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Identity and Access Management (IAM)

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Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Hello Everyone

Welcome to CloudAffaire and this is Debjeet.

In the last blog post, we have discussed CloudWatch Logs and also configured CloudWatch log agent in an EC2 instance to collect and display logs in CloudWatch console. And with that, we have concluded our introductory series in CloudWatch.

In this blog post, we are going to start with a new AWS service called Identity and Access Management or IAM. AWS Identity and Access Management or IAM is a web service that helps you securely control access to AWS resources. You use IAM to control who is authenticated and authorized to use resources. When you first create an AWS account, you begin with a single sign-in identity that has complete access to all AWS services and resources in the account. This identity is called the AWS account root user and is accessed by signing in with the email address and password that you used to create the account. Using your root account you can create subsequent IAM users or roles and control access level through policy to resources.

Core concepts of IAM:


An IAM user is an entity that you create in AWS. The IAM user represents the person or service who uses the IAM user to interact with AWS. The primary use for IAM users is to give people the ability to sign in to the AWS Management Console for interactive tasks and to make programmatic requests to AWS services using the API or CLI. A user in AWS consists of a name, a password to sign into the AWS Management Console, and up to two access keys that can be used with the API or CLI.


An IAM group is a collection of IAM users. You can use groups to specify permissions for a collection of users, which can make those permissions easier to manage for those users. For example, you could have a group called Admins and give that group the types of permissions that administrators typically need. Any user in that group automatically has the permissions that are assigned to the group. If a new user joins your organization and should have administrator privileges, you can assign the appropriate permissions by adding the user to that group. Similarly, if a person changes jobs in your organization, instead of editing that user’s permissions, you can remove him or her from the old groups and add him or her to the appropriate new groups.


An IAM role is very similar to a user, in that it is an identity with permission policies that determine what the identity can and cannot do in AWS. However, a role does not have any credentials (password or access keys) associated with it. Instead of being uniquely associated with one person, a role is intended to be assumable by anyone who needs 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 uses details passed by the identity provider to determine which role is mapped to the federated user.


You manage access in AWS by creating policies and attaching them to IAM identities (users, groups of users, or roles) or AWS resources. A policy is an object in AWS that, when associated with an identity or resource, defines their permissions. AWS evaluates these policies when a principal entity (user or role) makes a request. Permissions in the policies determine whether the request is allowed or denied. Most policies are stored in AWS as JSON documents. AWS supports six types of policies: identity-based policies, resource-based policies, permissions boundaries, Organizations SCPs, ACLs, and session policies. IAM policies define permissions for action regardless of the method that you use to perform the operation. For example, if the 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. When you create an IAM user, you can choose to allow console or programmatic access. If console access is allowed, the IAM user can sign in to the console using a user name and password. Or if programmatic access is allowed, the user can use access keys to work with the CLI or API.


A resource is an object that exists within a service. Examples include an Amazon EC2 instance, an IAM user, and an Amazon S3 bucket. The service defines a set of actions that can be performed on each resource. If you create a request to perform an unrelated action on a resource, that request is denied. For example, if you request to delete an IAM role but provide an IAM group resource, the request fails.

Hope you have enjoyed this article; we will cover each of these concepts in upcoming blog posts. In the next blog post, we will discuss IAM users.

To get more details on IAM, please refer below AWS documentation