▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (2023)

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud provides users with a secure virtual platform to deploy their applications. It offers superior data protection compared to an on-premises environment at a lower cost. Among the various AWS security services, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the most widely used. Allows users to securely control access to AWS resources and services. In addition, it helps create and manage AWS users and groups and provides the necessary permissions to allow or deny access to AWS resources. This article explains how AWS IAM works, features, and best practices.

The following topics will be discussed:
  • What is AWS IAM?
  • IAM resources on AWS
  • How can IAM work?
  • What are the roles of AWS IAM?
  • What is the AWS IAM CLI?
  • Best Practices for AWS IAM

What is AWS IAM?

AWSI AMis generally defined asIdentity and Access Management, which is recognized as one of the best web services that help provide secure control access to all AWS resources. You can use this IAM option to easily control authorized and unauthorized resources.

If you want to create this identity and access management, you must first create the AWS account. It's best to start with a single sign-in identity that can complete all possible sign-ins required to use AWS resources and services in each account. This specific identity can be designated as the root user of the AWS account, which can easily log in with potential users for any administrative or other tasks. Instead, to follow all best practices, it's best to be the first IAM user to create a new identity. You can then automatically back up the root user credentials, which are used to perform all administrative tasks.

▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (1)

IAM resources on AWS

IAM on Amazon Web Services provides the following features

▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (2)

1. Shared access to your AWS account:

Without sharing your password, you can access the other admin-related permissions as well as the resources of your current AWS account.

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2. Granular Permissions:

By using this granular permission, you can grant different permissions based on your skills. For example, you can provide full access to Amazon EC2, S3 (Amazon's lightweight storage services), and othersAWS Services. While the other users can grant read access along with Admin EC2 instances to access the billing information process.

3. Secure access to AWS feeds:

This IAM resource on AWS is used to protect all credentials that can successfully log in to EC2 instances. You can also grant them permissions to access your application for AWS services.

4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

By using MFA, you can add two-factor authentication not only for your account but also for individual users for extra security. Or you are the user who can provide a passkey or password to work with your account using a code specially set by the device.

5. Identity Federation:

Identity federation in IAM allows users who already have their passwords. For example, consider a corporate network X or an ISP to get temporary access to your current AWS account.

6. Warranty Identity Information:

You are using the Cloud Trail option for your AWS account, then you will definitely get the logs containing all the information performed based on your account resources. All of this information is commonly known as IAM identities.

7. PCI DSS Compliance:

IAM on AWS will fully support all data storage, transmission and storage by both providers and merchants to validate the claim with PCI (Payment Card Industry) DSS (Data Security Standard).

[Related blog:Was ist Cloud-Computing?]

▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (3)

How does IAM work?

Before creating users, everyone needs to understand how IAM works. IAM provides the best infrastructure required to handle all authorization and authentication for your AWS account. The following are some of the elements of the IAM framework.


The principle of AWS IAM is nothing but an entity used to perform an action on the AWS resource. The IAM administration user is the first principle that can allow the user of certain services to have a role. You can deny support for federated users to allow the application to access your current AWS account. Roles, Users, Federated, and Applications are some of the principles of AWS.


When the principal tries to use the AWS Management Console, the API or CLI automatically sends the request to AWS. This specific information specifies the following information.

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  • The actions are considered as principles to be carried out.
  • Actions are performed based on resources.
  • The primary information includes the environment in which the request was previously made.


It is one of the most commonly used principles for logging into AWS when the request is sent there. However, it also consists of alternative services such asAmazonas S3which allows requests from unknown users. To authenticate through the console, you need to log in with your credentials such as username and password. But in order to authenticate, you must provide them with the secret and access key, as well as any additional security information required. It is highly recommended that MFA improve security services for your account.


By authorizing the IAM values ​​generated from the request, the context checks any applicable policies and evaluates whether to allow or deny the specific request. All policies are stored in IAM as JSON documents and provide the specified permission to other resources. AWS IAM automatically looks for policies that specifically match the context of all your requests. If the single action is denied, IAM denies the entire request and regrets evaluating the rest, known as an explicit denial. The following are some of the logical evaluation rules for IAM.

  • All requests are denied by default.
  • Explicit can allow overrides by default.
  • An explicit can also deny the substitution by allowing it.


After your authorization or unauthenticated request is automatically processed, AWS approves your action in the form of a request. Here all actions are defined by services and things can be done through functions like create, edit, delete and view. To enable the action principle, we need to include all required actions in the policy without affecting the existing resource.


After receiving approvals from AWS, all of your request actions can be performed on the associated resources in your account. In general, a resource is referred to as an entity that specifically exists within services. These resource services can be defined as a set of activities performed specifically for each resource. If you want to create a request, you must first perform an independent action that cannot be denied.

If you provide permissions through an identity-based policy in IAM, you must obtain all permissions that access resources from your own account. If you're looking for another account, you must make a request based on the policy that specifically allows all access from your account. Or you need to accept a resource-based policy within the account along with the required permissions.

What are the roles of AWS IAM?

The AWS IAM role is the same as the user as an AWS identity with specific permissions policies to determine the specific identity that can or cannot be created with AWS. You can also use similar roles to delegate specific access to users, applications, or other services to access AWS resources.

The AWS IAM roles are provided in detail as below

  • You can increase security and get help protecting specific AWS resources and set up multi-factor authentication.
  • The best practice for IAM users is to enable MFA for root accounts and privileged users.
  • Multi-factor authentication can be easily configured

Based on security tokens

IAM users or AWS root users are primarily assigned hardware or virtual MFA devices

Based on One Time Password synchronization algorithms, it can easily generate a six-digit numeric code required at the time of the authentication process.

Based on SMS text message (preview mode)

  1. Using users' phone numbers, IAM users can easily configure SMS-enabled mobile devices that receive a 6-digit code from AWS technology.
  2. For IAM users only, SMS-based MFA is always available and mostly doesn't work for the AWS root account
  3. Because root user and IAM user are separate entities, MFA must be enabled on their respective forms. In particular, enabling MFA in root does not primarily enable it for all other users.
  4. The MFA device is activated with a single IAM user or AWS account
  5. Assuming the MFA device suddenly stops working or is lost, then there is no authentication to log in to the AWS console and you will need to contact AWS Support to disable MFA
  6. MFA protection can be easily enabled for the specific service API calls using condition bool that supports temporary security credentials.

What is the AWS IAM CLI?

You can only use the AWS IAM CLI with the appropriate role to sign in as an IAM user. It is provisioned as the externally authenticated user who is either already inheriting the role or when they actually progress through the role.Amazon EC2-Instancesattached to the instance profile function. This specific role is provided with a specific set of permissions that allow them to easily access AWS resources. It is mostly similar to the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user. There are a number of permissions or instructions to sign in with specific accounts.

The primary purpose of this section is to describe some of the common tasks related to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) and to walk you through basic instructionsAWS command line interface.

AWS IAM Policy Generator

AWS IAM Policy Generator is considered to be the tool that supports or enables creation of various policies to control access to Amazon Web Services products and various resources. There are three basic steps that every user must follow in order to fully authenticate themselves.

  • First you need to select a specific policy type
  • Then add the appropriate statements
  • And generate the policy as per the requirement

This is policy container for specific permissions where you can select one of the appropriate policies like IAM Policy, S3 Bucket Policy and SNS Topic Policy, SQS Queue Policy, Endpoint Policy of VPCs, etc. Then add the instructions in the respective policy to have a formal description for the single sign-on permission. The last, Generate Policy, is the document that serves as a container for one or more bulk statements.

Best Practices for AWS IAM

AWS IAM Best Practices help perform specific relative audits and remove all unused users and credentials. This is to protect AWS resources for specific AWS Identities and Access Management (IAM) services.

  1. How to revoke the AWS account root user access keys
  2. Creation of individual IAM users
  3. If needed, use AWS-defined policies to assign permissions
  4. Using specific groups to assign permissions to IAM users
  5. grant the least privilege
  6. Using Access Levels to Check IAM Permissions
  7. The strong password policy settings for users

Frequently asked questions about AWS IAM

There are many AWS IAM FAQs to help you explore each concept in depth with simple methods and real-time scenarios.

      1. Was ist AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)?
      2. How do I start using IAM?
      3. What problems does IAM solve?
      4. How do users access AWS services?

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About the author

▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (4)

▷ What is AWS IAM? | AWS Identity and Access Management [2023] (5)


Prashanthi is an experienced MongoDB author and has written for several reputable print and online publications. He currently works for MindMajix and writes content not only in MongoDB but also in Sharepoint, Uipath and AWS.


What does the AWS Identity and Access Management IAM? ›

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a web service that helps you securely control access to AWS resources. With IAM, you can centrally manage permissions that control which AWS resources users can access. You use IAM to control who is authenticated (signed in) and authorized (has permissions) to use resources.

What are the two types of AWS Identity and Access Management IAM policies? ›

There are two types of managed policies: AWS managed policies – Managed policies that are created and managed by AWS. Customer managed policies – Managed policies that you create and manage in your AWS account.

What are AWS Identity and Access Management IAM access keys used for? ›

Access keys are long-term credentials for an IAM user or the AWS account root user. You can use access keys to sign programmatic requests to the AWS CLI or AWS API (directly or using the AWS SDK).

What is AWS Identity and Access Management IAM service do quizlet? ›

What is IAM? Enables you to securely control access to AWS services and resources for your users. Create and manage AWS users and groups and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources.

What is the main purpose of AWS IAM? ›

With AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), you can specify who or what can access services and resources in AWS, centrally manage fine-grained permissions, and analyze access to refine permissions across AWS.

What is IAM and its purpose? ›

Identity and access management (IAM) ensures that the right people and job roles in your organization (identities) can access the tools they need to do their jobs. Identity management and access systems enable your organization to manage employee apps without logging into each app as an administrator.

What database does AWS IAM use? ›

IAM database authentication works with MariaDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. With this authentication method, you don't need to use a password when you connect to a DB instance. Instead, you use an authentication token. An authentication token is a unique string of characters that Amazon RDS generates on request.

How many types of IAM are there? ›

IAM roles are of 4 types, primarily differentiated by who or what can assume the role: Service Role. Service-Linked Role. Role for Cross-Account Access.

What are the different types of IAM? ›

  • IAM and AI. ...
  • IAM, cloud and IDaaS.
  • IAM from the cloud: Identity as a Service (IDaaS) and managed identity services. ...
  • IAM for the cloud. ...
  • IAM and BYOD. ...
  • IAM and IoT.

Why is identity and access management IAM important? ›

IAM is a critical cybersecurity function that organizes all sizes of privileged access management. It boosts security and provides greater control of user access to your system. This helps organizations mitigate data breaches, identity theft and illegal access to sensitive corporate information.

What is IAM in cyber security? ›

Identity and access management is an umbrella term for a combination of software used to manage digital identities and user accesses across an organization. Authentication, authorization, and the ability to access critical information are the key components that IAM regulates.

What are the features of IAM? ›

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Features
  • Fine-grained access control. Permissions let you specify and control access to AWS services and resources. ...
  • Delegate access by using IAM roles. ...
  • IAM Roles Anywhere. ...
  • IAM Access Analyzer. ...
  • Permissions guardrails. ...
  • Attribute-based access control.

Is AWS IAM an identity provider? ›

When you add single sign-on access to an AWS account, IAM Identity Center creates an IAM identity provider in each AWS account. An IAM identity provider helps keep your AWS account secure because you don't have to distribute or embed long-term security credentials, such as access keys, in your application.

What is the benefit of IAM? ›

IAM helps organizations to prevent any form of data breaches, malware and phishing attacks, identity theft, and unlawful access to sensitive information. Furthermore, IAMs also ensure to stay compliant (HIPAA, GDPR, etc.) and align to the business needs to remain risk-free from cyber threats.

What are the components of AWS IAM? ›

Features of IAM
  • Shared access to the AWS account. The main feature of IAM is that it allows you to create separate usernames and passwords for individual users or resources and delegate access.
  • Granular permissions. ...
  • Multifactor authentication (MFA). ...
  • Identity Federation. ...
  • Free to use. ...
  • PCI DSS compliance. ...
  • Password policy.
Feb 21, 2023

What are the 3 types of IAM principals? ›

  • a principal is an IAM entity allowed to interact with AWS resources, and can be permanent or temporary, and represent a human or an application.
  • three types of principals. ...
  • Root User. ...
  • IAM Users. ...
  • Roles/Temporary Security Tokens.

What is IAM in simple words? ›

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

What is IAM example? ›

Here are simple examples of IAM at work. When a user enters his login credentials, his identity would be checked against a database to verify if the entered credentials match the ones stored in the database. For example, when a contributor logs into a content management system, he's allowed to post his work.

Which are the four types of database platforms in AWS? ›

Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon RDS is available on several database instance types - optimized for memory, performance or I/O - and provides you with six familiar database engines to choose from, including Amazon Aurora , PostgreSQL , MySQL , MariaDB , Oracle Database , and SQL Server .

How does IAM authentication work? ›

IAM Authentication

Authentication occurs whenever a user attempts to access your organization's network and downstream resources. The user must verify their identity before being granted entry for security. Entering credentials at a login prompt remains the most common authentication method.

How does AWS IAM authentication work? ›

Authentication is provided by matching the sign-in credentials to a principal (an IAM user, federated user, IAM role, or application) trusted by the AWS account. Next, a request is made to grant the principal access to resources. Access is granted in response to an authorization request.

What are the 4 components of IAM? ›

The Components of IAM
  • Access Management. ...
  • Identity Governance and Administration. ...
  • Privileged Access Management. ...
  • Customer IAM. ...
  • Adjacent Technologies.
Jul 17, 2022

What are the five pillars of IAM? ›

The five pillars of IAM: Lifecycle and governance; federation, single sign-on and multi-factor authentication; network access control; privileged account management; and key encryption.

What are 3 types of roles in cloud IAM? ›

Role types
  • Basic roles, which include the Owner, Editor, and Viewer roles that existed prior to the introduction of IAM.
  • Predefined roles, which provide granular access for a specific service and are managed by Google Cloud.
  • Custom roles, which provide granular access according to a user-specified list of permissions.

Is IAM a security tool? ›

Identity and Access Management (IAM) security is an essential part of overall IT security that manages digital identities and user access to data, systems, and resources within an organization. IAM security includes the policies, programs, and technologies that reduce identity-related access risks within a business.

What is difference between IAM and Active Directory? ›

Azure Active Directory streamlines the management of licenses through group-based licensing for Microsoft cloud services. This way, IAM provides the group infrastructure and delegated management of those groups to the proper teams in the organizations.

What are three IAM risks? ›

Let's look at some of the more common risks associated with IAM deployments:
  • Centralized management creates a single, centralized target. ...
  • Improper management of network/application/data access. ...
  • Who forms access rules? ...
  • Insufficient process automation. ...
  • Failing to plan for scalability. ...
  • Lack of management training.

What is the difference between identity management and access management? ›

The difference between identity management and access management is thus: Identity Management is about managing the attributes related to the user. Access Management is about evaluating the attributes based on policies and making Yes/No decisions.

Why do you need identity management? ›

One of the major features of identity management is to control user access & preserve their digital identity by avoiding the instances of data breaches, identity theft, and illegal access to valuable organization data.

What are the three pillars of the IAM security module? ›

This is one of the three main benefits of IAM Security:
  • Visibility—Improve the visibility of effective permissions in your cloud accounts.
  • Governance—Monitor excess and unused permissions with out-of-the-box (OOB) policies.
  • Response—Remediate excess IAM permissions to reduce risk.
Oct 5, 2021

Is IAM authorization or authentication? ›

As the name indicates, IAM concerns both verifying users' identity (authentication) and granting them access to data based on that identity (authorization). These concepts are interrelated but not interchangeable, and understanding each is critical to grasp the larger meaning of IAM.

What does the AWS Identity and Access Management IAM service do Mcq? ›

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables you to manage access to AWS services and resources securely. Using IAM, you can create and manage AWS users and groups, and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources.

Which of the following can be found in an AWS Identity and Access Management IAM policy? ›

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) provides you with fine-grained access control to help you establish permissions that determine who can access which AWS resources under which conditions. Use fine-grained access control to help secure your AWS resources on your journey to achieve least privilege.


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