amazon GuardDuty to effectively monitor Kubernetes audit logs—part of the Amazon EKS control plane logs—to alert on suspicious events, such as an increase in 403 Forbidden or 401 Unauthorized Error logs. Also learn how to automate example incident responses for streamlining workflow and remediation.

TDR352: How to mitigate the risk of ransomware in your AWS environment
Join this hands-on builders’ session to learn how to mitigate the risk from ransomware in your AWS environment using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). Choose your own path to learn how to protect, detect, respond, and recover from a ransomware event using key AWS security and management services. Use Amazon Inspector to detect vulnerabilities, Amazon GuardDuty to detect anomalous activity, and AWS Backup to automate recovery. This session is beneficial for security engineers, security architects, and anyone responsible for implementing security controls in their AWS environment.

Chalk talks

Highly interactive sessions with a small audience. Experts lead you through problems and solutions on a digital whiteboard as the discussion unfolds.

TDR231: Automated vulnerability management and remediation for Amazon EC2
In this chalk talk, learn about vulnerability management strategies for Amazon EC2 instances on AWS at scale. Discover the role of services like Amazon Inspector, AWS Systems Manager, and AWS Security Hub in vulnerability management and mechanisms to perform proactive and reactive remediations of findings that Amazon Inspector generates. Also learn considerations for managing vulnerabilities across multiple AWS accounts and Regions in an AWS Organizations environment.

TDR332: Response preparation with ransomware tabletop exercises
Many organizations do not validate their critical processes prior to an event such as a ransomware attack. Through a security tabletop exercise, customers can use simulations to provide a realistic training experience for organizations to test their security resilience and mitigate risk. In this chalk talk, learn about Amazon Managed Services (AMS) best practices through a live, interactive tabletop exercise to demonstrate how to execute a simulation of a ransomware scenario. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of incident response preparation and how to use AWS security tools to better respond to ransomware events.


These are interactive learning sessions where you work in small teams to solve problems using AWS Cloud security services. Come prepared with your laptop and a willingness to learn!

TDR271: Detecting and remediating security threats with Amazon GuardDuty
This workshop walks through scenarios covering threat detection and remediation using Amazon GuardDuty, a managed threat detection service. The scenarios simulate an incident that spans multiple threat vectors, representing a sample of threats related to Amazon EC2, AWS IAM, Amazon S3, and Amazon EKS, that GuardDuty is able to detect. Learn how to view and analyze GuardDuty findings, send alerts based on the findings, and remediate findings.

TDR371: Building an AWS incident response runbook using Jupyter notebooks
This workshop guides you through building an incident response runbook for your AWS environment using Jupyter notebooks. Walk through an easy-to-follow sample incident using a ready-to-use runbook. Then add new programmatic steps and documentation to the Jupyter notebook, helping you discover and respond to incidents.

TDR372: Detecting and managing vulnerabilities with Amazon Inspector
Join this workshop to get hands-on experience using Amazon Inspector to scan Amazon EC2 instances and container images residing in Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR) for software vulnerabilities. Learn how to manage findings by creating prioritization and suppression rules, and learn how to understand the details found in example findings.

TDR373: Industrial IoT hands-on threat detection
Modern organizations understand that enterprise and industrial IoT (IIoT) yields significant business benefits. However, unaddressed security concerns can expose vulnerabilities and slow down companies looking to accelerate digital transformation by connecting production systems to the cloud. In this workshop, use a case study to detect and remediate a compromised device in a factory using security monitoring and incident response techniques. Use an AWS multilayered security approach and top ten IIoT security golden rules to improve the security posture in the factory.

TDR374: You’ve received an Amazon GuardDuty EC2 finding: What’s next?
You’ve received an Amazon GuardDuty finding drawing your attention to a possibly compromised Amazon EC2 instance. How do you respond? In part one of this workshop, perform an Amazon EC2 incident response using proven processes and techniques for effective investigation, analysis, and lessons learned. Use the AWS CLI to walk step-by-step through a prescriptive methodology for responding to a compromised Amazon EC2 instance that helps effectively preserve all available data and artifacts for investigations. In part two, implement a solution that automates the response and forensics process within an AWS account, so that you can use the lessons learned in your own AWS environments.

If any of the sessions look interesting, consider joining us by registering for re:Inforce 2022. Use code SALXTDVaB7y to save $150 off the price of registration. For a limited time only and while supplies last. Also stay tuned for additional sessions being added to the catalog soon. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Celeste Bishop

Celeste Bishop

Celeste is a Product Marketing Manager in AWS Security, focusing on threat detection and incident response solutions. Her background is in experience marketing and also includes event strategy at Fortune 100 companies. Passionate about soccer, you can find her on any given weekend cheering on Liverpool FC, and her local home club, Austin FC.

Charles Goldberg

Charles Goldberg

Charles leads the Security Services product marketing team at AWS. He is based in Silicon Valley and has worked with networking, data protection, and cloud companies. His mission is to help customers understand solution best practices that can reduce the time and resources required for improving their company’s security and compliance outcomes.

AWS Security Profiles: Megan O’Neil, Sr. Security Solutions Architect

Post Syndicated from Maddie Bacon original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/aws-security-profiles-megan-oneil-sr-security-solutions-architect/

AWS Security Profiles: Megan O’Neil, Sr. Security Solutions Architect
In the week leading up to AWS re:Invent 2021, we’ll share conversations we’ve had with people at AWS who will be presenting, and get a sneak peek at their work.

How long have you been at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and what do you do in your current role?

I’ve been at AWS nearly 4 years, and in IT security over 15 years. I’m a solutions architect with a specialty in security. I work with commercial customers in North America, helping them solve security problems and build out secure foundations for their AWS workloads.

How did you get started in security?

I took part in a Boeing internship for three summers starting my junior year of high school. This internship gave me the opportunity to work with mechanical engineers at Boeing. The specific team I worked with were engineers responsible for building digital tools and robots for the 767-400 line at the Everett plant in Washington state. The purpose of these custom tools and robots was to help build the planes more efficiently and accurately. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot from my time working with them. I asked the group for career advice during lunch one day, and they all pointed me towards computer science (CS) instead of mechanical engineering. Because of their strong support for CS, I took the first course, Intro to Computer Science, and was excited that something that I previously thought was intimidating was actually approachable and a subject I really enjoyed.

During my sophomore year there was a new elective class offered called Digital Security, which piqued my interest and influenced my senior project. I built (coded) an intrusion detection program that identified nefarious network traffic. I also worked on campus during college in the sound services department and participated in the Dance Ensemble Program, where I met the IT manager for a local hospital in Washington state, Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. He was helping mix music at the studio I worked in. After showing him my senior project, he told me about a job opening for a network security specialist at the hospital. No one else had applied for the role. I then interviewed with the team, which was made up of only three engineers including the manager. They were responsible for the all-backend systems including the hospital information system, patient telemetry and clinic systems, the hospital network, etc. The group of people I worked with at the hospital is still very special to me, we are all still friends.

How do you explain your job to non-tech friends?

I’m in tech, and I help companies protect their websites and their customers’ data.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I’m very excited about re:Invent. It’s the 10th anniversary, we’re back in person, and I’ve got quite a few sessions I’m delivering.

Speaking of AWS re:Invent 2021 – can you give readers a sneak peek at what you’re covering?

The first is a session I’m delivering is called Use AWS to improve your security posture against ransomware (SEC308) with Merritt Baer, Principal in the Office of the CISO. We’re discussing what AWS services and features you can use to help you protect your systems from ransomware.

The second is a chalk talk, Automating and evidencing key compliance security controls (STP211-R1 and STP211-R2), I’m delivering with Kristin Haught, Principal Security TPM, and we’re discussing strategies for automating, monitoring, and evidencing common controls required for multiple compliance standards.

The third session is a builder session called Grant least privilege temporary access securely at scale (WPS304). We’ll use AWS Secrets Manager, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and the isolated compute functionality provided by AWS Nitro Enclaves to allow system administrators to request and retrieve narrowly scoped and limited-time access.

The fourth session is another builder session called Detecting security threats with Amazon GuardDuty (SEC213-R1 and SEC213-R2). It includes several simulated scenarios, representing just a small sample of the threats that GuardDuty can detect. We will review how to view and analyze GuardDuty findings, how to send alerts based on the findings, and, finally, how to remediate findings.

From your perspective, what’s the most important thing to know about ransomware?

Whenever we see a security event continue to make news, it’s a call to action and an opportunity for customers to analyze their security programs including operations and controls. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to protection from ransomware, but it’s time to level up your security operations and controls. This means minimize human access, translate security policies into code, build mechanism and measure them, streamline the use of environment and infrastructure, and use advanced data/database service features.

For example, we still see customers with large amounts of long-lived credentials; it’s time to take inventory and minimize or eliminate them. While there is a small subset of use cases where they may be required, such as on-premises to AWS access, I recommend the following:

  1. Inventory your long-lived credentials.
  2. Ensure the access is least privilege, absolutely no wildcard actions and/or resources.
  3. If the access is interactive, apply multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  4. Ask if you can architect a better option that doesn’t rely on static access keys.
  5. Rotate access keys on a regular, frequent basis.
  6. Enable alerts on login events.

For more information, check out Ransomware mitigation: Top 5 protections and recovery preparation actions and Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Using the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF).

What’s your favorite Leadership Principle at Amazon and why?

Learn and Be Curious! I am the most happy in my job and personal life when I’m learning new things. I also believe that this principle is a way of life for us technology folks. Learning new technology and finding better ways of implementing technology is our job. My favorite quote/laptop sticker is:

“I hate programming”

“I hate programming”

“I hate programming”


“I love programming.”

It just makes me laugh because it’s so true. Of course we are only that frustrated when something is very new. It’s like solving a puzzle. When a project comes together, it’s absolutely worth it – the puzzle pieces now fit.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Work with a mentor. This can be casual by finding projects where you can collaborate with folks who have more experience than you. Or it can be more formal by asking someone to be your mentor and setting up a regular cadence of meetings with them. I’ve done both, a simple example is by collaborating with Merritt and Kristen on upcoming re:Invent presentations, I’ve already learned a lot from both of them just through the preparation process and developing the content. Having a mentor by your side can be especially helpful when setting new goals. Sometimes we need someone to push us out of our comfort zone and believe that we can achieve bigger things than we would have thought and then can help devise a plan to help you achieve those goals. All it takes is someone else believing in us.

If you had to pick any other job, what would you want to do?

I’ve always been interested in naturopathic medicine and getting to the root cause of an issue. It’s somewhat similar to my job in that I’m solving puzzles and complex problems, but in technology, instead of the body.

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

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.


Megan O’Neil

Megan is a Senior Specialist Solutions Architect focused on threat detection and incident response. Megan and her team enable AWS customers to implement sophisticated, scalable, and secure solutions that solve their business challenges.


Maddie Bacon

Maddie (she/her) is a technical writer for AWS Security with a passion for creating meaningful content. She previously worked as a security reporter and editor at TechTarget and has a BA in Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and all things Harry Potter.

Introducing the Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Whitepaper

Post Syndicated from Temi Adebambo original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/introducing-the-ransomware-risk-management-on-aws-whitepaper/

AWS recently released the Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Using the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) whitepaper. This whitepaper aligns the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommendations for security controls that are related to ransomware risk management, for workloads built on AWS. The whitepaper maps the technical capabilities to AWS services and implementation guidance. While this whitepaper is primarily focused on managing the risks associated with ransomware, the security controls and AWS services outlined are consistent with general security best practices.

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at NIST has published Practice Guides (NIST 1800-11, 1800-25, and 1800-26) to demonstrate how organizations can develop and implement security controls to combat the data integrity challenges posed by ransomware and other destructive events. Each of the Practice Guides include a detailed set of goals that are designed to help organizations establish the ability to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from ransomware events.

The Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Using the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) whitepaper helps AWS customers confidently meet the goals of the Practice Guides the following categories:

Identify and protect

  • Identify systems, users, data, applications, and entities on the network.
  • Identify vulnerabilities in enterprise components and clients.
  • Create a baseline for the integrity and activity of enterprise systems in preparation for an unexpected event.
  • Create backups of enterprise data in advance of an unexpected event.
  • Protect these backups and other potentially important data against alteration.
  • Manage enterprise health by assessing machine posture.

Detect and respond

  • Detect malicious and suspicious activity generated on the network by users, or from applications that could indicate a data integrity event.
  • Mitigate and contain the effects of events that can cause a loss of data integrity.
  • Monitor the integrity of the enterprise for detection of events and after-the-fact analysis.
  • Use logging and reporting features to speed response time for data integrity events.
  • Analyze data integrity events for the scope of their impact on the network, enterprise devices, and enterprise data.
  • Analyze data integrity events to inform and improve the enterprise’s defenses against future attacks.


  • Restore data to its last known good configuration.
  • Identify the correct backup version (free of malicious code and data for data restoration).
  • Identify altered data, as well as the date and time of alteration.
  • Determine the identity/identities of those who altered data.

To achieve the above goals, the Practice Guides outline a set of technical capabilities that should be established, and provide a mapping between the generic application term and the security controls that the capability provides.

AWS services can be mapped to theses technical capabilities as outlined in the Ransomware Risk Management on AWS Using the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) whitepaper. AWS offers a comprehensive set of services that customers can implement to establish the necessary technical capabilities to manage the risks associated with ransomware. By following the mapping in the whitepaper, AWS customers can identify which services, features, and functionality can help their organization identify, protect, detect, respond, and from ransomware events. If you’d like additional information about cloud security at AWS, please contact us.

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

Want more AWS Security how-to content, news, and feature announcements? Follow us on Twitter.


Temi Adebambo

Temi is the Senior Manager for the America’s Security and Network Solutions Architect team. His team is focused on working with customers on cloud migration and modernization, cybersecurity strategy, architecture best practices, and innovation in the cloud. Before AWS, he spent over 14 years as a consultant, advising CISOs and security leaders.

How Security Operation Centers can use Amazon GuardDuty to detect malicious behavior

Post Syndicated from Darren House original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-security-operation-centers-can-use-amazon-guardduty-to-detect-malicious-behavior/

The Security Operations Center (SOC) has a tough job. As customers modernize and shift to cloud architectures, the ability to monitor, detect, and respond to risks poses different challenges.

In this post we address how Amazon GuardDuty can address some common concerns of the SOC regarding the number of security tools and the overhead to integrate and manage them. We describe the GuardDuty service, how the SOC can use GuardDuty threat lists, filtering, and suppression rules to tune detections and reduce noise, and the intentional model used to define and categorize GuardDuty finding types to quickly give detailed information about detections.

Today, the typical SOC has between 10 and 60 tools for managing security. Some larger SOCs can have more than 100 tools, which are mostly point solutions that don’t integrate with each other.

The security market is flush with niche security tools you can deploy to monitor, detect, and respond to events. Each tool has technical and operational overhead in the form of designing system uptime, sensor deployment, data aggregation, tool integration, deployment plans, server and software maintenance, and licensing.

Tuning your detection systems is an example of a process with both technical and operational overhead. To improve your signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), the security systems you deploy have to be tuned to your environment and to emerging risks that are relevant to your environment. Improving the S/N matters for SOC teams because it reduces time and effort spent on activities that don’t bring value to an organization. Spending time tuning detection systems reduces the exhaustion factors that impact your SOC analysts. Tuning is highly technical, yet it’s also operational because it’s a process that continues to evolve, which means you need to manage the operations and maintenance lifecycle of the infrastructure and tools that you use in tuning your detections.

Amazon GuardDuty

GuardDuty is a core part of the modern FedRAMP-authorized cloud SOC, because it provides SOC analysts with a broad range of cloud-specific detective capabilities without requiring the overhead associated with a large number of security tools.

GuardDuty is a continuous security monitoring service that analyzes and processes data from Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Flow Logs, AWS CloudTrail event logs that record Amazon Web Services (AWS) API calls, and DNS logs to provide analysis and detection using threat intelligence feeds, signatures, anomaly detection, and machine learning in the AWS Cloud. GuardDuty also helps you to protect your data stored in S3. GuardDuty continuously monitors and profiles S3 data access events (usually referred to as data plane operations) and S3 configurations (control plane APIs) to detect suspicious activities. Detections include unusual geo-location, disabling of preventative controls such as S3 block public access, or API call patterns consistent with an attempt to discover misconfigured bucket permissions. For a full list of GuardDuty S3 threat detections, see GuardDuty S3 finding types. GuardDuty integrates threat intelligence feeds from CrowdStrike, Proofpoint, and AWS Security to detect network and API activity from known malicious IP addresses and domains. It uses machine learning to identify unknown and potentially unauthorized and malicious activity within your AWS environment.

The GuardDuty team continually monitors and manages the tuning of detections for threats related to modern cloud deployments, but your SOC can use trusted IP and threat lists and suppression rules to implement your own custom tuning to fit your unique environment.

GuardDuty is integrated with AWS Organizations, and customers can use AWS Organizations to associate member accounts with a GuardDuty management account. AWS Organizations helps automate the process of enabling and disabling GuardDuty simultaneously across a group of AWS accounts that are in your control. Note that, as of this writing, you can have one management account and up to 5,000 member accounts.

Operational overhead is near zero. There are no agents or sensors to deploy or manage. There are no servers to build, deploy, or manage. There’s nothing to patch or upgrade. There aren’t any highly available architectures to build. You don’t have to buy a subscription to a threat intelligence provider, manage the influx of threat data and most importantly, you don’t have to invest in normalizing all of the datasets to facilitate correlation. Your SOC can enable GuardDuty with a single click or API call. It is a multi-account service where you can create a management account, typically in the security account, that can read all findings information from the member accounts for easy centralization of detections. When deployed in a Management/Member design, GuardDuty provides a flexible model for centralizing your enterprise threat detection capability. The management account can control certain member settings, like update intervals for Amazon CloudWatch Events, use of threat and trusted lists, creation of suppression rules, opening tickets, and automating remediations.

Filters and suppression rules

When GuardDuty detects potential malicious activity, it uses a standardized finding format to communicate the details about the specific finding. The details in a finding can be queried in filters, displayed as saved rules, or used for suppression to improve visibility and reduce analyst fatigue.

Suppress findings from vulnerability scanners

A common example of tuning your GuardDuty deployment is to use suppression rules to automatically archive new Recon:EC2/Portscan findings from vulnerability assessment tools in your accounts. This is a best practice designed to reduce S/N and analyst fatigue.

The first criteria in the suppression rule should use the Finding type attribute with a value of Recon:EC2/Portscan. The second filter criteria should match the instance or instances that host these vulnerability assessment tools. You can use the Instance image ID attribute, the Network connection remote IPv4 address, or the Tag value attribute depending on what criteria is identifiable with the instances that host these tools. In the example shown in Figure 1, we used the remote IPv4 address.

Figure 1: GuardDuty filter for vulnerability scanners

Figure 1: GuardDuty filter for vulnerability scanners

Filter on activity that was not blocked by security groups or NACL

If you want visibility into the GuardDuty detections that weren’t blocked by preventative measures such as a network ACL (NACL) or security group, you can filter by the attribute Network connection blocked = False, as shown in Figure 2. This can provide visibility into potential changes in your filtering strategy to reduce your risk.

Figure 2: GuardDuty filter for activity not blocked by security groups on NACLs

Figure 2: GuardDuty filter for activity not blocked by security groups on NACLs

Filter on specific malicious IP addresses

Some customers want to track specific malicious IP addresses to see whether they are generating findings. If you want to see whether a single source IP address is responsible for CloudTrail-based findings, you can filter by the API caller IPv4 address attribute.

Figure 3: GuardDuty filter for specific malicious IP address

Figure 3: GuardDuty filter for specific malicious IP address

Filter on specific threat provider

Maybe you want to know how many findings are generated from a threat intelligence provider or your own threat lists. You can filter by the attribute Threat list name to see if the potential attacker is on a threat list from CrowdStrike, Proofpoint, AWS, or your threat lists that you uploaded to GuardDuty.

Figure 4: GuardDuty filter for specific threat intelligence list provider

Figure 4: GuardDuty filter for specific threat intelligence list provider

Finding types and formats

Now that you know a little more about GuardDuty and tuning findings by using filters and suppression rules, let’s dive into the finding types that are generated by a GuardDuty detection. The first thing to know is that all GuardDuty findings use the following model:


This model is intended to communicate core information to security teams on the nature of the potential risk, the AWS resource types that are potentially impacted, and the threat family name, variants, and artifacts of the detected activity in your account. The Threat Purpose field describes the primary purpose of a threat or a potential attempt on your environment.

Let’s take the Backdoor:EC2/C&CActivity.B!DNS finding as an example.

Backdoor     :EC2                 /C&CActivity.    .B                  !DNS

The Backdoor threat purpose indicates an attempt to bypass normal security controls on a specific Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance. In this example, the EC2 instance in your AWS environment is querying a domain name (DNS) associated with a known command and control (C&CActivity) server. This is a high-severity finding, because there are enough indicators that malware is on your host and acting with malicious intent.

GuardDuty, at the time of this writing, supports the following finding types:

  • Backdoor finding types
  • Behavior finding types
  • CryptoCurrency finding types
  • PenTest finding types
  • Persistence finding types
  • Policy finding types
  • PrivilegeEscalation finding types
  • Recon finding types
  • ResourceConsumption finding types
  • Stealth finding types
  • Trojan finding types
  • Unauthorized finding types

OK, now you know about the model for GuardDuty findings, but how does GuardDuty work?

When you enable GuardDuty, the service evaluates events in both a stateless and stateful manner, which allows us to use machine learning and anomaly detection in addition to signatures and threat intelligence. Some stateless examples include the Backdoor:EC2/C&CActivity.B!DNS or the CryptoCurrency:EC2/BitcoinTool.B finding types, where GuardDuty only needs to see a single DNS query, VPC Flow Log entry, or CloudTrail record to detect potentially malicious activity.

Stateful detections are driven by anomaly detection and machine learning models that identify behaviors that deviate from a baseline. The machine learning detections typically require more time to train the models and potentially use multiple events for triggering the detection.

The typical triggers for behavioral detections vary based on the log source and the detection in question. The behavioral detections learn about typical network or user activity to set a baseline, after which the anomaly detections change from a learning mode to an active mode. In active mode, you only see findings generated from these detections if the service observes behavior that suggests a deviation. Some examples of machine learning–based detections include the Backdoor:EC2/DenialOfService.Dns, UnauthorizedAccess:IAMUser/ConsoleLogin, and Behavior:EC2/NetworkPortUnusual finding types.

Why does this matter?

We know the SOC has the tough job of keeping organizations secure with limited resources, and with a high degree of technical and operational overhead due to a large portfolio of tools. This can impact the ability to detect and respond to security events. For example, CrowdStrike tracks the concept of breakout time—the window of time from when an outside party first gains unauthorized access to an endpoint machine, to when they begin moving laterally across your network. They identified average breakout times are between 19 minutes and 10 hours. If the SOC is overburdened with undifferentiated technical and operational overhead, it can struggle to improve monitoring, detection, and response. To act quickly, we have to decrease detection time and the overhead burden on the SOC caused by the numerous tools used. The best way to decrease detection time is with threat intelligence and machine learning. Threat intelligence can provide context to alerts and gives a broader perspective of cyber risk. Machine learning uses baselines to detect what normal looks like, enabling detection of anomalies in user or resource behavior, and heuristic threats that change over time. The best way to reduce SOC overhead is to share the load so that AWS services manage the undifferentiated heavy lifting, while the SOC focuses on more specific tasks that add value to the organization.

GuardDuty is a cost-optimized service that is in scope for the FedRAMP and DoD compliance programs in the US commercial and GovCloud Regions. It leverages threat intelligence and machine learning to provide detection capabilities without you having to manage, maintain, or patch any infrastructure or manage yet another security tool. With a 30-day trial period, there is no risk to evaluate the service and discover how it can support your cyber risk strategy.

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Darren House

Darren brings over 20 years’ experience building secure technology architectures and technical strategies to support customer outcomes. He has held several roles including CTO, Director of Technology Solutions, Technologist, Principal Solutions Architect, and Senior Network Engineer for USMC. Today, he is focused on enabling AWS customers to adopt security services and automations that increase visibility and reduce risk.


Trish Cagliostro

Trish is a leader in the security industry where she has spent 10 years advising public and private sector customers like DISA, DHS, and US Senate and commercial entities like Bank of America and United Airlines. Trish is a subject matter expert on a variety of topics, including integrating threat intelligence and has testified before the House Homeland Security Committee about information sharing.