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Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018

Alibaba Cloud for AWS Professionals


This article discusses the main differences and similarities between AWS and Alibaba Cloud security services. It covers the following products:

Feature AWS Alibaba Cloud
Web Application Firewall (WAF) AWS WAF Alibaba Cloud WAF
Anti-DDoS AWS Shield Anti-DDoS
Certificate Service AWS Certificate Manager Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificates Service
Mobile Security N/A Mobile Security
Server Security N/A Server Guard (Server Security)

1. WAF

Alibaba Cloud WAF is a web application firewall that can protect web applications from vulnerability attacks such as SQL injections, XSS, and malicious bot attacks. Alibaba Cloud WAF shares many similar functionalities and technologies with AWS WAF, but it also boasts unique advantages in its defense capabilities.

1.1 Service mode comparison

AWS WAF can be deployed on the AWS CloudFront (CDN), a web server, or a load balancer of a Web server. Alibaba Cloud WAF is deployed by configuring the domain name resolution service.

1.2 Access control

Before deploying AWS WAF, you neet to create a Web ACL and define rules. Alibaba Cloud WAF allows ACL rule configuration after a domain name is configured and supports the combination of different HTTP fields, such as IP, URL, Referer, and User-Agent to implement precise access control. The access control policies can be applied to scenarios such as anti-leeching and website management background protection.

1.3 Web attack defense

AWS WAF provides simple Web application protection policies to defend against SQL attacks and cross-site scripting attacks. Alibaba Cloud WAF protects against TOP 10 common threats such as OWASP, provides high/medium/low policies according to different website businesses for GET, POST and other common HTTP requests, includes website stealth that avoids site addresses being exposed to attackers, and implements regular patch updates for zero-day vulnerabilities and global patch updates.

1.4 Business risk control

Data risk control is a Big Data capability of WAF based on Alibaba Cloud, and is implemented for specific business scenarios using an industry leading risk engine and man/machine identification techniques. Alibaba Cloud WAF’s Big Data ability is developed through our experience in providing world-class security to customers. This includes hosting more than 37% of China-based websites, maintaining the most popular accessed IP database in China, and mitigating more than 800 million attacks every day.

Generally, data risk control can effectively protect key businesses against spoofing behaviors, including but not limited to spam registration, SMS verification code flooding attacks, library hitting and brute force password cracking, malicious buying, robotic ticket buying, and junk email.

1.5 Console configuration

Like AWS WAF Management Console, Alibaba Cloud WAF console supports domain name configuration and combination of different policies to implement access control, which is as precise as that of AWS WAF.

Alibaba Cloud WAF also provides robust and friendly visualized console for attacks analysis and monitoring, including business analysis and security overview. Business analysis looks at recent access to different domain names. Security overview provides a general score which is obtained based on the severity of recent attacks, attacker threat, and protection rules and policies. Recent web attacks and CC attacks are displayed graphically, and common attack risks are warned in advance and are reported.

1.6 Pricing

AWS WAF pricing is c based on the number of web access control lists (web ACLs) that you create, the number of rules that you add per web ACL, and the number of web requests that you receive. There are no upfront commitments for AWS WAF. Alibaba Cloud WAF pricing is based on a monthly subscription that comes in different packages with different feature specifications. Learn more about Alibaba Cloud WAF Pricing.

1.7 Feature comparison

The comparison of AWS and Alibaba Cloud WAF services can be summarized as follows:

Feature AWS WAF Alibaba Cloud WAF
Deployment Modes Deploy on AWS CloudFront or ELB in front of the Web server Deployed between the client CDN and load balancer and configured with domain name resolution service to facilitate connection
Configure Web ACL Policy Supported Supported
Custom Rules Supported Supported
Types of Web Attacks SQL detection and prevention, SQL injection, cross site scripting (XSS), and other common attacks Common OWASP vulnerabilities, including SQL injection, XSS, Webshell uploading, backdoor isolation, command injection, illegal HTTP protocol requests, common Web server vulnerability attacks, unauthorized access to core files, path traversing, and scan protection.
HTTP Flood Protection Supported Supported
Risk Warning Not Supported Supported
Rules Configuration Supported Supported
Attacks Monitoring Supported Supported
Security Report Supported Supported
Business Analysis Not Supported Supported

1.8 Key Selling Points

Alibaba Cloud AWS Cloud Applicable Scenarios / Alibaba cloud Advantages
Easy of use (1)Protect against large scale attacks:Supports up to 1 million QPS.(2)Flexible Encryption Algorithms and Supported Ports:Supports custom HTTPS encryption algorithms, provides HTTP and HTTPS protection for non-standard ports to meet relevant compliance requirements.(3)Customizable Protection Rules:customize the response page that matches your customer’s business to enhance the user experience, including protection policy interception, slider verification code, response timeout page, etc. WAF Protect customers and workloads of small or large from malicious traffic attacks
Service Customization and professional support services are available up on request to optimize the protection effect. N/A Help customers develop and deploy effective, customized solutions.

2. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection service

To safeguard data and applications from DDoS attacks, Alibaba Cloud and AWS both provide cloud-based anti-DDoS services to ensure the application availability and performance of properties on the cloud. In this section, we discuss the Amazon Shield and Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS security services.

2.1 Service model comparison

Like AWS Shield Standard and Advanced, Alibaba Cloud provides free and enterprise-level DDoS protection services that fall under two tiers: Anti-DDoS Basic and Anti-DDoS Pro.

Tier AWS Shield Alibaba Cloud Security
Basic AWS Shield Standard Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Basic
Advanced AWS Shield Advanced Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Pro

AWS Shield Standard and Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Basic, both with no additional costs, provide protection in the face of network layer (layer 3) and transport layer (layer 4) DDoS attacks. As for web application protection, users can subscribe to Alibaba Cloud WAF service to minimize web attacks such as HTTP/HTTPS flood and DDoS attacks.

Similar to AWS Shield, Alibaba Anti-DDoS Pro provides protection for layer 3/layer 4/layer 7 DDoS attacks. However, the two services differ in their technology.

AWS Shield Advanced employs routing techniques to distribute attacks to different AWS nodes to protect against large DDoS attacks.

Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Basic supports redirection technologies. The primary protection method is automatic cleaning, supplemented by active mitigation. The service hosts the complete attack protection operation on behalf of a user.

Unlike AWS Shield Advanced, Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Pro users need to resolve the domain name to the Anti-DDoS Pro IP address for non-web services. Anti-DDoS Pro then directs all public network traffic to the Anti-DDoS server room. The user access traffic is forwarded to the source station IP by protocol based port forwarding. Meanwhile, the malicious attack traffic is cleaned and filtered through the Anti-DDoS Pro service, and normal traffic is returned to the source station IP.

2.2 Black hole policies

Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS has a specific concept termed black hole. Black hole refers to the restriction of server access when the attack traffic to a server exceeds a specified threshold. Users can configure the black hole threshold for the server, and Alibaba Cloud will block external network access to the server.

For Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Basic, default threshold settings apply to ECS, Sever Loader Balancer, and EIP. Besides the default black hole threshold, Anti-DDoS Pro provides a higher capacity for DDoS mitigation.

2.3 Large DDoS defense

Like AWS Shield Advanced, Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Pro has large DDoS mitigation capability. Alibaba Cloud Security provides up to 300 Gbps (Mainland China) and 100 Gbps (Hong Kong and Singapore) DDoS mitigation, which can mitigate SYN flood, ACK flood, ICMP flood, UDP flood, NTP flood, SSDP flood, DNS flood, HTTP flood, and CC attacks.

2.4 Monitoring & Reporting

Monitoring and reporting are important parts of security services. Both AWS Shield and Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS provides network flow monitoring, which inspects abnormal traffic packets automatically.

In Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Pro, the network traffic is monitored in real time. It also provides a detailed security report of past attacks.

2.5 Deployment architecture

AWS Shield Advanced can be deployed on Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53 edge sites. By deploying on Amazon CloudFront, web application security can be ensured.

The deployment architecture of the Anti-DDoS Pro is as follows:

Network traffic route: Anti-DDoS Pro (entry-level anti-DDoS) —> CDN (static resource acceleration) —> WAF (middle layer and application layer protection) —> Source Station (ECS/SLB/VPC/IDC…).This architecture will remain unchanged even if any product is removed.

2.6 Pricing

Like AWS Shield Standard, Anti-DDoS Basic provides protection for DDoS attacks at no additional costs.

AWS Shield Advanced requires a 1-year subscription commitment and charges a monthly fee, plus a usage fee based on data transfer out from Amazon CloudFront, Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), and Amazon Elastic Compute (EC2).

Anti-DDoS Pro is a paid service with a usage fee based on the protection capacity and carrier network. It provides two kinds of payment method: Pre-paid, Post-paid. Learn more about Anti-DDoS billing methods.

2.7 Feature comparison

AWS Shield features and terminology map to those of Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS as follows:

Feature AWS Shield Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS
Type of DDoS Attacks UDP reflection attacks, SYN flood, DNS query flood, HTTP flood/cache-busting (layer 7) attacks SYN flood, UDP flood, ACK flood, ICMP flood, DNS query flood, NTP reply flood, HTTP flood attack, and Web application attacks
Application Layer Protection Supported (combined with AWS WAF) Supported
Large DDoS Mitigation Capability Supported (AWS Shield Advanced) Supported (Anti-DDoS Pro)
Protection Capacity Capacity do not disclosed Anti-DDoS Basic provide 500Mbps ~ 5Gbps capacity for different regions Anti-DDoS Pro can defend against up to 300Gbps capacity
Technical Architecture Routing techniques (Shield Advanced) Defense room (Anti-DDoS Pro)
Service Integration EC2, ELB, CloudFront, Route53 Supports services inside and outside of the cloud

2.8 Key Selling Points

Alibaba Cloud AWS Applicable Scenarios / Alibaba cloud Advantages
Features (1)Can protect both Alibaba cloud resources and customer on-premise resources, and can be provisioned with any Internet IP address to which to return the clean traffic.(2)With automatic detection and attack policy matching, attacks can be identified within 1s, and then protection can be initiated immediately.(3)Comprehensive capabilities in protecting various attacks in network, transport and application layers and handling new attack methods. (1)To support custom origins outside of AWS, AWS Shild is integrated with Amazon CloudFront to fulfill that.(2)According to AWS documents, detection of some attacks is in minutes level.
Service For the paid customers(not anti-DDoS basic), Alibaba Cloud collaborates with partners, and provides 7*24 anti-DDoS consulting and technical support service in online tickets, phone, and VIP exclusive Dingtalk group. According to the support tier subscribed, AWS DDoS Response Team provides corresponding support.
Specific for China Recommended Products: Anti-DDoS BGP (1)Superior Resources – 8 main scrubbing centers distributed in China(not CDN nodes), five-star IDC, with 1T anti-DDoS capacity each. 8-circuit BGP networking covers China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, CERNET(China Education and Research Network) and other tier-2 carriers, with network latency less than 25ms. (2)Alibaba Cloud provides leased line in returning the clean traffic to the intended destination, with almost 0 network latency, to protect customers’ resources on Alibaba Cloud (to leverage Internet in returning the clean traffic as to protecting customers’ on-premise resources). (3)Compared with single-circuit anti-DDoS service, only 1 IP address is to be provisioned; Traffic can be automatically routed with BGP routing, and switch-over will be done in 3 minutes in case of failure. (4)Alibaba Cloud has rich anti-DDoS experience, with daily protection of peak DDoS attack over 1Tbps, and CC attack over 200 million. (5)Customized protection, such as blocking the attacks of overseas, cross-carriers, UDP and reflection, IDC originated. AWS Shield services, including Standard and Advanced, are not available in China Beijing or Ningxia regions. To protect servers deployed in Mainland China
Specific for INTL Recommended Products: Anti-DDoS Premium (1)Global Near Source Mitigation - integrates capacities of all Alibaba Cloud scrubbing centers distributed over the world as protection resources by using Anycast technology, and diverts DDoS attack traffic to the nearest scrubbing center to the attacking source for mitigation. The scrubbing centers also work as backups for each other to ensure service availability. (2)The overall capacity of international scrubbing centers exceeds 2Tbps, and can provide anti-DDoS service to all the Alibaba Cloud regions around the world. (1)Currently AWS Shield Advanced service is available in US, Ireland, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Sydney regions. (2)Though undisclosed yet, the overall scrubbing capacity should be lower than Alibaba Cloud. To protect servers deployed internationally (outside of Mainland China)

3. Certificate service

Similar to AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificates Service allows users to purchase, provision, and manage SSL/TSL certificates on Alibaba Cloud.

3.1 Service model

Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificates Service provides certificate purchasing, deploying, and revocation. After the certificate is issued, users can deploy digital certificates with a single click to other Alibaba Cloud services.

3.2 Services integration

AWS users cannot use AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) to directly install ACM Certificate on the AWS based website or application. ACM is integrated with following services to deploy ACM Certificates on the cloud: Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon CloudFront, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon API Gateway, and CloudFormation. For example, to serve secure content on CloudFront over SSL/TLS, you need to install SSL/TLS certificates on either the CloudFront distribution or on the backend content source.

Like ACM, if you have purchased Alibaba Cloud’s CDN, Anti-DDoS Pro IP, WAF, or Server Load Balance, you need to enable HTTPS-secured visiting to these cloud products in advance. Then use the Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificates Service to deploy your purchased digital certificates to these products through one-click deployment.

3.3 Renewal

ACM attempts to automatically renew ACM Certificates before they expire except for certificates associated with Route 53 private hosted zones. If ACM is unable to automatically renew the certificate, it will send notifications to users to require manual renewal.

You need to renew certificates manually on Alibaba Cloud Certificates Service. After renewal and review are complete, a new certificate will be issued. You can install this new certificate on your server to replace the expiring certificate.

3.4 Pricing

SSL/TLS certificates provisioned through AWS Certificate Manager are free. You pay only for the AWS resources you create to run your application.

Alibaba Cloud Certificates Service not only provides free, trusted certificates, but also provide purchasing highly-secure certificates straight from the Alibaba Cloud platform.

3.5 Feature comparison

AWS ACM features and terminologies maps to that of Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificates Service as follows:

Feature AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) Alibaba Cloud SSL Certificate
Using Existing Certificate Supported Supported
Import Third-Party Certificates Supported Supported
Free Certificates Supported Supported
Paid Certificates Not Supported Supported
Renewal Supported Supported
Integrated Services AWS Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, CloudFront, APIs on API Gateway Alibaba Cloud CDN, Anti-DDoS Pro, WAF, and Server Load Balancer
Automatic Deployment Supported Supported
Management Management console, ACM API, SDK, CLI Console

4. Mobile security

AWS does not provide security services specifically for mobile applications. Alibaba Cloud’s Mobile Security provides security services for the full lifecycle of mobile app delivery, including risk detection, security protection, and threat intelligence.

4.1 Risk detection

Risk detection is implemented by uploading an APK package to scan for malicious codes and vulnerabilities. The scan result includes details of vulnerabilities, such as vulnerability quantity, names, types, and repair suggestions.

4.2 Security protection

Security protection is meant to harden apps and connect security components. Apps are hardened to provide SO shelling, and DEX files are shelled to prevent against different types of analysis tools. This feature adds security components and applies ongoing components to newly uploaded apps to prevent attacks, client information leakage, and forged requests.

4.3 Threat intelligence

Threat intelligence detects forgery and risks of network-wide apps based on big data, and keeps an eye on network disks of forums to implement multidimensional forgery detection.

4.4 Pricing

Alibaba Cloud Mobile Security Service is available in two versions: Basic Edition (Free Trial) and Professional Edition (Paid Version). For Professional Edition, Mobile Security service fee is based on two types of services: Vulnerability Scan and Application Hardening.

5. Server guard

At present, AWS has not launched a security product that covers host security. Alibaba Cloud’s Server Guard is a lightweight agent installed on a server. Server Guard associates with cloud threat intelligence to implement vulnerability management, baseline detection, exception detection, and asset management, thereby creating an in-depth defense system.

5.1 Vulnerability management

Detect system software CVE vulnerabilities, Windows vulnerabilities, Web-CMS vulnerabilities and other high-risk vulnerabilities.

5.2 Baseline detection

Baseline detection checks for account security, weak passwords, and configuration risks.

5.3 Intrusion detection

By analysis of user behavior, intrusion detection detects off-site login and transaction information, brute force password cracking, and website backdoors.

5.4 Pricing

The basic version of Server Guard is currently available free of charge. When you purchase an ECS instance, you simply need to agree to our license agreement, before logging in to the Server Security Management Console. The advanced version of Server Guard, which offers additional features for enterprises, will be available in mid-2018 and will be a paid service.