AWS Well-Architected best practices important for infrastructure protection

Posted by Ben Potter on Wednesday, January 20, 2021


What is infrastructure protection?

Infrastructure protection encompasses the compute and networking of your workload. It includes strategies, such as defense in depth, to meet your organizational or regulatory obligations. It’s important to protect your infrastructure from many different types of threats, and these best practices will help you.

How do you protect your network resources?

The AWS Well-Architected question related to protecting your network resources is How do you protect your network resources? Any workload that has some form of network connectivity, whether it’s the internet or a private network, requires multiple layers of defense to help protect from external and internal network-based threats.

The best practices are:

Create network layers: Group components that share reachability requirements into layers. For example, a database cluster in a VPC with no need for internet access should be placed in subnets with no route to or from the internet. In a serverless workload operating without a VPC, similar layering and segmentation with microservices can achieve the same goal.

Control traffic at all layers: Apply controls with a defense in depth approach for both inbound and outbound traffic. For example, for Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) this includes security groups, Network ACLs, and subnets. For AWS Lambda, consider running in your private VPC with VPC-based controls.

Automate network protection: Automate protection mechanisms to provide a self-defending network based on threat intelligence and anomaly detection. For example, intrusion detection and prevention tools that can pro-actively adapt to current threats and reduce their impact.

Implement inspection and protection: Inspect and filter your traffic at each layer. For example, use a web application firewall to help protect against inadvertent access at the application network layer. For Lambda functions, third-party tools can add application-layer firewalling to your runtime environment.

How do you protect your compute resources?

The AWS Well-Architected question related to protecting your compute resources is How do you protect your compute resources? Compute resources in your workload require multiple layers of defense to help protect from external and internal threats. Compute resources include EC2 instances, containers, AWS Lambda functions, database services, IoT devices, and more.

The best practices are:

Perform vulnerability management: Frequently scan and patch for vulnerabilities in your code, dependencies, and in your infrastructure to help protect against new threats.

Reduce attack surface: Reduce your attack surface by hardening operating systems, minimizing components, libraries, and externally consumable services in use.

Implement managed services: Implement services that manage resources, such as Amazon RDS, AWS Lambda, and Amazon ECS, to reduce your security maintenance tasks as part of the shared responsibility model.

Automate compute protection: Automate your protective compute mechanisms including vulnerability management, reduction in attack surface, and management of resources.

Enable people to perform actions at a distance: Removing the ability for interactive access reduces the risk of human error, and the potential for manual configuration or management. For example, use a change management workflow to deploy EC2 instances using infrastructure as code, then manage EC2 instances using tools instead of allowing direct access or a bastion host.

Validate software integrity: Implement mechanisms (for example, code signing) to validate that the software, code, and libraries used in the workload are from trusted sources and have not been tampered with.

Further reading: AWS Well-Architected Security Pillar