Data protection in Amazon EC2 - Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Data protection in Amazon EC2

The AWS shared responsibility model applies to data protection in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. As described in this model, AWS is responsible for protecting the global infrastructure that runs all of the AWS Cloud. You are responsible for maintaining control over your content that is hosted on this infrastructure. You are also responsible for the security configuration and management tasks for the AWS services that you use. For more information about data privacy, see the Data Privacy FAQ. For information about data protection in Europe, see the AWS Shared Responsibility Model and GDPR blog post on the AWS Security Blog.

For data protection purposes, we recommend that you protect AWS account credentials and set up individual users with AWS IAM Identity Center or AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM). That way, each user is given only the permissions necessary to fulfill their job duties. We also recommend that you secure your data in the following ways:

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) with each account.

  • Use SSL/TLS to communicate with AWS resources. We require TLS 1.2 and recommend TLS 1.3.

  • Set up API and user activity logging with AWS CloudTrail.

  • Use AWS encryption solutions, along with all default security controls within AWS services.

  • Use advanced managed security services such as Amazon Macie, which assists in discovering and securing sensitive data that is stored in Amazon S3.

  • If you require FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules when accessing AWS through a command line interface or an API, use a FIPS endpoint. For more information about the available FIPS endpoints, see Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2.

We strongly recommend that you never put confidential or sensitive information, such as your customers' email addresses, into tags or free-form text fields such as a Name field. This includes when you work with Amazon EC2 or other AWS services using the console, API, AWS CLI, or AWS SDKs. Any data that you enter into tags or free-form text fields used for names may be used for billing or diagnostic logs. If you provide a URL to an external server, we strongly recommend that you do not include credentials information in the URL to validate your request to that server.

Amazon EBS data security

Amazon EBS volumes are presented to you as raw, unformatted block devices. These devices are logical devices that are created on the EBS infrastructure and the Amazon EBS service ensures that the devices are logically empty (that is, the raw blocks are zeroed or they contain cryptographically pseudorandom data) prior to any use or re-use by a customer.

If you have procedures that require that all data be erased using a specific method, either after or before use (or both), such as those detailed in DoD 5220.22-M (National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual) or NIST 800-88 (Guidelines for Media Sanitization), you have the ability to do so on Amazon EBS. That block-level activity will be reflected down to the underlying storage media within the Amazon EBS service.

Encryption at rest

EBS volumes

Amazon EBS encryption is an encryption solution for your EBS volumes and snapshots. It uses AWS KMS keys. For more information, see Amazon EBS encryption in the Amazon EBS User Guide.

[Windows instances] You can also use Microsoft EFS and NTFS permissions for folder- and file-level encryption.

Instance store volumes

The data on NVMe instance store volumes is encrypted using an XTS-AES-256 cipher, implemented on a hardware module on the instance. The keys used to encrypt data that's written to locally-attached NVMe storage devices are per-customer, and per volume. The keys are generated by, and only reside within, the hardware module, which is inaccessible to AWS personnel. The encryption keys are destroyed when the instance is stopped or terminated and cannot be recovered. You cannot disable this encryption and you cannot provide your own encryption key.

The data on HDD instance store volumes on H1, D3, and D3en instances is encrypted using XTS-AES-256 and one-time keys.

When you stop, hibernate, or terminate an instance, every block of storage in the instance store volume is reset. Therefore, your data cannot be accessed through the instance store of another instance.


Memory encryption is enabled on the following instances:

  • Instances with AWS Graviton processors. AWS Graviton2, AWS Graviton3, and AWS Graviton3E support always-on memory encryption. The encryption keys are securely generated within the host system, do not leave the host system, and are destroyed when the host is rebooted or powered down. For more information, see AWS Graviton Processors.

  • Instances with 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Ice Lake), such as M6i instances, and 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Sapphire Rapids), such as M7i instances. These processors support always-on memory encryption using Intel Total Memory Encryption (TME).

  • Instances with 3rd generation AMD EPYC processors (Milan), such as M6a instances, and 4th generation AMD EPYC processors (Genoa), such as M7a instances. These processors support always-on memory encryption using AMD Secure Memory Encryption (SME). Instances with 3rd generation AMD EPYC processors (Milan) also support AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging (SEV-SNP).

Encryption in transit

Encryption at the physical layer

All data flowing across AWS Regions over the AWS global network is automatically encrypted at the physical layer before it leaves AWS secured facilities. All traffic between AZs is encrypted. Additional layers of encryption, including those listed in this section, may provide additional protections.

Encryption provided by Amazon VPC peering and Transit Gateway cross-Region peering

All cross-Region traffic that uses Amazon VPC peering and Transit Gateway peering is automatically bulk-encrypted when it exits a Region. An additional layer of encryption is automatically provided at the physical layer for all traffic before it leaves AWS secured facilities, as previously noted in this section.

Encryption between instances

AWS provides secure and private connectivity between EC2 instances of all types. In addition, some instance types use the offload capabilities of the underlying Nitro System hardware to automatically encrypt in-transit traffic between instances. This encryption uses Authenticated Encryption with Associated Data (AEAD) algorithms, with 256-bit encryption. There is no impact on network performance. To support this additional in-transit traffic encryption between instances, the following requirements must be met:

  • The instances use the following instance types:

    • General purpose: M5dn, M5n, M5zn, M6a, M6i, M6id, M6idn, M6in, M7a, M7g, M7gd, M7i, M7i-flex

    • Compute optimized: C5a, C5ad, C5n, C6a, C6gn, C6i, C6id, C6in, C7a, C7g, C7gd, C7gn, C7i, C7i-flex

    • Memory optimized: R5dn, R5n, R6a, R6i, R6idn, R6in, R6id, R7a, R7g, R7gd, R7i, R7iz, R8g, U-3tb1, U-6tb1, U-9tb1, U-12tb1, U-18tb1, U-24tb1, U7i-12tb, U7in-16tb, U7in-24tb, U7in-32tb, X2idn, X2iedn, X2iezn

    • Storage optimized: D3, D3en, I3en, I4g, I4i, Im4gn, Is4gen

    • Accelerated computing: DL1, DL2q, G4ad, G4dn, G5, G6, Gr6, Inf1, Inf2, P3dn, P4d, P4de, P5, Trn1, Trn1n, VT1

    • High-performance computing: Hpc6a, Hpc6id, Hpc7a, Hpc7g

  • The instances are in the same Region.

  • The instances are in the same VPC or peered VPCs, and the traffic does not pass through a virtual network device or service, such as a load balancer or a transit gateway.

An additional layer of encryption is automatically provided at the physical layer for all traffic before it leaves AWS secured facilities, as previously noted in this section.

To view the instance types that encrypt in-transit traffic between instances using the AWS CLI

Use the following describe-instance-types command.

aws ec2 describe-instance-types \ --filters Name=network-info.encryption-in-transit-supported,Values=true \ --query "InstanceTypes[*].[InstanceType]" \ --output text | sort
Encryption to and from AWS Outposts

An Outpost creates special network connections called service links to its AWS home Region and, optionally, private connectivity to a VPC subnet that you specify. All traffic over those connection is fully encrypted. For more information, see Connectivity through service links and Encryption in transit in the AWS Outposts User Guide.

Remote access encryption

The SSH and RDP protocols provides secure communications channels for remote access to your instances, whether directly or through EC2 Instance Connect. Remote access to your instances using AWS Systems Manager Session Manager or the Run Command is encrypted using TLS 1.2, and requests to create a connection are signed using SigV4, and authenticated and authorized by AWS Identity and Access Management.

It is your responsibility to use an encryption protocol, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), to encrypt sensitive data in transit between clients and your Amazon EC2 instances.

(Windows instances) Make sure to allow only encrypted connections between EC2 instances and the AWS API endpoints or other sensitive remote network services. You can enforce this through an outbound security group or Windows Firewall rules.