IAM configuration can be tedious but it is an essential task that must be completed. In a well-configured IAM environment, you can simplify the lives of end users, curb problematic password issues, make life easier for security teams, improve security across the organization, as well as reduce management and IT-related costs. Let’s look at IAM Roles, The Credentials Report, Root Account, IAM Policy, Least Privilege, and Multi-Factor Authentication concerns now
Leverage IAM Roles
Some AWS services will need to perform actions on your behalf. To do so, you assign permissions to AWS services with IAM Roles. An IAM entity that defines a set of permissions for making AWS service requests, that will be used by AWS services. When configuration files must be accessed by applications that are running on Amazon EC2 instances that are stored in an Amazon S3 Bucket, AWS security best practices states one should use an IAM role with the necessary permissions to allow the applications to access the S3 bucket.
Review Security Posture Using IAM Credentials Report
IAM Credentials report lists all your account’s users and the status of their various credentials. The other IAM Security Tool is IAM Access Advisor. It shows the service permissions granted to a user and when those services were last accessed. The report includes the status of the users’ credentials, including passwords, access keys, MFA devices, and signing certificates. This policy grants the permissions necessary to complete this action programmatically from the AWS API or AWS CLI.
Never Use Root Account
You should not use the root account for day-to-day operations within AWS. Doing so can put you at a security risk. This is why you configure an IAM user for your daily ops. You only want to use the root account to create your first IAM user, and for a few account and service management tasks. For everyday and administration tasks, use an IAM user with permissions. Changing the AWS Support plan requires using AWS account root user credentials. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for the root user and create an access key for the root user to follow AWS best practices for managing an AWS account root user.
Use Common Sense IAM Policies
An IAM policy is a JSON-defined entity that, when attached to an identity or resource, defines its permissions. Customers are responsible for defining and using IAM policies. IAM policies define permissions for action regardless of the method that you use to perform the operation. For example, if a policy allows the GetUser action, then a user with that policy can get user information from the AWS Management Console, the AWS CLI, or the AWS API.
A company should create an IAM user instead of an IAM role when a company creates AWS access credentials for individuals or when the company needs to add users to IAM groups.
Use Least Privilege
The principle of least privilege prevents the spread of malware on your network. An administrator or superuser with access to a lot of other network resources and infrastructure could potentially spread malware to all those other systems. When you set permissions with IAM policies, grant only the permissions required to perform a task. You do this by defining the actions that can be taken on specific resources under specific conditions, also known as least-privilege permissions. You might start with broad permissions while you explore the permissions that are required for your workload or use case. As your use case matures, you can work to reduce the permissions that you grant to work toward least privilege.
You want to enable MFA in order to add a layer of security, so even if your password is stolen, lost, or hacked your account is not compromised. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) in AWS is a simple best practice that adds an extra layer of protection on top of your user name and password. With MFA enabled, when a user signs in to an AWS Management Console, they will be prompted for their user name and password (the first factor—what they know), as well as for an authentication code from their AWS MFA device (the second factor—what they have). Taken together, these multiple factors provide increased security for your AWS account settings and resources.
Learn More About IAM In AWS
- Security best practices in IAM (docs.aws.amazon.com)
- AWS Identity and Access Management Best Practices (aws.amazon.com)
- AWS Identity and Access Management (aws.plainenglish.io)
- Must do steps to secure AWS (analyticshut.com)
- An introduction to AWS IAM best practices (www.techtarget.com)
- 13 AWS IAM Best Practices for Security and Compliance (www.mcafee.com)
- Top 10 IAM best practices to stay secure in the AWS (techgenix.com)
- IAM Best Practices: What They Are and How to Use Them (nerdrabbit.com)
- AWS IAM Security Best Practices (blog.gitguardian.com)
- AWS IAM Policies : Best Practices & How to Create an IAM Policy (medium.com)
- Continuous AWS IAM Security Best Practices (docs.cloudquery.io)
- IAM Policy Basics and Best Practices (towardsaws.com)
- How To Make Light Work Of AWS IAM Best Practices (blogs.vmware.com)
- IAM Best Practices in AWS (www.ibm.com)
- Securing IAM – Best Practices Recommended by AWS ande Azure (cyscale.com)
AWS IAM Access Analyzer checks access policies and offers actionable recommendations to help users set secure and functional policies. The advantages of reconfiguring a single account into multiple AWS accounts allows for administrative isolation between different workloads and reduces the risks associated with malicious activity targeted at a single account. AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Control access to AWS service APIs and to other specific resources and Protect the AWS environment using multi-factor authentication (MFA).