AWS Security Program Basics

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an established public cloud provider that enables organizations to quickly build highly scalable applications in a secure manner. Organizations operating in regulated industries such as healthcare and finance must meet stringent regulatory requirements and cybersecurity standards such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SOC 2. Under the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, security requirements are shared between the cloud provider and the cloud customer.

Building A Secure Cloud Architecture

Organizations working to build compliant applications for AWS must consider how cloud services are utilized and hardened for security and compliance. Teams should establish a robust cloud security posture by implementing processes around configuration management, network and cloud service confirmation, and further cloud service configuration. 

Organizations can architect applications by utilizing AWS cloud services such as:

  • AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) – For access control
  • VPCs and Security Groups – For firewall and networking
  • CloudWatch, CloudTrails, and VPC Flow Logs – For audit logging
  • S3, RDS, Redshift and other services – For storage and database
  • EC2, Lambda – For computing

While AWS provides many cloud services that may be securely configured to meet compliance requirements, it is up to your security team and DevOps staff to implement all security standards in the cloud. Teams must ensure that each individual cloud service has the necessary security configuration.

Steps to Achieving Compliance in The Cloud

In order to maintain compliance in the public cloud, organizations should improve security through the following steps:

  1. Implement security roles

Organizations need to develop compliance roles such as a security officer/privacy officer to oversee cloud compliance programs and initiatives. These security roles will dictate how organizations manage compliance objectives.

  1. Create administrative policies

Teams must develop administrative policies and procedures that fit their organization and technologies. Policies should outline topics including security roles, risk assessment, employee training, and disaster recovery (DR).

  1. Configure cloud security settings

Organizations utilizing public cloud platforms such as AWS need to implement all necessary technical security controls such as backup and disaster recovery, audit logging, encryption, firewalls, and access control for each individual cloud service.

  1. Monitor cloud security and compliance

Once cloud security controls are implemented across cloud resources, teams need to ensure that cloud resources continue to have the correct cloud configuration and that newly provisioned resources continue to meet security and compliance needs. Teams may consider building a security team with continuous compliance monitoring working with cloud security experts to augment their security team.

  1. Address operational “drift”

Over time organizations change. Employees may be hired, technologies may change, and additional cloud resources may be added. This operational drift can lead to organizations falling out of compliance with their defined security standards. It is up to security teams to ensure that cloud security policies and technical controls continue to stay up to date.

Managing Cloud Compliance Standards

Regulatory standards such as HIPAA and cybersecurity standards such as SOC 2 require that organizations build and maintain cloud security standards over time. This means that as organizations develop, scale, and deploy new cloud services, security standards must continue to be enforced. 

Managed service providers and technical partners can help provide organizations with cloud security and DevOps resources to build and maintain robust cloud security and compliance programs. Teams can leverage the expertise of these services to augment staff and achieve HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance in the cloud. Organizations should look for cloud partners that:

  • Provide services that meet your team’s technology requirements
  • Build around your organization’s security and compliance needs 
  • Have worked with clients in similar industries

Teams without an established DevOps team or resources may turn to a managed service provider or service providers such as Ibexlabs and TotalCompliance in order to architect secure and compliant applications and cloud workloads on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

About Dash

Dash provides a solution for building HIPAA, HITRUST, and SOC 2 security programs in Amazon Web Services (AWS). Dash ComplyOps enables teams to create custom security policies, set cloud security controls, and enable continuous compliance monitoring and security management alongside Ibexlabs. Learn how Dash and Ibexlabs can help your organization manage AWS cloud compliance with TotalCompliance.