Keeping up with modern business demands isn’t easy. Companies of all sizes are turning to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and similar platforms for unprecedented levels of scalability and adaptability that come with cloud computing.

Cloud transformation is more than important –– it’s essential. It allows organizations to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape, but as with most anything, there’s also a downside. Many companies don’t have a cybersecurity strategy that matches the pace of their tech adoption, leaving them open to attacks.

If you haven’t given much thought to your cloud security strategy, you’re not alone. Many companies don’t understand how security with AWS works.

In this post, we’re going to clear up a big misconception about AWS workload security, then look at ways you can strengthen your security posture.

What Is an AWS Workload?

If this is your first experience with Amazon Web Services, you might be wondering what these workloads are.

The official AWS workload definition is various “resources and code that deliver business value.”

Here’s an easier definition. A cloud workload is the work being processed in the cloud at any given time. Workloads can be many things, including containers, databases, and virtual machines –– they make up the resources and elements that make cloud applications work.

Further, an AWS workload is simply a type of cloud workload that’s being run in Amazon Web Services.

It’s important that you understand the significance of a workload, because they’re the driving force behind the services we use in the cloud. That’s because cloud-based applications are comprised of various workloads that power them and make sure everything works correctly.

For these applications to work, a lot of data has to move through your cloud environment –– and keeping that data secure is vital for your company’s survival.

Securing Complex Workloads in AWS

Why Cybersecurity Remains a Top Priority

Most companies rely on public cloud services. According to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 97% of companies use at least one public cloud service.

The 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report by the Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of a data breach is $150 per record. That can quickly add up. When you factor in regulatory fines and lost business, your organization could end up losing millions of dollars due to a cyberattack.

Ask organizations what their biggest challenges are, and most will say cybersecurity. Both enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) ranked security as their biggest cloud challenge.

And that makes sense. The cost of a data breach can cripple even the most successful companies.

Here’s where things get interesting. Ponemon also found that less than 25% of enterprises have security automation deployed to help protect them from cyberattacks. Using security automation can reduce the cost of a data breach by 60%. So, why aren’t more companies deploying security automation solutions to protect their AWS workloads?

There’s a common misconception that AWS is responsible for the security of your cloud environment, and that’s not entirely true. Here’s how it really works:

  • AWS is responsible for the security of the cloud
  • Customers are responsible for security in the cloud

In other words, AWS is responsible for delivering a secure infrastructure for you to work with, then you’re responsible for the security of everything built within AWS. This is known as the shared responsibility model.

It’s critical for companies using AWS to be cognizant of this shared responsibility, because most cloud security threats are avoidable. The majority of cloud security issues can be linked to the customers –– not AWS.

When asked about their biggest cloud security threats, companies ranked AWS misconfigurations as their greatest vulnerability. The next greatest threat was insecure APIs and interfaces, followed by poor access controls. All of these issues fall under the customer’s responsibility as per the shared responsibility model.

[Related Reading: AWS Security Best Practices]

How to Protect Your Workloads on AWS

There’s no denying that strengthening your AWS workload security comes with a unique set of challenges. Some of the biggest cloud security issues companies struggle with include:

  • Gaining comprehensive visibility into their infrastructure’s security
  • Meeting compliance requirements
  • Ensuring cloud security practices keep up with the rapidly changing pace of the threat landscape

The good news is that once you have a good understanding of your security role and responsibilities, half the battle is won. Now you can develop a strategy that fills in the gaps, minimizes your chances of attacks, and mitigates the damage of security-related issues.

If you haven’t yet, take a look at the Security Pillar of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. This comprehensive document will help you learn how to apply the best security practices to your cloud environment.

AWS revises their framework when needed. That way, you have access to up-to-date information regarding how to design, deliver, and maintain an effective AWS workload security strategy.

Implement a strategic security framework

After familiarizing yourself with AWS Guidance, your next step should be to implement a series of security best practices. Consider using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to help you improve your security posture.

By following the NIST framework, your organization will be better equipped to:

  • Protect your AWS systems against threats
  • Quickly detect anomalies and cybersecurity threats
  • Respond to cyberattacks and restore all services and capabilities impacted by an incident that occurs

This means you have the groundwork for an effective cybersecurity strategy that focuses on two equally important areas:

  1. Pre-breach: Minimizing the chances of a data breach by addressing vulnerabilities, configuration issues, and threats that leave your systems open to attack
  2. Post-breach: Reducing the damage and impact of a successful cyberattack through rapid detection and response

Building a Complete AWS Security Strategy

Let’s face it. Cloud security isn’t easy, and companies know it. That’s why most organizations agree that lack of expertise is the biggest barrier preventing them from migrating to cloud-based security.

Too many companies rely on incomplete cloud security solutions that don’t give them the protection they need –– either because they’re ineffective or because they’re not managed properly.

The answer to this problem is simple –– you need a comprehensive AWS security solution that bridges the gaps within the shared responsibility model.

Choose a solution that’s monitored round-the-clock by cybersecurity experts who know how to navigate the complexities of cloud environments and can help you minimize threats and lessen the impact of cyberattacks. Choose Fortra’s Alert Logic.

Now that we’ve touched on the basics of AWS workload security, are you ready to learn more?

Register for our webinar on Securing Complex Workloads in AWS or request a demo.

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