Get set up with IAM - AWS Identity and Access Management

Get set up with IAM


IAM best practices recommend that you require human users to use federation with an identity provider to access AWS using temporary credentials instead of using IAM users with long-term credentials.

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps you securely control access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and your account resources. IAM can also keep your sign-in credentials private. You don't specifically sign up to use IAM. There is no charge to use IAM.

Use IAM to give identities, such as users and roles, access to resources in your account. For example, you can use IAM with existing users in your corporate directory that you manage external to AWS or you can create users in AWS using AWS IAM Identity Center. Federated identities assume defined IAM roles to access the resources they need. For more information about IAM Identity Center, see What is IAM Identity Center? in the AWS IAM Identity Center User Guide.


IAM is integrated with several AWS products. For a list of services that support IAM, see AWS services that work with IAM.

Sign up for an AWS account

If you do not have an AWS account, complete the following steps to create one.

To sign up for an AWS account
  1. Open

  2. Follow the online instructions.

    Part of the sign-up procedure involves receiving a phone call and entering a verification code on the phone keypad.

    When you sign up for an AWS account, an AWS account root user is created. The root user has access to all AWS services and resources in the account. As a security best practice, assign administrative access to a user, and use only the root user to perform tasks that require root user access.

AWS sends you a confirmation email after the sign-up process is complete. At any time, you can view your current account activity and manage your account by going to and choosing My Account.

Create a user with administrative access

After you sign up for an AWS account, secure your AWS account root user, enable AWS IAM Identity Center, and create an administrative user so that you don't use the root user for everyday tasks.

Secure your AWS account root user
  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console as the account owner by choosing Root user and entering your AWS account email address. On the next page, enter your password.

    For help signing in by using root user, see Signing in as the root user in the AWS Sign-In User Guide.

  2. Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your root user.

    For instructions, see Enable a virtual MFA device for your AWS account root user (console) in the IAM User Guide.

Create a user with administrative access
  1. Enable IAM Identity Center.

    For instructions, see Enabling AWS IAM Identity Center in the AWS IAM Identity Center User Guide.

  2. In IAM Identity Center, grant administrative access to a user.

    For a tutorial about using the IAM Identity Center directory as your identity source, see Configure user access with the default IAM Identity Center directory in the AWS IAM Identity Center User Guide.

Sign in as the user with administrative access
  • To sign in with your IAM Identity Center user, use the sign-in URL that was sent to your email address when you created the IAM Identity Center user.

    For help signing in using an IAM Identity Center user, see Signing in to the AWS access portal in the AWS Sign-In User Guide.

Assign access to additional users
  1. In IAM Identity Center, create a permission set that follows the best practice of applying least-privilege permissions.

    For instructions, see Create a permission set in the AWS IAM Identity Center User Guide.

  2. Assign users to a group, and then assign single sign-on access to the group.

    For instructions, see Add groups in the AWS IAM Identity Center User Guide.

Prepare for least-privilege permissions

Using least-privilege permissions is an IAM best practice recommendation. The concept of least-privilege permissions is to grant users the permissions required to perform a task and no additional permissions. As you get set up, consider how you are going to support least-privilege permissions. Both the root user and the administrator user have powerful permissions that aren't required for everyday tasks. While you are learning about AWS and testing out different services we recommend that you create at least one additional user in IAM Identity Center with lesser permissions that you can use in different scenarios. You can use IAM policies to define the actions that can be taken on specific resources under specific conditions and then connect to those resources with your lesser privileged account.

If you are using IAM Identity Center, consider using IAM Identity Center permissions sets to get started. To learn more, see Create a permission set in the IAM Identity Center User Guide.

If you aren't using IAM Identity Center, use IAM roles to define the permissions for different IAM entities. To learn more, see Creating IAM roles.

Both IAM roles and IAM Identity Center permissions sets can use AWS managed policies based on job functions. For details on the permissions granted by these policies, see AWS managed policies for job functions.


Keep in mind that AWS managed policies might not grant least-privilege permissions for your specific use cases because they're available for use by all AWS customers. After getting set up, we recommend that you use IAM Access Analyzer to generate least-privilege policies based on your access activity that's logged in AWS CloudTrail. For more information about policy generation, see IAM Access Analyzer policy generation.