AWS IAM : Identity and Access Management Fundamentals

IAM provides secure access control to your AWS resources and services using the identity and access management service provided by Amazon Web Services. The key to AWS security is AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), which gives you the ability to create users and groups, assign specific permissions and policies, implement multi-factor authentication, and more. The best part? It’s free!

As part of this article, we will explore the basics of AWS IAM so you can find out what it is, how to use it, and how you can empower users to safeguard your AWS accounts appropriately. The best practices for setting up AWS MFA and other features will be discussed along with key features. Let’s get started!

What is AWS Security?

As that helps protect AWS cloud resources. These services include identity and access management, data protection, and threat detection. AWS Security also enables you to protect your applications and data by providing comprehensive security guidance and built-in security features.

The cost of implementing this high level of security is significantly lower than an on-premises environment since the service is available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

While there are many security services available, some are very commonly used by AWS, such as:

  • Key Management System (KMS)
  • Cognito
  • Web Access Firewall (WAF)

In this blog, we will talk about AWS IAM.

Why do we need AWS IAM?

In corporate environments before AWS and IAM, passwords were commonly shared in an insecure manner: over the phone or via email. It wasn’t unusual to have only one admin password, generally kept in a particular location or reset by only one person. The password and access to your system and information were not secured by any means since anyone could walk by while listening in and eavesdrop on the conversation.

What is AWS IAM?

Despite security concerns, many businesses are moving to the cloud. To ensure a smooth transition to AWS, AWS administrators need to follow security best practices. Despite all the attention Cloud platforms receive, AWS IAM takes a meticulous approach to permissions and access control within your environments. The AWS IAM function allows you to control which users are allowed to access and use your resources to create a secure environment.

As a web service, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) manages customers’ access to AWS services and resources. With IAM, you can create and manage users and groups, and specify which AWS services they can access and what actions they can perform. You can also create roles to allow users to access resources without remembering individual passwords.

How Does AWS IAM work?

IAM systems are designed to provide four key benefits:

  1. Authentication – Verifying the identity of a user.
  2. Authorization – determining what a user is allowed to do.
  3. Auditing – tracking user activity.
  4. Identity management – managing user identities and roles.

This means that only the right people should have access to computers, hardware, software apps, and any other IT resources and perform specific tasks.

The essential components of an IAM framework include :

  • A database of users’ identities and access privileges,
  • IAM tools for creating, monitoring, modifying, and deleting access privileges, and
  • A system for auditing login and access history.

Ensure your IAM privileges are always up-to-date by keeping your role changes and user additions in check. Usually, this falls under the responsibility of your IT department or data management section.

Components of AWS IAM


  • IAM users

IAM users are identities with credentials and permissions attached. A user could be an individual or an application. The IAM service lets you create a user name for every employee of your company so they can securely access AWS services. There can be one IAM user per AWS account. You can assign each IAM user to a group that has the permissions needed to perform particular tasks.

  • IAM Groups

IAM groups are collections of IAM users. IAM groups help specify permissions across multiple users so that any permissions granted to the group will also be given to the individual users in the group. Managing groups is relatively easy. You can create a group, add users to it, remove them from it, or change permissions in one place.

  • IAM policies

Configure the permissions that are needed for specific users, groups, and AWS resources. You can ensure that each user has their own unique set of permissions for each resource.

  • IAM roles

To access AWS resources, you need to define the permissions required for a user. IAM users and groups are the types of entities you create in your environment to grant security-related access to AWS services. IAM roles provide a more fine-grained capability for securing access to AWS resources.

Benefits of AWS IAM

1. Improved security – Your data is secure and safe when identity and access management is in place. By restricting access to your systems and data to only authorized users, you reduce the risk of a security breach.

2. Reduced cost – By implementing a network security solution you can gain control over your expenses and gain more insight into your data traffic, making it easier to identify what data is of the highest value and, therefore, most important to protect.

3. Improved efficiency – With more precise monitoring and control over your network, you can avoid disruptions and ensure that your systems are always available to your users, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

4. IAM improves user experience- You only need one password to access all your systems with SSO. If you use biometrics or a smart card, you won’t need to remember any passwords at all!

5. IAM helps in compliance- With IAM, organizations can quickly implement IAM best practices that meet HIPAA and GDPR requirements.


AWS Identity and Access Management (or IAM) is a service that enables you to securely control access to all of your AWS services and resources. It’s the foundation for security in Amazon Web Services, empowering users to create individual identities with specific permissions and policies, enabling multi-factor authentication, tracking usage by identity or group across every AWS product line…and it’s free! To learn more about cloud technology, check out blogs and training courses on our website today.

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