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Best practices for effective web application security via AWS monitoring

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effective web application security

Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, your web applications are likely one of your most important assets. From marketing and sales to customer service and accounting, there is no doubt that your web applications are integral to the success of your business.

No matter the size of your company, it is essential for you to have a good understanding of how security can protect your business from hackers or compromised data. Though not all threats are the same, here are some basic best practices for web application security.

1. Implement a vulnerability management strategy

Vulnerability management is an integral part of any business security plan. While it may not be the be-all-end-all, it does contribute to a significant part of a company’s security strategy. More than 50% of cyberattacks happen due to an error or flaw in a system, so it’s vital to keep your network up-to-date.

In this case, a vulnerability management strategy focuses on the prevention and mitigation of risk, which includes a combination of both automated and manual processes. The best practices for web application monitoring address this prevention and mitigation, which include:

  • Using the right tools to monitor and analyze your assets, ensuring that your system is not vulnerable
  • Leveraging automated scans to look for any vulnerabilities in your systems
  • Having a robust incident response plan, in the event of a security breach

Since every network has unique vulnerabilities, the most effective solutions combine manual and automated capabilities to analyze and fix possible security weaknesses.

You can use the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security Checkup to perform a vulnerability assessment to ensure that your applications are secure. This feature is available in both S3 and EC2 environments. You can identify your AWS services with status and an overview of the security plan.

You can also set an Alerts policy, which ensures that there are appropriate security measures in place.

2. Logging is critical in the security process

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is overlooking the importance of logging. Logging is one of the most basic but crucial aspects of any security process. Whether it’s web application code, REST endpoints, or data pipelines, automated analysis can detect and monitor anomalies and address any problems early on.

When analyzing web application security, it’s important to establish a log context by analyzing code, rather than data. When looking at a complex web application, it may be tempting to dump all logs at the root level, but this is not the right approach.

Instead, you should consider creating regular events to analyze and respond to activities in your application. It can be beneficial to use security event patterns and deep monitoring to help you optimize your application’s security.

3. Securing your AWS EC2 instance from attackers

Security experts have noticed a rising trend of attacks on WordPress sites stemming from Amazon EC2 instances. Business owners enjoy the convenience of AWS to run and deploy their web applications, but cybercriminals can also enjoy those same technological benefits.

By using unsecured AWS instances, a hacker could launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against your servers by flooding the server with traffic. Since EC2 instances are regularly scheduled, they are open to being taken over by an attacker. In many of the attacks against WordPress sites, it’s theorized that the majority of EC2 instances being used are from stolen login credentials.

There are several best practices for securing your EC2 instances, which include:

  • Following least access and least privilege principles.
  • Creating a baseline server configuration and tracking server configurations as configuration items.
  • Having processes to control changes to server configurations.

4. Securing your AWS S3 bucket data from attackers

The cloud is a vast collection of data, so you can’t really avoid becoming a target if you store valuable information on a cloud storage service. Web apps can benefit greatly from using S3 buckets to store static resources, such as images and other file types. But S3 is also one of the most commonly exploited cloud storage services, which makes this an incredibly important topic for web security.

While using S3 correctly can greatly benefit your website, you should never store critical data in S3 buckets that aren’t secured. Any sensitive data that you store in S3 should be protected and encrypted using the most secure, industry-standard encryption method available.

5. Securing your AWS Lambda Function Data from attackers

Lambda functions are so popular that they were recently added to Amazon Web Services (AWS). These functions are very powerful and can be used in a variety of ways. They allow developers to quickly and easily build new functionality or create web applications that require the execution of small, scalable tasks.

The main purpose of these functions is to run code within a given timeframe. But as a result, you have to put serious thought into how you should secure the running of your function.

Some methods for securing your Lambda function include:

  • Safeguarding against malicious requests.
  • Hosting the function on a secure server or virtual machine.
  • Storing sensitive data in the function itself.
  • Ensuring the version of the code used has been fully updated.
  • Using a secure abstraction layer.

So how do you secure a function that is such a crucial component of your cloud applications?

You should provide a set of rules and guidelines that can be applied as a security measure. This will help make sure your Lambda functions are protecting sensitive data and can have a predictable life cycle.

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