AWS IAM: User Access Control and User Management

AWS IAM helps you control access to your AWS services and resources

AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) is a web service that helps you securely control access to AWS services and resources.

The service allows you to create and manage AWS users and groups within your account, and use permissions to permit or deny their access to AWS resources. A user is an identity (within an AWS Account) with unique security credentials that can be used to access AWS Services.

Without IAM, organizations with multiple users and systems would be forced to either create multiple AWS accounts, each with its own billing and subscriptions to AWS products, or employees would all have to share the security credentials of a single AWS account. There would be no way to control the tasks a particular user or system could perform and which AWS resources they might use.

Limiting user access with AWS IAM:

With IAM, you can control who can access which resources. For example, you can create individual users, each with their own user name, password, and access keys. You can assign them unique authority over precisely the resources and services they need.

Whenever a person or application communicates with an AWS resource, they are asked for security credentials. These credentials are helpful in classifying who is making the call and whether or not to allow the requested access.

But why not just rely on a single identity? Whenever you log into your AWS account using your email address and password, you get full access to all your account’s resources. Because that kind of access is very difficult to properly control, AWS suggests that you use only IAM credentials for your everyday interactions with AWS, and lock away your account credentials.

AWS IAM allows you to:

1. Create individual IAM users and groups to assign permissions to IAM users

You could, for example, set up an Administration Group as soon as you create your account. You could then add to it all the IAM users who will need administrator rights to your account. Now, they – and only they – will have full rights over your account resources.

2. Enable AWS Multi-Factor Authentication (AWS MFA) for privileged users

To help prevent fraudulent access, AWS recommends that you use multi-factor authentication (MFA) in addition to your AWS account’s email address and password. A device (like a smartphone) in the possession of MFA users can be configured to generate a unique authentication code and provide extra security.

3. Request temporary security credentials

For users or apps requiring on-demand access to your services and resources, AWS IAM allows you to offer one-off permissions, further limiting your exposure to risk.

4. Force your users to choose strong passwords

You can require that your users create passwords of a defined strength (minimum length, non-alphabetic characters, etc.) and that they change them regularly.

5. Rotate credentials regularly and remove unnecessary credentials

Remove unused IAM user credentials (i.e., passwords and access keys). For example, an IAM user that is used exclusively for an application does not need a password (passwords are necessary only to sign in to AWS websites). Similarly, if a user does not and will never use access keys, there’s no reason for the user to have them.

6. Use AWS IAM roles for applications running on Amazon EC2 instances

In order to access other AWS services, applications that run on an Amazon EC2 instance need credentials. Here IAM plays a vital role in providing these credentials to the applications in a secure way. A role is an entity that has its own set of permissions, but that isn’t a user or group.

AWS IAM dynamically provides temporary credentials to an EC2 instance, and these credentials are automatically rotated for you.

7. Use policies for extra security

You can apply permissions to an IAM principal entity (an IAM user, group or role) by attaching a custom policy to the principal entity.

For example, you can write conditions to specify a range of allowable IP addresses that a request must come from, or specify that a request is allowed only within a specified date or time range. You can also set conditions that require the use of SSL or MFA (multi-factor authentication). For example, you can require that a user has authenticated with an MFA device in order to be allowed to terminate an Amazon EC2 instance.

You can attach multiple policies to a principal entity, and each policy can contain multiple permissions.

AWS IAM user management

One cannot set usage quotas on IAM users, as all limits apply to the AWS account as a whole. So for example, if your AWS account has a limit of twenty Amazon EC2 instances, any IAM user with EC2 permissions will be able to launch up to that limit (assuming that there are no other instances associated with other account users).

While there is no limit to the number of AWS IAM roles you can assume, you can only act as one IAM role when making requests to AWS services. You are however limited to a maximum of 250 IAM roles for a single account. If you need more roles, submit an IAM limit increase request form with your use case and your AWS IAM role increase will be considered.

Conclusion

Protect your AWS environment by using the high-level security of AWS IAM. It costs nothing extra and greatly strengthens the value of your username and password credentials.

If you want to get a jump start on IAM, check out Cloud Academy’s Overview of AWS Identity & Access Management (IAM) course. 

Avatar

Written by

Sudhi Seshachala

Sudhi is part of Cloud Technology Partners & is a trusted advisor and strategic consultant to many C level executives and IT Directors. He brings 18+ years diverse experience covering software, IT operations, cloud technologies, and management. Have led several global teams in HP, Sun/Oracle, SeeBeyond and few startups to deliver scalable and highly available business/technology products and solutions. He has expertise in systems management, monitoring and integrated SaaS and on-premise applications addressing a wide range of business problems.


Related Posts

Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— July 9, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

The old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and companies. With all that in mind, the s...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 2, 2020

New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More

This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— June 19, 2020

Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy

Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 11, 2020

New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More

This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Rebecca Willis
Rebecca Willis
— June 3, 2020

Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?

More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • certification
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 2, 2020

Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More

Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 11, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure Cert Prep: AI-100, AZ-104, AZ-204 & AZ-400, Amazon Athena Playground, Google Cloud Developer Challenge, and much more

This month, our Content Team released 8 new learning paths, 4 courses, 7 labs in real cloud environments, and 4 new knowledge check assessments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first course on Alibaba Cloud, and our expert instructors are working 'round the clock to create 6 n...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Avatar
Rhonda Martinez
— May 4, 2020

Top 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified Right Now

Cloud computing trends are on the rise and have been for some time already. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start learning cloud computing. Skills like AWS and others associated with cloud computing are in high demand because cloud technologies have become crucial for many businesse...

Read more
  • Amazon Elastic Book Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • Glacier
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 1, 2020

Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds

Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of la...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Java
  • lab playgrounds
  • Python
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 30, 2020

Blog Digest: AWS Breaking News, Azure DevOps, AWS Study Guide, 8 Ways to Prevent a Ransomware Attack, and More

  New articles by topic AWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud  Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in Tech AWS Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online As an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, C...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security