• United States

Securing AWS cloud environments

BrandPost By VIAVI
Sep 28, 20233 mins
Digital Transformation

cloud computing.jpgs1024x1024wisk20cd8u4 9yanu frzw0a2tf1qohpp1hkbugc1a0oz1ow5e
Credit: Just_Super

The benefits of moving workloads into a cloud-based environment cannot be overstated. AWS, for instance, is designed for flexibility, allowing users to select the operating system, programming language, web application platform, database, and other services to suit their own specific needs. This adaptability not only simplifies the migration process for existing applications but also provides a strong foundation for building new solutions.

However, there is a flip side. With this flexibility comes the potential for an AWS customer to unknowingly introduce risks into their cloud environment. One of the most significant risks is the formation of attack paths, which can be used by malicious actors to infiltrate and compromise cloud resources. These exposed paths emerge through a combination of factors that are often easy to overlook in a complex and fast-moving cloud environment. They are best summarized in three distinct categories:

  1. The inadvertent exposure of cloud resources: In their haste to roll out new services and keep pace with competitive market dynamics, businesses often leave overly permissive access settings in place. This can inadvertently expose critical assets to the public internet.
  2. Third-party exploits: Even with the most stringent security measures, vulnerabilities can emerge where third-party dependencies exist. These can be due to outdated software, unpatched systems, or inherent flaws in third-party applications. Attackers constantly scan for such vulnerabilities to exploit, gaining unauthorized access or escalating privileges within the cloud environment.
  3. Misconfigured security groups: AWS offers a plethora of configuration options to cater to diverse business needs. However, incorrect configurations, like open S3 buckets or unrestricted security groups, can create attractive – and potentially lucrative – gateways for attackers.

When these risks overlap, they form a path of least resistance, allowing attackers to target high-value resources within the cloud environment. Such paths not only jeopardize data integrity and confidentiality but can also lead to significant financial and reputational damages for enterprises.

This is not an easy problem for businesses to solve. While they race to the cloud, recent studies highlight a notable dissatisfaction among businesses regarding cloud visibility and a measurable increase in time dedicated to resolving security issues.

For businesses to navigate these exposures and shut down potential attack paths, a proactive approach is needed. However, at a time when the threat landscape is encroaching on business operations from all angles, security resources are an increasingly scarce and valuable resource. SecOps teams need to be able to identify points of exposure, gauge their potential impact on the business, and then prioritize remedial actions accordingly.

The answer lies in the ability to reveal and identify internal attack paths, and then overlay them with external surface scanning and monitoring. This will give SecOps teams a complete view of potential exposures and consequences. Assets can then be grouped by specific application or workload, and proactively observed using risk “scorecards” or attack surface maps – easily digestible insights that can be actioned with confidence. Traditional security measures often fall short in this regard – but where there are new challenges, the market will answer.

Observer Sentry from VIAVI provides a comprehensive threat exposure management solution for AWS environments. Leveraging advanced analytics, it meticulously inventories cloud assets, assesses attack surfaces, and evaluates exposure and risk. By merging internal attack paths with targeted external attack surface scanning, Observer Sentry analyzes and visualizes AWS environments the way that attackers do, enabling users to understand the risks and prioritize remediation activities effectively.

For more information, see our solutions.