Introduction to IAM Concepts - Amazon QuickSight

Introduction to IAM Concepts

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an AWS service that helps an administrator securely control access to AWS resources. IAM administrators control who can be authenticated (signed in) and authorized (have permissions) to use Amazon QuickSight resources. IAM is an AWS service that you can use with no additional charge.

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is used with Amazon QuickSight in several ways, including the following.

  • If your company uses IAM for their identity management, people might have an IAM user name and password that they use to sign in to Amazon QuickSight.

  • If you want your Amazon QuickSight users to be automatically created upon first sign-in, you use IAM to create a policy for users who are pre-authorized use of Amazon QuickSight.

  • If you want to create specialized access for specific groups of users or to specific resources, you can use IAM policies to accomplish this.

Managing Access Using Policies

You control access in AWS by creating policies and attaching them to IAM identities or AWS resources. A policy is an object in AWS that, when associated with an identity or resource, defines their permissions. You can sign in as the root user or an IAM user, or you can assume an IAM role. When you then make a request, AWS evaluates the related identity-based or resource-based policies. Permissions in the policies determine whether the request is allowed or denied. Most policies are stored in AWS as JSON documents. For more information about the structure and contents of JSON policy documents, see Overview of JSON policies in the IAM User Guide.

Administrators can use AWS JSON policies to specify who has access to what. That is, which principal can perform actions on what resources, and under what conditions.

Every IAM entity (user or role) starts with no permissions. In other words, by default, users can do nothing, not even change their own password. To give a user permission to do something, an administrator must attach a permissions policy to a user. Or the administrator can add the user to a group that has the intended permissions. When an administrator gives permissions to a group, all users in that group are granted those permissions.

IAM policies define permissions for an action regardless of the method that you use to perform the operation. For example, suppose that you have a policy that allows the iam:GetRole action. A user with that policy can get role information from the AWS Management Console, the AWS CLI, or the AWS API.

Identity-Based Policies

Identity-based policies are JSON permissions policy documents that you can attach to an identity, such as an IAM user, group of users, or role. These policies control what actions users and roles can perform, on which resources, and under what conditions. To learn how to create an identity-based policy, see Creating IAM policies in the IAM User Guide.

Identity-based policies can be further categorized as inline policies or managed policies. Inline policies are embedded directly into a single user, group, or role. Managed policies are standalone policies that you can attach to multiple users, groups, and roles in your AWS account. Managed policies include AWS managed policies and customer managed policies. To learn how to choose between a managed policy or an inline policy, see Choosing between managed policies and inline policies in the IAM User Guide.

Resource-Based Policies

Resource-based policies are JSON policy documents that you attach to a resource. Examples of resource-based policies are IAM role trust policies and Amazon S3 bucket policies. In services that support resource-based policies, service administrators can use them to control access to a specific resource. For the resource where the policy is attached, the policy defines what actions a specified principal can perform on that resource and under what conditions. You must specify a principal in a resource-based policy. Principals can include accounts, users, roles, federated users, or AWS services.

Resource-based policies are inline policies that are located in that service. You can't use AWS managed policies from IAM in a resource-based policy.

Access Control Lists (ACLs)

Access control lists (ACLs) control which principals (account members, users, or roles) have permissions to access a resource. ACLs are similar to resource-based policies, although they do not use the JSON policy document format.

Amazon S3, AWS WAF, and Amazon VPC are examples of services that support ACLs. To learn more about ACLs, see Access control list (ACL) overview in the Amazon Simple Storage Service Developer Guide.

Other Policy Types

AWS supports additional, less-common policy types. These policy types can set the maximum permissions granted to you by the more common policy types.

  • Permissions boundaries – A permissions boundary is an advanced feature in which you set the maximum permissions that an identity-based policy can grant to an IAM entity (IAM user or role). You can set a permissions boundary for an entity. The resulting permissions are the intersection of entity's identity-based policies and its permissions boundaries. Resource-based policies that specify the user or role in the Principal field are not limited by the permissions boundary. An explicit deny in any of these policies overrides the allow. For more information about permissions boundaries, see Permissions boundaries for IAM entities in the IAM User Guide.

  • Service control policies (SCPs) – SCPs are JSON policies that specify the maximum permissions for an organization or organizational unit (OU) in AWS Organizations. AWS Organizations is a service for grouping and centrally managing multiple AWS accounts that your business owns. If you enable all features in an organization, then you can apply service control policies (SCPs) to any or all of your accounts. The SCP limits permissions for entities in member accounts, including each AWS account root user. For more information about Organizations and SCPs, see How SCPs work in the AWS Organizations User Guide.

  • Session policies – Session policies are advanced policies that you pass as a parameter when you programmatically create a temporary session for a role or federated user. The resulting session's permissions are the intersection of the user or role's identity-based policies and the session policies. Permissions can also come from a resource-based policy. An explicit deny in any of these policies overrides the allow. For more information, see Session policies in the IAM User Guide.

Multiple Policy Types

When multiple types of policies apply to a request, the resulting permissions are more complicated to understand. To learn how AWS determines whether to allow a request when multiple policy types are involved, see Policy evaluation logic in the IAM User Guide.