Rest Easy With Secure
Scaling and Superior Visibility
Through the AWS Cloud
Erik Rush | March 18, 2021
As more and more organizations become digitized, dizzying numbers of devices are added to networks. This means that increased visibility into the operational network has become even more of an imperative as regards the maintenance of secure operations.
For many years, organizations have perceived the operational technology (OT) environment as sort of a fortress: A fortified barrier comprised of firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, content protection, DNS based controls, malware detection and email. Unfortunately, this paradigm leaves everything within the fortress—critical operational assets—at risk for advanced threats and significantly diminished visibility.
A False Sense of Security?
In the traditional “fortress” model, the security controls and inspection points are within the organization’s network and/or at the edge of the operational environment. While this was sufficient to mitigate most risk in the past, it falls far short given today’s digital landscape. The vulnerable, valuable interior (which lies within the “fortress”) now presents a myriad of risk factors, which can include:
Normal Operations. Is the unusual network behavior you’ve detected the result of a security event, or is it a configuration problem?
Supply Chain Problems. A new firmware download gives rise to subtle behavioral changes on the network. Will the changes be too subtle to detect, and could they be the result of bad actors in your supply chain?
Localized Malware. Malware can be—and often is—introduced to systems by technicians, contractors, USB keys and other devices. Unfortunately, IT managers can’t always detect subtle changes to the network that arise due to these exposures.
Third-Party Compatibility. Quite often, not all assets (e.g., anti-virus software) within the operational environment support these agents; occasionally, certain vendors will not allow agents onto systems, or they revoke support.
Continuity. Unfortunately, some of the controls organizations put in place don’t operate optimally 100% of the time. Being in the interior of the “fortress,” they aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as the fortified barrier, as it were. This, of course, translates into vulnerability.
Compliance. Typically, audit processes include examining access control lists and require teams ensuring that a control exists, and if communication to the greater environment meets compliance requirements. Unfortunately, these don’t always ensure that the control was functioning properly prior to the audit period.
These are just a few of the risks that exist in the traditional security paradigm. As operational environments have evolved, with novel threats emerging on a weekly basis, protecting the above listed areas—and many other valuable ones—has become as important as maintaining the front line security of the “fortress.”
The AWS Cloud: Secure Scaling and Unparalleled Visibility
AWS Auto Scaling allows organizations to monitor applications and automatically adjust capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost. With Auto Scaling, setting up application scaling for multiple resources across multiple services is a quick and simple matter. AWS Auto Scaling provides a simple, powerful user interface that lets you build scaling plans for resources including Amazon EC2 instances and Spot Fleets, Amazon ECS tasks, Amazon DynamoDB tables and indexes, and Amazon Aurora Replicas. The service makes scaling simple with recommendations that allow you to optimize performance, costs, or balance between them.
Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling helps organizations maintain application availability, allowing them to automatically add or remove EC2 instances according to the organization’s predetermined conditions. Dynamic scaling responds to changing demand, while predictive scaling automatically schedules the right number of EC2 instances based on predicted demand.
Here, the benefits include improved fault tolerance and increased application availability, among several others. Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling adds instances only when needed, and can scale across purchase options to optimize performance and cost. Finally, if an impaired instance fails a health check, Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling automatically terminates it and replaces it with a new one. This means that managers don’t have to respond manually when an instance needs replacing.
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