Collecting Evidence for the Prosecution

Episode Summary

Last week in security news: WTF is Cloud Native Data Security is now answered, Scott Piper is at it again on his blog, Alexa keeps on listening, and more!

Episode Show Notes & Transcript


Corey: This is the AWS Morning Brief: Security Edition. AWS is fond of saying security is job zero. That means it’s nobody in particular’s job, which means it falls to the rest of us. Just the news you need to know, none of the fluff.

Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by our friends at Sysdig. Sysdig is the solution for securing DevOps. They have a blog post that went up recently about how an insecure AWS Lambda function could be used as a pivot point to get access into your environment. They’ve also gone deep in-depth with a bunch of other approaches to how DevOps and security are inextricably linked. To learn more, visit and tell them I sent you. That’s S-Y-S-D-I-G dot com. My thanks to them for their continued support of this ridiculous nonsense.

Corey: Well, oops. Last week in the newsletter version of this podcast I used the wrong description for a link. On the plus side, I do find myself wondering if anyone hunts down the things I talk about on this podcast and the newsletter I send out, and now I know an awful lot of you do. And you have opinions about the correctness of my links. The actual tech company roundup that I linked to last week was, in fact, not an AWS blog post about QuickSight community—two words that are an oxymoron if ever two were—but instead a roundup in The Register. My apologies for the oversight. Now, let’s dive into what happened last week in the wide world of AWS security.

In my darker moments, I find myself asking a very blunt question: “WTF is Cloud Native Data Security?” I confess it never occurred to me to title a blog post with that question, and this article I found with that exact title is in fact one of the better ones I’ve read in recent days. Check it out if the subject matter appeals to you even slightly because you’re in for a treat. There’s a lot to unpack here.

Scott Piper has made good on his threat to publish a imdsv2 wall of shame. So far, two companies have been removed from the list for improving their products’ security posture—I know, it’s never happened before—but this is why we care about these things. It’s not to make fun of folks; it’s to make this industry better than it was.

A while back I talked about various cloud WAFs—most notably AWS’s—having a fun and in-hindsight-obvious flaw of anything above 8KB just sort of dances through the protective layer. Well, even Google and its, frankly, impressive security apparatus isn’t immune. There’s an article called “Piercing the Cloud Armor” that goes into it. This stuff is hard, but honestly, this is kind of a recurring problem. I’m sort of wondering, “Well, what if we make the packet bigger?” Wasn’t that the whole problem with the Ping of Death, back in the ’80s? Why is that still a thing now?

Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by LaunchDarkly. Take a look at what it takes to get your code into production. I’m going to just guess that it’s awful because it’s always awful. No one loves their deployment process. What if launching new features didn’t require you to do a full-on code and possibly infrastructure deploy? What if you could test on a small subset of users and then roll it back immediately if results aren’t what you expect? LaunchDarkly does exactly this. To learn more, visit and tell them Corey sent you, and watch for the wince.

And of course, a now patched vulnerability in Amazon Alexa meant that the speaker could activate itself. Because it’s a security problem with an Amazon product that I’ve paid for, I of course learn about this via a third-party talking about it. Man, my perspective on Amazon’s security messaging as a whole has gone from glowing to in the toilet remarkably quickly this year. And it’s their own damn fault.

Now, AWS had a single post of note here called “Streamlining evidence collection with AWS Audit Manager”. This post slash quote-unquote “Solution” highlights a concern that’s often overlooked by security folks. It very innocently talks about collecting evidence for an audit, which is perfectly reasonable.

You need evidence that your audit controls are being complied with. Now, picture someone walking past a room where you’re talking about this, and all they hear is “Evidence collection.” Maybe they’re going to feel like there’s more going on here than an audit. Perhaps they’re going to let their guilty conscience—and I assure you, everyone has one—run wild with fears that whatever imagined transgression they’ve committed has been discovered? Remember the human.

And of course, I found two tools in open-source universe that might be of interest to folks. The first: AWS has open-sourced a security assessment solution to use Prowler and ScoutSuite that scan your environment. It’s handy, but I’m having a hell of a hard time reconciling its self-described ‘inexpensive’ with ‘it deploys a Managed NAT gateway.’

And Domain Protect—an open-source project with a surprisingly durable user interface—scans dangling DNS entries to validate that you’re not, y’know, leaving a domain of yours open to exploit. You’re going to want to pay attention to this vector, but we haven’t for 15 years, so why would we start now? And that’s what happened last week in the wide world of AWS security. I am Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. Thank you for listening. There’s always more yet to come.

Corey: Thank you for listening to the AWS Morning Brief: Security Edition with the latest in AWS security that actually matters. Please follow AWS Morning Brief on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Overcast—or wherever the hell it is you find the dulcet tones of my voice—and be sure to sign up for the Last Week in AWS newsletter at

Announcer: This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.
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