You have been tasked with finding employee monitoring software for your company and you need to make the decision to host the data in the cloud or locally. Cloud based products have evolved over the years and are more secure than you might realize. While most of our clients prefer to use the our hosted solution, because we have on premise too, many clients have implemented a self-hosted option which is effectively the same thing, but it is your own personal cloud server. You will quickly see that Awareness Technologies has taken great measures to protect client data.
Below is a fairly well detailed outline covering the security measures for our cloud server.
Physical Facility Specifications at Awareness Technologies, the security of our customers’ data is paramount. The following information from our provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) further explains the specifications and security measures which are present in our environment:
AWS’s data centers are state of the art, utilizing innovative architectural and engineering approaches. Amazon has many years of experience in designing, constructing, and operating large-scale datacenters. This experience has been applied to the AWS platform and infrastructure.
AWS datacenters are housed in nondescript facilities. Physical access is strictly controlled both at the perimeter and at building ingress points by professional security staff utilizing video surveillance, intrusion detection systems, and other electronic means. Authorized staff must pass two-factor authentication a minimum of two times to access datacenter floors.
All visitors and contractors are required to present identification and are signed in and continually escorted by authorized staff. AWS only provides datacenter access and information to employees and contractors who have a legitimate business need for such privileges. When an employee no longer has a business need for these privileges, his or her access is immediately revoked, even if they continue to be an employee of Amazon or Amazon Web Services. All physical access to datacenters by AWS employees is logged and audited routinely.
Compliance The IT infrastructure that AWS provides to its customers is designed and managed in alignment with security best practices and a variety of IT security standards, including:
Fire Detection & Suppression
Automatic fire detection and suppression equipment has been installed to reduce risk. The fire detection system utilizes smoke detection sensors in all data center environments, mechanical and electrical infrastructure spaces, chiller rooms and generator equipment rooms. These areas are protected by either wet-pipe, double interlocked pre-action, or gaseous sprinkler systems.
The data center electrical power systems are designed to be fully redundant and maintainable without impact to operations, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units provide back-up power in the event of an electrical failure for critical and essential loads in the facility. Data centers use generators to provide back-up power for the entire facility.
Climate & Temperature
Climate control is required to maintain a constant operating temperature for servers and other hardware, which prevents overheating and reduces the possibility of service outages. Data centers are conditioned to maintain atmospheric conditions at optimal levels. Personnel and systems monitor and control temperature and humidity at appropriate levels.
AWS monitors electrical, mechanical, and life support systems and equipment so that any issues are immediately identified. Preventative maintenance is performed to maintain the continued operability of equipment.
Storage Device Decommissioning
When a storage device has reached the end of its useful life, AWS procedures include a decommissioning process that is designed to prevent customer data from being exposed to unauthorized individuals. AWS uses the techniques detailed in DoD 5220.22-M (“National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual “) or NIST 800-88 (“Guidelines for Media Sanitization”) to destroy data as part of the decommissioning process. All decommissioned magnetic storage devices are degaussed and physically destroyed in accordance with industry-standard practices.
Data centers are built in clusters in various global regions. All data centers are online and serving customers; no data center is “cold.” In case of failure, automated processes move customer data traffic away from the affected area. Core applications are deployed in an N+1 configuration, so that in the event of a data center failure, there is sufficient capacity to enable traffic to be load-balanced to the remaining sites. AWS provides the flexibility to place instances and store data within multiple geographic regions as well as across multiple availability zones within each region. Each availability zone is designed as an independent failure zone. This means that availability zones are physically separated within a typical metropolitan region and are located in lower risk flood plains (specific flood zone categorization varies by Region).
In addition to discrete uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and onsite backup generation facilities, they are each fed via different grids from independent utilities to further reduce single points of failure. Availability zones are all redundantly connected to multiple tier-1 transit providers.
The Amazon Incident Management team employs industry-standard diagnostic procedures to drive resolution during business-impacting events. Staff operators provide 24x7x365 coverage to detect incidents and to manage the impact and resolution.
The AWS network has been architected to permit you to select the level of security and resiliency appropriate for your workload. To enable you to build geographically dispersed, fault-tolerant web architectures with cloud resources, AWS has implemented a world-class network infrastructure that is carefully monitored and managed.
Secure Network Architecture
Network devices, including firewall and other boundary devices, are in place to monitor and control communications at the external boundary of the network and at key internal boundaries within the network. These boundary devices employ rule sets, access control lists (ACL), and configurations to enforce the flow of information to specific information system services. ACLs, or traffic flow policies, are established on each managed interface, which manage and enforce the flow of traffic. ACL policies are approved by Amazon Information Security. These policies are automatically pushed using AWS’s ACL Manage tool, to help ensure these managed interfaces enforce the most up-to-date ACLs.
Secure Access Points
AWS has strategically placed a limited number of access points to the cloud to allow for a more comprehensive monitoring of inbound and outbound communications and network traffic. These customer access points are called API endpoints, and they allow secure HTTP access (HTTPS), which allows you to establish a secure communication session with your storage or compute instances within AWS. In addition, AWS has implemented network devices that are dedicated to managing interfacing communications with Internet service providers (ISPs). AWS employs a redundant connection to more than one communication service at each Internet-facing edge of the AWS network. These connections each have dedicated network devices.
To ensure the integrity and security of data between client and server, the following measures have been implemented:
Our production network is secured by several measures. All servers are configured for private IP addresses, and access to them is tightly controlled via Network Address Translation (NAT) as well as a Cisco firewall platform. (More specifics on this platform cannot be given for security reasons.)
Access to our database is strictly controlled. Only the database administration team has access to connect directly to the database server, and all access to the database is done through individualized accounts. All account passwords are considered to be strong passwords of a minimum length of eight characters, and consisting of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. All failed login attempts to the database are logged to the database’s log file and reviewed to ensure that no attempts to brute force attack the database are being made.
Our database administration team is based in the USA, and consists of individuals with the highest levels of training and certification. They are all bound by personnel and corporate policies not to access customer account information without team lead approval and business need.
All database servers are kept patched to the latest security patches for both the Operating System as well as the Database platform to minimize the threat potential in the event that someone was able to breach the network firewall.