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10 Proven Strategies for Achieving Security and Compliance in the AWS Cloud

Securing and ensuring compliance in an AWS cloud environment is a critical task for organizations. Here are some best practices for achieving security and compliance in AWS:

  1. Use the principle of least privilege when configuring access controls for AWS resources, by granting only the necessary permissions to users and groups.

  2. Use Identity and Access Management (IAM) to manage and control access to AWS resources, and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for privileged users.

  3. Use Security Group and Network Access Control Lists (NACLs) to control inbound and outbound traffic to instances, and ensure that only the necessary ports are open.

  4. Use Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to create a virtual network that is isolated from the public internet, and use VPC peering to connect multiple VPCs securely.

  5. Use AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to encrypt data at rest and in transit, and use AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) to manage SSL/TLS certificates.

  6. Use AWS Config to track changes in the configuration of AWS resources, and use AWS CloudTrail to track API calls to AWS services.

  7. Use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor logs, metrics and alarms, and use AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk to automate the deployment of AWS resources.

  8. Use AWS Organizations to centrally manage multiple AWS accounts and apply policies for security and compliance.

  9. Use AWS Service Catalog to create and manage approved lists of IT services, and use AWS Control Tower to set up and govern multi-account environments.

  10. Use AWS Marketplace to find and subscribe to pre-configured software that meets compliance requirements.

The principle of least privilege is a security best practice that involves granting users and groups the minimum level of access necessary to perform their job functions. This principle is particularly important in the context of AWS resources, as it can help prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security incidents.

When configuring access controls for AWS resources, it is important to grant only the necessary permissions to users and groups. This can be achieved by:

  1. Creating IAM users and groups, and assigning specific permissions to each group.

  2. Using IAM policies to define the permissions that users and groups have to access specific AWS resources.

  3. Using IAM roles to assign temporary permissions to users and groups, rather than providing permanent access keys.

  4. Reviewing and revoking permissions on a regular basis, to ensure that users and groups only have the permissions they need.

  5. Using AWS Organizations to centrally manage multiple AWS accounts and apply policies for security and compliance

By following the principle of least privilege, you can ensure that only authorized users and groups have access to your AWS resources and that they only have the permissions they need to perform their job functions. This can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security incidents, and help you to meet compliance requirements.

It's important to note that security and compliance is an ongoing efforts and access controls should be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary. Regularly monitoring and auditing access to your AWS resources can help you detect and prevent potential security incidents and breaches.


Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a web service that enables you to manage access to AWS resources securely. IAM allows you to create and manage AWS users and groups, and control what actions they can perform on specific AWS resources.

By using IAM to manage and control access to AWS resources, you can ensure that only authorized users and groups have access to your resources and that they only have the permissions they need to perform their job functions. This can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security incidents.

Here's what you can do to manage access to your AWS resources using IAM:

  • Create IAM Users and Groups, and assign specific permissions to each group.

  • Use IAM policies to define the permissions that users and groups have to access specific AWS resources.

  • Use IAM roles to assign temporary permissions to users and groups, rather than providing permanent access keys.

  • Review and revoke permissions on a regular basis, to ensure that users and groups only have the permissions they need.

  • Use AWS Organizations to centrally manage multiple AWS accounts and apply policies for security and compliance

In addition, to further enhance security, you can enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for privileged users, such as administrators, who have access to sensitive data or perform critical actions. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of authentication, such as a password and a token generated by an authentication app, in order to access AWS resources. This helps to prevent unauthorized access to your resources, even if a password is compromised. Maintaining the security and compliance of your AWS environment requires ongoing attention and effort. Regularly reviewing and updating access controls, as well as monitoring and auditing access to resources, can help identify and prevent potential security incidents and breaches.


Security groups and Network Access Control Lists (NACLs) are two important security features in AWS that allow you to control inbound and outbound traffic to your instances.

A security group acts as a virtual firewall for your instances and allows you to specify which inbound traffic is allowed to reach your instances. You can use security groups to restrict access to specific ports, protocols and IP ranges. This way you can ensure that only necessary ports are open and restrict traffic from IP ranges that are not needed.

A Network Access Control List (NACL) is another layer of security for your VPC. NACLs act as a firewall for controlling traffic in and out of one or more subnets. NACLs allow you to specify which inbound and outbound traffic is allowed, based on IP protocol, port and source/destination IP addresses. NACLs also have an explicit deny rule, which means that if a rule is not explicitly defined, the traffic will be denied.

By using security groups and NACLs together, you can create a multi-layer security strategy that provides fine-grained control over inbound and outbound traffic to your instances. This way you can ensure that only necessary ports are open, restrict traffic from IP ranges that are not needed and deny traffic that is not explicitly defined.

Here are some best practices to follow when using security groups and NACLs:

  • Use security groups to control inbound traffic to your instances, and only open the ports that are necessary for the applications running on the instances.

  • Use NACLs to control both inbound and outbound traffic at the subnet level, and ensure that traffic is only allowed or denied as per your security requirements.

  • Regularly review and update security group and NACL rules to ensure that they align with your security and compliance requirements.

  • Monitor traffic using AWS CloudWatch and CloudTrail

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is a service that allows you to create a virtual network in the AWS cloud. A VPC enables you to launch AWS resources, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, into a virtual network that you've defined.

When you create a VPC, you can specify its IP range, create subnets, and configure the network's security settings. You can also create a VPC that is isolated from the public internet, by using a VPC endpoint or a VPN connection. This way you can ensure that the resources in your VPC are not directly accessible from the internet, and only accessible through the VPC endpoint or VPN connection. This way you can create a secure and isolated network environment for your resources.

VPC Peering is a feature that allows you to connect two VPCs together, in a way that the resources in one VPC can communicate with the resources in the other VPC, as if they were in the same network. VPC Peering can be useful for scenarios where you need to share resources between VPCs, such as for disaster recovery or for scaling your application across multiple regions.

When creating VPC Peering, you can configure the peering connection in a way that the traffic between the VPCs is encrypted and only allowed between specific IP ranges. This way you can create a secure connection between your VPCs and ensure that only authorized traffic is allowed between the VPCs.

Here are some best practices to follow when using VPC:

  • Use VPC endpoints or VPN connections to isolate your VPCs from the public internet

  • Use security groups and Network Access Control Lists (NACLs) to control traffic to and from your VPCs

  • Use VPC Peering to connect VPCs in a secure way and ensure that only authorized traffic is allowed between the VPCs

  • Monitor traffic using AWS CloudWatch and CloudTrail

  • Regularly review and update VPC settings, security groups, NACLs, and VPC Peering connections to ensure that they align with your security and compliance requirements


AWS Key Management Service (KMS) is a managed service that allows you to create and manage encryption keys for encrypting data at rest and in transit. KMS enables you to encrypt data stored in Amazon S3, Amazon EBS, and Amazon RDS, as well as data sent over the internet using HTTPS. Using KMS, you can create and manage encryption keys, and use them to encrypt and decrypt data using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). You can also grant and revoke permissions to use the keys, and track the usage of the keys using AWS CloudTrail. This way, you can ensure that only authorized users and applications have access to the keys and that they can only use them for the intended purpose. AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) is a service that allows you to easily provision, manage, and deploy Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificates for use with AWS services. Using ACM, you can request a certificate, deploy it on an AWS resource, and renew or revoke the certificate. By using KMS to encrypt data at rest and in transit, and ACM to manage SSL/TLS certificates, you can secure your data and communications with the following benefits:

  • Encrypt data at rest and in transit to protect against unauthorized access

  • Use industry-standard encryption algorithms to secure your data

  • Easily manage and rotate encryption keys

  • Automatically renew and revoke SSL/TLS certificates

  • Reduce the operational overhead and costs associated with managing encryption keys and certificates

Here are some best practices for using AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail for security and compliance:

  1. Use AWS Config to track changes in the configuration of your AWS resources, and create rules that automatically check the configuration of your resources against desired settings. This can help you detect misconfigurations and ensure that your resources are compliant with your specified rules.

  2. Use AWS CloudTrail to track API calls to your AWS resources, and monitor for suspicious activity. This can help you detect and investigate unauthorized access and changes to your resources.

  3. Integrate AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail with other security and compliance tools, such as Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Lambda, and AWS Security Hub, to gain a comprehensive view of your resource configurations and activity.

  4. Use AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail to regularly audit your resource configurations and activity, and ensure that they align with your security and compliance requirements.

  5. Use AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail to generate alerts and take automated actions in response to detected security and compliance issues, such as stopping or terminating an EC2 instance or revoking an IAM user's acces




Amazon CloudWatch is a service that allows you to monitor logs, metrics, and alarms for your AWS resources. CloudWatch enables you to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, and set alarms. This allows you to detect and troubleshoot issues related to resource performance and availability.

AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk are services that allow you to automate the deployment of your AWS resources. CloudFormation enables you to use templates to create and update your resources, while Elastic Beanstalk enables you to deploy and manage web applications. These services allow you to automate the deployment process and ensure that your resources are consistently configured.

AWS Organizations is a service that allows you to centrally manage multiple AWS accounts, and apply policies for security and compliance. Organizations allow you to apply policies across multiple accounts, and to create and manage accounts in a hierarchical structure.

AWS Service Catalog is a service that allows you to create and manage approved lists of IT services, such as Amazon EC2 instances, RDS databases, and S3 buckets. Service Catalog enables you to ensure that users only have access to the services that are approved for their use, and to track the usage of services.

AWS Control Tower is a service that allows you to set up and govern multi-account environments. Control Tower helps you to set up a landing zone for your multi-account environment and provides guardrails for security, compliance, and governance.

AWS Marketplace is a service that allows you to find and subscribe to pre-configured software that meets compliance requirements, such as HIPAA or SOC 2. This allows you to find solutions that have already been vetted.

CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk to automate the deployment of AWS resources.

Here are some best practices for using Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk for security and compliance:

  1. Use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor logs, metrics, and alarms for your AWS resources. This can help you detect and troubleshoot issues related to resource performance and availability, and detect suspicious activity.

  2. Use AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk to automate the deployment of your AWS resources. This can help you ensure that your resources are consistently configured, and that changes to your resources are made in a controlled manner.

  3. Use AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk to version control your infrastructure. This allows you to roll back to a previous version of your infrastructure in case of a failure.

  4. Use AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk to implement security best practices, such as using IAM roles and security groups to control access to resources, and using encryption to protect data at rest and in transit.

  5. Use Amazon CloudWatch to set up alarms and notifications for security and compliance-related events, such as unauthorized access to resources or changes in resource configuration.

  6. Regularly review and update your security and compliance settings in Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudFormation and AWS Elastic Beanstalk, to ensure they align with your security and compliance requirements.



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