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AWS Additional Monitoring Tools

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AWS Config



AWS Config is an AWS fully managed change management solution within AWS. It allows you to track the change history of individual resources and configure notifications when a resource changes.


This is achieved by means of config rules. A config rule represents the desired state that the resource should be in.


Config rules allow you to monitor for systems that fall outside of your set baselines and identify which changes caused the system to fall out of compliance with the baseline. AWS Config is enabled on a per-region basis, so you need to enable it for every region in which you want to use it.


Bear in mind that AWS Config is a monitoring tool and does not actually enforce baselines, nor does it prevent a user from making changes that cause a resource to move out of compliance.


AWS Config enables you to capture the configuration history for your AWS resources, maintain a resource inventory, audit and evaluate changes
in resource configuration, and enable security and governance by integrating notifications with these changes. You can use it to discover AWS resources in your account, continuously monitor resource configuration against desired resource configuration, and check the configuration details for a resource at a given point in time.


AWS Config is used to assess compliance as according to your set internal guidelines for maintaining resource configurations, as well as enabling compliance auditing, security analysis, resource change tracking, and assisting with operational troubleshooting.


AWS Trusted Advisor


AWS Trusted Advisor service analyzes and checks your AWS environment in real-time and gives recommendations for the following four areas:


Cost optimization
Fault tolerance


Trusted Advisor or TA integrates with AWS IAM so you can control access to checks as well as to categories.


The current status of these checks is displayed in the TA dashboard as follows:


Red: Action recommended
Yellow: Investigation recommended
Green: No problem detected


Where the colour is red or yellow, TA provides alert criteria, recommended actions, and relevant resource details, such as details of the
security groups allowing unrestricted access via specific ports.


Six core checks are available for all AWS customers free of charge.


Five checks for security plus one check for performance:


service limits
IAM use
security groups-unrestricted ports
MFA on root account
Elastic block storage public snapshot
RDS public snapshot.




AWS Inspector


AWS Inspector provides for the automation of security assessments. The assessments can be set to run on a schedule or when an event occurs that is monitored by Amazon CloudWatch, or also via an API call. The dashboard shows the assessments, as well as the findings from the various scans that have run.


Amazon Inspector makes use of assessment templates that define which sets of rules you want to run against your environment.


Two types of assessments are offered by AWS Inspector: network assessments and host assessments.


Network assessments don’t require any agent to be installed. However if you want detailed information about processes running on a specific port then you need to install the AWS Inspector Agent.


Host assessments however require the Inspector Agent to be installed. These assessments are far more detailed and scan for things such as vulnerable versions of software, violations of security best practices, and areas that should be system hardened. You can select these assessments set up AWS Inspector.


You create an assessment template in Inspector which you then use to assess your environment by means of an Assessment Run which will then report on its findings.


Templates contain one or more rules packages. A rules package defines what you are checking for. Note that you can’t create custom rules packages; you can use only the rules packages provided by AWS. Currently, these are the rules packages available, listed by assessment type:

Network assessments

Network Reachability: This rules package checks your environment’s network configurations, including your security groups, network access control lists (NACLs), route tables, subnets, virtual private cloud (VPC), VPC peering, AWS Direct Connect and virtual private gateways (VPGs), Internet gateways (IGW), EC2 instances, elastic load balancers (ELBs), and elastic network interfaces (ENIs).


Host assessments

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE): This rules package checks your systems to see if they are vulnerable to any of the CVEs reported.


Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks: This rules package assesses your systems against CIS benchmarks specific to your OS.


There are Level 1 and Level 2 checks. Level 1 is usually safe to implement; Level 2 is more risky as the settings in Level 2 may have unintended side effects. Level 2 is usually used in environments where a very high level of security is required.


Security Best Practices: This rules package assesses how well your environment confirms to security best practices. Eg, it will check that a Linux EC2 instance cannot be logged into via SSH.


Runtime Behavior Analysis: This rules package identifies risky behaviors on your systems, such as using insecure protocols for connecting or open ports that are not in use.




AWS GuardDuty


GuardDuty is the AWS intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention system (IPS). It uses threat intelligence feeds and analyzes logs from multiple sources, such as VPC flow logs, AWS CloudTrail event logs, and DNS logs.


GuardDuty can alert you to suspicious activity that could indicate potential issues such as leaked user account credentials, privilege escalation attacks, and possible command-and-control type activities.


GuardDuty scans specifically for three types of activity:


Instance compromise
Account compromise


Reconnaissance is the first step of an attack and was defined in the “Cyber Kill Chain”, developed by Lockheed Martin. During the reconnaissance
phase, an attacker is learning about your environment through actions such as vulnerability scans to probe for IP addresses, hostnames, open ports, and misconfigured protocols.


GuardDuty can detect also utilize threat intelligence feeds to detect IP addresses known to be malicious. You can use findings reported by GuardDuty to automatically remediate the vulnerability become it develops into a security violation.


The next type of activity is instance compromise. This consists of several indicators that may be present, such as malware command and control, crypto miners, unusual traffic levels or unusual network protocols, or communication with a known malicious IP.



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