AWS Infrastructure: Vulnerability Scanning

For most companies, security has become a high priority, crucial for anyone running applications on the cloud. This makes performing a wide variety of security assessment tests on IT resources, as well as generating detailed security reports, a crucial aspect of cloud management.

How do we improve the security of deployed applications on AWS, and monitor potential vulnerabilities? The answer: vulnerability scanning. 

What is Infrastructure vulnerability scanning?

Vulnerability scanning is the process of identifying security weaknesses and flaws in systems and software running on them. By performing vulnerability scanning, Ibexlabs protects our clients from breaches and the exposure of sensitive data.

Most security teams utilize vulnerability scanners to bring to light security vulnerabilities in their network, applications and infrastructure. There are many vulnerability scanning tools available, each offering a unique combination of capabilities. AWS provides an Infrastructure Vulnerability Service called AWS Inspector.

Types of Infrastructure vulnerability scans

  • Unauthenticated scans: This scan checks for potential network security vulnerabilities in web servers by scanning hosts across the network.
  • Authenticated scans: This scan identifies application and operating system-based vulnerabilities on EC2 hosts of an agent. Host-based scans can examine the ports and services that are visible to a network and context around a given system’s configuration and patch history.

AWS Inspector

Amazon Inspector automatically evaluates applications for vulnerabilities or deviations from best practices. AWS Inspector helps you to find out memory leakage in your applications. It communicates with EC2 instances with the help of agents installed on it and performs assessments and generates reports with a detailed list of security findings. These findings are prioritized by severity levels classified as High, Medium, Low, or Informational. This helps you prioritize your response to findings.

AWS inspector helps you in two ways

  • Finding security vulnerabilities in your software.
  • Checking the network accessibility of the VPCs.

AWS inspector gives findings for the checks done, on which you can act on. You can use the findings and correct the weakness in your application or the network.

How Ibexlabs uses Amazon Inspector for detecting AWS Infrastructure Vulnerability Scanning:

Ibexlabs uses Amazon Inspector to perform an automatic assessment and generate a findings report with a detailed list of security findings containing steps to keep the environment safe. 

AWS Inspector works on Agent which runs on the EC2 machines hosting the application that monitors the network, file system, and process activity. After collecting all the required data, it is compared with the built-in security rules to identify security or compliance issues. Since Amazon Inspector is a managed service, Amazon currently provides hundreds of rules and will continue to add to their library as their team of AWS security researchers develop them.

Ibexlabs uses AWS Inspector to do Security Vulnerability Assessment on an EC2 instance:

Amazon Inspector’s Security Vulnerability Assessment is performed on every EC2 instance to verify the protection best practices. AWS Inspector is tag-based mostly and also the agent-based security assessment service.

When you enable the AWS Inspector to do a security vulnerability test on your application running on the EC2 instance, it asks permission to install an AWS inspector agent on the EC2 instance.

The AWS inspector agent does software telemetry for application and the OS running on the EC2 instance. It provides various information about the EC2 instance and the application(s) running on it.

AWS inspector agent monitors the following:

  • Behavior of the EC2 instance.
  • Checks the network file system
  • Process activity
  • Collects behavior and configuration data

Benefits of Infrastructure and vulnerability scanning

Improved security of your infrastructure

  • Vulnerability scanning looks at a process, not just one-time activity. It starts with identifying the risk and continues on even after mitigating the threat. Your environment is constantly being monitored to ensure you are one step ahead of threats. Your business will be safer and more secure.

Easy configuration and automatic scanning

  • Cloud-based automated scanning and on-demand scanning. Identify AWS vulnerabilities and automatically scan your AWS environment including assets, security groups, and configurations.

Define the level of risk on your systems

  • Conducting regular vulnerability scans will help you determine the overall effectiveness of your security measures. If you’re inundated with vulnerabilities, that’s a sign that your systems or software are severely flawed and need to be rethought.

Save time and money

  • Automated scans are easy to repeat and will save you money in the long term. That’s because vulnerability scanning mitigates the risks of a data breach, which will come with a range of costs, including remediation, the loss of customers as a result of reputational damage and fines.

Automation

  • You can integrate the security vulnerability, and network assessments automatically in your CI/CD pipeline.
  • This gives your findings if any security or network related checks are broken in the upgrade and could be corrected.

Repeatable

An automated vulnerability scan is easy to repeat. You decide whether you want to run a scan daily, weekly or monthly and get an update on changes and vulnerabilities detected.

Constant monitoring

A vulnerability scanning is effectively used for constant monitoring of an instance if a lot of deployments are performed.

Application security

  • The application security checks also can be automated, providing you with valuable information.
  • AWS inspector vulnerability scanning when automated, helps in finding issues which can lead to hacking of your application.

Ibexlabs approach to Infrastructure and vulnerability scanning:

Ibexlabs mandates that all production application instances are protected from vulnerabilities by leveraging Inspector and some vulnerability diagnoses are done regularly, such as once a month or once in a few days. One of the benefits of vulnerability diagnosis is that it allows you to discover security risks without suffering real cyber damage.

With AWS Inspector we have a proactive approach to manage security vulnerabilities by early detection and reducing the likelihood that weaknesses in OS  or software configuration for application could compromise the security of your infrastructure instances.

Ibexlabs helps customers to transform AWS data into security and operational insights and quickly visualize threats. Intuitive monitoring, trouble-shooting, and security for all your AWS services. Ibexlabs is a provider of AWS and DevOps consulting and implementation services.

Ibexlabs’ mission is to partner with customers, as extensions of their teams, to build and manage modern infrastructure solutions that deliver innovation faster. Our company specializes in AWS Well-Architected, CI/CD pipelines, containerization, infrastructure automation, cloud migration, data & analytics, machine learning, and 24×7 support. Ibexlabs is a certified APN Consulting Partner and has achieved AWS DevOps Competency, AWS Managed Services Provider (MSP) Partner status, AWS Well-Architected Partner. Contact us today!

Santosh Peddada

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