AWS Identity and Access Management ( IAM )

  • Control who is authenticated (signed in) and authorized (has permissions) to use resources.
  • AWS account root user is a single sign-in identity that has complete access to all AWS services and resources in the account.
  • Features

    • You can grant other people permission to administer and use resources in your AWS account without having to share your password or access key.
    • You can grant different permissions to different people for different resources.
    • You can use IAM features to securely provide credentials for applications that run on EC2 instances which provide permissions for your applications to access other AWS resources.
    • You can add two-factor authentication to your account and to individual users for extra security.
    • You can allow users to use identity federation to get temporary access to your AWS account.
    • You receive AWS CloudTrail log records that include information about IAM identities who made requests for resources in your account.
    • You use an access key (an access key ID and secret access key) to make programmatic requests to AWS. An Access Key ID and Secret Access Key can only be uniquely generated once and must be regenerated if lost.
    • IAM has been validated as being compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS).
    • IAM is eventually consistent. IAM achieves high availability by replicating data across multiple servers within Amazon’s data centers around the world.
    • IAM and AWS Security Token Service (STS) are offered at no additional charge.
    • Your unique account sign-in page URL:
      https://My_AWS_Account_ID.signin.aws.amazon.com/console/
    • You can use IAM tags to add custom attributes to an IAM user or role using a tag key–value pair.
  • Infrastructure Elements

    • Principal

      • An entity that can make a request for an action or operation on an AWS resource. Users, roles, federated users, and applications are all AWS principals.
      • Your AWS account root user is your first principal.
    • Request

      • When a principal tries to use the AWS Management Console, the AWS API, or the AWS CLI, that principal sends a request to AWS.
      • Requests includes the following information:
        • Actions or operations – the actions or operations that the principal wants to perform.
        • Resources – the AWS resource object upon which the actions or operations are performed.
        • Principal – the user, role, federated user, or application that sent the request. Information about the principal includes the policies that are associated with that principal.
        • Environment data – information about the IP address, user agent, SSL enabled status, or the time of day.
        • Resource data – data related to the resource that is being requested.
    • Authentication

      • To authenticate from the console as a user, you must sign in with your user name and password.
      • To authenticate from the API or AWS CLI, you must provide your access key and secret key.
    • Authorization

      • AWS uses values from the request context to check for policies that apply to the request. It then uses the policies to determine whether to allow or deny the request.
      • Policies types can be categorized as permissions policies or permissions boundaries.
        • Permissions policies define the permissions for the object to which they’re attached. These include identity-based policies, resource-based policies, and ACLs.
        • Permissions boundary is an advanced feature that allows you to use policies to limit the maximum permissions that a principal can have.
      • To provide your users with permissions to access the AWS resources in their own account, you need identity-based policies.
      • Resource-based policies are for granting cross-account access.
      • Evaluation logic rules for policies:
        • By default, all requests are denied.
        • An explicit allow in a permissions policy overrides this default.
        • A permissions boundary overrides the allow. If there is a permissions boundary that applies, that boundary must allow the request. Otherwise, it is implicitly denied.
        • An explicit deny in any policy overrides any allows.
    • Actions or Operations

      • Operations are defined by a service, and include things that you can do to a resource, such as viewing, creating, editing, and deleting that resource.
    • Resource

      • An object that exists within a service. The service defines a set of actions that can be performed on each resource.
  • Users

    • IAM Users

      • Instead of sharing your root user credentials with others, you can create individual IAM users within your account that correspond to users in your organization. IAM users are not separate accounts; they are users within your account.
      • Each user can have its own password for access to the AWS Management Console. You can also create an individual access key for each user so that the user can make programmatic requests to work with resources in your account.
      • By default, a brand new IAM user has NO permissions to do anything.
      • Users are global entities.
    • Federated Users

      • If the users in your organization already have a way to be authenticated, you can federate those user identities into AWS.

AWS Training IAM 2

    • IAM Groups

      • An IAM group is a collection of IAM users.
      • You can organize IAM users into IAM groups and attach access control policies to a group.
      • A user can belong to multiple groups.
      • Groups cannot belong to other groups.
      • Groups do not have security credentials, and cannot access web services directly.
    • IAM Role

      • A role does not have any credentials associated with it.
      • An IAM user can assume a role to temporarily take on different permissions for a specific task. A role can be assigned to a federated user who signs in by using an external identity provider instead of IAM.
      • AWS service role is a role that a service assumes to perform actions in your account on your behalf. This service role must include all the permissions required for the service to access the AWS resources that it needs.
        • AWS service role for an EC2 instance is a special type of service role that a service assumes to launch an EC2 instance that runs your application. This role is assigned to the EC2 instance when it is launched.
        • AWS service-linked role is a unique type of service role that is linked directly to an AWS service. Service-linked roles are predefined by the service and include all the permissions that the service requires to call other AWS services on your behalf.
      • An instance profile is a container for an IAM role that you can use to pass role information to an EC2 instance when the instance starts.
    • Users or groups can have multiple policies attached to them that grant different permissions.

AWS Training AWS IAM 3

  • Policies

    • Most permission policies are JSON policy documents.
    • The IAM console includes policy summary tables that describe the access level, resources, and conditions that are allowed or denied for each service in a policy.
    • The policy summary table includes a list of services. Choose a service there to see the service summary.
    • This summary table includes a list of the actions and associated permissions for the chosen service. You can choose an action from that table to view the action summary.
    • To assign permissions to federated users, you can create an entity referred to as a role and define permissions for the role.
    • Identity-Based Policies
      • Permissions policies that you attach to a principal or identity.
      • Managed policies are standalone policies that you can attach to multiple users, groups, and roles in your AWS account.
      • Inline policies are policies that you create and manage and that are embedded directly into a single user, group, or role.
    • Resource-based Policies
      • Permissions policies that you attach to a resource such as an Amazon S3 bucket.
      • Resource-based policies are only inline policies.
      • Trust policies – resource-based policies that are attached to a role and define which principals can assume the role.
  •  
  • AWS Security Token Service (STS)

    • Create and provide trusted users with temporary security credentials that can control access to your AWS resources.
    • Temporary security credentials are short-term and are not stored with the user but are generated dynamically and provided to the user when requested.
    • By default, AWS STS is a global service with a single endpoint at https://sts.amazonaws.com.
  • Best Practices

    • Lock Away Your AWS Account Root User Access Keys
    • Create Individual IAM Users
    • Use Groups to Assign Permissions to IAM Users
    • Use AWS Defined Policies to Assign Permissions Whenever Possible
    • Grant Least Privilege
    • Use Access Levels to Review IAM Permissions
    • Configure a Strong Password Policy for Your Users
    • Enable MFA for Privileged Users
    • Use Roles for Applications That Run on Amazon EC2 Instances
    • Use Roles to Delegate Permissions
    • Do Not Share Access Keys
    • Rotate Credentials Regularly
    • Remove Unnecessary Credentials
    • Use Policy Conditions for Extra Security
    • Monitor Activity in Your AWS Account

 

  • Limits

Resource

Default Limit

Customer managed policies in an AWS account

1500

Groups in an AWS account

300

Roles in an AWS account

1000

Managed policies attached to an IAM role

10

Managed policies attached to an IAM user

10

Virtual MFA devices (assigned or unassigned) in an AWS account

Equal to the user quota for the account

Instance profiles in an AWS account

1000

Access keys assigned to an IAM user

2

Access keys assigned to the AWS account root user

2

Aliases for an AWS account

1

Groups an IAM user can be a member of

10

IAM users in a group

Equal to the user quota for the account

Users in an AWS account

5000

Managed policies attached to an IAM group

10

MFA devices in use by an IAM user

1

MFA devices in use by the AWS account root user

1

SSH public keys assigned to an IAM user

5

Tags that can be attached to an IAM role

50

Tags that can be attached to an IAM user

50

Sources:
https://docs.aws.amazon.com/IAM/latest/UserGuide/introduction.html
https://aws.amazon.com/iam/faqs/

***

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