Protect your company’s sensitive data with AWS Macie

All businesses depend on data, and any loss or leak will have severe effects. Amazon introduced Amazon Macie with the intention of relieving customers’ concerns over the security of their data.

Amazon Macie was developed to automatically classify, safeguard, and highlight sensitive data across several accounts.

Data protection is a difficult,  costly, and time-consuming process. This article contains all you need to know about AWS Macie, including its explanation, how it works, how to set it up, use cases, benefits, features, package pricing, and much further. 

What is Amazon Macie, and how does it work?

What is AWS Macie?

One of the important services with a primary focus on sensitive data discovery is AWS Macie. It’s a service that tracks, finds, and secures sensitive data stored in AWS at scale using a combination of machine literacy( ML) and pattern matching.  

The data is automatically detected, identified, and assorted in Amazon S3 storage, which is supported by Macie. 

How does Amazon Macie work?

Macie is a fully managed data security and data privacy service that utilizes machine learning to discover sensitive data. it can identify two categories of findings: policy findings and sensitive data findings

Upon activation, Amazon Macie begins to observe the security and access controls of data held in S3 buckets by mistreatment machine learning. Macie detects, controls, and safeguards sensitive information.

If it detects any uncommon or unauthorized data activity, it directly generates policy findings to alert you.

the following are the key parts that enable AWS Macie to provide sturdy security for your most valuable data stored in the cloud:

●      Macie summary dashboard:

Every activity done within the last 30 days from activating the Macie summary dashboard will give you an outline of its results, alerting you and giving you permission to solve any possible risk of a data leak.

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Furthermore, the summary dashboard determines the total number of buckets and S3 storage consumed over time.

It also classifies your S3 buckets as: public, encrypted, private, and shared buckets, both inside and outside your AWS account or AWS company.

●      Sensitive data discovery jobs:

Sensitive data discovery jobs will mainly detect and highlight what sensitive data is in your Amazon S3.

To maintain compliance with your privacy requirements, you can define the frequency of jobs, whether it is a one-time job or an ongoing job. That is to say only once for on-demand analysis and frequently for recurring analysis and control.

● Macie’s findings:

Macie’s findings are detailed reports that Amazon Macie generates every time it detects sensitive data violations in Amazon S3 or S3 buckets.

Each finding shows the severity rating and information about the time and the way Macie detected the problem.

We can mention two types of findings: policy findings and sensitive findings.

●      Macie automated data discovery:

Customers will be able to automatically discover their data and see where their sensitive data is stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service thanks to a new feature launched in 2022 that was introduced by AWS Macie (Amazon S3)

For new users, this feature is turned on automatically; however, existing Macie users must set it on or off using a button in the AWS Management Console.

What are the most popular use cases of AWS Macie?

For the purpose of identifying and safeguarding sensitive data, AWS developed Macie. It was frequently utilized because of its vital function in data security. Next, you will find the common use cases for AWS Macie :

●      Simplify data privacy and security process:

Amazon Macie assists users in securing their data through the Amazon S3 environment for data security objectives by recognizing, classifying, and producing conclusions that allow users the authority to act promptly when necessary.

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●      Finding sensitive data on a large scale:

Amazon Macie was designed to continually find sensitive data on large scale and in a complex Amazon S3 environment that the customer will hardly track.

Sensitive data includes personal information such as names, addresses, credit card numbers,, and so on. All this data Macie will automatically, quickly, and easily recognize and protect.

●      Keeping compliance:

Macie will help customers to maintain regulatory compliance, providing different options for the organization’s analysis. The options include one-time, daily, weekly, or monthly sensitive data discovery jobs.

●      Detecting and responding to possible security incidents:

By spotting any unusual activity that may suggest a security incident, investigating it, and taking appropriate action, Macie will assist you in detecting and responding to any form of security incident..

How to set up an AWS Macie to protect your data?

Following these steps, you can set up Macie for your AWS account to protect your data:

  1. Open the Amazon Macie console at https://console.aws.amazon.com/macie/
  2. From the upper right corner of the page, choose the region in which you want to enable AWS Macie.
  3. Choose to get started.
  4. And then click on enable Macie.

Macie instantly creates and starts maintaining a complete stock of your S3 buckets in the current region. Additionally. Macie starts tracking the buckets security and access restrictions.

Why is using Amazon Macie beneficial for your organization’s data?

Protecting your organization’s data is one of the major concerns and it is beneficial to use AWS Macie in order to guarantee data safety since it spontaneously defends it against dangers.

Here are the main benefits of using AWS Macie:

●      Data visibility:

Amazon Macie offers visibility into data stored in AWS and all details needed like file content, its size, and its date of creation, besides the analysis of data and identification of security problems.

●      Easy to set up:

The easiest part is setting up Macie, so after creating an IAM role, you can define the S3 buckets you are willing to monitor.

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●      User behavior:

Offers you a clear understanding of your data’s use and identifies its misuse.

●      Customized sensitive  data types:

With the customized data types generated by AWS Macie, you will be instantly notified when your data is accessed, submitted, or used without your authorization.

●      S3 bucket constant monitoring:

The continuous monitoring of your S3 buckets by AWS Macie will keep you aware of the unusual activities done on your AWS account.

●      Comprehensive reporting:

Due to the detailed reports provided by Amazon Macie, users will be aware of all kinds of suspicious tasks conducted in their accounts without their permission.

●      Data classification and tagging:

For easier data organization and searching AWS Macie gives you permission to classify and tag data, which will also help in categorizing data in Amazon S3 buckets and finding sensitive data like bank account numbers, addresses, passports, IDs, and so forth.

Amazon Macie vs. Amazon GuardDuty:

Among the most used security tools we have: are AWS Macie and AWS GuardDuty, these two help users manage data and keep it secure. Despite their similar use, we can spot some differences between them.

The following table will prove the most important features of Amazon Macie and GuardDuty,  alongside  their pricing according to US West Northern California:

ServiceAmazon MacieAmazon GuardDuty
Feature– Automatic tracking of changes in Amazon S3 buckets.
– Familiarise data access patterns.
– Alert against unusual user behavior and provide recommendations in order to solve the issue.
– Manageable and easy to set up.
– Secures any type of data storage, including Amazon S3. 
– Secures any type of data storage, including Amazon S3.
– Depicts suspicious activities.
– Detects threats accurately, such as access from an unknown location.
– Compared to prices of other tools, GuardDuty is fairly affordable. 
Pricing30-day free trial of Amazon S3 buckets.
1 GB of sensitive data discovery per month at no cost.
Once the free trial comes to an end, the cost will be like:
•       Bucket inventory and monitoring:Bucket/ month: $0.10 per bucket.
•       Data inspected per month for automated and targeted sensitive data discovery:
First 50 TB/ month: $ 1.55 per GB.
•       Automated data discovery object monitoring:
Object/ month: $0.015 per 100K objects. 
30 days of free trial.
When the free trial ends, the pricing will be as follows:
•       AWS CloudTrail Management Event Analysis:
Per one million events / month: $4.40 per one million events.
•       AWS CloudTrail S3 Data Event Analysis:
First 500 million events / month:
$1.20 per one million events.
•       VPC Flow Log and DNS Query Log Analysis:
First 500 GB / month: $1.10 per GB.  

According to the table, Amazon Macie and GuardDuty are both valuable for data protection. The price is the only significant difference between them, Amazon Macie is more expensive than GuardDuty which affords data protection at a lower cost.

What is the future of AWS Macie for database protection?

As long as Amazon S3 is the most typically used storage answer for client information, it’s no surprise that Amazon Macie relies on around it.

At present, Macie only works with S3 buckets, however, it’s anticipated that it will eventually support different storage options.

As users become more and more involved in protecting their data, Macie may additionally expand its reach and become offered worldwide and may be enhanced to delve deeper into data and have access to logs and breaches that customers may not have famed about.

However, Macie’s future depends on the continued development and expansion of cloud security services, offering more advanced capabilities for protecting databases in AWS environments.

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