AWS IAM Policies For Access Control – Part 1

AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) helps you keep access to your AWS services and resources in control. As part one of IAM best practices for AWS access control, we will see here how IAM helps users in managing their access controls. In part 2 of this series, we will analyze some of the best practices which should be followed in IAM for AWS access controls.

AWS IAM is a web based service that helps organizations in securely controlling access to their AWS services and resources.

The service allows users to generate as well as manage AWS users and groups within their accounts. With IAM enterprises can use permissions to permit or access to their data to the AWS resources. IAM allows only users with an identity within an AWS Account to access the data. The identity contains exclusive security credentials that can only be used upon authorizations 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

IAM allows enterprises to easily can control and manage access to their resources. With IAM, you can generate individual users, every one of them with unique user name, password, and access keys. Since each user has unique credentials, they can be assigned with sole right to entry to the resources and services need to be accessed.

For communicating with any AWS resource, users are asked for security credentials each time. These credentials help in deciding the authenticity of users and allow them to make the call. These credentials are the basis on which you can decide and whether or not to agree to the requested access.

But won’t it be better just to rely on a solo identity? It would be great if log into your AWS account anytime using your email address and password and you are allowed complete right to use all your account’s resources. Since, allowing this kind of access is way too difficult to manage and properly control, AWS recommends users to use only IAM credentials for their day to day interactions with AWS, and lock away their account credentials.

IAM features and how it helps in managing access controls

  • By creating individual IAM users and individual groups to allocate permissions to IAM users
  • IAM allows users to set up an Administration Group as soon as they create their own account. Then under that account, IAM users can be added who will need proprietor rights to their accounts. Now, they and no other person or entity will have any kind of rights over their account resources
  • By enabling AWS Multi-Factor Authentication (AWS MFA) for restricted users
  • To stop unauthorized access, AWS suggest users to implement multi-factor verification (MFA) in addition to their AWS account’s email address and password. Any device such as a smart phone in the control of MFA users can be configured to produce an authentication code. This code will be solely available for that account and will offer added security. Enabling MFA ensures protection of your data on cloud. If you want to learn about security best practices for data security, read this post.
  • By offering short-term security credentials
  • If any user or apps requires on-demand access to their services and resources, AWS IAM facilitates enterprises to offer one-off permissions. This further limits the exposure to threat
  • By recommending users to select strong passwords
  • It is required for every organization that its users create unique and strong passwords and keep changing change them on a regular basis
  • By making users rotate their credentials regularly and by removing redundant credentials

It is better to get rid of idle IAM user credentials such as passwords and access keys. To know more about IAM & EC2 key-pairs, read this blog post.

  • By allowing enterprises to use AWS IAM roles for applications running on Amazon EC2 instances

When any application running on an Amazon EC2 instance needs to access other AWS services, it requires credentials. At this point, IAM plays a significant role. It offers required credentials to the applications in a safe and protected way.

  • By offering policies for extra security

IAM offers custom policies which can be attached to the principal entity for enhanced security. Also, you can put together various policies to a primary entity. Each one of the policies can enclose several permissions.

AWS IAM User Management

Usage quotas on IAM users cannot be fixed or set up on priority basis, as all restrictions are valid to the AWS account as a single entity. So let’s consider that your AWS account can have a maximum of twenty Amazon EC2 instances, any IAM customer with EC2 permissions will be capable of launching to that limit assuming that no other instances are linked with other account users.

The number of AWS IAM roles any user can assume is not restricted. But users can only perform as one IAM role when making requests to AWS services. Nonetheless users are restricted to a maximum of 250 IAM roles for a solo account. If they need more roles, they have to submit an IAM limit increase request form. They have to submit the form with their use cases. If the requests are considered, their AWS IAM role will increase.

To Conclude

It is very important for enterprises to protect their AWS environment and AWS IAM’s high-level security allows them in achieving top notch security. It does not cost anything and very much reinforces the importance of your security credentials.

Apart from ensuring Identity and Access Management, regular security audits should be run to ensure compliance. Security never stands second in cloud computing. Thus, Botmetric performs a thorough security audit of all the above mentioned IAM checks and more. These audits are performed on a regular basis. Summary of findings are delivered to your inbox. If you wish to view a concrete report for all your cloud insights, you can simply download the reports from Botmetric’s reports section.

Start your 14-day free trial today, and let Botmetric help you in adhering IAM best practices to ensure safety to your AWS Cloud infrastructure.

If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to connect with us on Twitter. We would love to help you.

In the next part of this article, we will see the best practices which should be followed for effective AWS access control.

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