Three recurring Security Hub usage patterns and how to deploy them

As Amazon Web Services (AWS) Security Solutions Architects, we get to talk to customers of all sizes and industries about how they want to improve their security posture and get visibility into their AWS resources. This blog post identifies the top three most commonly used Security Hub usage patterns and describes how you can use these to improve your strategy for identifying and managing findings.

Customers have told us they want to provide security and compliance visibility to the application owners in an AWS account or to the teams that use the account; others want a single-pane-of-glass view for their security teams; and other customers want to centralize everything into a security information and event management (SIEM) system, most often due to being in a hybrid scenario.

Security Hub was launched as a posture management service that performs security checks, aggregates alerts, and enables automated remediation. Security Hub ingests findings from multiple AWS services, including Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon Inspector, AWS Firewall Manager, and AWS Health, and also from third-party services. It can be integrated with AWS Organizations to provide a single dashboard where you can view findings across your organization.

Security Hub findings are normalized into the AWS Security Findings Format (ASFF) so that users can review them in a standardized format. This reduces the need for time-consuming data conversion efforts and allows for flexible and consistent filtering of findings based on the attributes provided in the finding, as well as the use of customizable responsive actions. Partners who have integrations with Security Hub also send their findings to AWS using the ASFF to allow for consistent attribute definition and enforced criticality ratings, meaning that findings in Security Hub have a measurable rating. This helps to simplify the complexity of managing multiple findings from different providers.

Overview of the usage patterns

In this section, we outline the objectives for each usage pattern, list the typical stakeholders we have seen these patterns support, and discuss the value of deploying each one.

Usage pattern 1: Dashboard for application owners

Use Security Hub to provide visibility to application workload owners regarding the security and compliance posture of their AWS resources.

The application owner is often responsible for the security and compliance posture of the resources they have deployed in AWS. In our experience however, it is common for large enterprises to have a separate team responsible for defining security-related privileges and to not grant application owners the ability to modify configuration settings on the AWS account that is designated as the centralized Security Hub administration account. We’ll walk through how you can enable read-only access for application owners to use Security Hub to see the overall security posture of their AWS resources.

Stakeholders: Developers and cloud teams that are responsible for the security posture of their AWS resources. These individuals are often required to resolve security events and non-compliance findings that are captured with Security Hub.

Value adds for customers: Some organizations we have worked with put the onus on workload owners to own their security findings, because they have a better understanding of the nuances of the engineering, the business needs, and the overall risk that the security findings represent. This usage pattern gives the applications owners clear visibility into the security and compliance status of their workloads in the AWS accounts so that they can define appropriate mitigation actions with consideration to their business needs and risk.

Usage pattern 2: A single pane of glass for security professionals

Use Security Hub as a single pane of glass to view, triage, and take action on AWS security and compliance findings across accounts and AWS Regions.

Security Hub generates findings by running continuous, automated security checks based on supported industry standards. Additionally, Security Hub integrates with other AWS services to collect and correlate findings and uses over 60 partner integrations to simplify and prioritize findings. With these features, security professionals can use Security Hub to manage findings across their AWS landscape.

Stakeholders: Security operations, incident responders, and threat hunters who are responsible for monitoring compliance, as well as security events.

Value adds for customers: This pattern benefits customers who don’t have a SIEM but who are looking for a centralized model of security operations. By using Security Hub and aggregating findings across Regions into a single Security Hub dashboard, they get oversight of their AWS resources without the cost and complexity of managing a SIEM.

Usage pattern 3: Centralized routing to a SIEM solution

Use AWS Security Hub as a single aggregation point for security and compliance findings across AWS accounts and Regions, and route those findings in a normalized format to a centralized SIEM or log management tool.

Customers who have an existing SIEM capability and complex environments typically deploy this usage pattern. By using Security Hub, these customers gather security and compliance-related findings across the workloads in all their accounts, ingest those into their SIEM, and investigate findings or take response and remediation actions directly within their SIEM console. This mechanism also enables customers to define use cases for threat detection and analysis in a single environment, providing a holistic view of their risk.

Stakeholders: Security operations teams, incident responders, and threat hunters. This pattern supports a centralized model of security operations, where the responsibilities for monitoring and identifying both non-compliance with defined practice, as well as security events, fall within single teams within the organization.

Value adds for customers: When Security Hub aggregates the findings from workloads across accounts and Regions in a single place, those finding are normalized by using the ASFF. This means that findings are already normalized under a single format when they are sent to the SIEM. This enables faster analytics, use case definition, and dashboarding because analysts don’t have to create multi-tiered use cases for different finding structures across vendors and services.

The ASFF also enables streamlined response through security orchestration, automation, response (SOAR) tools or AWS native orchestration tools such as AWS EventBridge. With the ASFF, you can effortlessly parse and filter events based on an attribute and customize automation.

Overall, this usage pattern helps to improve the typical key performance indicators (KPIs) the SecOps function is measured against, such as Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) or Mean Time to Respond (MTTR) in the AWS environment.

Setting up each usage pattern

In this section, we’ll go over the steps for setting up each usage pattern

Usage pattern 1: Dashboard for application owners

Use the following steps to set up a Security Hub dashboard for an account owner, where the owner can view and take action on security findings.

Prerequisites for pattern 1

This solution has the following prerequisites:

  1. Enable AWS Security Hub to check your environment against security industry standards and best practices.
  2. Next, enable the AWS service integrations for all accounts and Regions as desired. For more information, refer to Enabling all features in your organization.

Set up read-only permissions for the AWS application owner

The following steps are commonly performed by the security team or those responsible for creating AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies.

  • Assign the AWS managed permission policy AWSSecurityHubReadOnlyAccess to the principal who will be assuming the role. Figure 1 shows an image of the permission statement.
    Figure 1: Assign permissions

    Figure 1: Assign permissions

  • (Optional) Create custom insights in Security Hub. Using custom insights can provide a view of areas of interest for an application owner; however, creating a new insights view is not allowed unless the following additional set of permissions are granted to the application owner role or user.
    { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "securityhub:UpdateInsight", "securityhub:DeleteInsight", "securityhub:CreateInsight"
    ], "Resource": "*"
    }

Pattern 1 walkthrough: View the application owner’s security findings

After the read-only IAM policy has been created and applied, the application owner can access Security Hub to view the dashboard, which provides the application owner with a view of the overall security posture of their AWS resources. In this section, we’ll walk through the steps that the application owner can take to quickly view and assess the compliance and security of their AWS resources.

To view the application owner’s dashboard in Security Hub

  1. Sign into the AWS Management Console and navigate to the AWS Security Hub service page. You will be presented with a summary of the findings. Then, depending on the security standards that are enabled, you will be presented with a view similar to the one shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2: Summary of aggregated Security Hub standard score

    Figure 2: Summary of aggregated Security Hub standard score

    Security Hub generates its own findings by running automated and continuous checks against the rules in a set of supported security standards. On the Summary page, the Security standards card displays the security scores for each enabled standard. It also displays a consolidated security score that represents the proportion of passed controls to enabled controls across the enabled standards.

  2. Choose the hyperlink of a security standard to get an additional summarized view, as shown in Figure 3.
    Figure 3: Security Hubs standards summarized view

    Figure 3: Security Hubs standards summarized view

  3. As you choose the hyperlinks for the specific findings, you will get additional details, along with recommended remediation instructions to take.
    Figure 4: Example of finding details view

    Figure 4: Example of finding details view

  4. In the left menu of the Security Hub console, choose Findings to see the findings ranked according to severity. Choose the link text of the finding title to drill into the details and view additional information on possible remediation actions.
    Figure 5: Findings example

    Figure 5: Findings example

  5. In the left menu of the Security Hub console, choose Insights. You will be presented with a collection of related findings. Security Hub provides several managed insights to get you started with assessing your security posture. As shown in Figure 6, you can quickly see if your Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets have public write or read permissions. This is just one example of managed insights that help you quickly identify risks.
    Figure 6: Insights view

    Figure 6: Insights view

  6. You can create custom insights to track issues and resources that are specific to your environment. Note that creating custom insights requires IAM permissions, as described earlier in the Prerequisites for Pattern 1 section. Use the following steps to create a custom insight for compliance status.

    To create a custom insight, use the Group By filter and select how you want your insights to be grouped together:

    1. In the left menu of the Security Hub console, choose Insights, and then choose Create insight in the upper right corner.
    2. By default, there will be filters included in the filter bar. Put the cursor in the filter bar, choose Group By, choose Compliance Status, and then choose Apply.
      Figure 7: Creating a custom insight

      Figure 7: Creating a custom insight

    3. For Insight name, enter a relevant name for your insight, and then choose Create insight. Your custom insight will be created.

In this scenario, you learned how application owners can quickly assess the resources in an AWS account and get details about security risks and recommended remediation steps. For a more hands-on walkthrough that covers how to use Security Hub, consider spending 2–3 hours going through this AWS Security Hub workshop.

Usage pattern 2: A single pane of glass for security professionals

To use Security Hub as a centralized source of security insight, we recommend that you choose to accept security data from the available integrated AWS services and third-party products that generate findings. Check the lists of available integrations often, because AWS continues to release new services that integrate with Security Hub. Figure 8 shows the Integrations page in Security Hub, where you can find information on how to accept findings from the many integrations that are available.

Figure 8: Security Hub integrations page

Figure 8: Security Hub integrations page

Solution architecture and workflow for pattern 2

As Figure 9 shows, you can visualize Security Hub as the centralized security dashboard. Here, Security Hub can act as both the consumer and issuer of findings. Additionally, if you have security findings you want sent to Security Hub that aren’t provided by a AWS Partner or AWS service, you can create a custom provider to provide the central visibility you need.

Figure 9: Security Hub findings flow

Figure 9: Security Hub findings flow

Because Security Hub is integrated with many AWS services and partner solutions, customers get improved security visibility across their AWS landscape. With the integration of Amazon Detective, it’s convenient for security analysts to use Security Hub as the centralized incident triage starting point. Amazon Detective is a security incident response service that can be used to analyze, investigate, and quickly identify the root cause of potential security issues or suspicious activities by collecting log data from AWS resources. To learn how to get started with Amazon Detective, we recommend watching this video.

Programmatically remediate high-volume workflows

Security teams increasingly rely on monitoring and automation to scale and keep up with the demands of their business. Using Security Hub, customers can configure automatic responses to findings based upon preconfigured rules. Security Hub gives you the option to create your own automated response and remediation solution or use the AWS provided solution, Security Hub Automated Response and Remediation (SHARR). SHARR is an extensible solution that provides predefined response and remediation actions (playbooks) based on industry compliance standards and best practices for security threats. For step-by-step instructions for setting up SHARR, refer to this blog post.

Routing to alerting and ticketing systems

For incidents you cannot or do not want to automatically remediate, either because the incident happened in an account with a production workload or some change control process must be followed, routing to an incident management environment may be necessary. The primary goal of incident response is reducing the time to resolution for critical incidents. Customers who use alerting or incident management systems can integrate Security Hub to streamline the time it takes to resolve incidents. ServiceNow ITSM, Slack and PagerDuty are examples of products that integrate with Security Hub. This allows for workflow processing, escalations, and notifications as required.

Additionally, Incident Manager, a capability of AWS Systems Manager, also provides response plans, an escalation path, runbook automation, and active collaboration to recover from incidents. By using runbooks, customers can set up and run automation to recover from incidents. This blog post walks through setting up runbooks.

Usage pattern 3: Centralized routing to a SIEM solution

Here, we will describe how to use Splunk as an AWS Partner SIEM solution. However, note that there are many other SIEM partners available in the marketplace; the instructions to route findings to those partners’ platforms will be available in their documentation.

Solution architecture and workflow for pattern 3

Figure 10: Security Hub findings ingestion to Splunk

Figure 10: Security Hub findings ingestion to Splunk

Figure 10 shows the use of a Security Hub delegated administrator that aggregates findings across multiple accounts and Regions, as well as other AWS services such as GuardDuty, Amazon Macie, and Inspector. These findings are then sent to Splunk through a combination of Amazon EventBridge, AWS Lambda, and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose.

Prerequisites for pattern 3

This solution has the following prerequisites:

  • Enable Security Hub in your accounts, with one account defined as the delegated admin for other accounts within AWS Organizations, and enable cross-Region aggregation.
  • Set up third-party SIEM solution; you can visit the AWS marketplace for a list of our SIEM partners. For this walkthrough, we will be using Splunk, with the Security Hub app in Splunk and an HTTP Event Collector (HEC) with indexer acknowledgment configured.
  • Generate and deploy a CloudFormation template from Splunk’s automation, provided by Project Trumpet.
  • Enable cross-Region replication. This action can only be performed from within the delegated administrator account, or from within a standalone account that is not controlled by a delegated administrator. The aggregation Region must be a Region that is enabled by default.

Pattern 3 walkthrough: Set up centralized routing to a SIEM

To get started, first designate a Security Hub delegated administrator and configure cross-Region replication. Then you can configure integration with Splunk.

To designate a delegated administrator and configure cross-Region replication

  1. Follow the steps in Designating a Security Hub administrator account to configure the delegated administrator for Security Hub.
  2. Perform these steps to configure cross-Region replication:
    1. Sign in to the account to which you delegated Security Hub administration, and in the console, navigate to the Security Hub dashboard in your desired aggregation Region. You must have the correct permissions to access Security Hub and make this change.
    2. Choose Settings, choose Regions, and then choose Configure finding aggregation.
    3. Select the radio button that displays the Region you are currently in, and then choose Save.
    4. You will then be presented with all available Regions in which you can aggregate findings. Select the Regions you want to be part of the aggregation. You also have the option to automatically link future Regions that Security Hub becomes enabled in.
    5. Choose Save.

You have now enabled multi-Region aggregation. Navigate back to the dashboard, where findings will start to be replicated into a single view. The time it takes to replicate the findings from the Regions will vary. We recommend waiting 24 hours for the findings to be replicated into your aggregation Region.

To configure integration with Splunk

Note: These actions require that you have appropriate permissions to deploy a CloudFormation template.

  1. Navigate to https://splunktrumpet.github.io/ and enter your HEC details: the endpoint URL and HEC token. Leave Automatically generate the required HTTP Event Collector tokens on your Splunk environment unselected.
  2. Under AWS data source configuration, select only AWS CloudWatch Events, with the Security Hub findings – Imported filter applied.
  3. Download the CloudFormation template to your local machine.
  4. Sign in to the AWS Management Console in the account and Region where your Security Hub delegated administrator and Region aggregation are configured.
  5. Navigate to the CloudFormation console and choose Create stack.
  6. Choose Template is ready, and then choose Upload a template file. Upload the CloudFormation template you previously downloaded from the Splunk Trumpet page.
  7. In the CloudFormation console, on the Specify Details page, enter a name for the stack. Keep all the default settings, and then choose Next.
  8. Keep all the default settings for the stack options, and then choose Next to review.
  9. On the review page, scroll to the bottom of the page. Select the check box under the Capabilities section, next to the acknowledgment that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources with custom names.

    The CloudFormation template will take approximately 15–20 minutes to complete.

Test the solution for pattern 3

If you have GuardDuty enabled in your account, you can generate sample findings. Security Hub will ingest these findings and invoke the EventBridge rule to push them into Splunk. Alternatively, you can wait for findings to be generated from the periodic checks that are performed by Security Hub. Figure 11 shows an example of findings displayed in the Security Hub dashboard in Splunk.

Figure 11: Example of the Security Hub dashboard in Splunk

Figure 11: Example of the Security Hub dashboard in Splunk

Conclusion

AWS Security Hub provides multiple ways you can use to quickly assess and prioritize your security alerts and security posture. In this post, you learned about three different usage patterns that we have seen our customers implement to take advantage of the benefits and integrations offered by Security Hub. Note that these usage patterns are not mutually exclusive, but can be used together as needed.

To extend these solutions further, you can enrich Security Hub metadata with additional context by using tags, as described in this post. Configure Security Hub to ingest findings from a variety of AWS Partners to provide additional visibility and context to the overall status of your security posture. To start your 30-day free trial of Security Hub, visit AWS Security Hub.

If you have feedback about this blog post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this blog post, please start a new thread on the Security Hub forum or contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security news? Follow us on Twitter.

Tim Holm

Tim Holm

Tim is a Principal Solutions Architect at AWS, he joined AWS in 2018 and is deeply passionate about security, cloud services, and building innovative solutions that solve complex business problems.

Danny Cortegaca

Danny Cortegaca

Danny is a Senior Security Specialist at AWS. He joined AWS in 2021 and specializes in security architecture, threat modelling, and driving risk focused conversations.