S3 Bucket Security

AWS S3 is a cloud-based data storage service. AWS S3 buckets can store any type of data for cloud-based applications, allowing the data to be retrieved at need. S3 buckets’ flexibility and low price make them a popular choice for data storage in the AWS cloud; however, they also come with security risks.

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How S3 Bucket Works

AWS S3 allows applications to store data in buckets. As their name suggests, buckets can store any type of data, ranging from completely unstructured to fully structured data. An application can dump any type of data into a bucket and then retrieve it when needed. This support for any type of data makes S3 buckets a flexible tool for cloud data storage. However, it can also create significant challenges with regard to cloud data visibility and data security. Under the cloud shared responsibility model, an organization is responsible for the security of the data that it stores within S3 buckets.

Legacy S3 Buckets

AWS S3 buckets can be configured to be publicly accessible or not. Currently, S3 buckets are non-public by default; however, that has not always been the case. Default private exposure and other security settings integrated into S3 buckets are the results of Amazon’s continued enhancements to the security of S3 buckets and AWS in general.

However, while many new security enhancements are built into newly-deployed S3 buckets, these updates are not retroactively deployed to an organization’s existing S3 buckets. As a result, companies that have been using S3 since before the switch to non-public exposure may have buckets that are publicly exposed by default. Similarly, S3 buckets that predate other security enhancements — such as Amazon CloudFront Origin Access Control — may lack these protections as well.

In theory, companies should manually deploy security updates to legacy S3 buckets, but this can be a challenging endeavor. A lack of comprehensive cloud visibility may mean that companies are unaware of S3 buckets containing corporate data, making it impossible to roll out new security features. In other cases, applying security updates — such as configuring S3 buckets for non-public access — may break critical business processes.

Legacy S3 buckets can pose significant security risks to an organization. Where possible, companies should attempt to identify legacy S3 buckets and apply security updates. If this is infeasible, legacy buckets should be assigned a risk factor in the enterprise risk management (ERM) system.

S3 Bucket Security Risks

Some of the main S3 bucket security challenges that organizations face include the following:

  • Unknown S3 Buckets: S3 buckets and other cloud computing resources are designed to be easy to deploy. As a result, corporate data may be stored in S3 buckets unknown to the security team and likely non-compliant with corporate security policies.
  • Data Visibility Gaps: S3 buckets enable organizations to store unstructured data cheaply in the cloud. If organizations lack visibility into the types of data being stored in their S3 buckets, sensitive data stored in S3 may be improperly protected and vulnerable to unauthorized access.
  • Retroactive Security: AWS has deployed numerous new solutions to improve the security of S3 buckets. However, while these solutions are automatically applied to new buckets, they often must be applied retroactively to existing buckets, which may not always be possible. As a result, legacy S3 buckets may lack critical security controls.
  • Security Misconfigurations: Security misconfigurations are a common cause of cloud data breaches and other security incidents. With the evolving state of S3 bucket security, security teams can struggle to ensure that security settings are properly configured across a variety of S3 buckets.
  • Siloed Security: Security solutions provided by AWS and other cloud providers are only available for their own platforms. Relying on built-in S3 bucket security solutions can make it difficult to enforce consistent security across multi-cloud environments.

S3 Bucket Security with CloudGuard

S3 buckets provide organizations with the ability to store unstructured data in the cloud at scale. However, while S3 buckets provide numerous benefits, they can also create security risks if not properly monitored and managed. This is especially true if companies have legacy S3 buckets that predate recent advances in S3 security that are not automatically applied retroactively.

Check Point CloudGuard provides security teams with the tools that they need to secure their cloud environments, including AWS S3 buckets. CloudGuard can help to identify corporate S3 buckets, audit their security configurations, and help security teams to close security gaps and protect S3 buckets against attack. Check Point CloudGuard also offers intuitive support for identity and access management (IAM) and enables companies to standardize security across multi-cloud deployments.

The first step to securing an AWS deployment is identifying the security gaps that exist. To learn more about your current AWS security posture, take a free AWS Cloud Security Checkup today.

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