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AWS rolls out new security feature to prevent accidental S3 data leaks



Image: AWS

Amazon’s Web Services division has rolled out new security features to AWS account owners today that are meant to prevent accidental data exposures caused by the misconfiguration of S3 data storage buckets.

Starting today, AWS account owners will have access to four new options inside their S3 dashboards under the “Public access settings for this account” section.

These four new options allow the account owner to set a default access setting for all of an account’s S3 buckets. These new account-level settings will override any existing or newly created bucket-level ACLs (access control lists) and policies.

Account owners will have the ability to apply these new settings for S3 buckets that will be created from now onwards, to apply the new setting retroactively, or both.

Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, said the new settings are meant to work as a master switch that prevents account owners or their employees/developers from accidentally opening S3 buckets and their data to the public by coding or misconfiguration errors at the app/bucket level.

These types of accidents (of misconfiguring S3 buckets) have been a major problem for AWS customers for the past few years, and a serious black eye for AWS itself. Many cyber-security experts have considered that Amazon did not do enough to warn AWS users about the dangers of exposing an S3 bucket or providing controls to prevent this from happening.

Amazon did act, in November last year, when it began displaying bright orange warnings in the AWS dashboard, next to each S3 bucket that allowed public access.


Image: AWS

Today’s updates come to address most of the criticism that the company has faced recently, and this update will provide the much-needed settings to prevent misconfiguration from exposing buckets, and not just tell account owners after they’ve already happened.

Just to put things in perspective and show how problematic the issue of accidental S3 bucket exposures has been, below is a (very incomplete) list of data breaches and data leaks that have been caused by a company or app that ran a misconfigured S3 bucket that allowed anyone to view its content and not just the server owner.

  • An unsecured S3 server exposed thousands of FedEx customer records
  • An AWS S3 error exposed GoDaddy business secrets
  • Accenture left a huge trove of highly sensitive data, including “keys to the kingdom,” on exposed servers
  • Customer records for at least 14 million Verizon subscribers, including phone numbers and account PINs, were exposed via an S3 bucket
  • A Verizon AWS S3 bucket containing over 100 MB of data about the company’s internal billing system was also found exposed online
  • An S3 database left exposed leaked the personal details of job applications that had Top Secret government clearance
  • Another S3 server exposed the details of 198 million American voters
  • National Credit Federation leaked US citizen data through unsecured AWS bucket
  • Nigerian airline Arik Air also leaked customer data via an exposed S3 bucket
  • Pocket iNet ISP exposed 73GB of data including secret keys, plain text passwords
  • An S3 leak at Alteryx left 123 million American households exposed to fraud and spam
  • AgentRun, an insurance startup, also leaked sensitive customer health data via amisconfigured Amazon S3 bucket
  • Donald Trump’s campaign website also leaked intern resumes via an S3 bucket
  • Spyware firm SpyFone also left customer data, recordings exposed online via an S3 server
  • Booz Allen Hamilton, a top DOD contractor, leaked 60,000 files, including employee security credentials and passwords to a US government system
  • An AWS S3 server leaked the personal details of over three million WWE fans who registered on the company’s sites
  • An auto-tracking company leaked over a half of a million car and car owner details.
  • Voting machine firm Election Systems & Software (ES&S) left an S3 bucket exposed online that contained the personal records of 1.8 million Chicago voters
  • Dow Jones leaked the personal details of 2.2 million customers
  • An S3 bucket leaked data of thousands of Australian government and bank employees
  • Password manager Keeper also exposed an S3 server

According to research published last year, Skyhigh Networks (now part of McAfee) found that around seven percent of all AWS S3 buckets were publicly exposed.

In addition to the new AWS S3 public access settings, Amazon also announced major news for DynamoDB, a high-load database engine, also part of the AWS suite. Starting today, Amazon said all data stored inside DynamoDBs will be encrypted by default.

“You do not have to make any code or application modifications to encrypt your data,” Amazon said in a press release. “DynamoDB handles the encryption and decryption of your data transparently and continues to deliver the same single-digit millisecond latency that you have come to expect.”

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Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure



Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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Secure Insight: GigaOm Partners with the CISO Series



Don’t look now, but GigaOm, the analyst firm that enables smart businesses to future-proof their decisions, is forging new partnerships to extend its reach and better inform busy IT decision makers. On Thursday, the company announced it was teaming with the CISO Series to share content and better support the community of chief information security officers, security practitioners, and security vendors.

“The CISO Series is one we have admired for a while because they have a very similar aim: They help security professionals become more knowledgeable and understand how their roles are changing,” said Ben Book, GigaOm founder and CEO. “We saw a clear common interest and are delighted to be working together.”

The CISO Series brand has built a formidable reputation through its podcasts, blogs, video chats, and live events for the security community. It has added the extremely popular CyberSecurity Headlines podcast to its stable this year, which joins the CISO/Security Vendor Relationship and Defense in Depth podcasts. Every Friday at 10am Pacific Time, the CISO Series hosts its highly engaging and fun weekly live CISO Series Video Chat, which viewers can register for here.

The channel partnership connects two of the strongest, fastest-growing brands in enterprise IT content production. The agreement enables the CISO Series to share exclusive GigaOm reports with its audience ahead of publication, while GigaOm is able to share insights from the CISO Series’ various publications through its social channels and newsletters. The CISO Series joins other media firms, such as The Register and SDXCentral, as official GigaOm Channel Partners.

“We are delighted to be working with GigaOm because we’re not only both addressing the same audience, but we’re also both trying to bring education and understanding to both the security vendor and practitioner communities,” said David Spark, managing editor and executive producer at the CISO Series. “GigaOm is providing some excellent reports that we’re leaning on for our discussions and reporting across all of our shows.”

Spark continued: “We are always tweaking our programming to bring the best and most up-to-date resources and we’re really impressed with both the volume and quality GigaOm is delivering. Not only are we impressed with their editorial work, but we also appreciate their business branding. It’s something we felt comfortable about aligning with the CISO Series brand as well.”

Check out the CISO Series schedule at, or visit for more information about the CISO Series and its weekly Video Chats.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Vulnerability Management Tools



Vulnerability management tools scan your IT estate to help identify and mitigate security risks and weaknesses. These tools can facilitate the development of a more comprehensive vulnerability management program. Leveraging people, processes, and technologies, successful initiatives effectively identify, classify, prioritize, and remediate security threats.

A security vulnerability is a weakness that can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of information. Attackers are constantly looking to exploit defects in software code or insecure configurations. Vulnerabilities can exist anywhere in the software stack, from web applications and databases to infrastructure components such as load balancers, firewalls, machine and container images, operating systems, and libraries. This includes code used in the CI/CD pipeline as well as the infrastructure-as-code (IAC) that defines the compute, network, and storage infrastructure.

Recent cybersecurity events have exposed widespread vulnerabilities involving the exploitation of zero-day malware and unknown weaknesses. Threat actors continually discover new exploitation tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to take advantage of weaknesses throughout integrated systems. Moreover, identifying breach paths is increasingly complicated due to the widespread adoption of ephemeral services.

Vulnerability management solutions should provide end-to-end visibility of the protect-surface by aggregating both platform and application risks in a single pane of glass, while leveraging prioritized remediation based on business risk and threat context for efficiency. Containerized workloads deployed via DevOps pipelines have unique security requirements that demand a fully integrated vulnerability assessment to be automated into cloud platform services running containerized workloads.

The path to a mature security posture starts with the ability to identify vulnerabilities in software code, third-party libraries, and at runtime. In addition, the cloud platform used to host your applications should be scanned for misconfigurations. This requires the use of policy configuration baselines, benchmarks, and compliance standards that apply to both the infrastructure and the code used to build it. As organizations implement security guardrails early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), they can take advantage of cloud-native culture to ensure network and security tools are used throughout all phases of the SDLC.

This GigaOm report explores the key criteria and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should evaluate when choosing a vulnerability management solution. The key criteria report, together with the GigaOm radar report that evaluates relevant products, provides a framework to help organizations assess the solutions currently available on the market and how these tools fit with their requirements.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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