How-to: Secure your AWS Setup - A Quick Checklist of Do’s & Don’ts🧾

Abdul R. Wahab
3 min readDec 13, 2021



AWS comes with a ton of freedom and opportunities to build cool stuff.

But we all know, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

AWS offers a wide array of flexibility in terms of what security configuarations one can set up. From an organizational perspective, these settings, or lack thereof, are bound to have a huge impact on a company.

With the rise in data breaches occurring across the tech landscape, it is important that as each company embarks on their migration to the Cloud, they keep security as a top-most priority in their mind.

After all, AWS is almost like an apartment (development platform) that you as a company (tenant) will be renting. You will be placing your data (Customer information, SPI, NPI, Internal APIs, and Client-facing applications (your most valued assets) in the Cloud.

Would you want to leave your apartment front door with a weak, brittle lock, while your $1200 MacBook Pro, Designer Watch collection, and a bunch of other valuables are sitting in there? NO? Then keep reading. 🙂


1) General Best Practices

  • ☑️ Involve information security throughout your development process rather than at certain points
  • ☑️ The amount of discrete security groups should be minimized
  • ☑️ Periodically rotate SSH keys
  • ☑️ Use a standard naming/tagging convention for all resources
  • ☑️ Implement a strict password policy
  • ☑️ Purge unused SSH Public Keys

2) How to set up Accounts

  • ☑️ Use Multifactor Authentication for the “root” account
  • ☑️ Regular use of root user accounts should be limited and even avoided
  • ☑️ Access keys must not be used with root accounts
  • ☑️ Least privileged access must be granted as much as possible for application users

3) How IAM Settings should work

  • ☑️ Always set Multifactor Authentication for IAM users
  • ☑️ Allow IAM users for multi-mode access
  • ☑️ Link IAM policies to Groups or Roles
  • ☑️ Regularly rotate IAM access keys, and standardize the selected number of days
  • ☑️ Grant access to resources using IAM roles
  • ☑️ Keep the number of IAM groups low
  • ☑️ Disable access for inactive IAM users
  • ☑️ Remove inactive IAM access keys

4) How to use Logging Services

  • ☑️ Enable CloudTrail logging across all Amazon Web Services your organization uses
  • ☑️ Allow CloudTrail multi-region logging
  • ☑️ Permit access logging for Elastic Load Balancer Service (ELB)
  • ☑️ Allow Redshift audit logging
  • ☑️ Set CloudTrail log file validation
  • ☑️ Allow Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) flow logging
  • ☑️ Permit access logging for CloudTrail S3 buckets
  • ☑️ Combine CloudTrail logging with CloudWatch events
  • ☑️ Encrypt the CloudTrail log files at rest

5) Applying Development Best Practices

  • ☑️ Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA) to delete CloudTrail buckets
  • ☑️ Expired SSL/TLS certificates must never be used
  • ☑️ Always use HTTPS for CloudFront distributions
  • ☑️ Your Elastic Block Store (EBS) database should be encrypted
  • ☑️ Restrict access to well-known ports such as CIFS, FTP, ICMP, SMTP, SSH, Remote desktop Disallow unrestricted ingress access on different ports Also to resources like: AMIs (Amazon Machine Images), EC2 Security Groups, Redshift clusters, RDS Instances, and in general all outbound calls
  • ☑️ Permit the require_ssl parameter in all your Redshift clusters

6) Data Security Best Practices

  • ☑️ Always encrypt sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI)
  • ☑️ Properly encrypt Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS)

Want to learn more about 🛡️Secure Coding 🔒 & Engineering?

Check out my series linked below! 🙂

Secure Coding & Engineering

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Abdul R. Wahab

Tech guy. I like building cool software, & also leading others in building cool things. All views shared are my own.