In the AWS Security Profile series, I interview some of the humans who work in AWS Security and help keep our customers safe and secure. In this profile, I interviewed Tatyana Yatskevich, Principal Solutions Architect for AWS Identity.
How long have you been at AWS and what do you do in your current role?
I’ve been at AWS for about five and a half years now. I’ve had several different roles, but I’m currently part of the Identity Solutions team, which is a team of solutions architects who are embedded into the Identity and Control Service. Our team focuses on staying current with customer use cases and emerging problems in the identity space so that we can facilitate the development of new capabilities and prescriptive guidance from AWS.
To keep up with the demand in certain industries, we work with some enterprise customers that operate large cloud environments on AWS. Knowing what these customers need to do to achieve their business outcomes while operating under stringent regulatory compliance requirements helps us provide valuable input into our service and feature development process and support customers in their cloud journey in the most efficient manner.
How did you get started in security?
At the beginning of my career, I mostly just happened to work on security-related projects. I performed security and vulnerability assessments, facilitated remediation work, and managed traditional on-premises security solutions such as web proxies, firewalls, and VPNs. Through these projects, I developed an interest in the security field because of its wide reach and impact, and because it presents a lot of opportunities for growth and problem solving as new challenges arise almost daily. My roles at AWS have been a logical continuation of my security-focused career. Here, I’ve mostly been motivated by empowering security teams to become business enablers, rather than being perceived as blockers to innovation and agility.
How do you explain your job to non-technical friends and family?
I usually give an example of a service or feature that most of us interact with on a regular basis, such as a banking application. I explain that it takes a lot of engineering work to build that application from the ground up and deliver on the user experience and security. That engineering work involves the use of many different technologies that support the user sign-in process, or storage of your personal information like your social security or credit card numbers. My job is to help companies that provide these services implement the proper security controls so that your personal information is used in accordance with local laws and isn’t disclosed for unauthorized use.
In your opinion, what’s one of the coolest things happening in identity right now?
I think it’s the increased role of identity, authentication, and authorization controls in the overall security model of newly built applications. It spans from helping to ensure secure workforce mobility now that providing access to business applications from anywhere is critical to business competitiveness, to keeping Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure protected and operated in accordance with zero trust. The realization of the power and the increasing usage of identity-specific controls to manage access to digital assets is the coolest trend in identity right now.
What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?
One of the areas that I’m highly invested in is data perimeters. A data perimeter is a set of capabilities that help customers keep their data within their organizational boundary and mitigate the risks of data exfiltration or unintended access to data. We have customers in a wide variety of industries, such as the financial sector, telecom, media and entertainment, and public sector. There are compliance and regulatory requirements that they operate under. A lot of those requirements emphasize controls that guard sensitive data from unauthorized access and prevent movement of that data to places outside of company’s control.
To help customers meet these requirements in a scalable way, we continuously invest in the development of new capabilities. I talk to some of our largest enterprise customers on a regular basis to understand their challenges in this area, and I work with service teams to introduce new capabilities to meet new requirements. I also lead efforts to extend customer-facing guidance and solutions so that customers can design and implement data perimeters on their own. And I present at AWS events to reach more customers, with the most recent being our presentation with Goldman Sachs at re:Invent 2022.
Tell me about that presentation.
I co-presented a chalk talk with Shubham Shukla, Vice President of Cloud Enablement at Goldman Sachs, called Establishing a Data Perimeter on AWS. The session gave an overview of data perimeter capabilities and showcased Goldman Sachs’ experience implementing data perimeter controls at scale in their multi-account AWS environment. What’s cool about that session, I think, is that it’s always good to present about AWS best practices and our view of how certain things should be done, but it’s extra powerful when we include a customer. This is especially true when a large enterprise customer such as Goldman Sachs shares their experience and talks about how they do certain things in practice, like mapping specific requirements to the actual implementation and talking through lessons learned and their perspective on the problem and solution. A lot of our customers are interested in learning from other customers how to build and operate enterprise security controls at scale. We did a similar presentation with Vanguard at re:Inforce 2022, and I look forward to future opportunities to showcase the awesome work being done by our customers.
What is your favorite Amazon Leadership Principle and why?
Customer Obsession. For me, the core of it is building deeper, longer lasting relationships with our customers and taking their learnings back to our business to work backwards from the actual customer needs. Building better products, helping customers meet their business goals, and having wide-reaching impact is what makes me so excited to come to work every day.
What’s the thing you’re most proud of in your career?
As part of my former role as a security consultant in the AWS Professional Services organization, I led security-related projects to either help customers migrate their workloads to AWS or perform security assessments of their existing AWS environment. Part of that role involved developing mechanisms to better engage with customers on security-related topics and help them develop their own security strategy for running workloads on AWS. That work sometimes involved challenging conversations with customers. I would explain the value of the technology that AWS provides and help customers figure out how to implement AWS services to meet both their business and security needs. I took learnings from these conversations and developed some internal assets that helped newer AWS security consultants conduct those conversations more effectively, and I mentored them throughout the process.
If you had to pick an industry outside of security, what would you want to do?
I would be in the travel industry. I absolutely love visiting new places and exploring nature. I love learning the history and culture of different regions, and trying out different cuisines. It’s something that helps me learn more about myself through new experiences and ultimately be a happier person.
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