The Best 6 Ways to Secure Your Business Information

AWS’s Well-Architected Framework offers comprehensive cloud computing services to businesses through its five pillars.

The second pillar, Security, contains methods for protecting company data, operational systems, and assets through cloud technologies. By utilising the Security pillar’s design principles and best practices, businesses can effectively secure their information with minimal risk.

Security Pillar Design Principles

AWS developed seven design principles to help shape the framework:

1. Create a clear identity foundation
2. Enable traceability across all systems
3. Apply security measures at all system layers (e.g. on all systems, applications, codes etc.)
4. Automate security where possible
5. Protect data in storage and during transfers
6. Eliminate the human role in processing data where possible
7. Prepare for security incidents

Ways to Secure Business Information Through AWS

1. Employ the Best in Practice Security Services

Use AWS services to ensure all aspects of your business information is protected as much as possible. Staying up to date with the latest technologies and recommendations helps keep your intelligence threat level low. Automation, testing, and evaluation provide opportunities to scale.

2. Identity and Access Management

Identity and access management are critical in securing important business information. It makes sure that only authenticated employees can gain access to certain data. This can be managed through an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service.

3. Detection Technology

AWS detection technology, such as CloudTrail logs, allows for processing and auditing various systems, meaning you can detect security breaches or information security threats early.

Log management is key in maintaining a Well-Architected workload, particularly if a security incident occurs. Logs can be analysed and acted on in such scenarios.

4. Infrastructure Protection

Infrastructure protection refers to information security on the cloud and on-premises. It involves AWS native or AWS integrated services that protect, monitor, and log information from points of ingress and egress linked to sensitive business information.

5. Data Protection

Before you can develop any architectural system, fundamental data protection measures should be in place. AWS services can then be used to make data encryption easier, adding further protection.

6. Incident Response

No matter how comprehensive your security systems may be, you should always have an incident response plan in place in case of a security issue. Your company can implement AWS systems to create a fast and effective incident response function.

Tools such as AWS CloudFormation allow you to write or change AWS resources in a safe environment, keeping your information safe.

Act Early to Protect Your Information

As a partner of the AWS Well-Architected Review Program, WOLK can help your business to implement a strong security plan. As a credited reviewer, we can advise you on best practices and services to suit your specific business. Contact us today to arrange a review.

The Top 4 Ways to Use AWS to Improve Performance Efficiency

Amazon Web Services (AWS) employs a five pillar framework to guide and assist businesses in adopting continuous best practices through cloud services. You can use these conceptual pillars to improve the performance efficiency of a business.

The Performance Efficiency pillar is most crucial in developing performance. It involves using computing resources to improve the efficiency of a business’ systems and subsequently to sustain efficiency as the market changes and technologies advance.

At WOLK, we are AWS experts. With many years of experience designing complex network architecture, our team can help you leverage AWS to improve the performance efficiency of your business.

1. Allows Your Team to Focus on Core Competencies

Through the design principles of Performance Efficiency, businesses can use technology as a service rather than assigning members of their IT team to the task of learning, hosting, and running new technological services. Technologies such as NoSQL, a database that stores and retrieves data, can fulfil complex tasks quickly and efficiently, allowing members of your team to focus on the core competencies of your business. NoSQLs are used more in big data and real-time applications as they are faster and more flexible than other types of databases.

2. Lower Costs Through Serverless Architectures

Another product of the design principles of Performance Efficiency is the use of serverless architecture. This eliminates the need to operate using physical servers, which can be a tedious and costly operation. By managing services via the cloud, businesses can lower their costs, improving performance efficiency.

3. Optimise Architecture Through Service Selection

There are many types of AWS resources, from standard databases to artificial intelligence (AI) and data lakes. Through these systems, you can create and optimise an architecture to best suit your workload. Organisations can use data analysis software to find the most useful programs for their specific business or industry. AWS Partner Network (APN) suggests architecture selections based on industry knowledge. For example, it may recommend that you use Amazon Elastic Block Store for low-latency block cloud storage.

4. Improve Efficiency Through Innovation

Reviewing and monitoring are two of the best practices of Performance Efficiency. AWS is constantly innovating to meet customer demands. Through new innovative AWS services, regions, edge locations and other features, you can improve performance efficiency. Once you have implemented a new workload, you must monitor it and analyse its performance. AWS services like Amazon CloudWatch can monitor a workload and provide you with information and actionable insights, helping you determine opportunities to improve efficiency.

Get an AWS Well-Architected Review

WOLK is a partner of the AWS Well-Architected Program. With certifications to carry out framework reviews, we can help your business to improve performance efficiency. Contact us today to schedule a review.

How moving to AWS improves security for your entire organisation.

There are many good reasons why so many large organisations have moved their operations to the Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud platform. We touched on a few of them in a previous blog. But possibly the most important benefit AWS offers organisations is a first-rate security framework, security being one of the 5 pillars we’ve touched on before.

The security pillar of AWS is designed to “protect information, systems, and assets while delivering business value through risk assessments and mitigation strategies”.

7 DESIGN PRINCIPLES

The security pillar is based on the following seven design principles:

1) Implement a strong identity foundation: Implement the principle of least privilege and enforce separation of duties with appropriate authorization for each interaction with your AWS resources. Centralize identity management, and aim to eliminate reliance on long-term static credentials.

2) Enable traceability: Monitor, alert, and audit actions and changes to your environment in real time. Integrate log and metric collection with systems to automatically investigate and take action.

3) Apply security at all layers: Apply a defense in depth approach with multiple security controls. Apply to all layers (for example, edge of network, VPC, load balancing, every instance and compute service, operating system, application, and code).

4) Automate security best practices: Automated software-based security mechanisms improve your ability to securely scale more rapidly and cost-effectively. Create secure architectures, including the implementation of controls that are defined and managed as code in version-controlled templates.

5) Protect data in transit and at rest: Classify your data into sensitivity levels and use mechanisms, such as encryption, tokenization, and access control where appropriate.

6) Keep people away from data: Use mechanisms and tools to reduce or eliminate the need for direct access or manual processing of data. This reduces the risk of mishandling or modification and human error when handling sensitive data.

7) Prepare for security events: Prepare for an incident by having incident management and investigation policy and processes that align to your organizational requirements. Run incident response simulations and use tools with automation to increase your speed for detection, investigation, and recovery.

5 FOCUS AREAS

The design principles lay the foundation for the five focus areas of the security pillar:

1) Identity and access management
2) Detective controls
3) Infrastructure protection
4) Data protection
5) Incident response

There is plenty of overlap through these focus areas so it is important to consider how each area can build on or influence others. They should be viewed together as integrated components of your security program rather than individual siloed processes.

Why should all this matter to your organisation?

AWS offers a level of investment and expertise in cloud security that most organisations could not hope to achieve on their own. A few benefits include:

1) The most advanced digital security available.

2) AWS is scalable in every respect, so if there’s a change to your security needs, you can be sure you won’t “outgrow” AWS and need to look for another provider.

3) AWS customers number the tens of thousands, including leading financial organisations and government agencies, so you can be sure that your data is the safest it can be.

Cloud security is top-of-mind for organisations moving their workloads to the cloud or managing an existing application in the cloud. Reviewing an existing or planned application against the principles of the Security Pillar can help you determine what action your organisation needs to take to improve deficiencies and be as secure as possible.

The Ultimate Guide to Enhancing Performance Efficiency

The AWS Well-Architected Framework uses the premise of five operational pillars, Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimisation. The AWS secure cloud services platform provides data storage, content delivery and compute power, among other services that benefit workloads. Using AWS, you can host applications in the cloud and deliver efficient, exciting websites to clients.

The Fourth Pillar
The Performance Efficiency pillar is the fourth pillar of the Well-Architected Framework, and it focuses on the proper allocation of resources to meet system requirements as changes occur.

To understand how to distribute resources for the optimal system response, it’s necessary to understand how the AWS Well-Architected framework functions. Knowledge of the other pillars, particularly Reliability and Cost Optimisation, will be exceptionally helpful in determining how you can use your resources most efficiently.

Improving Performance Efficiency With AWS
To maximise your workload’s performance efficiency using AWS, you must constantly review your selections because of the ever-changing nature of the cloud and newly available features.

To enhance efficiency in the cloud, there are five design principles you can follow:

● Global Deployment
When you deploy your workload to various AWS regions across the globe, you can decrease latency levels and minimise costs for maximum efficiency.

● Make it Accessible
You can make life easier for your team by assigning complex tasks to the cloud vendor instead. The technologies in the cloud become services for your team so they can direct their efforts to developing products.

● Make Use of Serverless Architectures
Going virtual means you no longer have to run and maintain a physical server in one location. Static websites and event services can host your system code, reducing the human power required for the system and minimising expenses.

● Experiment Frequently
Using various types of storage, configurations, and instances, you can execute the system’s frequent testing to see how the workload responds to change, allowing you to plan ahead. Virtual and automated resources make this flexibility possible.

● Understand Cloud Consumption
Having a working knowledge of how cloud content is consumed will help you make more informed decisions that don’t compromise efficiency. When you have knowledge of certain system aspects, you can apply that to your selections to increase storage capability or network function.

Work With a Certified AWS Partner
WOLK is a proud partner of the AWS Well-Architected Framework and is certified to perform system inspections. Using our feedback, you can find out where your system is most vulnerable and make decisions to improve its performance efficiency.

Call us today to schedule an initial review and learn how you can improve your business with AWS.

Cloud Reliability: The Five AWS Design Principles

The third pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework is reliability. It deals with ensuring that your workloads and applications produce the same results every time.

Using the five design principles of the reliability pillar, you can create workloads and applications that are reliable for their entire lifecycle.

Automatically Recover From Failure
Automation is a vital element in the reliability pillar. Set up systems that monitor for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of your business values. When one of the KIPs reads too low or too high, your monitoring system should automatically notify you and continue tracking the problem.

You can also set up automatic recovery systems that your monitoring systems trigger when there’s a problem.

To prepare as much as possible for failure, you can set up systems that track trends, meaning they can predict future problems.

Test Recovery Procedures
Just as you test your workload’s operating procedures, you should also evaluate its recovery methods. While working the cloud, use automation to cause a failure in your workload and observe how well the recovery systems and procedures work.

It’s also possible to use automation to recreate past failures. If you’re unsure of exactly where a failure occurred, a recreation can help you determine causes and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Scale Horizontally
Instead of using one large workload, consider breaking it up into several smaller resources. If a failure occurs in an overarching workload, you might have to shut down your entire system for the repair.

Ensure you spread out your requests across the smaller resources so they don’t share a common failure.

Don’t Guess Capacity
Don’t just assume that your workload can handle the demands you place on it. One of the most common reasons that a workload fails is due to resource saturation.

Use AWS tools to monitor the demands placed on your workload and its saturation level. Create systems that automatically reduce demands when your workload approaches saturation.

Manage Change
Use automatic systems to change your workload. Automation removes human error, reducing your risk.

Changes made to automatic systems should be tracked and reviewed, preferably by another automated system.

Work with an AWS Well-Architected Partner
To ensure you are compliant with all five design principles of the reliability pillar, consider working with an experienced AWS Partner. The WOLK team stays up-to-date with the current design principles and best practices of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

After performing a Well-Architected Review, we can identify any non-compliance issues 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.

Notifications
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.

Identity and Access Management: Permissions and Identification

AWS Well-Architected Framework is a system used to identify the at-risk areas in your company’s infrastructure. AWS ensures your applications are using the five pillars of operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimisation.

Why are Identity and Access Management Important?
For your cloud-based systems to operate safely, the right people must have access to the resources meant for them. Allowing users to have access, or other applications to have access, opens up the potential for security threats if the proper measures aren’t in place. Using identity management and permissions management are the two best ways to take care of human and machine security access.

Identity Management
It’s best to manage identity access in a centralised way, meaning that you use one identity provider to grant access for multiple platforms. If you need to deny access to someone (like an employee leaving the company) you can instantly revoke their ability to view sensitive information. These could include company calendars, email accounts, AWS services and more. By centralising access, it becomes easier to track and control who has permission to view and change data.

When dealing with AWS, both humans and machines require unique identities to be able to access these services. To keep track of who/what has access to which applications/information, consider grouping users who have similar security access requirements together. Thus, making it easier to manage large groups of users within an organisation because settings can be changed by group membership rather than for each individual.

Permissions Management
Permissions are essential to the second pillar of AWS Well-Architected Framework security. By creating permission boundaries and granting least privilege access, you can restrict user and administrator ability to only what is necessary.

AWS utilises attribute-based access control (ABAC) which allows you to provide access based on specific attributes called tags. Programming these tags into your management strategy ahead of time means permissions will be applied automatically as a project unfolds rather than you manually updating a policy part way through. Doing this creates an efficient way to handle multi-user and developer access while still maintaining a secure cloud-based system.

Work with WOLK
If you’re interested in improving your cloud-based security, work with WOLK. A leading partner of the AWS Well-Architected Reviews, our review process draws attention to the areas of risk in your system so you can take the necessary steps to up-level your security measures.

The 7 Design Principles for Cloud Security Under AWS

Security, the second pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, contains seven design principles. By adhering to these guidelines, you can increase the strength of your cloud security, and protect your data.

The design principles encompass the ideas of foundation, preparation, and automation.

1. Implement a Strong Identity Foundation

A strong identity foundation is critical to maintaining safe data. Utilise the principle of least privilege by allowing each team member the minimum amount of access necessary for their work.

You should also centralise your identity management and try to reduce using static credentials.

2. Enable Traceability

It’s easier to find problems when you have a pre-existing tracing system. By monitoring your workload and applications in real-time, you’ll also receive alerts at the exact moment when something breaks through your security.

3. Apply Security at All Layers

Every layer and level of your workload and applications should be secure. Just because it’s an internal system doesn’t mean it’s safe.

4. Automate Security Best Practices

Automation lessens the likelihood of human error. Automated security sweeps can be set to run at regular intervals, and will automatically alert the correct team member when there is a problem.

5. Protect Data at Transit and Rest

Your data should always be secure, even when it’s within your systems. Use a classification system that all team members understand, to determine what level of security your data needs.

Based on its classification, data should be secured using encryption, tokenisation, or access control. If you’ve automated your security best practices, your security system can sort the data itself.

6. Keep People Away from Data

In addition to the principle of least privilege, you should also use tools that help to lower the need for human access to data. Human error can cause security breaches or loss of data.

7. Prepare for Security Events

Prepare your systems and teams for a future security event. Following your organisational best practices, create an incident management and investigation policy. Train all team members in your response policy by running drills.

Schedule a Well-Architected Review
To ensure your data is as secure as possible, consider working with an AWS Well-Architected Partner. WOLK can identify any outstanding high-risk items and mitigate them for you.

Once you’ve completed a Well-Architected Review, you can continue to maintain the highest level of security possible by adhering to the seven design principles of the security pillar.

Detecting Security Problems Using AWS

AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon providing cloud-based computing platforms. WOLK is certified to provide AWS Well-Architected Reviews. WOLK can track your IT performance around the clock to tackle any interruptions before they impact your business. Detecting security problems is critical to the success of your business.

AWS Well-Architected framework operates on the five pillars of Operation Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimisation. Security, the second pillar of AWS, refers to protecting your data, systems and assets. Before you architect a workload, security practices must be in place.

What does it mean to architect a workload? A workload refers to a collection of data and code that are integral to a business that will be planned, devised and scaled in a way that meets guidelines set out by Amazon. The AWS cloud executes an automated response to security issues.

Security: The Second Pillar

Within the pillar of security, seven design concepts can strengthen the security of AWS systems.

1. Implement a strong identity foundation means you should eliminate the use of long-term static credentials. Ensure there is a separation of duty when it comes to authorised personnel for interaction with AWS systems.

2. Keep people away from data suggests that you mitigate the risk for human error by reducing or eliminating manual processing of data. Use the automated tools available instead.

3. Prepare for security events by acting out simulated response situations.

4. Protect data in transit and at rest by organising it via levels of sensitivity. Use access control and encryptions for additional protection.

5. Automate security best practices to acquire a quicker response time when a security threat is detected.

6. Apply security at all layers by using multiple security controls.

7. Enable traceability by tracking changes in real-time so you can take action immediately if a security threat is detected.

Your security comprises five core components:

● Identity and access management
● Detection
● Infrastructure protection
● Data protection
● Incident response

Detecting Security Problems

Detection is critical in enabling you to identify a security threat or misbehaviour. Detective mechanisms are part of the threat identification and response effort and can include elements like analysing logs from your workload.

Performing vulnerability management is vital in detecting security problems promptly. Scan for vulnerabilities in your digital infrastructure by using a third party static code analysis tool or a third party dependency checking tool.

Validating the integrity of your software can also help in detecting security problems. To do this, you’ll want to implement mechanisms that confirm software, code and libraries that are part of the workload are from a trusted source.

Identify Your Areas of Risk

WOLK is a leading partner of the AWS Well-Architected Review Program and can provide a review that identifies high-risk items for your company. You’ll receive an AWS service credit that will cover the majority of high-risk items during the remediation stage.