You’ve heard of 12 days of Christmas!? Well, below are 12 Tips and tricks for AWS! Enjoy!

#1 Require MFA for all users

  • To help secure your AWS environment, it is highly recommended to require MFA for all users logging into the AWS Management Console.
  • Follow the steps provided by AWS, and add the policy to every new user created.
  • This will not prevent users from logging in without MFA, but they will not have access to any resources if they do so.

#2 Utilize Free Tier

  • AWS offers many of its services for free to allow users to test and experiment with new services.
  • A list of all free tier offerings can be found here.
  • You can monitor your free trial usage by going to Billing and Cost Management -> Cost Analysis -> Free Tier.  AWS also automatically sends a notification when 85% of a free tier has been exceeded.

#3 Rightsize with Compute Optimizer

  • To maximize performance, AWS can monitor your EC2 instances, EBS volumes, Fargate containers, and Lambda functions and make recommendations to ensure your services are adequately provisioned.
  • An overview is provided by AWS, which includes pricing and frequently asked questions.
  • Compute Optimizer itself is free to use, but there is a cost for the CloudWatch metrics monitored to make recommendations.

#4 Save Money with Reserved Instances

  • Once you know exactly what size EC2 instances your workload requires, you can buy reserved instances to save up to 72%.
  • A detailed description of options and pricing can be found here.
  • Reserved instances are not just for EC2 but can also be used for RDS.

# 5 Step Up Security by Using IAM Roles

  • Most programs and services need specific permissions to access AWS resources, typically supplied by the program or service. That can expose those credentials to an outside attack and limit your ability to update or remediate permissions easily.
  • AWS provides a solution that allows an IAM role to be created with all the necessary permissions and attached directly to the instance within AWS, removing the need for any permissions to be saved directly on the instance.
  • Permissions can be updated on the fly to add or restrict, and roles can be replaced on the instance at any time.

#6 Encrypt EBS Volumes

  • Encrypting Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes helps protect data at rest to ensure sensitive data is protected and meets specific security requirements.
  • You can easily enable encryption by reading their documentation and choosing the best option for your environment, including whether to use your own KMS keys or those provided by AWS.
  • By default, AWS does not encrypt new volumes. You can elect to enforce encryption on new volumes by following these steps in each region where you require it. You also cannot encrypt a volume after it has been created. You must take a snapshot of the volume and recreate it as an encrypted volume.

#7 Save Time with Marketplace AMIs

  • Amazon Machine Images (AMI) are the basic building block for every EC2 instance you deploy. These can be as simple as an Operating System or contain pre-installed software and settings. Many third-party vendors will package their software in preconfigured AMIs, so you don’t have to spend time installing and configuring it yourself.
  • A complete list of AMIs can be found in the Marketplace.
  • Many AMIs will be free, but some will have a cost to cover the software license(s) and other expenses. Either way, you will still be billed for the underlying resources as if you configured the instance from scratch.

#8 Monitor Activity with CloudTrail

  • AWS automatically records all events attempted in the Portal, CLI, API, or AWS SDKs to CloudTrail events. There is no charge to view these events, only if you choose to log these to another service via trails.
  • CloudTrail is very customizable to allow you to monitor what matters and what can be safely ignored. A full description can be found here.
  • If you choose to set up trails, you can log events to S3 or CloudWatch Logs for a fee for that service’s usage. You also have the option to send out alerts for specific events, but be careful to set these up correctly, or you could incur hefty costs or an overload of alerts, as events can easily reach thousands or millions depending on the level of activity.

#9 Automatic updates with Systems Manager

  • AWS Systems Manager is a central hub for managing your resources.
  • Patch Manager is part of Systems Manager and automates the scanning and patching of instances. It will scan each managed node for missing patches according to the baseline selected and optionally install missing updates if desired.
  • Patch Manager works with Windows and Linux and can be organized into groups. You can select a specified maintenance window and schedule and whether to reboot if required.

#10 Analyze Billing with Cost Explorer

  • Cost Explorer is a tool that allows you to visualize and manage billing costs. Found inside AWS’s Billing and Cost Management page, it requires special billing permissions to enable a user not to access the root account.
  • A comprehensive guideline can be found on the AWS Cost Management page.
  • Cost Explorer lets you see exactly what services are being billed, forecast future usage, and break out your bill by various dimensions. This can help identify trends and potential savings.

#11 Save Further with Instance Scheduler

  • If you have resources that sit idle on a regular schedule, you can automate the stopping and starting of those resources on a schedule. An example would be a server that is only used during business hours and never during off hours.
  • Setup is a breeze as AWS provides a custom CloudFormation template to initialize the proper resources. Enter the appropriate schedule and custom tag to add the resources needed during the configuration.
  • The only services currently available to be used by Instance Scheduler are RDS & EC2 instances.

#12 Secure Your Services with Certificate Manager

  • AWS provides SSL termination for load balancers, API Gateways, and CloudFront distributions.
  • Start using Certificate Manager with this guide.
  • You can import your certificates or request a free certificate from AWS.

In summary, these 12 AWS tips are essential for enhancing security, optimizing costs, and streamlining operations. Key strategies include enforcing MFA, utilizing the Free Tier, and investing in Reserved Instances. Tools like Compute Optimizer, IAM Roles, EBS encryption, and Marketplace AMIs boost efficiency and security. Monitoring with CloudTrail, managing with Systems Manager, and analyzing costs with Cost Explorer further refine your AWS usage. Implementing these tips ensures a secure, cost-effective, and efficient AWS environment.

For more information, please contact XTIVIA!

This blog was originally published here.

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