Tag Archives: amazon

FedRamp on the Cloud: AWS Architecture and Security Recommendations

In December Amazon released a nice guide with architecture layouts + tips across the NIST 800-53 standard. This is an important tool for ANY business looking to accelerate their operations into a distributed system model.

I took a few things away from this PDF – the two are that every company moving to the cloud should read this document. It not only provides an architecture layout that is critical in planning, but it also has numerous nuggets of awesome sprinkled throughout – an example:

 Many of the SAAS service providers do not have a FedRAMP ATO, so using their services will have to be discussed with the authorizing official at the sponsoring agency. Pg 28 <– sounds simple, but very costly if done under hopeful assumptions of acceptance!

Regarding the need to harden a base system:

AWS has found that installing applications on hardened OS’s can be problematic. When the registry is locked down, it can be very difficult to install applications without a lot of errors. If this becomes an issue, our suggestion is to install applications on a clean version of windows, snapshot the OS and use GPOs (either locally or from the AD server) to lock down the OS. When applying the GPOs and backing off security settings, reboot constantly because many of the registry changes only take effect upon reboot.

A bit about the White paper as described by Amazon:

Moving from traditional data centers to the AWS cloud presents a real opportunity for workload owners to select from over 200 different security features (Figure 1 – AWS Enterprise Security Reference ) that AWS provides. “What do I need to implement in order to build a secure and compliant system that can attain an ATO from my DAA?” is a common question that government customers ask. In many cases, organizations do not possess a workforce with the necessary real-world experience required to make decision makers feel comfortable with their move to the AWS cloud. This can make it seem challenging for customers to quickly transition to the cloud and start realizing the cost benefits, increased scalability, and improved availability that the AWS cloud can provide

A helpful guide and glad to see a major Cloud provider enabling it’s clients to excel at information security operations, and in this case – FedRamp

Sony PSN hack of 100M+ accts executed from Amazon EC2

The playstation breach for Sony has gotten reasonable publicity, but little intelligence on the attack, methods, and results have been shared sufficient to enable others to learn and be more resilient. A nice article on The Register details information indicating that the attackers leveraged the power of Amazon EC2 to execute the attack as paid customers.

The article can be found here http://ow.ly/1sY8TW with links to the Bloomberg article here (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-13/sony-network-said-to-have-been-invaded-by-hackers-using-amazon-com-server.html)

While not new to leverage these cloud services, what is intriguing and worth deeper consideration is how much can we extend cloud beyond what is already being applied by companies and security researchers. Super computer processing; rapid instant access, and globally accessible yet still being used uncreatively to host web sites and such?!? Using the example from the article, if one can spend less than a dollar to break good encryption, could we not also leverage that for rotating keys at a similar cost benefit model?

I digress, the consideration of clouds being weaponized harks to the day of defense by blocking entire country IP address blocks. Perhaps naive in simplicity, but when customers become robots (like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk) then these cloud IP addresses need to be reconsidered. Looking forward to a greater discussion here…


James DeLuccia

(produced on iPad)