New AWS AppFabric Improves Application Observability for SaaS Applications

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In today’s business landscape, companies strive to equip their employees with the most suitable and efficient tools to perform their jobs effectively. To achieve this goal, many companies turn to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. This approach allows companies to optimize their workflows, enhance employee productivity, and focus their resources on core business activities rather than software development and maintenance.

As the use of SaaS applications expands, there’s an increasing need for solutions that can proactively identify and address potential security threats to maintain uninterrupted business operations. Security teams spend time monitoring application usage data for threats or suspicious behavior, and they’re responsible for maintaining security oversight to meet regulatory and compliance requirements.

Unfortunately, integrating SaaS applications with existing security tools requires many teams to build, manage, and maintain point-to-point (P2P) integrations. These P2P integrations are needed so security teams can monitor event logs to understand user or system activity from each application.

Introducing AWS AppFabric
Today, we’re launching AWS AppFabric, a fully managed service that aggregates and normalizes security data across SaaS applications to improve observability and help reduce operational effort and cost with no integration work necessary.

Here’s an animated GIF that gives you a quick look at how AWS AppFabric works.

With AppFabric, you can easily integrate leading SaaS applications without building and managing custom code or point-to-point integrations. For more information on what’s supported, refer to Supported Applications for AppFabric.

The generative AI features of AppFabric, powered by Amazon Bedrock, will be available in a future release. To learn more, visit the AWS AppFabric website.

When the SaaS applications are authorized and connected, AppFabric ingests the data and normalizes disparate security data such as user activity logs; this is accomplished using the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), an industry standard schema and open-source project co-founded by AWS. This delivers an extensible framework for developing schemas and a vendor-agnostic core security schema.

The data is then enriched with a user identifier, such as a corporate email address. This reduces security incident response time because you gain full visibility to user information for each incident. You can ingest normalized and enriched data to your preferred security tools, which allows you to set common policies, standardize security alerts, and easily manage user access across multiple applications.

Getting Started with AWS AppFabric
To get started with AppFabric, you need to create an App bundle, a one-time process. This stores all AppFabric app authorizations and ingestions, including the encryption key used. When you create an app bundle, AppFabric creates the required AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role in your AWS account, which is required to send metrics to Amazon CloudWatch and to access AWS resources such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose.

Creating an App Bundle
First, I select Getting started from the home page or left navigation panel from within the AWS Management Console.

Following the step-by-step instructions to set up AppFabric, I select Create app bundle.

In the Encryption section, I use AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) to define an encryption key to securely protect my data in all unauthorized applications. The KMS key encrypts my data within my internal data stores used as my ingestion destinations; for this example, my destination is Amazon S3. My key options include AWS owned and Customer managed. Select Customer managed if you want to use a key you have inside KMS.

Authorizing Applications
Once I have created the app bundle, the next step is Create app authorization. On this page, I can select the supported SaaS application that I want to connect to my app bundle.

Then, I need to enter my application credentials so that AppFabric can connect; one of the advantages of using AppFabric is that it connects directly into SaaS applications without the need for me to write any code.

I can set up multiple app authorizations by repeating this step, as required, for each application. The credentials required for authorization vary by app; see the AppFabric documentation for details.

Setting up Audit Log Ingestions
Now I have created an app authorization in my app bundle. I can proceed with Set up audit log ingestions. This step ingests and normalizes audit logs and delivers them to one or more destinations within AWS, including Amazon S3 or Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose.

Under Select app authorizations, I select the authorized app that I created in the previous step. Here, I can choose more than one authorized application that allows me to consolidate data from various SaaS applications into a single destination. Then, I can select a destination for the audit logs of the selected apps. If I selected multiple app authorizations, the destination is applied to each authorized app. Currently, AppFabric supports the following destinations:

  • Amazon S3 – New Bucket
  • Amazon S3 – Existing Bucket
  • Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose

When I select a destination, additional fields appear. For example, if I select Amazon S3 – New Bucket, I need to fill the details for my Amazon S3 bucket and the optional prefix.

After that, I need to define Schema & Format of the ingested audit log data for my selected applications. Here, I have three options:

  • OCSF – Parquet
  • Raw – JSON

AppFabric normalizes the audit log data to the OCSF schema and formats the audit log data into JSON or Parquet format. For OCSF – JSON and OCSF – Parquet options, AppFabric automatically maps the fields and enriches the field with user email as an identifier. As for the Raw – JSON data format, AppFabric simply provides the audit log data in its original JSON form.

To see a detailed view of my ingestion status, on the Ingestions page, I select my existing ingestion.

Here, I see the ingestion status is Enabled and the status for my Amazon S3 bucket is Active.

After my ingestion runs for around 10 minutes, I can see AppFabric stored the audit data logs in my Amazon S3 bucket.

When I open the file, I can see all the audit data logs from the SaaS application.

With audit data logs now in Amazon S3, I can also use AWS services to analyze and extract insights from the log data. For example, from data in Amazon S3, I can use AWS Glue and run a query using Amazon Athena. The following screenshot shows how I run a query for all activities in the audit data logs.

User Access
AWS AppFabric also has a feature called User access to allow security and IT admin teams to quickly see who has access to which applications. Using an employee’s corporate email address, AppFabric searches all authorized applications in the app bundle to return a list of apps that the user has access to. This helps to identify unauthorized user access and accelerate user deprovisioning.

Things to Know
Availability — AWS AppFabric is generally available today in US East (N. Virginia), Europe (Ireland), and Asia Pacific (Tokyo), with availability in additional AWS Regions coming soon.

AWS AppFabric generative AI capabilities – Available in a future release, AWS AppFabric will empower you to automatically perform tasks across applications using generative AI. Powered by Amazon Bedrock, this AI assistant generates answers to natural language queries, automates task management, and surfaces insights across SaaS applications.

Integrations with SaaS applications — AppFabric connects SaaS applications including Asana, Atlassian Jira suite, Dropbox, Miro, Okta, Slack, Smartsheet, Webex by Cisco, Zendesk, and Zoom. Refer to Supported applications for more details.

Integration with Security Tools — Audit data log from AppFabric is compatible with security tools, such as, Netskope, NetWitness, Rapid7, and Splunk, or a customer’s proprietary security solution. Refer to Compatible security tools and services for more details on how to set up specific security tools and services.

Learn more
To get started, go to AWS AppFabric for more information and pricing details.

Happy building.
— Donnie