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Amazon DynamoDB
Developer Guide (API Version 2012-08-10)

Using IAM Policy Conditions for Fine-Grained Access Control

When you grant permissions in DynamoDB, you can specify conditions that determine how a permissions policy takes effect.

Overview

In DynamoDB, you have the option to specify conditions when granting permissions using an IAM policy (see Access Control). For example, you can:

  • Grant permissions to allow users read-only access to certain items and attributes in a table or a secondary index.

  • Grant permissions to allow users to write-only access to certain attributes in a table, based upon the identity of that user.

In DynamoDB, you can specify conditions in an IAM policy using condition keys, as illustrated in the use case in the following section.

Note

Some AWS services also support tag-based conditions; however, DynamoDB does not.

Permissions Use Case

In addition to controlling access to DynamoDB API actions, you can also control access to individual data items and attributes. For example, you can do the following:

  • Grant permissions on a table, but restrict access to specific items in that table based on certain primary key values. An example might be a social networking app for games, where all users' saved game data is stored in a single table, but no users can access data items that they do not own, as shown in the following illustration:

  • Hide information so that only a subset of attributes are visible to the user. An example might be an app that displays flight data for nearby airports, based on the user's location. Airline names, arrival and departure times, and flight numbers are all displayed. However, attributes such as pilot names or the number of passengers are hidden, as shown in the following illustration:

To implement this kind of fine-grained access control, you write an IAM permissions policy that specifies conditions for accessing security credentials and the associated permissions. You then apply the policy to IAM users, groups, or roles that you create using the IAM console. Your IAM policy can restrict access to individual items in a table, access to the attributes in those items, or both at the same time.

You can optionally use web identity federation to control access by users who are authenticated by login with Amazon, Facebook, or Google. For more information, see Using Web Identity Federation.

You use the IAM Condition element to implement a fine-grained access control policy. By adding a Condition element to a permissions policy, you can allow or deny access to items and attributes in DynamoDB tables and indexes, based upon your particular business requirements.

As an example, consider a mobile gaming app that lets players select from and play a variety of different games. The app uses a DynamoDB table named GameScores to keep track of high scores and other user data. Each item in the table is uniquely identified by a user ID and the name of the game that the user played. The GameScores table has a primary key consisting of a partition key (UserId) and sort key (GameTitle). Users only have access to game data associated with their user ID. A user who wants to play a game must belong to an IAM role named GameRole, which has a security policy attached to it.

To manage user permissions in this app, you could write a permissions policy such as the following:

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "AllowAccessToOnlyItemsMatchingUserID",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:GetItem",
                "dynamodb:BatchGetItem",
                "dynamodb:Query",
                "dynamodb:PutItem",
                "dynamodb:UpdateItem",
                "dynamodb:DeleteItem",
                "dynamodb:BatchWriteItem"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:LeadingKeys": [
                        "${www.amazon.com:user_id}"
                    ],
                    "dynamodb:Attributes": [
                        "UserId",
                        "GameTitle",
                        "Wins",
                        "Losses",
                        "TopScore",
                        "TopScoreDateTime"
                    ]
                },
                "StringEqualsIfExists": {
                    "dynamodb:Select": "SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES"
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

In addition to granting permissions for specific DynamoDB actions (Action element) on the GameScores table (Resource element), the Condition element uses the following condition keys specific to DynamoDB that limit the permissions as follows:

  • dynamodb:LeadingKeys – This condition key allows users to access only the items where the partition key value matches their user ID. This ID, ${www.amazon.com:user_id}, is a substitution variable. For more information about substitution variables, see Using Web Identity Federation.

  • dynamodb:Attributes – This condition key limits access to the specified attributes so that only the actions listed in the permissions policy can return values for these attributes. In addition, the StringEqualsIfExists clause ensures that the app must always provide a list of specific attributes to act upon and that the app can't request all attributes.

When an IAM policy is evaluated, the result is always either true (access is allowed) or false (access is denied). If any part of the Condition element is false, the entire policy evaluates to false and access is denied.

Important

If you use dynamodb:Attributes, you must specify the names of all of the primary key and index key attributes for the table and any secondary indexes that are listed the in the policy. Otherwise, DynamoDB can't use these key attributes to perform the requested action.

IAM policy documents can contain only the following Unicode characters: horizontal tab (U+0009), linefeed (U+000A), carriage return (U+000D), and characters in the range U+0020 to U+00FF.

Specifying Conditions: Using Condition Keys

AWS provides a set of predefined condition keys (AWS-wide condition keys) for all AWS services that support IAM for access control. For example, you can use the aws:SourceIp condition key to check the requester's IP address before allowing an action to be performed. For more information and a list of the AWS-wide keys, see Available Keys for Conditions in the IAM User Guide.

Note

Condition keys are case-sensitive.

The following table shows the DynamoDB service-specific condition keys that apply to DynamoDB

DynamoDB Condition KeyDescription
dynamodb:LeadingKeys

Represents the first key attribute of a table—in other words, the partition key. Note that the key name LeadingKeys is plural, even if the key is used with single-item actions. In addition, note that you must use the ForAllValues modifier when using LeadingKeys in a condition.

dynamodb:Select

Represents the Select parameter of a Query or Scan request. Select can be any of the following values:

  • ALL_ATTRIBUTES

  • ALL_PROJECTED_ATTRIBUTES

  • SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES

  • COUNT

dynamodb:Attributes

Represents a list of the attribute names in a request, or the attributes that are returned from a request. Attributes values are named the same way and have the same meaning as the parameters for certain DynamoDB API actions, as shown following:

  • AttributesToGet

    Used by: BatchGetItem, GetItem, Query, Scan

  • AttributeUpdates

    Used by: UpdateItem

  • Expected

    Used by: DeleteItem, PutItem, UpdateItem

  • Item

    Used by: PutItem

  • ScanFilter

    Used by: Scan

dynamodb:ReturnValues

Represents the ReturnValues parameter of a request. ReturnValues can be any of the following values:

  • ALL_OLD

  • UPDATED_OLD

  • ALL_NEW

  • UPDATED_NEW

  • NONE

dynamodb:ReturnConsumedCapacity

Represents the ReturnConsumedCapacity parameter of a request. ReturnConsumedCapacity can be one of the following values:

  • TOTAL

  • NONE


Limiting User Access

Many IAM permissions policies allow users to access only those items in a table where the partition key value matches the user identifier. For example, the game app preceding limits access in this way so that users can only access game data that is associated with their user ID. The IAM substitution variables ${www.amazon.com:user_id}, ${graph.facebook.com:id}, and ${accounts.google.com:sub} contain user identifiers for login with Amazon, Facebook, and Google. To learn how an application logs in to one of these identity providers and obtains these identifiers, see Using Web Identity Federation.

Note

Each of the examples in the following section sets the Effect clause to Allow and specify only the actions, resources and parameters that are allowed. Access is permitted only to what is explicitly listed in the IAM policy.

In some cases, it is possible to rewrite these policies so that they are deny-based (that is, setting the Effect clause to Deny and inverting all of the logic in the policy). However, we recommend that you avoid using deny-based policies with DynamoDB because they are difficult to write correctly, compared to allow-based policies. In addition, future changes to the DynamoDB API (or changes to existing API inputs) can render a deny-based policy ineffective.

Example Policies: Using Conditions for Fine-Grained Access Control

This section shows several policies for implementing fine-grained access control on DynamoDB tables and indexes.

Note

All examples use the us-west-2 region and contain fictitious account IDs.

1: Grant Permissions that Limit Access to Items with a Specific Partition Key Value

The following permissions policy grants permissions that allow a set of DynamoDB actions on the GamesScore table. It uses the dynamodb:LeadingKeys condition key to limit user actions only on the items whose UserID partition key value matches the Login with Amazon unique user ID for this app.

Important

The list of actions does not include permissions for Scan because Scan returns all items regardless of the leading keys.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "FullAccessToUserItems",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:GetItem",
                "dynamodb:BatchGetItem",
                "dynamodb:Query",
                "dynamodb:PutItem",
                "dynamodb:UpdateItem",
                "dynamodb:DeleteItem",
                "dynamodb:BatchWriteItem"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:LeadingKeys": [
                        "${www.amazon.com:user_id}"
                    ]
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

Note

When using policy variables, you must explicitly specify version 2012-10-17 in the policy. The default version of the access policy language, 2008-10-17, does not support policy variables.

To implement read-only access, you can remove any actions that can modify the data. In the following policy, only those actions that provide read-only access are included in the condition.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "ReadOnlyAccessToUserItems",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:GetItem",
                "dynamodb:BatchGetItem",
                "dynamodb:Query"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:LeadingKeys": [
                        "${www.amazon.com:user_id}"
                    ]
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

Important

If you use dynamodb:Attributes, you must specify the names of all of the primary key and index key attributes, for the table and any secondary indexes that are listed in the policy. Otherwise, DynamoDB can't use these key attributes to perform the requested action.

2: Grant Permissions that Limit Access to Specific Attributes in a Table

The following permissions policy allows access to only two specific attributes in a table by adding the dynamodb:Attributes condition key. These attributes can be read, written, or evaluated in a conditional write or scan filter.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "LimitAccessToSpecificAttributes",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:UpdateItem",
                "dynamodb:GetItem",
                "dynamodb:Query",
                "dynamodb:BatchGetItem",
                "dynamodb:Scan"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:Attributes": [
                        "UserId",
                        "TopScore"
                    ]
                },
                "StringEqualsIfExists": {
                    "dynamodb:Select": "SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES",
                    "dynamodb:ReturnValues": [
                        "NONE",
                        "UPDATED_OLD",
                        "UPDATED_NEW"
                    ]
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

Note

The policy takes a whitelist approach, which allows access to a named set of attributes. You can write an equivalent policy that denies access to other attributes instead (that is, a blacklist approach). We don't recommend this blacklist approach because users can determine the names of these blacklisted attributes by repeatedly issuing requests for all possible attribute names, eventually finding an attribute that they aren't allowed to access. To avoid this, follow the principle of least privilege, as explained in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_privilege, and use a whitelist approach to enumerate all of the allowed values, rather than specifying the denied attributes.

This policy doesn't permit PutItem, DeleteItem, or BatchWriteItem, because these actions always replace the entire previous item, which would allow users to delete the previous values for attributes that they are not allowed to access.

The StringEqualsIfExists clause in the permissions policy ensures the following:

  • If the user specifies the Select parameter, then its value must be SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES. This requirement prevents the API action from returning any attributes that aren't allowed, such as from an index projection.

  • If the user specifies the ReturnValues parameter, then its value must be NONE, UPDATED_OLD or UPDATED_NEW. This is required because the UpdateItem action also performs implicit read operations to check whether an item exists before replacing it, and so that previous attribute values can be returned if requested. Restricting ReturnValues in this way ensures that users can only read or write the allowed attributes.

  • The StringEqualsIfExists clause assures that only one of these parameters — Select or ReturnValues — can be used per request, in the context of the allowed actions.

The following are some variations on this policy:

  • To allow only read actions, we can remove UpdateItem from the list of allowed actions. Because none of the remaining actions accept ReturnValues, we can remove ReturnValues from the condition. We can also change StringEqualsIfExists to StringEquals because the Select parameter always has a value (ALL_ATTRIBUTES, unless otherwise specified).

  • To allow only write actions, we can remove everything except UpdateItem from the list of allowed actions. Because UpdateItem does not use the Select parameter, we can remove Select from the condition. We must also change StringEqualsIfExists to StringEquals because the ReturnValues parameter always has a value (NONE unless otherwise specified).

  • To allow all attributes whose name matches a pattern, use StringLike instead of StringEquals, and use a multi-character pattern match wildcard character (*).

3: Grant Permissions to Prevent Updates on Certain Attributes

The following permissions policy limits user access to updating only the specific attributes identified by the dynamodb:Attributes condition key. The StringNotLike condition prevents an application from updating the attributes specified using the dynamodb:Attributes condition key.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "PreventUpdatesOnCertainAttributes",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:UpdateItem"
            ],
            "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores",
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringNotLike": {
                    "dynamodb:Attributes": [
                        "FreeGamesAvailable",
                        "BossLevelUnlocked"
                    ]
                },
                "StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:ReturnValues": [
                        "NONE",
                        "UPDATED_OLD",
                        "UPDATED_NEW"
                    ]
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

Note the following:

  • The UpdateItem action, like other write actions, requires read access to the items so that it can return values before and after the update. In the policy, you limit the action to accessing only the attributes that are allowed to be updated by specifying the dynamodb:ReturnValues condition key. The condition key restricts ReturnValues in the request to specify only NONE, UPDATED_OLD, or UPDATED_NEW and doesn't include ALL_OLD or ALL_NEW. For more information about the UpdateItem API, see UpdateItem.

  • The PutItem and DeleteItem actions replace an entire item, and thus allows applications to modify any attributes. So when limiting an application to updating only specific attributes, you should not grant permission for these APIs.

4: Grant Permissions to Query Only Projected Attributes in an Index

The following permissions policy allows queries on a secondary index (TopScoreDateTimeIndex) by using the dynamodb:Attributes condition key. The policy also limits queries to requesting only specific attributes that have been projected into the index.

To require the application to specify a list of attributes in the query, the policy also specifies the dynamodb:Select condition key to require that the Select parameter of the DynamoDB Query action (see Query) is SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES. The list of attributes is limited to a specific list that is provided using the dynamodb:Attributes condition key.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "QueryOnlyProjectedIndexAttributes",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:Query"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores/index/TopScoreDateTimeIndex"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:Attributes": [
                        "TopScoreDateTime",
                        "GameTitle",
                        "Wins",
                        "Losses",
                        "Attempts"
                    ]
                },
                "StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:Select": "SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES"
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

The following permissions policy is similar, but the query must request all of the attributes that have been projected into the index.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "QueryAllIndexAttributes",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:Query"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores/index/TopScoreDateTimeIndex"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:Select": "ALL_PROJECTED_ATTRIBUTES"
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

5: Grant Permissions to Limit Access to Certain Attributes and Partition Key Values

The following permissions policy allows specific DynamoDB actions (specified in the Action element) on a table and a table index (specified in the Resource element). The policy uses the dynamodb:LeadingKeys condition key to restrict permissions to only the items whose partition key value matches the user’s Facebook ID.

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "LimitAccessToCertainAttributesAndKeyValues",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "dynamodb:UpdateItem",
                "dynamodb:GetItem",
                "dynamodb:Query",
                "dynamodb:BatchGetItem"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores",
                "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-west-2:123456789012:table/GameScores/index/TopScoreDateTimeIndex"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
                    "dynamodb:LeadingKeys": [
                        "${graph.facebook.com:id}"
                    ],
                    "dynamodb:Attributes": [
                        "attribute-A",
                        "attribute-B"
                    ]
                },
                "StringEqualsIfExists": {
                    "dynamodb:Select": "SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES",
                    "dynamodb:ReturnValues": [
                        "NONE",
                        "UPDATED_OLD",
                        "UPDATED_NEW"
                    ]
                }
            }
        }
    ]
}

Note the following:

  • Write actions allowed by the policy (UpdateItem) can only modify attribute-A or attribute-B.

  • Because the policy allows UpdateItem, an application can insert new items, and the hidden attributes will be null in the new items. If these attributes are projected into TopScoreDateTimeIndex , the policy has the added benefit of preventing queries that cause fetches from the table.

  • Applications cannot read any attributes other than those listed in dynamodb:Attributes. With this policy in place, an application must set the Select parameter to SPECIFIC_ATTRIBUTES in read requests, and only whitelisted attributes can be requested. For write requests, the application cannot set ReturnValues to ALL_OLD or ALL_NEW and it cannot perform conditional write operations based on any other attributes.