Episode Summary

An uneventful week makes for an uneventful update—but that’s something all of us could get used to! In security news: multi cloud security doesn’t have to be so complicated, DNSSEC takes a bite out of Slack, and Corey’s take on AWS’s whitepaper on Ransomware Risk Management. Tune in for the latest!

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 Thinkst Canary. This might take a little bit to explain, so bear with me. I linked against an early version of their tool, canarytokens.org, in the very early days of my newsletter, and what it does is relatively simple and straightforward. It winds up embedding credentials, files, or anything else like that that you can generate in various parts of your environment, wherever you want them to live. It gives you fake AWS API credentials, for example, and the only thing that these things do is alert you whenever someone attempts to use them. It’s an awesome approach to detecting breaches. I’ve used something similar for years myself before I found them. Check them out. But wait, there’s more because they also have an enterprise option that you should be very much aware of: canary.tools. You can take a look at this, but what it does is it provides an enterprise approach to drive these things throughout your entire environment and manage them centrally. You can get a physical device that hangs out on your network and impersonates whatever you want to. When it gets Nmap scanned, or someone attempts to log into it, or access files that it presents on a fake file store, you get instant alerts. It’s awesome. If you don’t do something like this, instead you’re likely to find out that you’ve gotten breached the very hard way. So, check it out. It’s one of those few things that I look at and say, “Wow, that is an amazing idea. I am so glad I found them. I love it.” Again, those URLs are canarytokens.org and canary.tools. And the first one is free because of course it is. The second one is enterprise-y. You’ll know which one of those you fall into. Take a look. I’m a big fan. More to come from Thinkst Canary in the weeks ahead.

Corey: Somehow we made it through an entire week without a major vendor having a headline-level security breach. You know, I could get used to this; I’ll take, “It’s harder for me to figure out what to talk about here,” over, “A bunch of customers are scrambling because their providers have failed them,” every time.

So, let’s see what the community had to say. Last week, as you’re probably aware, Let’s Encrypt’s root certificate expiredwhich caused pain for a bunch of folks. Any device or configuration that hadn’t been updated for a few years is potentially going to see things breaking. The lesson here is to be aware that certificates do expire. The antipattern is to do super-long registrations for thing, but that just makes it worse.

One of the things Let’s Encrypt got very right is forcing 90-day certificate rotations for client certs. When you’ve got to do that every three months, you know where all of your certificates are. If you’ve got to replace it once every ten years, you’ll have no clue; that was six employees ago.

In bad week news, Slack was bitten by DNSSEC when they attempted and failed to roll it out. DNSSEC is a bag of pain it’s best not to bother with, as a general rule. DNS is always a bag of pain because of caching and TTL issues. In effect, Slack tried to roll out DNSSEC—probably due to a demand by some big corporate customer—had it fail, panicked and rolled back the change, and was in turn bitten by outages as a bunch of DNS resolvers had the DS key cached, but the authoritative nameservers stopped publishing it. This is a mess and a great warning to those of us who might naively assume that anything like DNSSEC that offers improved security comes without severe tradeoffs. Measure twice, cut once because mistakes are going to show.

I also found a somewhat alarmist article talking about cybersecurity assessments from your customers and fine, but it brings up a good point. If you’re somehow responsible for security but don’t have security in your job title—which, you know, this show is aimed at—you may one day be surprised to have someone from sales pop up and ask you to fill out a form from a prospective customer. Ignore the alarm and the panic but you’re going to want to get towards something approaching standardization around how you handle those.

The first time you get one of these, it’s a novel exercise; by the tenth, you just want to have a prepared statement you can hand them so you can move on with things. Well, those prepared statements are often called things like, “SOC 2 certifications.” There’s a spectrum and where you fall on it depends upon who you work for and what you do. So, take them seriously and don’t be surprised when you get one.

AWS had a few interesting security-related announcements. AWS Lambda now supports triggering Lambda functions from an Amazon SQS queue in a different account. That doesn’t sound like a security announcement, so why am I talking about it? Because until recently, it wasn’t possible so a lot of folks scoped their IAM policies very broadly; what do you care if any random SQS queue in your own account can invoke a Lambda? With this change, suddenly internet randos can invoke Lambda functions, and you should probably go check production immediately.

Announcer: Have you implemented industry best practices for securely accessing SSH servers, databases, or Kubernetes? It takes time and expertise to set up. Teleport makes it easy. It is an identity-aware access proxy that brings automatically expiring credentials for everything you need, including role-based access controls, access requests, and the audit log. It helps prevent data exfiltration and helps implement PCI and FedRAMP compliance. And best of all, Teleport is open-source and a pleasure to use. Download Teleport at goteleport.com. That’s goteleport.com.

Corey: Migrating custom Landing Zone with RAM to AWS Control Tower. It’s worth considering the concept here because, “Using the polished thing” is usually better than building and then maintaining something yourself. You wind up off in the wilderness; then AWS shows up and acts befuddled, “Why on earth would you build things the way that we told you to build them at the time you set up your environment?” It’s obnoxious and they need to stop talking and own their mistakes, but keeping things current with the accepted way of doing things is usually worth at least considering.

AWS has a whitepaper on Ransomware Risk Management out and I’m honestly conflicted about it. There are gems but it talks about a pile of different services they offer to offset the risk. Some of them—like AWS Backup—are great.

Others—“Use Systems Manager State Manager”—present as product pitches for products of varying quality and low adoption. On balance, it’s worth reading but retain a healthy skepticism if you do. It should be noted that the points that the address and the framework they lay out is exactly how risk management folks think, and that’s helpful.

Validate IAM policies in CloudFormation templates using IAM Access Analyzer. I like that one quite a bit. It does what it says on the tin, and applies a bunch of more advanced linting rules than you’d find in something like cfn-lint.

Note that this costs nothing for a change, even though it does communicate with AWS to run its analysis. Note that as AWS improves the Access Analyzer, findings will likely change, so be aware that this may well result in a regression should you have it installed as part of a CI/CD pipeline.

And as far as tools go, if you’re not a security researcher, good; you’re in the right place. But that said, if you have a spare afternoon at some point, you may want to check out Pacu—that’s P-A-C-U. It’s an open-source AWS exploitation framework that lets you see just how insecure your AWS accounts might be. I generally leave playing with those sorts of things to security professionals, but this is a fun way to just take a quick check and see if there’s a burning fire that jumps out that might arise for you down the road. And I’ll talk to you more about all this stuff next week.

Corey: I have been your host, Corey Quinn, and if you remember nothing else, it’s that when you don’t get what you want, you get experience instead. Let my experience guide you with the things you need to know in the AWS security world, so you can get back to doing your actual job. Thank you for listening to the AWS Morning Brief: Security Edition.

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