My team helps financial services customers understand how AWS services operate so that you can incorporate AWS into your existing processes and security operations centers (SOCs). As soon as you create your first AWS account for your organization, you’re live in the cloud. So, from day one, you should be equipped with certain information: you should understand some basics about how our products and services work, you should know how to spot when something bad could happen, and you should understand how to recover from that situation. Below is some of the advice I frequently offer to financial services customers who are just getting started.

How to think about cloud security

Security is security – the principles don’t change. Many of the on-premises security processes that you have now can extend directly to an AWS deployment. For example, your processes for vulnerability management, security monitoring, and security logging can all be transitioned over.

That said, AWS is more than just infrastructure. I sometimes talk to customers who are only thinking about the security of their AWS Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), and about the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances running in those VPCs. And that’s good; its traditional network security that remains quite standard. But I also ask my customers questions that focus on other services they may be using. For example:

  • How are you thinking about who has Database Administrator (DBA) rights for Amazon Aurora Serverless? Aurora Serverless is a managed database service that lets AWS do the heavy lifting for many DBA tasks.
  • Do you understand how to configure (and monitor the configuration of) your Amazon Athena service? Athena lets you query large amounts of information that you’ve stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
  • How will you secure and monitor your AWS Lambda deployments? Lambda is a serverless platform that has no infrastructure for you to manage.

Understanding AWS security services

As a customer, it’s important to understand the information that’s available to you about the state of your cloud infrastructure. Typically, AWS delivers much of that information via the Amazon CloudWatch service. So, I encourage my customers to get comfortable with CloudWatch, alongside our AWS security services. The key services that any security team needs to understand include:

  • Amazon GuardDuty, which is a threat detection system for the cloud.
  • AWS Cloudtrail, which is the log of AWS API services.
  • VPC Flow Logs, which enables you to capture information about the IP traffic going to and from network interfaces in your VPC.
  • AWS Config, which records all the configuration changes that your teams have made to AWS resources, allowing you to assess those changes.
  • AWS Security Hub, which offers a “single pane of glass” that helps you assess AWS resources and collect information from across your security services. It gives you a unified view of resources per Region, so that you can more easily manage your security and compliance workflow.

These tools make it much quicker for you to get up to speed on your cloud security status and establish a position of safety.

Getting started with automation in the cloud

You don’t have to be a software developer to use AWS. You don’t have to write any code; the basics are straightforward. But to optimize your use of AWS and to get faster at automating, there is a real advantage if you have coding skills. Automation is the core of the operating model. We have a number of tutorials that can help you get up to speed.

Self-service cloud security resources for financial services customers

There are people like me who can come and talk to you. But to keep you from having to wait for us, we also offer a lot of self-service cloud security resources on our website.

We offer a free digital training course on AWS security fundamentals, plus webinars on financial services topics. We also offer an AWS security certification, which lets you show that your security knowledge has been validated by a third-party.

There are also a number of really good videos you can watch. For example, we had our inaugural security conference, re:Inforce, in Boston this past June. The videos and slides from the conference are now on YouTube, so you can sit and watch at your own pace. If you’re not sure where to start, try this list of popular sessions.

Finding additional help

You can work with a number of technology partners to help extend your security tools and processes to the cloud.

  • Our AWS Professional Services team can come and help you on site. In addition, we can simulate security incidents with you tohelp you get comfortable with security and cloud technology and how to respond to incidents.
  • AWS security consulting partners can also help you develop processes or write the code that you might need.
  • The AWS Marketplace is a wonderful self-service location where you can get all sorts of great security solutions, including finding a consulting partner.

And if you’re interested in speaking directly to AWS, you can always get in touch. There are forms on our website, or you can reach out to your AWS account manager and they can help you find the resources that are necessary for your business.

Conclusion

Financial services customers face some tough security challenges. You handle large amounts of data, and it’s really important that this data is stored securely and that its privacy is respected. We know that our customers do lots of due diligence of AWS before adopting our services, and they have many different regulatory environments within which they have to work. In turn, we want to help customers understand how they can build a cloud security operating model that meets their needs while using our services.

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Stephen Quigg

Stephen Quigg is a Principal Securities Solutions Architect within AWS Financial Services. Quigg started his AWS career in Sydney, Australia, but returned home to Scotland three years ago having missed the wind and rain too much. He manages to fit some work in between being a husband and father to two angelic children and making music.

from AWS Security Blog