SEC488: OnDemand

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What You Will Learn

License to Learn Cloud Security

Research shows that most enterprises have strategically decided to deploy a multicloud platform, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), other cloud service providers. Mature CSPs have created a variety of security services that can help customers use their products in a more secure manner, but only if the customer knows about these services and how to use them properly. This course covers real-world lessons using security services created by the Big 3 CSPs, as well as open-source tools. Each section of the course features hands-on lab exercises to help students hammer home the lessons learned. We progressively layer multiple security controls in order to end the course with a functional security architecture implemented in the cloud.

This course will equip you to implement appropriate security controls in the cloud, often using automation to "inspect what you expect." We will begin by diving headfirst into one of the most crucial aspects of cloud - Identity and Access Management (IAM). From there, we'll move on to securing the cloud through discussion and practical, hands-on exercises related to several key topics to defend various cloud workloads operating in the different CSP models of: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Functions as a Service (FaaS).

"I would recommend any tech friend to learn what they can about cloud security as the industry has been transitioning this way for quite a while. This class is a great introduction to this subject." - Christopher Barath, Wells Fargo

Use of AWS, Azure and even GCP with concrete examples: that's a win!" - Maite Amourdon, SAP France

  • Understand the current cloud deployment
  • Protect cloud-hosted workloads, services, and virtual machines
  • Cost-effectively select appropriate services and configure properly to adequately defend cloud resources
  • Get in front of common security misconfigurations BEFORE they are implemented in the cloud
  • Ensure business is aligning to industry regulations and laws when operating in the cloud
  • Decrease adversary dwell time in compromised cloud deployments
  • Navigate your organization through the security challenges and opportunities presented by cloud services
  • Identify the risks of the various services offered by cloud service providers (CSPs)
  • Select the appropriate security controls for a given cloud network security architecture
  • Evaluate CSPs based on their documentation, security controls, and audit reports
  • Confidently use the services of any of the leading CSPs
  • Protect secrets used in cloud environments
  • Leverage cloud logging capabilities to establish accountability for events that occur in the cloud environment
  • Identify the risks and risk control ownership based on the deployment models and service delivery models of the various products offered by cloud service providers (CSPs).
  • Evaluate the trustworthiness of CSPs based on their security documentation, service features, third-party attestations, and position in the global cloud ecosystem.
  • Secure access to the consoles used to access the CSP environments.
  • Implement network security controls that are native to both AWS and Azure.
  • Follow the penetration testing guidelines put forth by AWS and Azure to invoke your "inner red teamer"to compromise a full stack cloud application

SEC488: Cloud Security Essentials reinforces the training material via multiple hands-on labs in each section of the course. Labs are performed via a browser-based application rather than virtual machine. Each lab is designed to impart practical skills that students can bring back to their organizations and apply on the first day back in the office. The labs go beyond the step-by-step instructions by providing the context of why the skill is important and instilling insights as to why the technology works the way it does.

Highlights of what students will learn in SEC488 labs include:
  • Leveraging the web consoles of AWS and Azure to secure various cloud service offerings
  • Hardening and securing cloud environments and applications using open source security tools and services
  • Building, hardening, patching, and securing virtual machines and virtual machine images
  • Using the command line interface (CLI) and simple scripts to automate work
  • Preventing secrets leaking in code deployed to the cloud
  • Using logs and security services to detect malware on a cloud virtual machine and perform preliminary forensics
  • Using Terraform to deploy a complete environment to multiple cloud providers
Section 1: New cloud users, Permissions boundaries, Cloud management station, Deploy CD/CA environment

Section 2: Secure instance deployment, Threat intelligence gold image, Which reality, Blob lock down

Section 3: Data hunting, Data in transit, Terraform code assessment, CASB techniques

Section 4: Restricting network access, Web Application Firewall (WAF), Cloud services logging, IaaS logging

Section 5: Security hub compliance assessment, Microsoft Defender for cloud, Multicloud penetration testing, Multicloud forensics

Section 6: CloudWars

"CloudWars was a very fun challenge. Each section had a good test of knowledge questions."- Evelyn Saucedo, USAA

"Today's Cloud Wars challenge was icing on the cake. Great way to tie in the materials lectured on as well as the lab exercises we have been doing all week. The topics covered were extremely relevant to issues that the military command I work for is having with their cloud environments." - Neale S., US Military

"The labs are my favorite part of the course. Hands on experience with industry standard environments." - Michael Moore, Wells Fargo

"Labs are great, great to reinforce material and also to see how things work behind the scenes." - Ed Yuwono


Section 1 - Before we begin locking down specific services, we MUST understand Identity Access Management (IAM) as, if left in the vendor's default state, can prove devastating as a compromised account can mean GAME OVER for the cloud environment.

Section 2 - This section begins by focusing on how to securely deploy, manage, and maintain compute infrastructure as well as looking at cloud application deployments holistically to focus on locking down all relevant cloud components.

Section 3 - To avoid making negative headlines, we will ensure that we understand the data circulating through our cloud deployments and how to best protect this data as it resides in different types of services.

Section 4 - Two very important topics - networking and logging - allow us to control the flow our traffic into, out of, and within our cloud-based operating environment as well as setting ourselves up for success to spot adversarial activity.

Section 5 - Now that we understand industry best practices, there is still work to be done in this section as we understand how cloud impacts compliance programs and how best to perform penetration test and forensics investigations in the cloud.

Section 6 - The final section is unlike the previous as you will prove your skills learned in the first five sections through a hands-on CloudWars challenge.

  • Cloud Ace Podcast
  • Cloud Ace Journey Learning Paths
  • Defending Lift and Shift Cloud Applications, webcast
  • Cloud Security: You're It!, webcast
  • Cloud Complexities: Navigating the Headwinds, webcast
  • Secure Service Configuration in AWS, Azure, and GCP, poster
  • En Español - Configuración Secure Service en AWS, Azure y GCP, poster
  • Take your learning beyond the classroom. Explore and the SANS Cloud Security YouTube channel for a wide variety of cloud security-specific content.
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lectures
  • Printed and Electronic courseware
  • Extended access to the course's 20 + lab exercises
  • Access to SANS Cloud Alum Slack

Depending on your professional goals and direction, SANS offers a number of follow-on courses to SEC488.

Cloud Security Analyst
  • SEC510: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP | GPCS
Cloud Security Engineer or Architect
  • SEC510: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP | GPCS
  • SEC540: Cloud Security and DevSecOps Automation | GCSA
Cloud Security Management / Leadership
  • MGT520: Leading Cloud Security Design and Implementation
For additional cloud security training courses, please visit our main SANS Cloud Security curriculum page.


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