2020 Blog, Blog, Cloud Blog, Featured

AWS Security Governance for Enterprises “The Right Way”

Based on AWS recommended best practices, this blog articulates governance and management at scale for customers on cloud security implementation covering the following themes

  • Designing Governance at Scale
  • Governance Automation
  • Preventive Controls
  • Detective Controls
  • Bringing it all together

Need for a matured and effective Cloud Security Governance
To achieve agility, compliance and security customers cannot rely on the manual processes and hence automation plays a key role. This mandates the need for an integrated model called “Governance at Scale” which focuses on Account Management, Security, Compliance Automation, Budget and Cost Management. This model help customers to be on fast track, while ensuring the workloads meet security and compliance requirements. Governance at Scale is an orchestration framework which includes enablement, provisioning and operations.


  • Account Management: Governance at Scale processes streamline account management across multiple AWS accounts and workloads in an organization through centralization, standardization and automation of account maintenance. This can be achieved through policy automation, identity federation and account automation.

  • Security and Compliance Automation: Governance at Scale practices consists of three main goals
    • Identity and Access Automation: Customers can access their workloads based on their roles privileges, as defined by the organizations policies. Access to new services can be added to an OU level and the changes will apply across all cloud accounts on that level.
    • Security Automation: To maintain a secure position at scale, security tasks and compliance assessments also require automation. Automation helps in reduced implementation efforts, as templates ensure that services and projects are secure and compliant by default. Customers can also be more responsive when a policy violation occurs.
    • Policy Enforcement: AWS guidance to achieve Governance at Scale helps you to achieve policy enforcement on AWS Regions, AWS services and resource configurations. Policies enforcement happens at different levels like Region, services and resource configurations and also at an organizational level or the resource level. Enforcement is based on roles, responsibilities and compliance regulations (such as HIPAA, FedRAMP and PCI/DSS).

  • Budget and Cost Management: This framework helps Organizations to proactively make decisions on budget controls and allocation across their organizations and primarily consists of budget planning and enforcement.
    • Budget Planning: This allows allocation and subdivide the available budget from a given funding source appropriately across the company by the financial owners. Financial dashboards provide real-time insights to the decision makers over the lifetime of the funding source.
    • Budget Enforcement: Budget enforcement can happen at each layer, department or project in an organization as these can have different budgetary needs and limits. The governance framework allows the organization for budget assignment and defines the threshold, while monitoring spending in real time and can proactively notify the relevant stakeholders and trigger enforcement actions.

Some of this Intelligent Automation includes

  • Restricting the use of AWS resources to those that cost less than a specified price.
  • Throttle new resource provisioning.
  • Shut down, end or deprovision AWS resources after archiving configurations and data for future use.

Implementing Governance at Scale with Ideal Landing Zone architecture


Key Process and Services to implement Governance at Scale Framework

AWS Control Tower: It is a native service used for setup and governing a secure, compliant, multi-account AWS environment, automated using AWS best practices blueprints. It’s multi-account structure enables aggregated centralised logging, monitoring and operations.

  • Establish and Enable Guardrails: AWS Control Tower includes guardrails, which are high-level policies that provide constant governance. It allows you to adopt original best practices on security across the AWS environment managed by Control Tower.
  • Automate Compliant Account Provisioning: Automate account provision workflow using Account Factory.
  • Centralize Identity and Access: By using AWS SSO, the service can centralize access and identity management which follows the standard best practices.
  • Log Archive Account: The log archive centralizes logs and provides a single source of truth for all the account activities. The account works as a repository for API activity logs and resource configurations from all accounts in the landing zone. It contains the centralized logging for AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config.
  • Audit Account: The audit account is a restricted account. It is designed to provide security and compliance teams read and write access to all accounts in your landing zone. It can be a main account for security services such as Amazon GuardDuty and AWS Security Hub.

Governance Lifecycle with Services: An integrated model covering AWS Config, AWS Systems Manager, Amazon GuardDuty and AWS Security Hub.

These services work together and play a crucial role in the Governance at Scale framework. Together, they allow your customers to

  • Define security rules and compliance requirements.
  • Monitor infrastructure against the rules and requirements.
  • Detect violations.
  • Get notifications in real time.
  • Take action in an effective and rapid manner.

AWS Config: This enables customers to assess, audit and evaluate their AWS configurations in real-time. It also monitors and records AWS resource configurations. It also automates the evaluation of recorded configurations against desired configurations.

AWS Systems Manager: This gives customers visibility with a unified user interface and allows them to control their infrastructure on AWS by automating operational tasks. With AWS Systems Manager, customers can

  • Group resources by application.
  • View operational data for monitoring and troubleshooting and take action on groups of resources.
  • Streamlines resource and application management.
  • Shortens the time to detect and resolve operational issues.
  • Simplifies operations and management of the infrastructure – securely at scale.

Amazon GuardDuty: It protects AWS accounts, workloads and data with intelligent-threat detection, monitoring of malicious activity, unauthorized behavior to protect AWS accounts and the workloads. It uses machine learning, anomaly detection and integrated threat intelligence to identify and prioritize potential threats.
Customers enable GuardDuty from the AWS Management Console, where it analyzes billions of events across multiple AWS data sources, such as AWS CloudTrail Event logs, Amazon VPC flow log and DNS logs. By integrating with Amazon CloudWatch Events, GuardDuty alerts are actionable.

AWS Security Hub: This is the compliance and security center for AWS customers. Security Hub allows customers to centrally view and manage security alerts and automate security checks.
Security Hub automatically runs the account-level configuration and security checks based on AWS best practices and open standards. It consolidates the security findings across accounts and provider products and displays results on the Security Hub console. It also supports integration with Amazon CloudWatch Events. To automate remediation of specific findings, customers can define custom actions to take when a finding is received.


AWS Products Used


With AWS management and governance services, customers can improve their governance control and fast track their business objectives. However, solving these challenges are not straight and simple as many of the customers rely on a traditional IT management process which is manual and not scalable. Also, with lack of clarity on account management without clearly defined processes, they end up with multiple accounts provisioning and tracking becomes inefficient. This can also increase their security and financial risks. In some cases, due to these challenges, customers rely on third party tools or solutions which can further complicate and increase operational challenges.

Relevance Lab can help organizations to build or migrate existing accounts to a secured, compliant, multi account AWS environment enabled with automation to increase both operational and cost efficiency. The transition to this matured Governance at Scale framework can be implemented in four weeks using our specialised competencies, RLCatalyst automation framework and the Governance at Scale handbook.

For more details, please feel free to reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com