Top 10 Security Pitfalls to Avoid in AWS Deployment

Top 10 Security Pitfalls to Avoid in AWS Deployment
Moving your stuff to the cloud can be awesome, but it also means you’ve got to be extra careful about security. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is super popular for hosting all sorts of things, but if you’re not careful, it could leave your digital front door wide open to hackers. In this article, we’re going to break down the top 10 mistakes people make when setting up AWS and how you can avoid them.
We are also going to discuss some other important things regarding AWS Security that are very important to know.

Importance of AWS Security

AWS (Amazon web services) security is very crucial for protecting your priceless digital assets against unauthorized exposure & cyber attacks. Data security and integrity are the most fundamental elements that strongly anchor a successful Amazon Web Services. Therefore, security measures and protecting sensitive information such as personal data, financial records, and business-critical applications are crucial elements when storing data or running applications on AWS. All the security actions need to be taken otherwise leaving the data unprotected from criminals, hackers, fraudsters, or attackers.
You will be able to guard the confidence of customers & partners, comply with regulatory requirements, and limit the potential negative scenario in case you face a security incident. High-grade authentication, encryption, and access control must be deployed for the creation of a reliable and effective counter-system to combat the increasing cyber security risks.

Key Aspects of AWS Security

  • Infrastructure Security: With a multitude of operational and physical security measures, AWS offers an extremely safe infrastructure. Modern data center security, network architecture, and hardware design are all included in this.
  • Data Encryption: AWS provides a selection of encryption options for data in transit as well as at rest. Sensitive data is always protected thanks to tools like AWS Key Management Service (KMS) and AWS Certificate Manager, which assist in managing encryption keys and certificates.
  • Identify and Access Management (IAM): This crucial component of AWS security enables customers to securely control who has access to what services and resources on the platform. Users can provide granular security control over which users in their AWS environment can access what resources by using Identity and Access Management (IAM).
  • Compliance and Governance: AWS conforms to a wide range of global and sector-specific security regulations. Customers who handle sensitive data or work in regulated industries need these compliance certifications.
  • Network Security: AWS offers tools like Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and several types of network access control lists (ACLs) to help you keep your network safe. With the use of these technologies, users can restrict access, isolate resources, and keep an eye out for questionable activity in traffic
  • Monitor and Logging: Users may keep an eye on and record activity within their AWS environment by utilizing services such as AWS CloudTrail and Amazon CloudWatch. This monitoring is essential for quickly identifying and addressing security incidents.
  • Automated Security Assessments: To check programs for flaws or deviance from recommended practices, AWS provides tools such as Amazon Inspector. By taking a proactive stance, possible security vulnerabilities are found and fixed before they can be exploited.

Mistake 1

Not taking Root seriously – Neglecting the importance of securing the root account in AWS undermines overall security posture and increases vulnerability to unauthorized access and malicious activity.

Solution: Enforce strong authentication measures such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) for the root account, regularly review and rotate credentials, and limit access to essential personnel only to mitigate risks associated with root account compromise.

Mistake 2

Leaving wide open connections: Creating services like RDS, and Jumphost instances on AWS is essential, but allowing global access by setting the security group to poses security risks. Granting such broad permissions allows anyone worldwide to access your database, compromising its security.

Solution: Give your security groups the narrowest focus possible. Use different AWS security groups as a source or destination to ensure only instances and load balancers in a specific group can communicate with another group. Never leave 22 port or any port other than 80/443 open. Security group rules

internet attacker image

Mistake 3

Hardcoding access keys: Hardcoding access keys directly in code increases security risks and exposes credentials to potential compromise or unauthorized access.

Solution: Implement a role-based access control solution using AWS IAM roles, allowing dynamic assignment of temporary credentials to resources without hardcoding access keys. role-based access control

Mistake 4

Risky SSH Access Management: Sharing PEM files for SSH access poses significant security risks by potentially exposing private keys to unauthorized individuals. This practice complicates access management, as it becomes challenging to track and control who has access to the keys. Additionally, if a PEM file is compromised or leaked, it could lead to unauthorized access to critical systems and data.
Solution: Implement SSH key whitelisting on the bastion host to enhance security and streamline access control, ensuring only authorized users can connect via SSH using their designated keys.

Mistake 5

Secure Secrets Management: Storing secrets, such as passwords or API keys, in plain text introduces significant security risks, as it exposes sensitive information to potential breaches and unauthorized access. Without encryption or secure storage mechanisms, attackers could easily retrieve and exploit these secrets, compromising the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive data.critical systems and data.
Solution: Utilize a secret manager tool to securely store and manage sensitive data, encrypting secrets at rest and providing access controls to ensure only authorized users or services can retrieve them.
aws secret manager

Mistake 6

Creation Isolated Users – Creation of Users and assigning permission directly it’s not the best practice, sometimes the user can grant permission which is required for time but if the admin forgot to remove permission it might cause the issue afterwards.
Solution: Create a User Group specific to projects and requirements and add the users in a particular group when the admin wants to revoke the permission they can directly add or remove permission from the group and are able to remove the users to revoke all the permission granted to them.
aws organization

Mistake 7

Securely Deploying Static Website: Deploying the static website on S3 and making it public to everyone will give everyone to access the objects of that bucket this is a bad practice to deploy the web using S3.
Solution: Deploy the static website with CloudFront integration with S3. This will provide a secure connection with a policy to access the objects of S3 through CloudFront.

Mistake 8

Not Encrypting Sensitive Data – Storing sensitive data without encryption introduces significant security risks, as it leaves the data vulnerable to unauthorized access or data breaches. Without encryption, attackers could potentially intercept or steal the data, compromising the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information. Compliance requirements, such as GDPR or HIPAA, often mandates encryption for protecting sensitive data, and failing to encrypt it could lead to regulatory violations and legal consequences.

Solution: Use AWS Key Management Service (KMS) or AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) to encrypt data at rest and in transit. Utilize encryption mechanisms provided by AWS services such as Amazon S3 server-side encryption, Amazon RDS encryption, or AWS Transit Gateway encryption. AWS KMS Concepts and ACM-Overview

kms key

Mistake 9

Insufficient Protection Against Web-based Attacks:   Organizations often face the challenge of protecting their web applications against various cyber threats such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Without adequate security measures in place, web applications become vulnerable to exploitation, leading to data breaches, service disruptions, and reputational damage.
Solution: AWS offers two key services to address this issue: AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) and AWS Shield. AWS WAF provides a customizable firewall that helps protect web applications from common web-based attacks by filtering and monitoring HTTP traffic. It allows organizations to create rulesets to block or allow traffic based on various criteria, such as IP addresses, HTTP headers, or URI strings. Additionally, AWS Shield provides DDoS protection for web applications by automatically detecting and mitigating large-scale DDoS attacks, ensuring the availability and reliability of web services. By implementing both, organizations can strengthen their defenses against web-based threats, mitigate the risk of attacks, and safeguard their web applications and data from potential security breaches and disruptions.
web application firewall

Mistake 10

Implement Regular Image Scanning: Failing to scan container images for vulnerabilities before deployment can result in the deployment of compromised or insecure images, exposing your applications to potential security threats.
Solution: Utilize the built-in image scanning feature provided by Amazon ECR. AWS ECR Image Scanning automatically scans Docker images for software vulnerabilities using Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) databases. It identifies security vulnerabilities in the operating system packages and dependencies of your container images.
security hub finding

Best Practices for AWS Security

The process of securing AWS is based on a strategic approach that would need to have some integrated best practices, which will be listed below. These functions by you will result in your AWS infrastructure being safer and belting its steadiness.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Regarding the fact that multi-factor authentication is almost the strongest means of account security, this is one of the best possible options. Because of enforcing the users to give at least two verification factors, mostly things to know like passwords, and the other one is a body scan, to give access to AWS services, MFA, or “multi-factor authentication,” adds another fortress for the two principles of the attack, namely, (1) the human factor and (2) software flaws.
  • MFA for IAM Users: Granting MFA to IAM users, especially the specified ones or the one with administrative privilege is compulsory. Nevertheless, it provided the organizations with a possibility to trace the responsibility for the access to the unequaled objects to the elements that were compromised.
  • MFA on Root Account: It is in general highly recommended to use an MFA on the AWS root account because this is the only way to provide multi-factor authentication. The root account has the most privilege levels and is used exclusively for roles that have high-level security clearance and should adhere to strict security practices to protect this account.

Data Encryption

A key component of data security in AWS is data encryption, both in transit and at rest:
  • Encryption at rest: Some AWS products like Amazon S3, EBS, and RDS can be used properly in order to have built-in options for data encryption which will ensure data is protected at rest. Customers will be able to perform a full range of encryption key management i.e. creating them, controlling them, and searching for them thanks to the AWS KMS.
  • Encryption in Transit: Apply the strict certification rules and algorithmic processes like SSL/TLS to data in transit. For instance, HTTPS encryption protects sensitive information that is passively/actively communicated to and from Amazon S3.

Regular Updates and Patching

It is essential for security to update and patch software and AWS resources on a regular basis:
  • Operating System Updates: Keep updated regarding the bugs fixing with the patches of your OS.
  • Application Updates: Do regular maintenance with your apps as well as use new app versions each time to eliminate the open vulnerabilities that may be corrected in the latest AWS service versions.
  • AWS Service Updates: So that event tracking does not cease, follow the list of upgrades and updates for AWS services and specify them where necessary.

Monitoring and Logging

Understanding and preserving your AWS environment’s security posture requires implementing thorough monitoring and logging:
  • AWS CloudTrail: To solve the problem of leaving the accounts unchecked, use the AWS CloudTrail which will track the API calls together with monitoring. It could be the creation, modification, and de-allocation of the AWS resources such as computational resources, machine learning, and storage resources through considered tools like AWS management console, AWS SDKs, command line tools, and other AWS services.
  • Amazon CloudWatch: It is suggested to take advantage of the facilities provided by the CloudWatch function which ensures the AWS apps and resources are always available, and free from issues. It is a mechanism to seize the logs in the capture, count the metrics, and build the alarms.

Automated Security Assessments

AWS offers tools that automatically assess applications for vulnerabilities:
  • Amazon Inspector: Automated app security assessment connector can be implemented here which ensures that these dynamics are conducted across all apps as they are being deployed in AWS. Applications are automatically evaluated by Amazon Inspector for exposure, vulnerabilities, and breaks from best practices.
  • AWS Trusted Advisor: With the aid of this service, you may supply your resources in accordance with AWS best practices in real-time. Performance, security, and cost optimization are just a few of the many subjects it addresses.


Keeping your AWS setup safe is all about paying attention to the details. Whether it’s setting up your firewall, controlling who can access what, or keeping your data encrypted, every little bit helps. By steering clear of the blunders, we’ve talked about here and following the simple steps to tighten up your AWS security, you’ll be in a much better position to keep the bad guys out and your digital stuff safe and sound. Remember, security is an ongoing thing, so keep an eye on things, and don’t let your guard down!
Vikas Agarwal is the Founder of GrowExx, a Digital Product Development Company specializing in Product Engineering, Data Engineering, Business Intelligence, Web and Mobile Applications. His expertise lies in Technology Innovation, Product Management, Building & nurturing strong and self-managed high-performing Agile teams.

Table of Contents

Subscribe to our newsletter

Share this article

Looking to build a digital product?
Let's build it together.

Contact us now

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.