Secure Your AWS Account: The Critical Importance of MFA and the Ease of a CloudFormation Stack  

Eduard Schwarzkopf
1. February 2024
Reading time: 3 min
Secure Your AWS Account: The Critical Importance of MFA and the Ease of a CloudFormation Stack  

The world of cybersecurity is grappling with increasingly complex threats, with sophisticated cyber-attacks becoming the norm rather than an exception. A testament to this is the recent revelation from Microsoft, where the security team uncovered an intrusion by a nation-state actor dubbed Midnight Blizzard. The attack unveiled a critical gap: the missing layer of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) that could have provided a robust defense. 

As cyber attackers evolve, so must our defenses. In the battle against unauthorized access, MFA stands as a critical shield — a must-have rather than a luxury. This is particularly pertinent for AWS accounts that rely on direct IAM user logins, as opposed to using AWS Identity Center or other Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions. Here, MFA’s role is not just preventive; it’s the cornerstone of a fortified security posture. 

MFA: The Simple, Yet Powerful Guard 

MFA adds an additional level of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access. Just like a reinforced door protecting your most valuable treasures, MFA ensures that even if passwords are compromised, there is an additional barrier keeping threat actors at bay. 

In the case of Midnight Blizzard, the attackers made headway owing to the absence of MFA on certain accounts within Microsoft’s infrastructure. That’s a vulnerability we aim not just to patch but to eliminate in your AWS environment. 

How We Help You Enforce MFA 

To help you enforce MFA, we have crafted a ready-to-deploy CloudFormation stack tailored to enforce MFA on your AWS account, acting as a powerful defense mechanism. This solution is particularly designed for AWS accounts that still depend on IAM user logins for direct access, a common scenario for organizations not utilizing Identity Center or other SSO platforms. 

Deploying this CloudFormation stack is straightforward and can be seamlessly integrated into any AWS account, ensuring every user who accesses the AWS Management Console via IAM users complies with MFA policies. 

Implementation Without Complexity 

By leveraging the CloudFormation stack, you can bypass the technical hurdles of enforcing MFA. It automates the process of detection and limitation of IAM users lacking MFA. A user found without MFA will be automatically sanctioned with restricted permissions — strictly to credential and MFA device management tasks. Only after enabling MFA can they access the AWS services to which they are entitled. 

A Collective Step Toward Enhanced Security 

Our proactive stance, influenced by wide-ranging shared experiences, including Microsoft’s encounter with Midnight Blizzard, is a testament to a broader responsibility to secure digital assets across the board. By taking this critical step of enforcing MFA via an easily deployable CloudFormation stack, your organization fortifies its defenses, contributing to a stronger collective security framework in the cloud. 

In Conclusion 

In today’s cybersecurity climate, MFA is not optional — it’s essential. It’s a vital tool in your cybersecurity arsenal, helping to protect against the kind of threats exemplified by Midnight Blizzard. 

Let’s not wait for an incident to remind us of MFA’s critical role; instead, let’s take charge and safeguard our AWS environments proactively. Enforce MFA on your AWS Account now with our AWS MFA Enforcement Stack. The CloudFormation stack simplifies the enforcement, ensuring that all IAM users across any AWS account are compelled to use MFA, especially in the absence of an Identity Center or SSO solution. 

If you want to know if your AWS accounts are secure and follow best practices we are happy to assist you, just get in contact with us.