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November 11, 2014 By Brandon Mensing

Use AWS CloudTrail to Avoid a Console Attack

Our app for AWS CloudTrail now offers a dashboard specifically for monitoring console login activity. In the past months since the AWS team added this feature, we decided to break out these user activities in order to provide better visibility into what’s going on with your AWS account.

Many of you might think of this update as incremental and not newsworthy, but I’m actually writing here today to tell you otherwise! More and more people are using APIs and CLIs (and third parties) to work with AWS outside the console. As console logins are becoming more and more rare and as more business-critical assets are being deployed in AWS, it’s critical to always know who’s logged into your console and when.

For a great and terrifying read about just how badly things can go wrong when someone gains access to your console, look no further than the story of Code Spaces. With one story opening with “was a company” and another “abruptly closed,” there isn’t exactly a lot of suspense about how things turned out for this company. After attackers managed to gain access to Code Spaces’ AWS console, they built themselves a stronghold of backdoors and began an attempt to extort money from the company. When the attackers accounts were removed, they quickly used the additional users they had generated to get back in and begin taking out infrastructure and data. With the service down and their customer’s data in disarray, all trust in their product was lost. The company was effectively destroyed in a matter of hours.

The new dashboard in our updated CloudTrail app allows you to quickly see who’s attempting to login to your console, from where and whether or not they’re using multi-factor authentication (which we highly recommend).

CloudTrail Console Logins

If you haven’t installed the app previously, be sure to follow our simple steps from our documentation to setup the appropriate permissions in AWS. For those of you who have already installed the app previously, you can install the app again anew in order to get a new copy of the app with the additional dashboard included. From there, we encourage you to customize queries for your specific situation and even consider setting up a scheduled search to alert you to a problematic situation.

Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity on your AWS console can be an invaluable insight. As attackers get more sophisticated, it’s harder and harder to keep your business secure and operational. With the help of Sumo Logic and logs from AWS CloudTrail you can stay ahead of the game by preventing the most obvious (and most insidious) types of breaches. With functionality like this, perhaps Code Spaces would still be in business.\

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Brandon Mensing

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