AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service, lets you run the code on highly available infrastructure. It helps you effectively administer compute resources, including code monitoring & logging, capacity provisioning, automatic scaling, and maintaining operating systems. Cloud security, which is a shared responsibility, is one of the prime USPs of AWS Lambda. It helps you leverage a network architecture and data center built to meet your critical requirements around security and compliance.
Automating incident response and gathering imperative security data ramps up the process of threat detection and mitigation while improving visibility into your cloud environment.
Before moving to the benefits of AWS Lambda, let us first go through key areas to consider for meeting your business objectives around security and compliance.
Applying Security Principles to AWS Lambda Applications
Following are some key areas and associated recommendations to consider for improving your security and compliance with AWS Lambda.
According to the AWS shared responsibility model, the responsibility of maintaining applications and data in the infrastructure is yours, for which, you can follow the below-given steps.
Apply multi-factor authentication for every account.
Utilize SSL/TLS for communicating with AWS resources.
Using AWS CloudTrail set up a user activity logging and API.
Along with default security controls provided, leverage encryption solutions of AWS.
Using services of advanced managed security, discover and secure the data in Amazon S3.
Identity and Access Management (IAM)
It is recommended that you apply IAM to set up each user account and protect the account credentials. This helps in controlling the access to AWS resources in a secured manner for authenticating and authorizing the users of AWS Lambda. Following are key identity and access management best practices.
For privileged users, multi-factor authentication must be enabled.
Policy Conditions must be utilized for better security.
Unessential credentials must be eliminated.
Wherever possible, AWS-defined policies must be used for assigning permissions.
While assigning permissions to users of IAM, leveraging Groups is highly beneficial.
Shared Responsibility Model
In the AWS Lambda or serverless model, you are free to concentrate your resources on
Securing the application code.
Authorizing and authenticating the accessibility of confidential data.
Assessing the applications’ behaviour through logging and monitoring.
Identity and access management.
The shared responsibility model defines security based on two factors, which are
Security in the Cloud: Based on the AWS services you consume, your responsibility is defined. Other aspects that you are responsible for securing your cloud environment include data’s sensitivity, compliance objectives, and regulations.
Security of the Cloud: The responsibility of protecting your infrastructure lies with AWS, which also offers you services that can be used protectively. The effectiveness of AWS’ security as part of their compliance programs is regularly audited by a third party.
Why Use AWS Lambda?
Major USPs of using AWS Lambda can be determined based on the benefits it offers, such as
Granular Security: As the number of functions increase, so does the number of IAM roles to be established. However, most organizations are either unaware or do not make the best out of this boon. With the right processes, tools, and technologies, you can create robust, more secured permissions around all the Lambda functions, allowing them to access only the services needed.
Shift to Zero Trust: Over the recent years, it has been witnessed that perimeter security is not much applicable in serverless architectures such as AWS Lambda, which in turn led the transition to ‘Zero Trust’ approach. This approach amplifies the security of applications and data to a significant extent.
Contemporary Protection: Challenges in deploying security measures without state are often the topic of debate when the question arises around the security potential of serverless architectures. However, as the AWS Lambda functions run for shorter durations, attackers are often kept at bay from compromising them. The challenge to attackers can be made even more difficult if you focus on making the function timeouts to run for a very short time span.
There are several benefits associated with AWS Lambda for you to push your organization toward a serverless architecture. While serverless architectures bring new challenges around security, they also conjure huge opportunities and remarkable advantages for the enhanced compliance posture of your cloud infrastructure.
Gartner states that public cloud spending will grow 23.1% globally in 2021 to USD 332.3 billion globally, from USD 270 billion in 2020. It further reports that public cloud services remain the most popular, with SaaS (software-as-a-service) touted to reach USD 122.6 billion by the end of 2021.
With cloud adoption, comes security risk.
The recent cloud data breaches have everyone in a fix. Organizations are doubling down on cloud security. It is dominating conversations across organisations. Even in the boardroom!
Cloud security refers to the procedures and technologies that secure the cloud computing environment against internal and external security threats. And ensures adherence to regulatory requirements that differ from one country to another.
Here we will break down the four different cloud security categories – CSPM, CASB, CWPP, and SSPM. And walk you through the key differences that separate them from each other.
Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM)
Everyone strives to reduce manual errors. But those who are in charge of cloud security understand that the cloud is inherently prone to misconfiguration. Also, with the clouds becoming bigger with every passing day, security becomes that much tougher. Plus, multiple IaaS or SaaS environments compound the configuration challenges.
CSPM or Cloud Security Posture Management is an answer to these cloud security questions that businesses have.
As per Gartner, CSPM refers to a host of security-focussed products and services. These include compliance monitoring, DevOps, and dynamic cloud integration. Enabled through investigation, incident response, risk assessment, and reporting for the cloud control plane.
CSPM protects the workload from the outside by identifying unknown or excessive risk throughout the cloud network. It brings in automation to assess the shortcomings in your security and suggests solutions to remediate the issues.
CSPM helps the organization be proactive, assess risk, reduce misconfiguration, and find ways to ensure their cloud ecosystem employs the highest cloud security measures to keep critical business data safe.
What does CSPM help organizations uncover?
CSPM is the enabler allowing cloud owners to undertake prompt remediation of key security issues. By leveraging the potential of CSPM, companies can unearth policy or security violations such as –
Lack of encryption
Missing multi-factor authentication
Infrequent encryption key rotation
Data storage exposed to public
Finding these loopholes helps organizations reduce the chances of a successful cyber-attack and maintain consistency towards security issues.
Key features of CSPM
If you are looking for the right CSPM solution for your cloud security endeavors, here are the features to look for in them –
Seamless integration with DevOps pipeline stages
Tools to track activities in real-time
Limited manual intervention to solve issues at the earliest
Ability to produce configurable, detailed reporting
Ability to assess cloud service provider settings and asset configurations accurately
Usually, Cloud Security Posture Management platforms help Identity and Access Management (IAM) service accounts and APIs to successfully integrate themselves into their client’s ecosystems. These inform organizations of the latest risks, the need to guard against possible breaches, and developing uniform cloud configurations across the board.
Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
A CASB or Cloud Access Security Broker helps protect sensitive data with the help of multiple security policy enforcement consolidations and applying them for safeguarding your critical business data.
A CASB may be software, on-premise, hardware, or cloud-hosted. It acts as a link between users and cloud service providers. It can point out issues across various cloud environments, such as PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS.
What does CASB cover in an organization?
A capable CASB offers the following features for an organization integrating it with their cloud ecosystem-
Data loss prevention
UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics)
Cloud governance with risk assessment
Control over sharing and other native cloud services features
IAM and SSO integration
Data encryption and decryption
What are the 4 Pillars of CASB
Here are four pillars of CASB –
Many brands employ on-premise DLP (data loss prevention) solutions to safeguard their offline data. But given their limitations with respect to managing cloud-based information, combining it with a CASB offers optimum data security. It minimizes data leaks and prevents unwanted access to crucial information.
CASB solutions come with an inbuilt ability to track usage patterns. The presence of machine learning capabilities and UEBA further helps it to detect and troubleshoot threats at the earliest.
With CASB’s help, IT managers can figure out the areas of highest risk. It also suggests solutions that would enable the team to help resolve the issues at the earliest.
With CASB, companies get insights into cloud app usage and additional information to help track the users. It also undertakes cloud discovery analysis, enabling risk assessment for every cloud service up and running. The granular controls allow better data protection and help businesses optimize their cloud resources by utilizing insights from analyzing individual user data.
Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP)
Today, the business data center is not limited to an on-premise setup but extends to physical, virtual machines (VMs), and IaaS-based setups. Gartner defines a CWPP or Cloud Workload Protection Platform as an agent-based solution that helps address the unique requirements of server workload protection. It is a workload-centric security solution targeting the individual protection requirements in the new-age cloud-heavy organizational environment.
What does CWPP offer for an organization?
A capable CWPP security solution offers the following to an organization integrating it with their existing cloud ecosystem –
Log management and monitoring
Network segmentation, traffic visibility, and firewalling
Workload configuration and vulnerability management
Anti-malware scanning and system integrity management
HIDS (Host-based Intrusion Detection System) for improved workload behavior monitoring
Benefits of CWPP
Here are the key features of a CWPP solution –
Ability to scale with the organization with ease
Allowing brands to respond better and faster to customer queries
Deriving key insights from applications
Providing threat and data protection across the board
Leveraging the user workflows by synthesizing them into an ongoing continuum and reduce management workload
Focus on the bigger picture i.e. workload management than looking to solve certain aspects i.e. troubleshooting
SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM)
Gartner defines SSPM or SaaS Security Posture Management as a continuous process of adapting and improvising your cloud security endeavors to reduce the chances of a malicious attack. It is a constant monitoring process overseeing SaaS app environments to determine the measurable difference between the standard security policy and the actual security posture.
SSPM solutions are responsible for running checks on services, such as Slack and Salesforce, beyond the control of the organization and only available on-demand to them. It protects the various elements of the enterprise cloud, such as operating systems, hypervisor, network traffic, and the infrastructure, for ensuring that the customer data is secure and safe.
Why should businesses choose SSPM?
In today’s times, businesses use up to 20 SaaS software for their ecosystem. So it often becomes difficult for the IT team to keep track of the organization’s security risk profile. Adopting an SPPM solution gives them the following advantages –
Automated real-time remediation of misconfiguration
Compliance with common standards, such as HIPAA and NIST 800-53
24*7 visibility into the plethora of SaaS apps for probable policy violations
The 2017 IBM X-Force Report noted a 424% rise in violations related to misconfiguration because of human errors. The inculcation of SSPM enables businesses to handle configuration mistakes and overly scoped permissions better, making it a crucial part of every company’s cloud security endeavours.
Key differences between CSPM, CASB, CWPP, and SSPM
Prevents software configuration vulnerabilities
Extends in-house visibility into cloud ecosystems
Performs security functions across a plethora of environments
Manages security shortcomings of SaaS apps integrated into the business ecosystem
Automates security and compliance to provide better control over cloud infra configuration
Extends power of the organization over its cloud-based resources, via use of firewalls, DLP, authentication, and web application firewalls
Gives consolidated view and improves visibility across multiple cloud providers in a single console
Offers collection of configurable security controls to manage cloud workloads
Primarily used for 1. Identifying vulnerable cloud configuration settings 2. Providing a compliance path for security frameworks 3. Keeping track of every new cloud-based service addition 4. Managing changes made to the logs
Primarily used for 1. Risk assessment, e-discovery, and establishing audit trails for forensic investigation 2. Protecting cloud from compromised accounts, malicious insiders, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and malware 3. Cloud-based compliance 4. Data protection by encryption and key management
Primarily used for 1. Managing cloud vulnerabilities 2. System hardening 3. Micro-segmentation 4. Monitoring system integrity
Primarily used for 1. Strengthening security posture 2. Unified visibility and monitoring of accounts 3. Fixing common application misconfigurations 4. Privilege monitoring
Cloud security (and all the terms around it :p ) getting too much to handle? Are the breaches all around getting too scary? Have no fear, team Cloudlytics is here 🙂 We are always up for a discussion, a demo or a free trial. Reach out to us here.