Overview of managing access permissions to your CloudWatch resources - Amazon CloudWatch

Overview of managing access permissions to your CloudWatch resources

Every AWS resource is owned by an AWS account, and permissions to create or access a resource are governed by permissions policies. An account administrator can attach permissions policies to IAM identities (that is, users, groups, and roles), and some services (such as AWS Lambda) also support attaching permissions policies to resources.


An account administrator (or administrator IAM user) is a user with administrator privileges. For more information, see IAM best practices in the IAM User Guide.

When granting permissions, you decide who is getting the permissions, the resources they get permissions for, and the specific actions that you want to allow on those resources.

CloudWatch resources and operations

You can restrict access to specific alarms and dashboards by using their Amazon Resource Names (ARNs) in your policies. For more information, see Actions, Resources, and Condition Keys for Amazon CloudWatch in the IAM User Guide.

You use an * (asterisk) as the resource when writing a policy to control access to CloudWatch actions. For example:

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement":[{ "Effect":"Allow", "Action":["cloudwatch:GetMetricData","cloudwatch:ListMetrics"], "Resource":"*", "Condition":{ "Bool":{ "aws:SecureTransport":"true" } } } ] }

For more information about ARNs, see ARNs in IAM User Guide. For information about CloudWatch Logs ARNs, see Amazon Resource Names (ARNs) and AWS Service Namespaces in the Amazon Web Services General Reference. For an example of a policy that covers CloudWatch actions, see Using identity-based policies (IAM policies) for CloudWatch.

Action ARN (with Region) ARN (for use with IAM role)













Understanding resource ownership

The AWS account owns the resources that are created in the account, regardless of who created the resources. Specifically, the resource owner is the AWS account of the principal entity (that is, the AWS account root user, an IAM user, or an IAM role) that authenticates the resource creation request. CloudWatch does not have any resources that you can own.

Managing access to resources

A permissions policy describes who has access to what. The following section explains the available options for creating permissions policies.


This section discusses using IAM in the context of CloudWatch. It doesn't provide detailed information about the IAM service. For complete IAM documentation, see What is IAM? in the IAM User Guide. For information about IAM policy syntax and descriptions, see IAM policy reference in the IAM User Guide.

Policies attached to an IAM identity are referred to as identity-based policies (IAM policies) and policies attached to a resource are referred to as resource-based policies. CloudWatch supports only identity-based policies.

Identity-based policies (IAM policies)

You can attach policies to IAM identities. For example, you can do the following:

  • Attach a permissions policy to a user or a group in your account – To grant a user permissions to create an Amazon CloudWatch resource, such as metrics, you can attach a permissions policy to a user or group that the user belongs to.

  • Attach a permissions policy to a role (grant cross-account permissions) – You can attach an identity-based permissions policy to an IAM role to grant cross-account permissions. For example, the administrator in account A can create a role to grant cross-account permissions to another AWS account (for example, account B) or an AWS service as follows:

    1. Account A administrator creates an IAM role and attaches a permissions policy to the role that grants permissions on resources in account A.

    2. Account A administrator attaches a trust policy to the role identifying account B as the principal who can assume the role.

    3. Account B administrator can then delegate permissions to assume the role to any users in account B. Doing this allows users in account B to create or access resources in account A. The principal in the trust policy can also be an AWS service principal if you want to grant an AWS service permissions to assume the role.

    For more information about using IAM to delegate permissions, see Access management in the IAM User Guide.

For more information about using identity-based policies with CloudWatch, see Using identity-based policies (IAM policies) for CloudWatch. For more information about users, groups, roles, and permissions, see Identities (Users, Groups, and Roles) in the IAM User Guide.

Resource-based policies (IAM policies)

Other services, such as Amazon S3, also support resource-based permissions policies. For example, you can attach a policy to an Amazon S3 bucket to manage access permissions to that bucket. CloudWatch doesn't support resource-based policies.

Specifying policy elements: Actions, effects, and principals

For each CloudWatch resource, the service defines a set of API operations. To grant permissions for these API operations, CloudWatch defines a set of actions that you can specify in a policy. Some API operations can require permissions for more than one action in order to perform the API operation. For more information about resources and API operations, see CloudWatch resources and operations and CloudWatch Actions.

The following are the basic policy elements:

  • Resource – Use an Amazon Resource Name (ARN) to identify the resource that the policy applies to. CloudWatch does not have any resources for you to control using policies resources, so use the wildcard character (*) in IAM policies. For more information, see CloudWatch resources and operations.

  • Action – Use action keywords to identify resource operations that you want to allow or deny. For example, the cloudwatch:ListMetrics permission allows the user permissions to perform the ListMetrics operation.

  • Effect – You specify the effect, either allow or deny, when the user requests the specific action. If you don't explicitly grant access to (allow) a resource, access is implicitly denied. You can also explicitly deny access to a resource, which you might do to make sure that a user cannot access it, even if a different policy grants access.

  • Principal – In identity-based policies (IAM policies), the user that the policy is attached to is the implicit principal. For resource-based policies, you specify the user, account, service, or other entity that you want to receive permissions (applies to resource-based policies only). CloudWatch doesn't support resource-based policies.

To learn more about IAM policy syntax and descriptions, see AWS IAM JSON Policy Reference in the IAM User Guide.

For a table showing all of the CloudWatch API actions and the resources that they apply to, see Amazon CloudWatch permissions reference.

Specifying conditions in a policy

When you grant permissions, you can use the access policy language to specify the conditions when a policy should take effect. For example, you might want a policy to be applied only after a specific date. For more information about specifying conditions in a policy language, see Condition in the IAM User Guide.

To express conditions, you use predefined condition keys. For a list of context keys supported by each AWS service and a list of AWS-wide policy keys, see Actions, resources, and condition keys for AWS services and Global and IAM Condition Context Keys in the IAM User Guide.