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Shared Responsibility Model

Some key information on security in the cloud, as well as AWS and customer responsibilities.

The AWS Shared Responsibility Model

Throughout this course, you have learned about a variety of resources that you can create in the AWS Cloud. These resources include Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon S3 buckets, and Amazon RDS databases. Who is responsible for keeping these resources secure: you (the customer) or AWS?

The answer is both. The reason is that you do not treat your AWS environment as a single object. Rather, you treat the environment as a collection of parts that build upon each other. AWS is responsible for some parts of your environment and you (the customer) are responsible for other parts. This concept is known as the shared responsibility model.

The shared responsibility model divides into customer responsibilities (commonly referred to as “security in the cloud”) and AWS responsibilities (commonly referred to as “security of the cloud”).

Graphic showing the Shared Responsibility Model that depicts customer responsibilities and AWS responsibilities

You can think of this model as being similar to the division of responsibilities between a homeowner and a homebuilder. The builder (AWS) is responsible for constructing your house and ensuring that it is solidly built. As the homeowner (the customer), it is your responsibility to secure everything in the house by ensuring that the doors are closed and locked.

Customers: Security in the Cloud

Customers are responsible for the security of everything that they create and put in the AWS Cloud.

When using AWS services, you, the customer, maintain complete control over your content. You are responsible for managing security requirements for your content, including which content you choose to store on AWS, which AWS services you use, and who has access to that content. You also control how access rights are granted, managed, and revoked.

The security steps that you take will depend on factors such as the services that you use, the complexity of your systems, and your company’s specific operational and security needs. Steps include selecting, configuring, and patching the operating systems that will run on Amazon EC2 instances, configuring security groups, and managing user accounts.

AWS: Security of the Cloud

AWS is responsible for security of the cloud.

AWS operates, manages, and controls the components at all layers of infrastructure. This includes areas such as the host operating system, the virtualization layer, and even the physical security of the data centers from which services operate.

AWS is responsible for protecting the global infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the AWS Cloud. This infrastructure includes AWS Regions, Availability Zones, and edge locations.

AWS manages the security of the cloud, specifically the physical infrastructure that hosts your resources, which include:

  • Physical security of data centers
  • Hardware and software infrastructure
  • Network infrastructure
  • Virtualization infrastructure

Although you cannot visit AWS data centers to see this protection firsthand, AWS provides several reports from third-party auditors. These auditors have verified its compliance with a variety of computer security standards and regulations.

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