How to Secure Your AWS Cloud

How to Secure Your AWS Cloud Networks

AWS provides businesses of all sizes with reliable, secure cloud solutions. IT managers must recognize that the biggest security threats come from internal vulnerabilities, and the way that employees are granted access to the cloud network.

Three of the most common options for securing your AWS cloud networks include:

  1. SSL VPN
  2. IPSec VPN
  3. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Out of these, ZTNA provides the most secure option for granting access to resources stored on AWS. ZTNA’s primary advantage is that it eliminates the need to grant excessive privileges to those who need only limited access to data or files.

The following article explores ZTNA and AWS VPN solutions for securing AWS cloud networks.

1. What Is an SSL VPN?

Business VPNs typically use SSL/TLS instead of a dedicated VPN protocol such as IPSec or Wireguard. SSL VPNs are popular among companies due to their low cost and ease of use since they don’t require any special software, just a web-based interface. 

An SSL VPN is a reliable option for providing workers and contractors with remote access to company servers on AWS without a complex implementation process.

Advantages of an SSL VPN

  • SSL VPNs are cost-effective. Instead of installing special software, employees can connect to your AWS cloud using a web-based interface on any internet-connected device.
  • SSL VPNs are often preferred over IPsec VPNs for cloud-based applications, because an SSL AWS VPN client can be configured to establish a connection with a specific service within a server. 
  • Granular control provided by SSL VPNs can also provide greater security for remote access.

2. What is an IPsec VPN?

An IPsec VPN is a type of VPN that relies on the IPsec protocol to establish and maintain a secure connection. Instead of an SSL connection on the application layer, IPsec creates a connection on the network layer.

AWS site-to-site VPN options rely on IPsec to create a secure connection between your branch office or data center and your AWS cloud network.

SSL VPNs encrypt HTTP data while IPsec VPNs encrypt IP packets. The position of the IPsec protocol on the network layer also gives users greater access control. However, increased access can also lead to security risks without the right procedures in place.

Advantages of IPSec VPNs

  • Users connected to a network with an IPsec VPN can enjoy full user privileges. The connection allows the user to access servers as if they were physically connected to the internal network.
  • IPsec VPNs are also often used for on-premises applications that require remote access to a network. 
  • As IPsec functions at the network layer it offers stronger security for all traffic.

3. What is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) offers enhanced security compared to relying solely on SSL VPNs or IPsec VPNs. A VPN grants access to an entire network, while ZTNA grants access to specific services and applications, and can even limit access based on device type. This narrows potential security gaps by preventing users from gaining broad access to services and information they don’t need, and restricting the devices they can use to access that data.

Advantages of ZTNA for Cloud Security

  • Using ZTNA makes it easier to create a narrower set of access rules for users and groups, increasing the security of your AWS cloud networks. 
  • Zero Trust Network Access is also flexible offering a complete solution for accessing your network remotely. 
  • Gives IT everything they need for providing remote access in one cloud panel.
  • ZTNA increases network visibility compared to the VPN-only approach. It requires you to analyze all legacy and contemporary assets and resources to determine who or what needs access.
  • Easy implementation is also another win for ZTNA, which makes it more cost-effective and scalable. For example, at Perimeter 81, you can start by providing access to a small team of just 10 members and expand as more access is needed.
  • Since rules and group-based policies are clearly defined from the outset, ZTNA effectively automates access requests. This leaves security teams more time to focus on other threats. 
  • Users don’t need to wait on administrators for approvals keeping your office safe and productive.

How ZTNA Benefits Your Remote Workforce

Along with greater scalability, implementing ZTNA also offers improved data protection. Since it only grants access to specific resources, ZTNA limits what a user can access on your AWS cloud network. This prevents a malicious actor from taking advantage of access to one resource in order to quickly breach the rest of the network.

Zeroing in on Zero Trust

AWS cloud networks are as secure as you make them. In the past, SSL VPNs and IPSec VPNs were the standard methods for secure remote connections. ZTNA is now the recommended strategy for connecting people to remote company servers. The new approach means you gain increased flexibility by allowing users to access specific applications or services instead of your entire network. 

Contact us at Perimeter 81 to explore your options and decrease the risk of providing unwanted access to your data.