Cloud security5 min read

Understanding security benchmarks

A deep dive into the CIS AWS Benchmark and AWS Well-Architected Framework Security Pillar.

As a software engineer, I’ve observed the transformation to cloud infrastructure as the backbone for operations within different industries. Secure management is imperative with the widespread adoption of cloud technologies and the extensive use of cloud resources. Security benchmarks provide a structured approach to ensure this security.

A compilation of cloud security statistics by Expert Insights from December 2023 highlights a concerning trend: 80% of companies reported encountering at least one cloud security incident in the past year. This statistic highlights the importance of cloud security, for which security benchmarks provide a structured approach.

In this post, we will take a look into the CIS AWS Benchmark and the AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAF) Security Pillar to understand how to harden your AWS cloud infrastructure against cyber threats.

Introduction to security benchmarks

In cybersecurity, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) has developed the CIS Benchmarks, a widely respected and adopted framework. CIS’s reputation for thorough and practical standards makes its benchmarks a go-to resource for securing IT systems.

Similarly, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has established itself as a trusted entity in cloud computing. The AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAF) Security Pillar is a testament to AWS’s commitment to security and includes detailed guidance for building secure, high-performing, resilient cloud infrastructures.

For specialized areas, there are other benchmarks:

  • SOC2 is developed and maintained by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), focusing on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and system privacy.

  • PCI DSS, crucial for secure card transactions, is managed by the PCI Security Standards Council, founded by major credit card companies.

  • ISO27001, a widely recognized international standard for information security management, is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

  • HIPAA, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focuses on safeguarding protected health information (PHI) and ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability within the healthcare sector.

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provides a framework of best practices, standards, and guidelines to help organizations manage and improve their cybersecurity posture.

In this post, we will dive deeper into the specifics of the CIS AWS Benchmark and the AWS WAF Security Pillar, exploring how these benchmarks serve as crucial tools for enhancing cloud security.

AWS security benchmarks

AWS security benchmarks, notably the CIS AWS Benchmark and the AWS WAF Security Pillar, provide comprehensive guidance for securing AWS services.

The CIS AWS Benchmark offers specific checks tailored to AWS services, including recommendations for IAM policies, encryption, logging, and monitoring. It is a detailed checklist to ensure every aspect of your AWS environment is secure.

The AWS WAF Security Pillar focuses on data protection, privilege management, and incident response. The WAF Security Pillar combines best practices and architectural principles to guide you in building secure and resilient systems in AWS. WAF is designed to help you understand the implications of your decisions while configuring AWS resources and ensure a secure, efficient cloud environment.

These two benchmarks provide a high-level overview of secure configurations, yet are detailed enough to offer actionable insights for a wide array of AWS services. Security benchmarks help you achieve a robust security posture in the cloud.

Consider a security benchmark as a customized checklist designed for each AWS service. This checklist involves performing checks on the configuration of all related resources within a cloud account. Each check results in either a pass or fail for a given resource. A failed check indicates a security issue, typically requiring a configuration change in the related resource.

In cloud computing, every new resource, role, and permission must align with the guidelines established by security benchmarks, but it’s not unusual to witness countless changes to cloud infrastructure each day.

Given the dynamic nature of cloud environments, it is essential to conduct regular checks to ensure continuous compliance with benchmarks. This task is beyond the capacity of developers or security experts, so leveraging robust tools and automated solutions is critical to maintaining a secure and resilient cloud infrastructure.

Tools for enforcing compliance

Maintaining security in an ever-changing cloud infrastructure is a challenging task. Human effort alone often falls short in this repetitive and intricate process. Thankfully, computers excel in handling such tasks with precision and consistency.

Just like there are tools to automate the deployment of resources, there are tools to automate regular security checks and processes. At Fix, we’ve curated a comprehensive list of outstanding cloud security tools designed to provide a solid foundation for those who want to protect their cloud infrastructure.

Integrating these tools effectively into your everyday workflow goes beyond their basic setup. It requires a deeper integration into your system operations, ensuring that security is not just an add-on but a fundamental aspect of your cloud infrastructure. To enforce security, I would like to define the following minimum requirements:

  • Clear overview: The tool must provide a clear and comprehensive snapshot of your accounts’ security status, allowing for straightforward interpretation and action.

  • Continuous operation: The system should continuously monitor and swiftly scan any changes in your infrastructure to ensure timely detection of vulnerabilities.

  • Prompt alerts: When a new issue arises, the system should alert you, enabling quick response to potential threats and ensuring that you can act swiftly to mitigate risks.

  • Actionable remediation: Beyond raising alerts, the system should offer practical guidance on remediating identified issues.

  • Historical tracking: Keeping a history log is essential. It allows you to track your progress over time and identify patterns or recurring issues. This historical insight is invaluable for understanding security trends and improving strategies.

We designed Fix to integrate with your AWS cloud accounts easily. Fix conducts various security benchmarks, such as CIS AWS Benchmark or Well-Architected Security Pillar, and provides insightful status information—at the account level with a security score, and at the individual resource level with rich configuration data.

Fix provides alerts as well as actionable steps for remediation. The Fix backend also maintains historical records of resources and metrics to enable tracking of your security landscape’s evolution over time. This makes security management both intuitive and effective.

Empowering your cloud journey

A comprehensive understanding and implementation of AWS security benchmarks is the foundation for hardening your cloud environment. Compliance with security benchmarks ensures that your cloud infrastructure is protected and future-proofs your business.

As we conclude our exploration of AWS security benchmarks, remember that staying proactive in cloud security is a continuous journey. The tools and services we are developing at Fix help you implement security best practices so your business remains resilient and agile in the face of evolving digital challenges. We invite you to deepen your understanding and harden your cloud infrastructure by visiting

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