How To Secure Your Cloud Hosting? Part 3

Practically Speaking About Cloud Computing:

How To Secure Your Cloud Hosting? Part III

Authentication (Contd.,)

For signing in to the cloud account AWS goes with mail id and password as the usual credentials. Rackspace goes with user id and password. AWS introduced Multi Factor Authentication long time back. Multi Factor Authentication involves an authentication device. Gemalto provides the compatible device. (See image of Gemalto device) When we sign in to our AWS Portal or AWS Console, access is granted when we give the authentication credentials of email id and password. When we opt in for AWS MFA (Amazon Web Service – Multi Factor Authentication) feature, access will be granted only when the precise code from the authentication device is provided additionally. This is an extra protection. This protection given to AWS Management Console can be extended to EC2 Instances, CloudFront and S3 Versioning.

Gemalto device for AWS

Securing Instances

In the case of AWS EC2, it is not that Quick Start Images are there but also community AMIs (Amazon Machine Instances),  a several thousands of them. We found some of them already hardened with security features. These cover Windows and other Unix distros.  When creating AWS instance, Key Pair and Security Zone are the two items required. Key Pair has to be named and downloaded to the computer.

Tip: Save the key pair in a secure place so that you can remember.

Only once can we get a Private Key. For the first time you access an instance this will be used.

In the case of Rackspace, the root password will be shown on the screen. Also, Rackspace sent an email containing an IP address and Password.

AWS Security Zone can be assumed as a firewall.

Tip: Security Zone settings are the ultimate decider that will over rule the other settings that we give in instances.

It is customary to choose default zone, when we are working on the first time. To harden the system, better to go for specific protocols and ip addresses specifically. If we name the security zones uniquely, we can use it for future instances.


We have done projects in the past one year with Gogrid, Microsoft Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. The cloud services are continuously evolving with new features. We find that issues are being resolved continuously by service providers. Just for an example: We covered the issues involved in sending email from cloud. This blog post appeared on CloudTweaks on 18 Jan 2011.

On 25th Jan 2011, AWS announced the introduction of Simple Email Service. We can cover more on the security of cloud services related to SSH access, application/ code etc., in future posts.

By Malick Md

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