How to Improve Azure Container Security with Azure Security Center

November 30, 20235 min read

Understanding AWS EBS Encryption

Before configuring AWS EBS (Elastic Block Store) encryption, it’s essential to understand the basics. AWS EBS encryption offers data-at-rest security by using a KMS (Key Management Service) customer master key (CMK) to handle encryption and decryption transparently. Encrypted volumes and the data stored on them are encrypted along with all snapshots created from those volumes.

Benefits of EBS Encryption:

  • Data is encrypted at rest, during volume status operations, and when moved between EC2 instances and EBS storage.
  • It uses AES-256 encryption algorithms to secure data.
  • Integration with AWS KMS allows you to control access to keys.


Before you begin the encryption process, ensure that you have the following:

  • An active AWS account with the necessary permissions to create and manage EBS volumes and KMS keys.
  • Understanding of AWS regions, as EBS encryption settings are region-specific.
  • Familiarity with the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or AWS SDKs.

Step-by-Step Configuration

Step 1: Setting Up the KMS Key

Create or use an existing CMK in AWS KMS:

  • Open the AWS Management Console.
  • Navigate to the KMS service.
  • Choose or create a CMK:
    • To create a new key, follow the prompts to Create Key. During this process, define the key administrators and usage permissions.
    • To use an existing key, ensure that it’s available in the desired region and you have permissions to use it.

Step 2: Creating Encrypted EBS Volumes

When creating a new EBS volume:

  • Navigate to the EC2 Dashboard in the AWS Management Console.
  • In the Elastic Block Store section, click on Volumes.
  • Choose Create Volume.
  • In the dialog, check the Encrypt this volume option.
  • Select the KMS key you wish to use for encryption from the dropdown.

When launching a new EC2 instance:

  • Start the EC2 instance creation wizard.
  • In the Instance Details section, set your desired instance type and configuration.
  • In the Add Storage step, select the Add New Volume option.
  • Choose EBS as the volume type.
  • Check the Encrypt this volume box and select the KMS key from the list.

Step 3: Encrypting an Existing Unencrypted Volume

You can’t directly encrypt an existing unencrypted volume. Instead, you must create an encrypted snapshot of the volume and then create a new encrypted volume from the snapshot.

Follow these steps:

  1. Create a snapshot of the existing volume:
    • Navigate to the Volumes section on the EC2 Dashboard.
    • Select the unencrypted volume and choose Actions -> Create Snapshot.
  2. Copy the snapshot with encryption:
    • Once the snapshot is complete, go to Snapshots in the EC2 Dashboard.
    • Select it and choose Actions -> Copy.
    • In the copy dialog, select the Encrypt this snapshot checkbox.
    • Pick the KMS key for encryption.
  3. Create a new encrypted volume from the encrypted snapshot:
    • Choose Actions -> Create Volume from the encrypted snapshot.
    • Provision the new volume as needed.
  4. Attach the newly encrypted volume to your EC2 instance:
    • Detach the old unencrypted volume.
    • Attach the new encrypted volume to the desired instance.

Best Practices and Additional Considerations

  • Regularly rotate and manage your KMS keys according to your organization’s security policy.
  • Once EBS volumes are encrypted, monitor their usage and access using AWS CloudTrail to ensure security compliance.
  • Remember that while encrypted EBS volumes provide data-at-rest security, you should also implement other security measures such as data-in-transit encryption and network security controls.
  • Be aware that while EBS encryption has minimal impact on performance, you should still benchmark your instances if performance is critical.
  • Make sure you understand any compliance implications, such as GDPR, HIPAA, etc., that might apply to your encrypted data.

By following this guide, you can configure AWS EBS encryption to ensure data-at-rest security for your AWS workloads, adding an essential layer of protection for your data.