How to Enforce Compliance Using AWS Config Rules

November 30, 20235 min read

AWS Config is a service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that enables you to assess, audit, and evaluate the configurations of your AWS resources. Config rules allow you to create compliance checks on the desired configuration settings for your AWS resources.

Understanding AWS Config Rules

Before enforcing compliance, it’s essential to understand what Config rules are and how they work:

  • AWS Config Rules are conditions or guidelines that enable you to ensure your AWS resources are compliant with desired configurations.
  • These rules can be based on AWS best practices or custom requirements specific to your organization’s policies.
  • Config rules can trigger evaluations of recorded configurations of your AWS resources or respond to changes detected by AWS Config.

Setting Up and Configuring AWS Config Rules

To enforce compliance, follow these detailed steps to set up and configure AWS Config rules:

1. Setting Up AWS Config:

  • Enable AWS Config: The first step is to enable AWS Config service in your AWS account for relevant resources and regions.
  • Select Resource Types: Choose which types of AWS resources you want to monitor.
  • Define the Role: Assign an IAM role that gives AWS Config permissions to access your resources.

2. Creating AWS Config Rules:

  • Navigate to AWS Config: Go to the AWS Config console in your AWS Management Console.
  • Create a New Rule: Click on “Rules” and then “Add rule.” There are two types of rules: AWS managed rules (pre-defined by AWS) and custom rules.

3. Setting up AWS Managed Rules:

  • Select a Rule: Choose from the list of available managed rules that meet your compliance needs.
  • Configure Rule Settings: Modify settings such as rule name, description, and trigger types (configuration changes, periodic checks).
  • Input Parameters: Some rules might require specific parameters (e.g., allowed instance types, required tags).
  • Save the Rule: After configuration, save the rule so it can start evaluating your resources.

4. Creating Custom Config Rules:

  • Define the Rule: Create a Lambda function that defines the logic of your custom rule or select a pre-existing function.
  • Set Triggers: Decide if the rule is triggered by specific events or on a periodic basis.
  • Define Scope: Specify the resource types and resource identifiers that the rule applies to.
  • Deploy the Rule: After you define the rule, deploy it to start compliance evaluations.

5. Monitoring Compliance:

  • Compliance Dashboard: Utilize the AWS Config dashboard to monitor and review the compliance status of your resources.
  • Evaluation Results: Check the results for each rule including compliant and non-compliant resources.
  • Resource Timeline: Examine a timeline of configuration changes for individual resources to evaluate compliance over time.

Enforcing Compliance

With Config rules in place, enforcing compliance involves several ongoing activities:

  • Automatic Remediation: For certain rules, you can set up AWS Config to automatically take corrective actions when non-compliant resources are detected.
    • Choose or create an AWS Systems Manager Automation document that defines the remediation action.
    • Specify the parameters required for the remediation.
    • The automatic remediation can either be triggered instantly upon a compliance breach or manually executed.
  • Regular Audits: Schedule regular audits to validate compliance and ensure that rules are applied correctly.
  • Receive Notifications: Create an Amazon SNS topic to receive notifications when compliance breaches occur.
    • Subscribe to email or SMS notifications for real-time alerts.
    • Use the notifications to initiate manual or automatic remediation processes.
  • Review Change Management: Integrate AWS Config with AWS CloudTrail to track and review changes that lead to compliance issues. Use this information to adjust policies or improve security measures.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly review Config rules and make necessary updates to align with evolving compliance requirements or business needs. This may include adding new rules or updating existing ones.

Best Practices and Considerations

To maximize the benefits of AWS Config rules for compliance enforcement, consider the following best practices:

  • Least Privilege Principle: Ensure that only the necessary permissions are granted to the AWS Config role to minimize security risks.
  • Rule Organization: Group related Config rules into categories for better management and clarity.
  • Documentation: Maintain thorough documentation of your Config rules and configuration changes to provide a clear audit trail.
  • Cost Management: Be mindful of the cost associated with Config rule evaluations, especially for rules with frequent triggers.

By implementing AWS Config rules effectively, you’ll be able to maintain continuous compliance, automate corrective actions, and gain insights into your AWS environment’s configuration state.