Authenticating With Identities - Amazon QuickSight

Authenticating With Identities

Authentication is how you sign in to AWS using your identity credentials. For more information about signing in using the AWS Management Console, see The IAM Console and Sign-in Page in the IAM User Guide.

You must be authenticated (signed in to AWS) as the AWS account root user, an IAM user, or by assuming an IAM role. You can also use your company's single sign-on authentication, or even sign in using Google or Facebook. In these cases, your administrator previously set up identity federation using IAM roles. When you access AWS using credentials from another company, you are assuming a role indirectly.

To sign in directly to the AWS Management Console, use your password with your root user email or your IAM user name. You can access AWS programmatically using your root user or IAM user access keys. AWS provides SDK and command line tools to cryptographically sign your request using your credentials. If you don’t use AWS tools, you must sign the request yourself. Do this using Signature Version 4, a protocol for authenticating inbound API requests. For more information about authenticating requests, see Signature Version 4 Signing Process in the AWS General Reference.

Regardless of the authentication method that you use, you might also be required to provide additional security information. For example, AWS recommends that you use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to increase the security of your account. To learn more, see Using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) in AWS in the IAM User Guide.

AWS Account Root User

When you first create an AWS account, you begin with a single sign-in identity that has complete access to all AWS services and resources in the account. This identity is called the AWS account root user and is accessed by signing in with the email address and password that you used to create the account. We strongly recommend that you do not use the root user for your everyday tasks, even the administrative ones. Instead, adhere to the best practice of using the root user only to create your first IAM user. Then securely lock away the root user credentials and use them to perform only a few account and service management tasks.

IAM Users and Groups

An IAM user is an identity within your AWS account that has specific permissions for a single person or application. An IAM user can have long-term credentials such as a user name and password or a set of access keys. To learn how to generate access keys, see Managing Access Keys for IAM Users in the IAM User Guide. When you generate access keys for an IAM user, make sure you view and securely save the key pair. You cannot recover the secret access key in the future. Instead, you must generate a new access key pair.

An IAM group is an identity that specifies a collection of IAM users. You can't sign in as a group. You can use groups to specify permissions for multiple users at a time. Groups make permissions easier to manage for large sets of users. For example, you could have a group named IAMAdmins and give that group permissions to administer IAM resources.

Users are different from roles. A user is uniquely associated with one person or application, but a role is intended to be assumable by anyone who needs it. Users have permanent long-term credentials, but roles provide temporary credentials. To learn more, see When to Create an IAM User (Instead of a Role) in the IAM User Guide.

IAM Roles

An IAM role is an identity within your AWS account that has specific permissions. It is similar to an IAM user, but is not associated with a specific person. You can temporarily assume an IAM role in the AWS Management Console by switching roles. You can assume a role by calling an AWS CLI or AWS API operation or by using a custom URL. For more information about methods for using roles, see Using IAM Roles in the IAM User Guide.

IAM roles with temporary credentials are useful in the following situations:

  • Temporary IAM user permissions – An IAM user can assume an IAM role to temporarily take on different permissions for a specific task.

  • Federated user access – Instead of creating an IAM user, you can use existing identities from AWS Directory Service, your enterprise user directory, or a web identity provider. These are known as federated users. AWS assigns a role to a federated user when access is requested through an identity provider. For more information about federated users, see Federated Users and Roles in the IAM User Guide.

  • Cross-account access – You can use an IAM role to allow someone (a trusted principal) in a different account to access resources in your account. Roles are the primary way to grant cross-account access. However, with some AWS services, you can attach a policy directly to a resource (instead of using a role as a proxy). To learn the difference between roles and resource-based policies for cross-account access, see How IAM Roles Differ from Resource-based Policies in the IAM User Guide.

  • AWS service access – A service role is an IAM role that a service assumes to perform actions in your account on your behalf. When you set up some AWS service environments, you must define a role for the service to assume. This service role must include all the permissions that are required for the service to access the AWS resources that it needs. Service roles vary from service to service, but many allow you to choose your permissions as long as you meet the documented requirements for that service. Service roles provide access only within your account and cannot be used to grant access to services in other accounts. You can create, modify, and delete a service role from within IAM. For example, you can create a role that allows Amazon Redshift to access an Amazon S3 bucket on your behalf and then load data from that bucket into an Amazon Redshift cluster. For more information, see Creating a Role to Delegate Permissions to an AWS Service in the IAM User Guide.

  • Applications running on Amazon EC2 – You can use an IAM role to manage temporary credentials for applications that are running on an EC2 instance and making AWS CLI or AWS API requests. This is preferable to storing access keys within the EC2 instance. To assign an AWS role to an EC2 instance and make it available to all of its applications, you create an instance profile that is attached to the instance. An instance profile contains the role and enables programs that are running on the EC2 instance to get temporary credentials. For more information, see Using an IAM Role to Grant Permissions to Applications Running on Amazon EC2 Instances in the IAM User Guide.

To learn whether to use IAM roles, see When to Create an IAM Role (Instead of a User) in the IAM User Guide.