What ‘Not’ to Do When Using AWS?

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While enough has been said about what can be done with Amazon Web Services, but the problems that are faced by developers when working with AWS are rarely discussed. Since even a small usage or a misconfiguration in AWS can lead to a heavy impact on any company affecting its businesses and its confidentiality, we bring you some common mistakes and misconfigurations which you should avoid in AWS:

Managing Infrastructure Manually

Managing infrastructure manually is one of the most common mistakes that developers make regularly. Repeatedly, developers use a web-based management console for AWS set-up to manually create the resources. The major problem with this approach is that all the actions performed by the developer are not reproducible. This makes it very difficult for tracing the damaged or malfunctioning resources in case of any issue. Another important aspect of managing AWS infrastructure is its documentation which could lead to several mistakes if done manually.

The best alternative for manual infrastructure maintenance is AWS CloudFormation as it has the potential to solve the majority of the issues for completely free. AWS CloudFormation is packed with the set of tools which can automatically manage the infrastructure. Instead of manually creating resources like, snapshots, EC2 instances, security groups and subnets every time, you just have to describe them in a template. A template in AWS is basically a JS Object which is known as JSON file which only needs to be scripted once.

CloudFormation automatically creates all the necessary resources in the customer’s or user’s account when a JSON file or template is submitted to an AWS service. This builds a running instance of the template and this is called a stack. Moreover, CloudFormation lets you make modifications to the templates for changing any running stack. And because of the scripted templates, it is very easy in Cloud Formation to trace down an issue in case if something goes wrong in the running stack.

Also, AWS CloudFormation comes with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface and supports a wide range of AWS resources. These are the reasons; we recommend you to avoid managing your infrastructure manually and start using automated services.

Lack of Security

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Whenever any AWS programmer or a user misconfigure their system’s infrastructure, it often leads to many security flaws and vulnerabilities. Various loopholes in the system caused by the configuration flaws lead to several security threats.

Another major common security blunder in Amazon Web Service (AWS) is the hard-coding of credentials into the application’s source code as hard-coded AWS keys are being exposed publicly over several years. All AWS user credentials, security credentials and passwords must be regularly updated to curb the intruders’ access to your system for safeguarding your AWS data.

Along with these, some organizations even overlook their need for enabling encryptions in their AWS infrastructure. In AWS encryption is very important for creating RDS or Relational Database Service instances, all the data in S3 and Elastic Block Storage.  You must configure proper encryption standards for keeping your system safe. Also, don’t forget that a misconfigured encryption can be equally dangerous as having no encryption.

Giving Unnecessary Higher Privileges

It is another major aspect of AWS security. User privileges and controlling access keys plays an important role in AWS and its security. On a regular basis, analysts or developers are given admin privileges for reducing the admin department’s work; however, it is strongly advised to avoid providing unnecessary higher privileges and broader roles to many employees.

Based on the organization, system administrators should always be limited to a certain number as it is not necessary to give everyone all the admin rights. It is a system administrator’s duty for maintaining the integrity of the system and applying correct policies for reducing the risk of security threats. Along with these, system administrators should check all the user privileges at the regular interval of time.

Business flow can also get hinder if there are a large number of powerful users with all the admin rights as it may lead to several conflicts. Recently, AWS has launched a web service called AWS identity and access management (IAM) for avoiding these unnecessary issues. 

IAM makes simple and easy for administrators to manage all the permissions and roles of their users. More importantly, it is essential for all businesses which involve multiple users who are using different AWS service like AWS management console, SimpleDB and EC2. Among other features of IAM, some are shared access to AWS accounts, identity federation, granular permissions and consistency in providing privileges.

Stacking Stale Resources

Whether be it an Amazon web service or any other given cloud-based service, stacking up stale resources might result in one of the worst nightmares for management. It is true that AWS charged its users based upon the usage of resources, though; here the term “usage” doesn’t mean that you are totally using the resources. Although AWS charges Elastic Book Store Volumes as per the provisioned storage but even the unused with stored EBS volumes can easily lead to higher bills including performance issues in the system. Therefore, it is advised to keep the minimum possible volumes that are required in the immediate future.

Similarly, you can eliminate the risk of implementing an unauthorized security group policy by keeping your EC2 security group clean. Often, you’ll come across instances where a novice AWS user will mistakenly launch EC2 instances using outdated security groups. And these antiquated security groups are very vulnerable to attacks. Majority of the time, it leads to different incidents causing problems. Thus, you should regularly monitor and remove all the unnecessary resources and EC2 security groups.

Read More: How to Choose the Right AWS Storage Option for You?

Ignoring Logs

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It is essential to have proper logs of all the performed actions irrespective of what type of application you are using. This simple measure for maintaining the logs can be helpful for you to recover from system crashes and is even vital in a tracking system’s metrics.

Certain tools like AWS CloudTrail become useful for maintaining the logs and tracking all the API calls which are made from the console. Though CloudTrail or other similar application does the task of storing all your logs, still, you need to make sure that these services are enabled all the time and are running fine on all your systems.

Using Too Many Instances

The main fundamental decision which you need to confront now is to choose the right instances for your AWS system. But how many instances are enough? What’s the correct size for an instance? How I can keep track of all the instances? These are all basic but vital decisions which you have to take. Having the resources for running the system is important but leaving your instances idle or using oversized instances or too many instances can drain a lot of your money. So instead of regretting later, you should use your resources wisely in the first place.

Read More: How to Reduce Cloud Storage Costs Using AWS Snapshots?

Another important aspect is that the importance of having EBS snapshots. It is very essential in the recovery process in case of any system failures. You can consider these snapshots as incremental backups, which can store blocks of data on the device, however, taking too many snapshots can cost you unnecessarily high bills. So, you should save EBS snapshots in moderation to avoid any unexpected increase in the AWS storage costs. As per us, the best practice for snapshot retention strategy is to use Amazon S3 lifecycle rules.

Read More: Remarkable Benefits of AWS Cloud Computing

That’s it!!

These were the top and most frequently made mistakes by the users in Amazon Web Services, so make sure you better avoid them altogether. It won’t be difficult for you to fix most of these misconfigurations but if you are ignoring them, then be ready for the repercussions which can be deadly for your organizations. So with this, I’ll end this article and hope that now, you have a better insight about the AWS and the common mistakes of AWS that you should avoid.

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