Implementing Security Controls and Monitoring Mechanisms to Ensure Compliance on AWS

With 94% of businesses relying on cloud services, implementing strong security controls on AWS has become essential for safeguarding sensitive data and ensuring regulatory compliance. Effective monitoring mechanisms are critical for promptly detecting and responding to security incidents.

Discover the importance of security controls on AWS and the necessity of monitoring for compliance.

What are Security Controls on AWS?
To understand security controls on AWS, it’s essential to know about the AWS Shared Responsibility Model. While AWS ensures the security of the cloud infrastructure, customers are responsible for securing their data and applications on AWS. There are several types of security controls available to customers, including:

● Identity and Access Management (IAM)
IAM allows users to manage user accounts, access policies, and enable multi-factor authentication for improved security.

● Network Security
With the network security control, you can configure VPCs, use security groups and network ACLs, and monitor with AWS CloudWatch to establish a secure network infrastructure.

● Data Encryption
Protect data at rest and in transit with AWS encryption options, like Amazon S3 Server-Side Encryption (SSE), Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), and AWS Key Management Service (KMS).

● Logging and Monitoring
Utilise AWS CloudTrail for auditing and AWS GuardDuty for threat detection to proactively monitor and respond to security incidents.

● Incident Response and Recovery
Establish incident response and recovery procedures to ensure business continuity and minimise the impact of disruptions.

How You Can Implement Security Controls on AWS?
To effectively implement security controls on AWS, follow these steps:

Create and manage user accounts, set up access policies and roles, and implement multi-factor authentication for improved security.
Configure your VPC to isolate resources, utilise security groups and network ACLs to control inbound and outbound traffic, and monitor network traffic using AWS CloudWatch for early threat detection.
Understand the different encryption methods, encrypt data to protect sensitive information, and manage encryption keys effectively to maintain strong security measures.

Monitoring Mechanisms for Compliance
AWS offers monitoring mechanisms for compliance, including AWS CloudTrail for tracking API calls and auditing, AWS Config for assessing resource configurations and compliance, and AWS GuardDuty for continuous threat detection.

CloudTrail logs identify suspicious activities, while Config ensures adherence to industry standards. GuardDuty increases security by providing proactive monitoring and response to potential incidents. These tools enable organisations to maintain a secure environment and ensure compliance on AWS.

Ensuring Compliance on AWS
To ensure compliance on AWS, organisations must conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing and implement a strong patch management strategy. They should also perform security audits and compliance checks and establish strong incident response and recovery procedures.

These measures help identify and address security weaknesses, apply necessary updates, assess adherence to regulations, and respond effectively to incidents, ensuring a secure and compliant environment on AWS.

Fortify Your AWS Infrastructure With WOLK
Fortify your AWS infrastructure and optimise its architecture with the expertise of WOLK, an AWS Well-Architected Program Partner. Contact WOLK today to take your AWS environment to the next level of security and efficiency.

Innovations in Data Centre Design and Energy-Efficient Cooling Systems to Reduce Energy Consumption on AWS

Data centres have become the backbone of modern business operations, supporting various industries and enabling seamless connectivity. However, their growing energy consumption has raised concerns about environmental sustainability.

Explore how AWS is pioneering innovative data centre design and energy-efficient cooling systems to address infrastructure challenges, reduce energy consumption, and drive your business towards a more sustainable future.

Traditional Data Centre Challenges and Innovations in Data Centre Design
Traditional data centre design results in high energy consumption and a devastating environmental impact. This is primarily caused by inefficient cooling systems and non-renewable energy usage. According to experts, data centres are projected to consume 20% of the world’s power supply by 2025.

Advancements in data centre design have revolutionised the way we approach efficiency and sustainability, leading to innovations such as:

● Modular Data Centre Architecture
Many data centres now employ modular designs, offering flexibility, scalability, and reduced energy consumption. This allows for easier expansion and resource optimisation. Currently, AWS only offers its Modular Data Centre services for the U.S. Department of Defense. However, the design may soon be commonplace across numerous locations and applications.

The AWS Modular Data Centre is potentially a convenient solution for customers seeking high-availability infrastructure. Equipped with internal networking, cooling, and power distribution equipment, it supports AWS Outposts or Snowball Edge devices for compute and storage needs. Scalability is achieved through additional modular units. Low latency applications can be run from any location using AWS services and APIs.

● Liquid Cooling Systems
Advanced cooling technologies, such as immersion cooling and direct evaporative cooling, have been successfully implemented on AWS. These systems minimise energy usage and improve efficiency.

AWS Cooling Systems incorporate innovative technologies and cooling mediums to minimize environmental impact. By optimising cooling infrastructure and using advanced techniques like free cooling, AWS reduces energy consumption by up to 20% and limits greenhouse gas emissions associated with data centre cooling, ensuring a greener cloud infrastructure.

● Renewable Energy Integration
Data centres are reducing their carbon footprint by harnessing solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. AWS is leading the way by promoting the use of renewable energy sources.

AWS has invested in 10.9 gigawatts of clean wind and solar power to provide energy for their data centres across the globe. This includes over 200 on-site solar facilities and 164 wind and solar farms.

● Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Cooling Optimization
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms optimise cooling systems through real-time monitoring and analysis. These technologies enable proactive adjustments to cooling resources based on temperature and performance data, maximising energy efficiency.

Predictive maintenance algorithms can also help identify potential issues, enabling timely interventions and preventing energy wastage.

Data Centres and AWS Leading the Charge Towards Energy Efficiency
As data centres continue to evolve, energy efficiency becomes increasingly important. WOLK Technology, a certified AWS Well-Architected Program partner, offers tailored IT solutions to help businesses optimise their operations and adopt energy-efficient practices.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and drive your company towards a greener and more sustainable future.

Protecting Sensitive Data with AWS Encryption Services and Key Management Best Practices

Protecting your most sensitive data is a priority for all companies, whether you manage a large or smaller business. No target is too small to be vulnerable to cyber threats, and small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are at the highest risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Learn how Amazon encryption services like AWS Key Management Services (AWS KMS) can protect your business data and what are the best practices to follow for maximum efficiency. The best part is, you don’t need to sweat the detail. When you’re a client, these services are all managed under WOLK’s Managed Services Agreement.

How AWS Key Management Service (KMS) Protects Sensitive Data
AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) is a convenient managed service allowing business owners and IT system managers to create and manage cryptographic keys. These keys are used in data encryption, protecting your most sensitive data from unauthorised access.

AWS KMS is easy to use, reducing the process of setting up and managing cryptographic keys to just a few clicks. It is also fully integrated with other critical Amazon services, such as Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon S3, and RedShift.

AWS KMS allows you to centralise your cryptographic key management in one easy-to-use point, letting you create, rotate, manage, and delete keys and key permissions.

Data Security at the Source with Amazon S3 Server-Side Encryption
The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object storage service capable of intelligently retrieving data from any location to any device. Amazon S3 is an essential part of many organisations’ workflows, useful for virtually any application: from websites and data archives to mobile applications and enterprise-grade storage.

Besides its storage capabilities, Amazon S3 has many benefits for workplace security and sensitive data protection.

All businesses using Amazon S3 can benefit from its server-side encryption, protecting your data before it reaches AWS data centres and decrypting it when retrieved. Amazon S3 is designed to integrate with AWS KMS, letting you use the cryptographic keys and encryption standards you configured beforehand.

Additionally, since January 2023, all new objects uploaded to Amazon S3 servers are now automatically encrypted, even if you did not specify a key with AWS KMS.

Best Practices to Follow with AWS KMS
Follow these security best practices to maximise business security and make the most out of AWS KMS.

● Always follow the principle of least privilege. Each employee or team member should only have the permissions they need and no more.
● Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on API calls to add another layer of security. MFA ensures that even if an attacker can access an employee’s valid credentials, they cannot tamper with business data without access to that employee’s secure device.
● Allow services such as AWS CloudTrail to audit key usage and monitor all key-related activity.

Enhance Business Data Security with WOLK
As a partner of the AWS Well-Architected Program, WOLK’s team can help your business implement a security plan compliant with the AWS Security pillar. Contact us today to arrange a review.

Best Practices for Building Secure and Compliant Environments on AWS

New cyber threats emerge daily, but building secure environments is the best way to ensure maximum data security and protection against breaches. When working on the cloud with providers such as AWS, complying with the latest data security standards and applying data security best practices is critical to protecting sensitive data.

How Cloud Security Works on AWS
Amazon Web Services (AWS) uses a security and compliance model called AWS Shared Responsibility. Under this model, AWS and customers are jointly responsible for data security and compliance with the latest data protection standards.

AWS is generally responsible for the security of the cloud. Amazon is responsible for data security and regulatory compliance of the AWS global infrastructure, hardware, software, and networking used to run AWS services.

The customer is responsible for security in the cloud. Customers must ensure the safety and compliance of all data, processes, applications, platforms, and operating systems they run using AWS services.

AWS Security Best Practices
While knowing the AWS Shared Responsibility Model is essential, building a secure environment requires following cloud security best practices. Apply the following recommendations to your AWS instances to maximise data safety:

● AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) to encrypt sensitive data.
● Understand the principle of least privilege and use AWS Identity and Access. Management (IAM) to ensure your team members only have access to the data they need.
● Detect potential threats early with activity monitoring services such as AWS CloudTrail and Amazon CloudWatch.
● Build an incident response and recovery plan to address data breaches, back up your most sensitive data, and recover from other security incidents.
● Create a culture of security awareness within your organisation to encourage good cloud safety habits.

AWS Compliance Best Practices
Regardless of your organisation’s industry, integrating compliance requirements into the design and architecture of your AWS is one of the best ways to meet data security standards. Some compliance best practices to consider include:

● Identify your industry’s regulatory requirements and whether they apply in your region and particular use case. For instance, U.S.-based AWS customers in the medical sector may need to comply with HIPAA or the HITECH Act.
● Use AWS services such as Amazon Macie to identify and protect your data based on its sensitivity. They can ensure your sensitive data receives the protection required by all applicable regulatory standards.
● Visit the AWS compliance resource repository to learn the specific processes and tasks needed to become compliant with your industry’s regulations.

Meet Your Security and Compliance Objectives with WOLK
WOLK Technology is a trusted team of Amazon Web Service experts. We can review your organisation’s cloud security and regulatory needs and help you meet data safety and compliance objectives.

Call us today for more information.

Strategies for Achieving Carbon Neutrality and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions on AWS

Amazon’s commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality has helped ensure Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the world’s most sustainable cloud service providers.

Moving to AWS is one of the most efficient ways to ensure your business can reduce its carbon footprint. Discover the most efficient carbon neutrality strategies on AWS and how to implement them.

Workload Efficiency Optimisation
Numerous AWS services and features are designed to help you optimise your business’s resource utilisation, such as AWS EC2 Auto Scaling. You can also opt for serverless cloud computing solutions like AWS Lambda, reducing costs and resource usage by only paying for the code compute time.

Businesses using resource scaling, optimisation, and serverless computing can reduce their environmental impact. These solutions can lower your organisation’s carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce overall energy consumption, and boost cost-effectiveness.

Selecting a Carbon-Free Region
AWS cloud services is divided into various geographic regions. While many other factors can affect your region choices, such as regulatory compliance, latency, and costs, choosing an AWS region that meets your sustainability goals is possible.

AWS offers multiple carbon-free regions, where data centres receive at least 95% of their power from renewable energy sources. Examples of highly sustainable AWS regions include the following:

● U.S. East: Northern Virginia and Ohio
● U.S. West: Northern California and Oregon
● GovCloud: US-East and US-West
● Canada (Central)
● Europe: Ireland, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris, Stockholm

Remember to check the AWS region you selected has the services and features you need to run your workloads. You can use the complete AWS Regional Services Lists to help you make the right choice.

Building Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Applications
Although simply migrating to AWS can help your business become more energy efficient, Amazon recommends following all aspects of the Sustainability pillar of its Well-Architected Framework for the best results.

One of the essential design principles of sustainability is “Understand your impact”. Tools such as the AWS Custom Carbon Footprint Tool are designed to let you track, measure, review, and predict your AWS usage’s carbon footprint. This tool’s information is invaluable to help you build more sustainable and energy-efficient applications.

Using Amazon instance types with the lowest environmental impact can also help reduce your applications’ carbon footprint. For example, consider transitioning away from x86-based EC2 instances in favour of AWS Graviton equivalents. These instances are powered using the energy-efficient Graviton2 and Graviton3 processors, designed to minimise energy consumption for the same or better performance.

Improve Your Company’s Sustainability Goals with WOLK
WOLK Technology offers tailored IT solutions to help your business meet your operational goals sustainably. We are a certified AWS Well-Architected Program partner with the resources to help you become compliant with the AWS Sustainability pillar. Contact us today to learn more.

What is the AWS Well-Architected Framework?

AWS Solutions Architects took their many years’ experience building solutions, and designing and reviewing thousands of customers’ architectures on AWS, and identified a set of best practices for architecting systems in the cloud. The result is the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

Based on 5 pillars – Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization – the Framework allows us to design and operate reliable, secure and cost-effective systems in the cloud, while sticking to best-practice architectural methodology.

The development of the AWS Well-Architected Tool has enabled regular review of workloads, identifying high risk issues and recording your improvements. Conducting a Well-Architected Review (WAR) allows a conversational approach rather than an audit process, and serves to establish well-architected systems that greatly increase the likelihood of business success.

The review documents a set of foundational questions that allow you to understand if a specific architecture aligns well with cloud best practices. The framework provides a consistent approach to evaluating systems against the qualities you expect from modern cloud-based systems, and the remediation that would be required to achieve those qualities. As AWS continues to evolve, the definition of well-architected will continue to be refined.

We begin all of our development projects with a Well-Architected Review to give clients full visibility of their workload. The precise and comprehensive nature of the Framework provides clients with essential insights that enable informed decisions that add business value.

We have years of experience architecting solutions across a wide range of business verticals and use cases, with several of our case studies being used by AWS.

What are the basic components of security under AWS?

The AWS Well-Architected Framework consists of five pillars. Security, the second pillar, focuses on protecting your data, systems, and assets using cloud technology.

The security pillar includes seven design principles and six best practice areas. By following the guidelines laid out in this pillar, you can keep your data safe and secure.

Best Practice: Security
Keeping your workload secure is an essential part of using cloud technology. The AWS Well-Architected Framework details the best practices you should follow when focusing on security.

Organise Based on Security Requirement
Organise your accounts and workloads from a security point of view, rather than following the existing structure of your company. You can simplify the security process by combining like-accounts that need similar security procedures.

Identity and validate control objectives, using your compliance guidelines and any high-risk items discovered by a Well-Architected Review. Continue to schedule reviews of your control objectives, and update them when necessary.

Secure your AWS Account
Make sure your AWS account is fully secure. Use Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), don’t use your root user too often and configure your account contacts.

Stay Updated
Security risks are continually changing and evolving. Be sure to schedule regular meetings to review new threats and how to mitigate them.

Security recommendations are always changing. Be diligent in following the latest suggestions by subscribing to AWS Updates and the AWS Security blog. Consider consulting with outside experts at regular intervals to ensure your security is up to date.

Use a Threat Model
Create a threat model to identify new and existing risks. Once identified, prioritise the risks and address them as needed. Be sure to keep your threat model updated to reflect new security recommendations.

Automation lessens the possibility of human error. Create an automated testing service that allows you to check the secureness of your systems quickly.

Build the automated testing services directly into your systems and processes. Once built-in, these testing services can continuously check for threats and breaches, and alert you if there is a problem.

AWS Partners
AWS Partners regularly release security updates that can help you keep your data safe.

WOLK, a long term AWS Partner, is always up to date on new threats and security recommendations. To ensure your data is secure, schedule a Well-Architected Review. WOLK will identify and highlight any high-risk items, and mitigate them for you.

Failure Management and AWS: How to Withstand and Repair Problems

Every system will encounter problems and occasionally fail. What makes a system reliable is its ability to react quickly and efficiently to failures.

The goal is to create a workload that automatically returns to a standard operating level without creating a disruption.

Architecting for Resiliency
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from failure, overload, or attack. The Well-Architected Framework has five best practices to ensure your workload is as resilient as possible.

Monitor All Components
Design automatic systems that monitor every aspect of your workload continuously. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your business goals, not your systems’ requirements. When the system notices a KPI breach, it can fix the failure.

You can also set monitoring systems to detect degradation, which lets you know that a failure is likely. Your automated systems can also take action to prevent the looming failure.

Keep Healthy Resources Separate
Instead of using a single workload, set up several smaller ones. Ensure that if a particular system fails, other healthy resources can continue to handle requests.

For essential services like location, create backup systems that can fail over to healthy resources. If you’re using AWS systems, they will automatically activate to ensure your healthy systems can keep working.

Automate Healing
It takes time for a team member to receive a notification, learn about the problem, and determine a plan of action. Instead, create automatic services that can fix failures quickly.

Consider utilising AWS systems, like Auto Scaling and EC2 Automatic Recovery, to help your system repair itself.

Static Stability Prevents Bimodal Behaviour
A workload is exhibiting bimodal behaviour when it acts differently under standard and failure modes. Design your workloads with static stability in mind, testing to ensure they always react the same way.

You also should not allow clients to avoid your workload’s cache even in a cascade failure, because it creates bimodal behaviour.

Have every automated system send the relevant team member a notification when a system is nearing failure or has failed. You also want teams notified when your systems detect a problem that will affect availability.

Well-Architected Review
If you’re struggling to make your systems reliable, WOLK, an experienced AWS Partner, is authorised to perform a Well-Architected Review.

Through the review, WOLK can identify high-risk items and any areas that are low in compliance with the Framework. The team can then mitigate the problems, ensuring your systems are reliable and resilient.

The 5 Design Principles for Cost Optimisation Using AWS

WOLK is a leading partner of AWS Well-Architected Framework and is certified to perform reviews that identify weaknesses in your cloud-based system.

The five pillars of AWS include operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency and cost optimisation.

Cost optimisation is an ongoing process built on cost-aware workloads targeted to maximise investment while minimising costs. There are five design principles to keep in mind when seeking to optimise costs with AWS.

Five Design Principles

1. Implement cloud financial management
It is essential to invest resources in building capability in the technological domain of the cloud. That means investing in knowledge building programs and resources to become cost-efficient in Cloud Financial Management.

2. Adopt a consumption model
Pay only for the resources you use and target your usage to only what is necessary. Stopping resources during non-business hours can save up to 75% of the regular cost per week.

3. Measure overall efficiency
This information allows you to understand where you gain value when you reduce costs. Track the output of the workload and delivery costs using AWS.

4. Stop spending money on undifferentiated heavy lifting
This design principle allows you to focus on your customers instead of the software. AWS takes care of your data centre operations and removes the responsibility of using managed services for your systems and applications.

5. Analyse and attribute expenditure
To maximise your resources while reducing costs, you can accurately measure the value and use of workloads using the cloud.

Practising Cloud Financial Management

Cloud Financial Management allows you to realise your business value and optimise your costs. Best practices for CFM include:

● Functional ownership
The function can refer to a team or individual who is responsible for maintaining a culture of cost awareness. This group spends a designated percentage of time attending to cost optimisation activity.

● Finance and technology partnership
A relationship must be formed between essential finance and technology personnel to understand the financial goals of the company. This partnership is critical to tracking real-time cost and usage and developing a standard operating procedure.

● Cloud budgets and forecasts
There is high variability in cloud cost and usage amounts based on user activity. Budgets must be adjusted, and forecasts created using an algorithm to allow for this variance in the predictions.

● Cost-aware processes
Cost aware processes need adapting into organisation protocol, and training administered continuously.

● Cost-aware culture
By making information about cost optimisation available to individuals across teams (like a publicly visible dashboard), the workplace culture can adapt a cost-aware mindset. The directive should come from the top down and is achievable through a rewards-based training system for employees.

● Quantify business value delivered through cost optimisation
Don’t just report savings from cost optimisation, but quantify the additional value obtained. Quantifying business value makes it possible to identify the return on your investments.

Schedule a Review

If you’re interested in finding out how you can optimise your costs with AWS, schedule a review with WOLK. WOLK is a leading partner of AWS Well-Architected Framework and offers a service credit that covers the majority of expenses when working through your high-risk areas during remediation.

4 AWS Best Practices For Improving Performance

The AWS Well-Architected Framework allows you to implement designs consistently and examine architectures that can grow and change with your business. The framework is built on five pillars. Each pillar has best practices recommended by AWS to help you create an efficient and successful workload.

The Performance Efficiency Pillar
The Performance Efficiency pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework focuses on using resources efficiently to support your cloud-based system and uphold that efficiency level as demand changes.

4 Best Practices
Within the Performance Efficiency pillar, there are four best practices to guide you in your system development.

1. Selection
It’s important to select the best performing architecture for your cloud-based systems. A well-architected workload incorporates various solutions because their differing features can enhance the system’s performance efficiency. A crucial part of the selection process is choosing the best resources.

Compute resources for AWS come in three forms: instances, functions, and containers. When making choices about your compute resources, you’ll need to use your knowledge of workload and cost requirements. Since resource selections in the cloud are flexible, you can experiment with your selections.

Storage is another key selection you’ll make as part of your AWS performance efficiency. Choose between object, block, and file storage in the cloud depending on your system requirements.

With AWS, you’ll also choose your database. Different kinds of cloud databases remedy issues present in your workload. Once you identify the specific problems in your workload, you can select the database that base addresses them.

A network is shared between all aspects of your workload, meaning its impact is significant. To select the best network for your system, identify bandwidth, jitter, throughput, and latency requirements.

2. Review
Best practices for performance efficiency include careful evaluation of the technologies and your workload components to ensure they’re as up-to-date as possible.

AWS innovation is continual and is driven forward by consumer demands. New features that can improve performance and architecture are released regularly, so it’s important to review your system frequently for possible areas of improvement.

3. Monitoring
After you make selections and your workload is running, it’s critical that you’re carefully monitoring the workload performance. Services like Amazon CloudWatch are available to give you actionable feedback about your system performance and the optimisation of resources.

Monitoring this data in real-time allows you to move swiftly when problems occur so you can rectify them before clients are impacted.

4. Trade-Offs
Architecting solutions require you to weigh the benefits of a solution against its implementation’s negative impacts. A trade-off can mean you’re exchanging consistency for latency to improve performance because there is a higher value in lower latency at that time.

Carefully review metrics to see how your trade-offs are affecting the workload and its performance efficiency.

Work With WOLK
WOLK is a proud leading partner of the AWS Well-Architected Framework and can provide a thorough review of your cloud-based systems. We are certified to perform a detailed appraisal and help you determine any weaknesses within your system that require immediate attention.