OMIGOD, Get it Together Already

Episode Summary

OMIGOD! Microsoft is back at it again with Azure for two weeks running! Join Corey for this week’s security updates: Travi CI flaw lets the cat out of the bag, take a peak behind the Figma curtain, how to step up your remote workforce security game, and more! Tune in for the rest and Corey’s take!

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,, 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: 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 and 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 weeks ahead.

Corey: Oh, for th—this is the third episode of the Last Week in AWS slash AMB: Security Edition, and instead of buying a sponsorship like a reasonable company, Microsoft Azure is once again forcing me to talk about their cloud instead, via completely blowing it when it comes to security. Again. Not only did they silently install an agent onto virtual machines in Azure that add a handful of trivially exploitable vulnerabilities, it’s also apparently your job to fix it for them. I have to confess, I take Azure a lot less seriously than I did a month ago.

Now, let’s dive in here. Speaking of terrible things, it’s honestly difficult for me to imagine a company screwing the pooch harder than TravisCI did this month. They had a bug that started leaking private credentials into public build logs; this is bad. They fixed it; this is good. And then only begrudgingly disclosed it in a buried release with remarkably little public messaging; this is unfathomable. At this point, if you’re using TravisCI, get the hell off of it. Mistakes happen to every vendor. The ones that try to hide their mistakes are absolutely not companies you can trust.

If you put up a slide deck and accompanying notes entitled How to Build Strong Security Guardrails in the AWS Cloud With Minimal Effort, I’m probably going to take a look at it because strong guardrails are important and minimal effort is critical if you expect it to actually get done. If you’re also my longtime friend Mark Nunnikhoven, then I’m going to default to treating it as gospel because Mark frankly does not miss when it comes to AWS concepts explained in an easily approachable way. Security has got to be aligned with the way engineers work within your environment. Remember, it’s not that hard to spin up a new AWS account on someone’s corporate credit card; you absolutely do not want to incentivize that behavior.

Corey: I periodically say the OWASP Top 10, which is a list of the most critical security risks for applications on the web, has not meaningfully changed in ten years. Well, apparently it just did. It’s worth reviewing the changes; broken configurations top the list. The Open Web Application Security Project—OWASP—is a foundation that’s remained surprisingly free of capture by security vendors. It’s a good starting point to frame your risk exposure and what to think about.

AWS VP and Distinguished Engineer Colm MacCárthaigh has an article on AWS’s new signing protocol, along with the differences between AWS SIGv4 and SIGv4A. As a quick primer, all requests to AWS are signed for authentication reasons. The new SIGv4A isn’t region-locked—and the recent release of the S3 Multi-Region Access Points is why it makes it a bit of a problem—there’s no key exchange, and it’s more computationally expensive. You don’t really need to know the details as a practitioner, but you should be aware that AWS very much does put stupendous thought into this, and they sweat the details something fierce. This is why we trust cloud providers like AWS, and Google Cloud, and absolutely not Azure.

Figma has a great post up, talking about how they stopped using SSH via bastion host and started using Systems Manager Session Manager instead. Bad name, wonderful service. More to the point, what I like about this post isn’t just the, “Here’s how the technology works,” parts, but also dives into the nuts and bolts of how they handled the migration without stopping work for folks. Communicating changes like this is tricky; don’t lose sight of that.

Now, from the mouth of AWS horse itself, let’s dive in. AWS Firewall Manager now supports AWS WAF rate-based rules. This is pretty awesome if for no other reason than it’s aware both of multiple regions as well as multiple accounts.

An awful lot of security services that are both first and third-party alike tend to go for addressing only one of those at best. Anything that lets you manage things centrally in a holistic way when it comes to security is generally going to be a win, but you also don’t want a giant single point of failure. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but that’s why our field needs us. It’s why they pay us.

How to automate incident response to security events with AWS Systems Manager Incident Manager. And I’m genuinely torn on this. I like automation, but it strikes me as a way to end up automating the responses to fairly common things rather than addressing the actual cause so you get fewer false alarms. You really don’t want the security pager going off frequently, if for no other reason than you’ll be training the people carrying it to ignore it.

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 That’s

Corey: AWS is harping about its New Standard Contractual Clauses now part of the AWS GDPR Data Processing Addendum for customers, blah, blah, blah—look, if you have compliance obligations, here’s what you do. Check the documents in AWS Artifact, reach out to your account manager for additional resources, and whatever you do, do not attempt to YOLO it yourself from first principles. AWS has piles and piles of documents ready and waiting to satisfy regulators and auditors alike. I tried to do it myself once, and a financial institution attempted to set up a tour of us-east-one. Trust me when I say you don’t want to go down that path.

Protect your remote workforce by using a managed DNS firewall and network firewall. Look, the post can safely be discarded; it’s chock full of complexity lurking deep in the weeds, but I bring it up instead so that you think for a moment about the threat model of a remote workforce, read as most of them these days. Does having a DNS firewall protect against threats that they’re likely to encounter? Does a network firewall make sense in a zero-trust world? Consider those things in the context of your environment rather than in the context of a company that has things it needs to sell you. Good decisions are rarely sourced from vendors.

A couple of tools as well. Automating response and remediation is one of those delicate balances. The unimaginatively named AWS Security Hub Automated Response and Remediation GitHub repo has ways to handle this but it’s going to be super easy to automate away things that really shouldn’t be automated. You are definitely going to want to think through edge and corner cases.

And lastly, I tripped over checkov last week. It analyzes your Terraform slash CloudFormation slash whatever configurations for various misconfigurations. It caught a couple of things that I’ve been ignoring for a while, and while it missed another couple of problems in my environment, it’s definitely going to be something I integrate into my deployment pipelines in the future, once I have deployment pipelines. 
That’s checkov—C-H-E-C-K-O-V—open-source projects. Take a look. I’m a fan.

And that’s what happened to the world of AWS security last week. Enjoy not having to care about the rest of it.

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 Editionwith the latest in AWS security that actually matters. Please follow AWS Morning Brief on Apple Podcasts, 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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