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Data Security at AWS

We can lose many things while operating in the cloud: instances fail, EBS volumes crash, services stop working. But you can’t go to your boss and say we’ve lost some data.

Data security—The reality is that your data is more secure and durable stored in the public cloud. At AWS, except for S3 Glacier archive storage, which is automatically encrypted, all other storage mediums at AWS are unencrypted by default. However, EBS volumes—both boot and data volumes—can be encrypted at rest and at transit using either customer master keys provided by AWS or keys provided by the customer. Shared storage services such as EFS can also be encrypted at rest, as can DynamoDB tables. S3 buckets can be encrypted with keys provided by AWS or supplied by customers, as shown in Figure 1-9. Data durability provides security of a different nature; all data stored in the cloud is stored in multiple locations; EBS volumes are replicated within the data center where they reside. S3 objects are replicated across three separate locations within the selected AWS region, producing a high level of durability. Amazon’s level of S3 durability is humorously defined like this: for every 1,000 objects stored in an S3 bucket, you will lose one of those objects every 10 million years. We cannot possibly duplicate this level of durability and security on-premise.

FIGURE 1-9

Figure 1-9 S3 buckets can be encrypted using AES-256 or AWS-KMS managed keys

Data privacy—AWS does not have data storage isolated for individual customers; all storage arrays at AWS are multitenant in design. This is pretty much the default for all public cloud providers. Amazon’s job is to make sure your stored data records are isolated per AWS account.

Data control—Customers are in full control of storing and retrieving their data stored in AWS. All data storage at AWS starts as private, and except for S3 buckets that are changed allowing public access, storage remains private and is not directly accessible from the outside world. Customers can choose to make S3 buckets public; it’s the customer’s responsibility to define the security and accessibility of all data records stored in AWS.

Security controls—As previously mentioned, all data records can be encrypted at AWS. Resource policies defining the precise level of security and access can be directly attached to resources such as S3 buckets or EFS shared storage and can be defined by the identity and access management (IAM) user and group security policy using the IAM service.

IAM identity and trust policies can be defined at a granular level controlling access by users and roles to all resources at AWS, including any storage medium. Chapter 7, “Security Services,” provides details on IAM.

You can enable multifactor authentication as an additional security control on S3 buckets to control when deletion of data records is performed.

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