Skip to main content

Simplify risk and compliance assessments with the new common control library in AWS Audit Manager

With AWS Audit Manager, you can map your compliance requirements to AWS usage data and continually audit your AWS usage as part of your risk and compliance assessment. Today, Audit Manager introduces a common control library that provides common controls with predefined and pre-mapped AWS data sources.

The common control library is based on extensive mapping and reviews conducted by AWS certified auditors, verifying that the appropriate data sources are identified for evidence collection. Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) teams can use the common control library to save time time when mapping enterprise controls into Audit Manager for evidence collection, reducing their dependence on information technology (IT) teams.

Using the common control library, you can view the compliance requirements for multiple frameworks (such as PCI or HIPAA) associated with the same common control in one place, making it easier to understand your audit readiness across multiple frameworks simultaneously. In this way, you don’t need to implement different compliance standard requirements individually and then review the resulting data multiple times for different compliance regimes.

Additionally, by using controls from this library, you automatically inherit improvements as Audit Manager updates or adds new data sources, such as additional AWS CloudTrail events, AWS API calls, AWS Config rules, or maps additional compliance frameworks to common controls. This eliminates the efforts required by GRC and IT teams to constantly update and manage evidence sources and makes it easier to benefit from additional compliance frameworks that Audit Manager adds to its library.

Let’s see how this works in practice with an example.

Using AWS Audit Manager common control library
A common scenario for an airline is to implement a policy so that their customer payments, including in-flight meals and internet access, can only be taken via credit card. To implement this policy, the airline develops an enterprise control for IT operations that says that “customer transactions data is always available.” How can they monitor whether their applications on AWS meet this new control?

Acting as their compliance officer, I open the Audit Manager console and choose Control library from the navigation bar. The control library now includes the new Common category. Each common control maps to a group of core controls that collect evidence from AWS managed data sources and makes it easier to demonstrate compliance with a range of overlapping regulations and standards. I look through the common control library and search for “availability.” Here, I realize the airline’s expected requirements map to common control High availability architecture in the library.

Console screenshot.

I expand the High availability architecture common control to see the underlying core controls. There, I notice this control doesn’t adequately meet all the company’s needs because Amazon DynamoDB is not in this list. DynamoDB is a fully managed database, but given extensive usage of DynamoDB in their application architecture, they definitely want their DynamoDB tables to be available when their workload grows or shrinks. This might not be the case if they configured a fixed throughput for a DynamoDB table.

I look again through the common control library and search for “redundancy.” I expand the Fault tolerance and redundancy common control to see how it maps to core controls. There, I see the Enable Auto Scaling for Amazon DynamoDB tables core control. This core control is relevant for the architecture that the airline has implemented but the whole common control is not needed.

Console screenshot.

Additionally, common control High availability architecture already includes a couple of core controls that check that Multi-AZ replication on Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is enabled, but these core controls rely on an AWS Config rule. This rule doesn’t work for this use case because the airline does not use AWS Config. One of these two core controls also uses a CloudTrail event, but that event does not cover all scenarios.

Console screenshot.

As the compliance officer, I would like to collect the actual resource configuration. To collect this evidence, I briefly consult with an IT partner and create a custom control using a Customer managed source. I select the api-rds_describedbinstances API call and set a weekly collection frequency to optimize costs.

Console screenshot.

Implementing the custom control can be handled by the compliance team with minimal interaction needed from the IT team. If the compliance team has to reduce their reliance on IT, they can implement the entire second common control (Fault tolerance and redundancy) instead of only selecting the core control related to DynamoDB. It might be more than what they need based on their architecture, but the acceleration of velocity and reduction of time and effort for both the compliance and IT teams is often a bigger benefit than optimizing the controls in place.

I now choose Framework library in the navigation pane and create a custom framework that includes these controls. Then, I choose Assessments in the navigation pane and create an assessment that includes the custom framework. After I create the assessment, Audit Manager starts collecting evidence about the selected AWS accounts and their AWS usage.

By following these steps, a compliance team can precisely report on the enterprise control “customer transactions data is always available” using an implementation in line with their system design and their existing AWS services.

Things to know
The common control library is available today in all AWS Regions where AWS Audit Manager is offered. There is no additional cost for using the common control library. For more information, see AWS Audit Manager pricing.

This new capability streamlines the compliance and risk assessment process, reducing the workload for GRC teams and simplifying the way they can map enterprise controls into Audit Manager for evidence collection. To learn more, see the AWS Audit Manager User Guide.