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What Is Amazon Web Services (AWS) Compliance?

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AWS Compliance Overview

What is AWS Compliance? AWS Compliance standards enable users of the public cloud to maintain security and data protection. Professional security auditors regularly monitor and audit the AWS platform and its services. AWS customers are informed of the findings of these audits and can then use the information to make decisions. In this way, they gain critical knowledge about AWS security, which helps bolster their confidence in the safety of their data in the AWS environment.

The platform and infrastructure AWS offers are designed to measure up to common IT security standards. To guarantee client data protection, AWS also has to follow common IT security procedures.

How Does AWS Compliance Work?

AWS is divided into various services, and each can be customized based on user requirements. AWS ensures configuration settings and individual server mappings are visible to users.

The complete portfolio of Amazon Web Services includes more than 100 functions, such as computing, database, infrastructure management, application development, and security. Each of these general functions comes with its own compliance standards, and AWS Compliance ensures that these standards are sufficient to meet the requirements of the most common compliance measures, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this way, customers gain confidence that their AWS-powered environment is in line with the standards that govern their industry and area.

What Standards Does AWS Comply with?

With AWS, users automatically benefit from many different kinds of compliance controls, including from certain international regulatory bodies. These include:

  1. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
  2. HIPAA and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
  3. Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)
  4. GDPR
  5. Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS 140-2)
  6. SP 800-171 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Benefits of AWS Compliance

AWS compliance services come with several benefits for companies who use the AWS environment to host their data and applications.

Certification by a Third-Party for Multiple Global Requirements

AWS regularly receives third-party certification for hundreds of global compliance criteria. These make it easier and less time-consuming for organizations in the finance, retail, healthcare, government, and other industries to meet security and compliance standards. 

AWS actively monitors each of these industries' compliance standards. If there is a change in any of them, AWS Compliance will adjust to enable customers to more easily meet them.

Gain Access to the Most Recent Security Measures That AWS Employs for Its Own Infrastructure

In addition to giving you access to tools you can use to reduce costs and apply your own unique security measures, AWS gives you access to the same standards it uses for its own security compliance. In a way, AWS customers get to piggyback off of the company's own compliance efforts. 

Automate and Simplify Compliance

Scaling can make it hard to maintain compliance. But with AWS activity monitoring services, you can identify configuration changes and security events throughout your system. This reduces risk when scaling your cloud-based systems. You can even integrate AWS services with your current solutions to streamline compliance reporting.

Automated Compliance Reporting

With AWS Artifact, an automatic compliance reporting tool, you can get on-demand access to more than 2,500 security rules. This frees up your IT team because they no longer have to spend time designing and managing their own reporting system.

How To Maintain AWS Compliance

Within the AWS system, you can use AWS Config to maintain continuous compliance. Here are two ways to do that:

1.         Take advantage of the Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS): This will send an alert whenever there is a change in the environment that puts your system out of compliance. When you get the alert, you can immediately start remediating the issue.

2.         Use AWS Lambda for automated remediation: When there is a change that puts your system out of compliance, the Lambda function gets triggered and starts an automated remediation process.

How to maintain AWS compliance

Myths About AWS Security Compliance

While AWS Compliance programs can be effective tools, they have also given rise to a few myths.

Myth #1: Compliance Is Automatic with AWS

While AWS itself is both secure and compliant, nothing an organization deploys is guaranteed to be compliant. Therefore, while the hardware and data centers that power AWS are secure, you may have to set up security measures and implement compliance rules manually. This is outlined in the AWS Shared Responsibility Model, which is described in more detail below.

Myth #2: AWS Performs Backups Automatically

AWS does not automatically perform backups for users. To provide complete redundancy, you need a disaster recovery service, which can include offline storage provided by a third party.

Myth #3: AWS Has Automatic Redundancy and Never Fails

As with all technology, there is always the chance something will fail. You have to build your architecture, including all applications, to be redundant. Even though AWS offers data centers in multiple geographic areas, it is possible that more than one can be compromised or damaged at the same time. Although it is rare, in the past, AWS services have gone down or been only partially available.

AWS vs Azure vs GCP Security Compliance—Who Is Responsible?

The security compliance standards of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are similar, particularly when it comes to the concept of shared responsibility.

AWS's Take on Shared Responsibility

AWS adopts a straightforward strategy for its shared responsibility model. Customers are in charge of maintaining the security of their own data, user accounts, applications, and other personal information in the AWS cloud. At the same time, AWS is in charge of the cloud's security, which includes the hardware powering data centers, physical servers, storage, and networking components.

Azure's Shared Responsibility

The Azure shared responsibility model outlines three basic areas of responsibility:

  1. Responsibility always retained by the customer: This applies to user accounts, which are also known as identities, as well as data and devices connected to the environment, such as cellphones and PCs.
  2. Responsibility varies by type: The second category is less black and white and more of a gray area. Responsibility varies depending on the cloud model employed, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). For example, Microsoft and the customer share responsibility when it comes to PaaS services identity and directory infrastructure, applications, and network controls. However, Microsoft is fully responsible for the PaaS operating system. To see a detailed breakdown, refer to the Microsoft website.
  3. Responsibility transfers to cloud provider: Whether the service is SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, the cloud provider is completely in charge of security, as long as the system is in the cloud and not in the customer's on-premises environment.

GCP Shared Responsibility

Google's approach to the shared responsibility model is a little more complicated. Called the Shared Responsibility Matrix, it explicitly states who is in charge of security in each situation. This complicated yet thorough 87-page matrix outlines how each party’s responsibilities break down according to different compliance standards, such as PCI DSS.

How Does AWS Help Customers Achieve Compliance in the Cloud?

Customers' data, identities, applications, and devices are protected by the data centers and networks that power AWS. It should come as no surprise that AWS is the only commercial cloud service certified to be secure enough to handle top-secret workloads.

Additionally, AWS enables customers to conform to more compliance certification standards and security requirements than any other cloud provider. As mentioned above, this covers NIST 800-171, FIPS 140-2, FedRAMP, GDPR, HIPAA/HITECH, and PCI DSS. Customers can use AWS security guidelines and compliance measures to ease the operational burden involved in meeting security and compliance requirements.

Additionally, customers can use any of the numerous resources and services offered by AWS. AWS also has extensive experience working with businesses in the financial services industry, such as banks, capital markets, fintech startups, insurance firms, and payment processors.

How Fortinet Can Help?

Fortinet offers security-driven networking, application and application programming interface (API) protection, and cloud-native management with the Fortinet Cloud Security for AWS. With this tool, integrations with essential AWS services are simpler, and you get full visibility across your AWS environments. The result is extensive, all-encompassing security that keeps your organization in compliance with all necessary industry standards.

FAQs

What is AWS Compliance?

AWS Compliance standards enable users who use the public cloud to maintain security and data protection.