AWS IAM Security Through the Command Line and SDKs (Java, Ruby, and PHP)‏

Amazon security requires the use of AWS IAM with temporary authentication credentials. We’ll explore implementation via the command line and SDKs.

Cloud security is shared between AWS and its customers. Amazon Web Services Security takes responsibility for the compute and networking layers (security of the cloud), while we’re on the hook for our instances, networks, web applications, and databases (security in the cloud). But, as I discussed in a previous post on AWS security, Amazon also provides you with powerful tools to help you maintain your side of the deal; especially their Identity and Access Management system (IAM).

IAM allows you to create and manage permissions for multiple users. It works on the philosophy of least privilege, by providing only the precise rights a user or role will need to do exactly their task and nothing more. AWS best practices are, as the name suggests, the very best way to tighten your AWS  IAM security. While most best practices can be implemented without modification, using IAM roles for apps or scripts running on EC2 instances might require a little work. In this post, we’ll see some examples of code-based IAM role implementation in your applications.

What is an AWS IAM role and how does it work

When AWS IAM users want to access the AWS Management Console, they log in using their usernames and passwords. Programmatic access to AWS services requires an Access Key and Secret Key. Your keys might look something like this (use this guide to create your own keys):

aws_access_key_id = ARTDOSFODNN7EXAMPLE
aws_secret_access_key = wJalrXUtnTRSMI/K756ENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY

You could hard code your access keys in your application to enable access to AWS services like S3 or DynamoDB, but anyone with access to the code will be able to see the keys in plain text. If your server gets hacked, imagine the consequences of having left code like this lying around:

AWS IAM codeInstead of the above code, you can completely avoid this vulnerability by using an IAM role, which lets you securely distribute keys to your users and applications. IAM role credentials can (and should) be rotated regularly and temporary credentials provided for service access. If your application needs to access objects in an s3 bucket, temporary security credentials are provided to the host ec2 instance. IAM roles for EC2 instances also work within Amazon Virtual Private Clouds:

Amazon Virtual Private Clouds

Benefits:

  • No need to share permanent security credentials.
  • Uses temporary security credentials when making requests from running EC2 instance. Effective Amazon security requires the use of AWS IAM with temporary authentication credentials: we’ll explore implementation via the command line and SDKs to AWS services.
  • Integrated with All AWS Software Development Kits (SDKs) and the command line interface tool (CLI).

Creating an AWS IAM role

  1. Log into the IAM console.
  2. Click on Roles on the left panel, and then click Create New Role.
  3. Specify a descriptive Role name.AWS IAM role
  4. Select Role Type as EC2.
    AWS IAM Role Type
  5. On the Attach Policy page, you can either select an existing policy or go back and create a new policy as per your needs.
  6. Review the role information, and then click Create Role.
  7. You can launch an instance using either a CLI or the Console: in Ec2 dashboard, click Launch Instance.
  8. Select your AMI, then select an instance type and click Next: Configure Instance Details.
  9. On the Configure Instance Details page, Specify the role when you launch your instances.AWS IAM instance configure instance details
  10. Once this is done, your application will retrieve a set of temporary credentials and use them in your application.

Using AWS IAM Roles with the command line interface

Here’s a simple script to launch an instance using the AWS CLI. As you can see for yourself, we have included no AWS Keys. The “/etc/profile.d/aws-apitools-common.sh” file provides all the authentication you’ll need at run time (note, that if you’re running an AMI besides Amazon Linux, you may need to install this file manually).

#!/bin/bash
. /etc/profile.d/aws-apitools-common.sh
aws ec2 run-instances --image-id ami-1ecae776 --region us-east-1 --placement AvailabilityZone=us-east-1b --instance-type t2.large --key-name demo-key --subnet-id subnet-45874145 --security-group-ids sg-1254854

Using AWS IAM Roles with the PHP SDK

When using an IAM role with a PHP application, you can create caching layers on top of your IAM role credentials to specify a credentials cache using the credentials.cache option in a client’s factory method, or in a service builder configuration file. The configuration setting (credentials.cache) should be configured to an object that implements Guzzle’s CacheAdapterInterface . A credential’s cache can also be used in a service builder configuration.

<?php
// File saved as /path/to/custom/config.php
use Doctrine\Common\Cache\FilesystemCache;
use Guzzle\Cache\DoctrineCacheAdapter;
$cacheAdapter = new DoctrineCacheAdapter(new FilesystemCache('/tmp/cache'));
return array(
    'includes' => array('_aws'),
    'services' => array(
        'default_settings' => array(
            'params' => array(
                'credentials.cache' => $cacheAdapter
            )
        )
    )
);

Using AWS IAM Roles with the Java SDK

In order to use the AWS java SDK to connect AWS IAM service, all dependent Packages related to AWS IAM and AWS credentials need to be specified in the build path. The Java SDK uses “Class InstanceProfileCredentialsProvider” that loads credentials from the Amazon EC2 Instance Metadata Service, which retrieves temporary AWS credentials that have the same permissions as the IAM role associated with our EC2 instance. At the start of your program, you need to import the “com.amazonaws.auth.*” class.

import com.amazonaws.auth.profile.ProfileCredentialsProvider;

Using AWS IAM Roles with the Ruby SDK

In the Ruby SDK, EC2Provider objects retrieve credentials with the same permissions as the IAM role. These credentials refresh regularly to get access to AWS services.

AWS.config(:credential_provider => AWS::Core::CredentialProviders::EC2Provider.new)

Here’s a sample program that will download an object from AWS S3. As you can see, we have used no credentials within the code.

require 'rubygems'
require 'aws-sdk'
s3 = AWS::S3.newaws-iam-instance
bucket_name = 'text-content'
obj_name = 'text-object.txt'
document = s3.buckets[bucket_name].objects[obj_name]
File.open(obj_name, "w") do |f|
  f.write(document.read)
end
puts "'#{obj_name}' copied from S3."

Avatar

Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.


Related Posts

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 topicAWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud  Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in TechAWSBreaking 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
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— April 27, 2020

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

Want to take a really impactful step in your technical career? Explore the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certificate. Its new version (SAA-C02) was released on March 23, 2020, though you can still take SAA-C01 through July 1, 2020. This post will focus on version SAA-C02.The AWS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 9, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: AWS Solutions Architect Exam Prep, Azure Courses, GCP Engineer Exam Prep, Programming, and More

Free content on Cloud Academy More and more customers are relying on our technology and content to keep upskilling their people in these months, and we are doing our best to keep supporting them. While the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to make a small contribution to he...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— April 3, 2020

Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online

Remote proctoring for all AWS certifications Cloud Academy is an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, and we are happy to announce all AWS certification exams are available online!  What does this mean for you? You can stay focused on your certification goal. Or you can start a certifica...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • AWS Certifications