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AWS Security Best Practices Checklist

While AWS security can be managed via a third party, some responsibilities must be addressed in-house.

CDW Expert CDW Expert

Every day, more professional industries are taking their business online, and that means the need for adequate cybersecurity is at an all-time high. AWS security services can provide near limitless benefits to all aspects of your business or organization. Many of those services can be managed by a third party, saving you even more time, money, and hassle. While AWS security can be managed via a third party, some responsibilities must be addressed in-house. Following a set of AWS security best practices can help ensure that every aspect of your AWS services is as safe as possible and operating as intended.

Whether you’re new to AWS or already on your journey, CDW Amplified™ Services for AWS can support you in achieving your business objectives. Explore AWS Services

What is AWS Security?

Amazon web services (AWS) is a collection of comprehensive cloud-based services designed to help with all facets of a business. AWS security is the services provided by AWS that center on cybersecurity, including but not limited to employee access, data storage, and network monitoring. These services include a mix of on-site and cloud-based hardware, which work together to maximize safety and efficiency. By learning more about AWS security practices, you can ensure the best possible cybersecurity for your growing business.

AWS Security Best Practices Checklist

Below, you can find a list of best practices that can be used to strengthen your AWS cloud security. There are other policies and procedures you can implement based on your specific industry, but these options are standard for most AWS clients and can be applied to any business. Some practices may be as easy as performing regular data backups or creating appropriate password policies but can go a long way in increasing overall security. By following this checklist, you can help ensure that your cloud-based and in-house services are as secure as possible:

1. Create Strong Password Policies

The first step in any form of cybersecurity is to establish strong password policies as soon as possible. This can include creating password requirements that use numbers, letters, and special characters. By requiring these additional characters, you make passwords exponentially harder to crack.

Another policy for password protection is to implement a reset schedule. Using a reset schedule to change employee credentials regularly prevents any fallout from disgruntled former employees and adds another layer of security to passwords. Third-party password management tools and services are other options that can automate similar policies and take the stress of password management off your hands.

2. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Sometimes, even the most robust password can be breached. An affordable and easy way to prevent this is to use what is called multi-factor authentication. This means that employees or clients wishing to access the network will need their password and a secondary device to log in.

Secondary devices can come in various formats, including physical devices such as key chains or flash drives or software like a smartphone app. What these additional devices do is provide time-based credentials required for access. These added credentials are reset at regular intervals so that the secondary device must always be present to log in. By using MFA, you can ensure that only current employees with regulated equipment can access your network.

3. Use Email Aliases

There will always be a root account with top-level control of all aspects of operations when using AWS services. This means that certain AWS services can only be seen and accessed using one set of login credentials. The drawback to this is that the cloud operates 24/7, and you may not always be available when a notification comes in or a service needs to be managed quickly.

A solution for this is using a group email alias. By using a group alias, multiple trusted company employees can share access to top-level services. This way, if you are unable to see a notification or be present to manage services, operations can still continue without delay.

4. Set Up AWS Identity & Access Management (IAM)

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a tool you can use to create specific identities within your network based on access permissions. This service allows the creation of users, groups, and roles, each with separate permissions set by an administrator. IAM can also be helpful for onboarding new employees, because they can quickly be assigned to a role or group based on their department. The biggest strength of IAM is that it gives you the power to strictly monitor and control access to a network or services within your business.

5. Perform Regular Data Backups

Backing up data is standard practice in most industries, but how and when you backup data can make a huge difference in damage mitigation and restoration times. Much like with password reset schedules, planned data backups create an added layer of protection for your business without halting regular operations.

A data backup is only as valuable as the data included in it. If a significant amount of time has passed between a backup and a loss of data, any content created in between is lost. By setting a schedule and creating regular backups, you can ensure a minimal loss of information and get back up and running as quickly as possible.

6. Create a Company Culture of Security

While somewhat more abstract than other practices, creating a company culture of security is imperative to getting the most out of your AWS security services. By discussing common security threats and questions with employees, you can make them feel more comfortable with AWS services. The greater an employee's knowledge of security services, the better they will be protected—and having a company culture based on cybersecurity helps to provide those benefits.

7. Maintain Regulatory Compliance

Cloud services are always running and frequently receive updates to services and regulations. Depending on the type of data you store or the services your business provides, regulations pertaining to your network can quickly change. Maintaining awareness of cloud events is critical to staying compliant and ensuring your AWS services are running correctly. In order to maintain compliance, a business must have a continuous understanding of regulations and any changes that might affect operations. The benefit of maintaining compliance is that it guarantees access to the newest data sources and connections within the cloud.

8. Keep Policies Up to Date

As stated earlier, cloud services are constantly operating and can frequently change or be updated. Keeping your policies up to date with software or service changes is essential to network security. Updates and changes can create weak spots within a network that can lead to network breaches or loss of sensitive data if not addressed. In many scenarios, policies will need to be updated to maintain compliance with new regulations or AWS standards. By staying up to date with security policies, you guarantee regulatory compliance and ensure a higher level of network security.

9. Manage Root Access

As mentioned before, an AWS service account will have root credentials that provide the highest level of access to a network. A possible problem with this is that if those credentials are breached, the entire network is in danger, and malicious parties could gain total control of your network.

IAM can combat this risk by creating a top-level user account with the same permissions as a root user that is accessed via different login credentials. That way, if one set of top-level access is breached, there is another available to tackle the problem quickly. MFA is another solution to this problem as it exponentially increases the difficulty of hacking login credentials.

10. Use Third-Party AWS Management

Whether you already use some form of AWS security or you are looking to expand your business via cloud solutions, you may need some additional help along the way. Third-party providers such as the experts at CDW are available to access, develop and/or manage your AWS security services at any time. CDW managed services for AWS include:

  • Security and Capacity Adviser:  Identify common security gaps and provides recommendations for right-sizing compute and storage.
  • Budget Adviser:  Track consumption by business unit, auto-generate reports (i.e., consumption tracking by department, auto-generated reports)
  • Billing Adviser:  Get graphical views of AWS spend.
  • LaunchPad:  Receive AWS and CloudHealth enablement from a CDW AWS Technical Account Manager.
  • Consolidated Billing and Leverage Net Terms:  Receive your AWS invoices from CDW and leverage your CDW net payment terms (approval required).
  • Leverage Your Trusted CDW Team:  You get all of these benefits while working with your usual CDW contacts.
  • No Charge to You:  CDW will provide these services at no charge to you if you switch your AWS billing to CDW.


AWS security services are an excellent and affordable way to protect your business from any cybersecurity threat. These services can range from access management to data storage and are crucial to the productivity and longevity of your business. When disaster strikes, AWS services are ready around the clock to work for you and minimize downtime and data loss. By implementing these AWS security best practices, you can optimize your AWS security services and reduce any potential areas of fault. Depending on your business, there may be more specific policies you may wish to implement, but following a standard list of practices is a great place to start and can benefit any organization.