Amazon Elastic File System
User Guide


Following, you can find a description of security considerations for working with Amazon EFS. There are four levels of access control to consider for Amazon EFS file systems, with different mechanisms used for each.

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Permissions for API Calls

You create, manage, and delete file systems with calls to the Amazon EFS API. If the caller is using credentials for an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user or assumed role, each API call requires that the caller have permissions for the action being called in its IAM policy. Some API actions support policy permissions specific to the file system that is the object of the call (that is, resource-level permissions). API calls made with an account's root credentials have permissions for all API actions on file systems owned by the account. 

As an example of IAM permissions, IAM user Alice might have permissions to retrieve descriptions of all file systems in her parent AWS account. However, she might be allowed to manage the security groups for only one of them, file system ID fs-12345678.

For more information about IAM permissions with the Amazon EFS API, see Authentication and Access Control for Amazon EFS.

Security Groups for Amazon EC2 Instances and Mount Targets

When using Amazon EFS, you specify Amazon EC2 security groups for your EC2 instances and security groups for the EFS mount targets associated with the file system. Security groups act as a firewall, and the rules you add define the traffic flow. In the Getting Started exercise, you created one security group when you launched the EC2 instance. You then associated another with the EFS mount target (that is, the default security group for your default VPC). That approach works for the Getting Started exercise. However, for a production system, you should set up security groups with minimal permissions for use with EFS.

You can authorize inbound and outbound access to your EFS file system. To do so, you add rules that allow your EC2 instance to connect to your Amazon EFS file system through the mount target using the Network File System (NFS) port. Take the following steps to create and update your security groups.

To create security groups for EC2 instances and mount targets

  1. Create two security groups in your VPC.

    For instructions, see the procedure "To create a security group" in Creating a Security Group in the Amazon VPC User Guide.

  2. Open the Amazon VPC Management Console at, and verify the default rules for these security groups. Both security groups should have only an outbound rule that allows traffic to leave.

To update the necessary access for your security groups

  1. Open the Amazon VPC console at

  2. Add a rule for your EC2 security group to allow inbound access using Secure Shell (SSH) from any host. Optionally, restrict the Source address.

    You don't need to add an outbound rule, because the default outbound rule allows all traffic to leave. If this were not the case, you'd need to add an outbound rule to open the TCP connection on the NFS port, identifying the mount target security group as the destination.

    For instructions, see Adding and Removing Rules in the Amazon VPC User Guide.

  3. Add a rule for the mount target security group to allow inbound access from the EC2 security group as shown following. The EC2 security group is identified as the source.

  4. Verify that both security groups now authorize inbound and outbound access.

For more information about security groups, see Security Groups for EC2-VPC in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Linux Instances.

Security Considerations for Mounting an Amazon EFS File System

An NFSv4.1 client can only mount a file system if it can make a network connection to the NFS port of one of the file system's mount targets. Similarly, an NFSv4.1 client can only assert a user and group ID when accessing a file system if it can make this network connection.

Whether you can make this network connection is governed by a combination of the following:

  • Network isolation provided by the mount targets' VPC – File system mount targets can't have public IP addresses associated with them. The only targets that can mount file systems are the following:

    • Amazon EC2 instances in the local Amazon VPC

    • EC2 instances in connected VPCs

    • On-premises servers connected to an Amazon VPC by using AWS Direct Connect and an AWS virtual private network (VPN)

  • Network access control lists (ACLs) for the VPC subnets of the client and mount targets, for access from outside the mount target's subnets – To mount a file system, the client must be able to make a TCP connection to the NFS port of a mount target and receive return traffic.

  • Rules of the client's and mount targets' VPC security groups, for all access – For an EC2 instance to mount a file system, the following security group rules must be in effect:

    • The file system must have a mount target whose network interface has a security group with a rule that enables inbound connections on the NFS port from the instance. You can enable inbound connections either by IP address (CIDR range) or security group. The source of the security group rules for the inbound NFS port on mount target network interfaces is a key element of file system access control. Inbound rules other than the one for the NFS port, and any outbound rules, aren't used by network interfaces for file system mount targets.

    • The mounting instance must have a network interface with a security group rule that enables outbound connections to the NFS port on one of the file system's mount targets. You can enable outbound connections either by IP address (CIDR range) or security group.

For more information, see Creating Mount Targets.

Read, Write, and Execute Permissions for EFS Files and Directories

Files and directories in an EFS file system support standard Unix-style read, write, and execute permissions based on the user and group ID asserted by the mounting NFSv4.1 client.  For more information, see Working with Users, Groups, and Permissions at the Network File System (NFS) Level .


This layer of access control depends on trusting the NFSv4.1 client in its assertion of the user and group ID. There is no authentication of the identity of the NFSv4.1 client when establishing a mount connection. Thus, any NFSv4.1 client that can make a network connection to the NFS port of a file system's mount target IP address can read and write the file system as the root user ID.

As an example of read, write, and execute permissions for files and directories, Alice might have permissions to read and write to any files that she wants to in her personal directory on a file system, /alice. However, in this example Alice is not allowed to read or write to any files in Mark's personal directory on the same file system, /mark. Both Alice and Mark are allowed to read but not write files in the shared directory /share.

Source Ports for Working with EFS

To support a broad set of NFS clients, Amazon EFS allows connections from any source port. If you require that only privileged users can access Amazon EFS, we recommend using the following client firewall rule.

iptables -I OUTPUT 1 -m owner --uid-owner 1-4294967294 -m tcp -p tcp --dport 2049 -j DROP

This command inserts a new rule at the start of the OUTPUT chain (-I OUTPUT 1). The rule prevents any unprivileged, nonkernel process (-m owner --uid-owner 1-4294967294) from opening a connection to the NFS port (-m tcp -p tcp –dport 2049).