Mastering 20 Essential AWS Security Interview Questions


The number of companies adopting the cloud model is growing every day, and more experienced professionals are needed since maintaining a robust cloud security infrastructure, data protection, access control, and more is vital.

In the following article, we will understand the fundamental aspects of security in AWS, the most important questions that may be asked in an interview, and tips and strategies for addressing the interview.

Foundational AWS Security Concepts 

A. Identity and Access Management (IAM)

1. What is IAM in AWS?

It is a service offered by AWS to control and manage access to AWS services and resources.

2. How does IAM work in AWS?

By configuring and managing specific access controls to services and resources, implementing protective barriers, and granting credentials to workloads.

3. What are IAM policies, roles, and users?

Policies grant access permissions and operate by assigning policies to roles to determine whether the access permissions specified in the policies are allowed or denied.

IAM roles provide access through short-term credentials, with each role having its independent access permissions. IAM users access identities with long-term credentials.

4. How can you secure IAM users and roles?

You can establish access control through tag-based key management, using IAM principals, or by regularly changing security credentials. This way, you can control and prevent other users from accessing resources.

B. Shared Responsibility Model

1. Explain the Shared Responsibility Model in AWS.

The shared responsibility in AWS serves to alleviate the client's burden by managing, controlling, and operating the host operating system, providing physical security where these services operate.

2. What are the responsibilities of AWS and the customer?

It depends on the services chosen by the customer, as their responsibilities will vary based on the function, region, and workloads. Generally, the customer is responsible for managing updates or security patches, associated applications, and configuring AWS security firewall settings.

3. How does this model affect security in the cloud?

Security will be affected if we don't work together, so, to maintain the security of the services, roles and responsibilities from both AWS and the customer must be fulfilled.

Interview Questions About Data Protection and Encryption 

A. Encryption in Transit

  1. 1

    What is encryption in transit?

    Data in transit encryption is used to protect data from any attack or loss as it moves from its source to its destination.

  2. 2

    How do you enable encryption for data in transit?

    To enable data in transit encryption in AWS, you need to enable it through Amazon EFS using TLS when mounting the file system, and each data transfer is configured for encryption for each connection.

  3. 3

    What are the encryption protocols used in AWS?

    1. TLS is a set of cryptographic protocols used for encrypting data in transit across the network, between the browser and the website.

    2. SSL is a certification that serves to identify identity and establish a secure connection for encrypting data through Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security protocols.

B. Encryption at Rest

  1. 1

    What is encryption at rest?

    Data encryption at rest serves as protection against threats, data theft, or unauthorized access on disks or backups.

  2. 2

    How is data stored securely in AWS using encryption at rest?

    Through the SSE server that safeguards, stores, and monitors content using encryption keys with SQL (SSE-SQS) or managed keys in (SSE-KMS).

  3. 3

    Explain AWS Key Management Service (KMS).

    You can create and manage encryption keys yourself. Additionally, you can create a key for each account and region through Amazon SQS management. These keys comply with compliance requirements, providing enhanced security in that regard.

  4. 4

    What are best practices for managing encryption keys?

    1. Do not grant access to sensitive and private data to all users in normal cases.

    2. Continuously monitor access control.

    3. Rotate and change encryption keys; this reduces the risk of threats.

Most common Interview Questions About Network Security 

A. Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

  1. 1

    What is a VPC, and why is it essential for security?

    A VPC is a Virtual Private Cloud that allows you to protect your data with IP addressing, isolating data in a subnet not connected to the internet, providing increased security, which is essential for data protection and ensuring a company's privacy.

  2. 2

    How can you secure your VPC?

    1. By using security groups to control traffic access to EC2 instances in the created subnets.

    2. Using Network Access Control Lists (NACLs) to control inbound and outbound traffic at the subnet levels.

    3. Controlling access through roles and users created by AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

  3. 3

    What are security groups and Network Access Control Lists (NACLs)?

    Security groups control and restrict inbound and outbound traffic; you can place up to 5 security groups per instance. NACLs restrict and control inbound and outbound traffic in subnets.

B. AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall)

  1. 1

    What is AWS WAF, and how does it protect against web threats?

    It is a web application firewall that monitors HTTP(S) requests, allowing control over content access based on specific conditions set.

  2. 2

    How can you configure and customize AWS WAF rules?

    1. Using the AWS WAF console's rule builder:

    2. Define the rule name, and when you change the rule name, you must also change the rule metric name to reflect the change.

    3. You must also define statements for each rule based on the criteria set to create it.

  3. 3

    What are the benefits of integrating AWS WAF with CloudFront?

    1. You can accelerate content with internet protocols HTTP/3 and TLS 1.3.

    2. You achieve high availability with multi-regional architectures.

    3. By applying TLS policies, authorization, and blocking, it provides access controls for enhanced security.

Questions To Expect About Monitoring and Logging 

A. CloudWatch and CloudTrail

  • What is AWS CloudWatch, and how does it assist in monitoring?

    AWS CloudWatch is a service that helps monitor real-time resources and applications running on AWS. It monitors by collecting metrics and performing tracking to assess and measure the resources in use.

  • Explain AWS CloudTrail and its role in auditing and compliance.

    AWS CloudTrail is a service for enabling governance, operational audits, and risk assessment of your AWS account. It allows you to log event history, store, and provide access to user activity for analysis.

  • How can you use CloudWatch and CloudTrail for security?

    Both can be configured to monitor and log user and service activities in AWS. You can set up alarms to trigger automatic responses to any activity, ensuring and reinforcing data security and integrity.

B. AWS Config

  • What is AWS Config, and how does it help maintain compliance?

    AWS Config is a tool for assessing and analyzing AWS resources in your account. It evaluates how resources are configured and how they change over time.

    Additionally, it allows you to audit and assess compliance with configurations and policies consistently to keep them up to date.

  • How can you use AWS Config to track changes to your AWS resources?

    You can capture and evaluate the history of AWS Config rule sets to see real-time changes, the rules that influenced the state change, and run advanced queries with AWS Config.

  • Explain the concept of Config Rules.

    These are automatically managed rules that can be modified, adjusted, and tailored to each specific function. You can customize rules to evaluate whether volumes are encrypted or if tags are applied, among other criteria.

Questions About Incident Response and Disaster Recovery 

A. AWS Security Incident Response

  1. 1

    What are the key steps in AWS security incident response?

    1. To anticipate security incidents, it's important to have a record of access to important files and the changes made.

    2. Activate and automate incident response tools using AWS API.

    3. Establish common response goals.

  2. 2

    How can you use AWS tools to detect and respond to security incidents?

    With the aforementioned tools, prepare your staff for their proper use. CloudWatch, CloudTrail, and AWS Config.

    Thanks to the monitoring and tracking provided by these tools, it allows anticipation of any threats or risks.

B. Disaster Recovery in AWS

  1. 1

    Explain the importance of disaster recovery in AWS.

    It is a process that enables the recovery of information in the face of any incident. This provides companies with the assurance of recovery from attacks, threats, or even natural incidents such as earthquakes or fires.

  2. 2

    What are AWS services and features for disaster recovery?

    1. AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery is one of the AWS services for quickly recovering applications and data.

    2. Amazon DynamoDB creates on-demand backups and enables continuous backups.

  3. 3

    How can you create a robust disaster recovery plan?

    It is necessary for companies to have a recovery plan and keep it up-to-date.

    1. First, assess how much downtime the applications can endure without loss or damage to the server. Based on this, create a recovery plan that lasts less than the allowable downtime. 

    2. Then, establish the frequency at which data and application backups will be performed. 

    3. Finally, define the actions to be taken both before and after the recovery process.

Questions About Best Practices and Compliance 

A. AWS Well-Architected Framework

  1. 1

    What is the AWS Well-Architected Framework?

    It is a framework with which you can build a secure infrastructure, efficiently designing it for various applications and different data workloads.

  2. 2

    How does it relate to security best practices?

    By creating a secure infrastructure, a solid foundation is established, security measures are applied, reducing data access, implementing enabling measures through MFA, managing identities, and incorporating other security best practices.

  3. 3

    What are the five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework?

    1. Security: Focuses on data and system protection to maintain integrity through controls for detecting security events.

    2. Reliability: Ensures workloads operate correctly and, in case of an error, swiftly corrects to meet established demands.

    3. Operational Excellence: Involves running and monitoring systems and identifying areas for improvement to optimize procedures.

    4. Performance Efficiency: Manages the allocation of computing resources and monitors and maintains overall business effectiveness.

    5. Cost Optimization: Constantly monitors resource usage for cost optimization and avoids unnecessary expenses.

B. AWS Compliance Programs

  1. 1

    Describe AWS compliance programs and certifications.

    Compliance programs enable customers to maintain security and conformity in the cloud, adhering to compliance standards or audits, establishing an AWS security control environment. 

    AWS certifications are evaluated by an auditor and provide certification, an audit report, or an accreditation of compliance.

  2. 2

    Why is compliance important for businesses using AWS?

    To ensure data privacy and customer protection, in addition to their security in accordance with AWS laws and regulations and those of the country or region where they are located.

  3. 3

    How can you ensure compliance with AWS standards?

    Conduct audits to assess legal compliance with all requirements; this will provide an audit report or accreditation, allowing you to ensure compliance standards.

AWS Security Interview Tips and Strategies

For a job interview as an AWS security professional, you can use the following strategies as assistance.

A. How to Approach Technical Interviews

Evaluate and understand the job description accurately. Study with practice interview questions and answers to understand what may come up.

B. Demonstrating Problem-Solving Skills

Offer to perform practical exercises; it's the best way for them to verify your skills and assess how you handle any incident or threat as a cloud security professional.

C. Handling Behavioral Questions

Maintain a positive and focused attitude that demonstrates your professionalism and confidence, something companies evaluate when hiring staff. Show confidence in responding to these questions, as your behavior will be assessed.

D. Closing the Interview Strongly

Always show confidence and stand firm with your knowledge and skills. This provides companies with the assurance to hire you.

Conclusion

As we've seen, ensuring the security of a company's data and privacy is paramount. Knowing how to address issues and threats, and with the security features of AWS, you can achieve this.

With the questions covered in this article, you will prepare yourself successfully to secure a job as an AWS security professional.

However, don't limit yourself to just these questions. Consider taking courses, learning from guides, and further preparing to ensure your success.

About the author

Youssef

Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of ITCertificate.org

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