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Understanding AWS IAM Policies:
Securing Your Cloud Infrastructure


In the realm of cloud computing, security is of paramount importance. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers robust Identity and Access Management (IAM) services to ensure secure access to its cloud resources. IAM Policies, a fundamental component of AWS IAM, play a crucial role in defining fine-grained permissions and access controls for various AWS resources.

In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of IAM Policies, explore their components, and discuss best practices for implementing secure access controls within your AWS infrastructure.

Understanding IAM Policies

IAM Policies serve as the foundation for controlling access to AWS resources. At their core, IAM Policies are JSON documents that outline a set of permissions and actions that can be performed on AWS resources.

These IAM policies in AWS are attached to IAM entities such as users, groups, or roles and define what actions those entities can take on specific resources.

AWS IAM Policies are comprised of the following key elements:

  • 1. Version: It is the date of the policy language version.
  • 2. Statement: This is an array and specifies multiple statements. It is the main section of the policy document and can contain multiple directives and elements enclosed in the JSON block parenthesis.
  • 3. Effect: Specifies whether the actions defined in the policy are allowed or denied. It specifies the access permissions.
  • 4. Principal: Specifies the entity to which the policy is attached, such as an IAM user or a group.
  • 5. Action: Describes the lambda action. It contains statements for the function that you have created.
  • 6. Resource: Identifies the AWS resources on which the actions can be performed. It is used to limit the scope of the function defined in the Action statement.

What are IAM roles in AWS? How do they differ from IAM Policies?

IAM (Identity and Access Management) roles and IAM policies are both crucial components of AWS (Amazon Web Services) for managing access and permissions. However, they serve different purposes and have distinct functionalities.

IAM roles are used for temporary access and are assumed by entities, while IAM policies are used to define long-term permissions and are attached directly to IAM identities. Roles are often used for granting access to AWS services and for federated access, while policies provide granular control over permissions for IAM identities.

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Creating IAM Policies

It is crucial to follow the principle of least privilege when creating IAM policies. AWS offers several ways to create IAM policies, including the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), and AWS Software Development Kit (SDK).

While defining IAM policies, Amazon Web Services offers a policy generator and policy simulator to help you create precise permissions. The policy generator simplifies the process by providing a user-friendly interface to select actions and resources, which then generates the corresponding policy JSON document.

On the other hand, the AWS policy simulator helps verify the effects of a policy without actually executing any actions, enabling you to fine-tune access controls.

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Steps for creating an IAM user in AWS

To create an IAM (Identity and Access Management) user in AWS (Amazon Web Services), you can follow these steps:

  • 1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console using your AWS account credentials.
  • 2. Go to the IAM service by searching for "IAM" in the AWS Management Console search bar and selecting it.
  • 3. In the IAM dashboard, select "Users" from the navigation pane.
  • 4. Click on the "Add user" button to begin creating a new IAM user.
  • 5. Provide a user name for the new IAM user. This is the name that will be used to identify the user within AWS.
  • 6. Under "Access type," select the type of access that the IAM user should have. You have two options: a. "Programmatic access" allows the user to interact with AWS services using the AWS API, CLI, or SDKs. b. "AWS Management Console access" allows the user to sign in to the AWS Management Console using a password. You can select one or both options based on your requirements.
  • 7. If you selected "Programmatic access" in the previous step, you need to create an access key for the user. Click on the checkbox to enable access key creation.
  • 8. Under "Set permissions," you can choose to add the user to a group with predefined permissions or directly assign permissions to the user. a. To add the user to a group, select the group(s) that you want to add the user to. b. To directly assign permissions, click on the "Attach existing policies directly" button and select the desired policies. You can also create a new group or a new policy by clicking on the respective buttons.
  • 9. Click on the "Next: Tags" button to add optional tags to the user. Tags are key-value pairs that can be used for resource management and categorization.
  • 10. Click on the "Next: Review" button to review the user details and the assigned permissions.
  • 11. Review the user configuration and ensure that everything is set up correctly.
  • 12. Click on the "Create user" button to create the IAM user.
  • 13. On the success page, you will see the user's access key and secret access key (only if you selected "Programmatic access" in step 6). Make sure to download or copy the access key and secret access key, as they will be needed for programmatic access.
  • 14. Optionally, you can choose to send an email invitation to the user with sign-in instructions if you selected "AWS Management Console access".
  • 15. Click on the "Close" button to finish creating the IAM user.

That's it!

You have now created an IAM user in AWS with the specified access and permissions.

Remember to securely store and manage the user's access keys and ensure that appropriate permissions are assigned to the user based on your requirements.

What are the steps to create and modify the IAM policy in AWS?

To create and modify an IAM (Identity and Access Management) policy in AWS (Amazon Web Services), you can follow these steps:

Creating an IAM Policy:

  • 1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console using your AWS account credentials.
  • 2. Go to the IAM service by searching for "IAM" in the AWS Management Console search bar and selecting it.
  • 3. In the IAM dashboard, click on "Policies" in the left navigation pane.
  • 4. Click on the "Create policy" button to begin creating a new IAM policy.
  • 5. Choose the policy type based on your requirements: a. If you want to create a policy using the visual editor, select "Visual editor." b. If you want to create a policy using JSON, select "JSON."
  • 6. Based on the policy type selected, either use the visual editor or enter the JSON code to define the permissions and resources for the policy. a. In the visual editor, you can search for services and actions, select them, and define the desired conditions. b. In JSON, you manually write the policy using the IAM policy language.
  • 7. Specify the policy name and description to help identify and understand the policy's purpose.
  • 8. Click on the "Create policy" button to create the IAM policy.

Modifying an Existing IAM Policy:

  • 1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console using your AWS account credentials.
  • 2. Go to the IAM service by searching for "IAM" in the AWS Management Console search bar and selecting it.
  • 3. In the IAM dashboard, click on "Policies" in the left navigation pane.
  • 4. Search for the existing IAM policy you want to modify and click on its name to open the policy details.
  • 5. On the policy details page, you can make the desired modifications: a. To modify the policy using the visual editor, click on the "Edit policy" button. Use the visual editor to add, remove, or edit permissions, conditions, and resources. b. To modify the policy using JSON, click on the "JSON" tab. Update the JSON code according to your requirements.
  • 6. After making the necessary modifications, click on the "Review policy" button to review the changes.
  • 7. Review the policy changes to ensure they are correct.
  • 8. Click on the "Save changes" button to save the modified IAM policy.

You have now created and modified an IAM policy in AWS.

Remember to attach the policy to IAM users, groups, or roles to grant them the desired permissions.

Best Practices for IAM Policies

To ensure robust security for your AWS infrastructure, it is crucial to adhere to best practices when creating and managing IAM Policies.

Below are a few recommendations:

  • 1. Limit Permissions: Grant the minimum permissions required for each IAM entity to fulfill its designated responsibilities. Avoid granting overly broad or administrator-level access unless necessary.
  • 2. Regular Auditing and Reviews: Conduct periodic audits of IAM Policies to ensure they align with the changing needs of your organization. Remove any unnecessary or outdated policies to minimize potential vulnerabilities.
  • 3. Use IAM Roles for Applications: Rather than using long-term access keys, leverage IAM Roles for applications running on EC2 instances or other AWS services. IAM Roles provide temporary credentials, reducing the risk associated with managing long-term access keys.
  • 4. Utilize IAM Policy Conditions: Leverage IAM Policy Conditions to add additional layers of security. Conditions enable you to specify constraints such as time of day, source IP addresses, or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requirements.
  • 5. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enforce MFA for privileged IAM users to provide an extra layer of security. MFA adds an additional factor of authentication beyond a password, making it significantly harder for unauthorized individuals to gain access.
  • 6. Regularly Rotate Access Keys: To minimize the impact of compromised access keys, establish a practice of regularly rotating access keys associated with IAM users.
  • 7. Follow the "Separation of Duties" Principle: Clearly define roles and responsibilities within your organization and ensure that no single IAM entity has permissions that could lead to a conflict of interest.


IAM Policies form the backbone of access control in AWS IAM, enabling organizations to define granular permissions for their cloud resources. By following best practices and adopting the principle of least privilege, you can effectively secure your AWS infrastructure. Regular auditing, utilizing IAM Roles for applications, implementing MFA, and adhering to the "separation of duties" principle are essential steps in creating a robust security framework.

Remember, security is an ongoing effort. Stay informed about AWS IAM best practices and adapt your policies to evolving threats with ITTStar We help you adopt a proactive approach to IAM Policies so that you can fortify your cloud infrastructure against unauthorized access and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your valuable data and resources.

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A. IAM access in AWS is managed by creating policies. These IAM policies define permissions that the users can get from the AWS management console of their organization.

A. AWS IAM policies are written in JSON format.

A. ITTStar helps its customers define and implement secure and granular access controls within their cloud environment. They have a team of cloud engineers that reviews and assesses them to identify any gaps, potential security risks, or areas for improvement. ITTStar also collaborates with the customer to design an IAM policy framework that aligns with their requirements and security best practices.