SecureString parameters - AWS Systems Manager

SecureString parameters

A SecureString parameter is any sensitive data that needs to be stored and referenced in a secure manner. If you have data that you don't want users to alter or reference in plain text, such as passwords or license keys, create those parameters using the SecureString datatype.


Do not store sensitive data in a String or StringList parameter. For all sensitive data that must remain encrypted, use only the SecureString parameter type.

For more information, see Parameter types and examples.

We recommend using SecureString parameters for the following scenarios.

  • You want to use data/parameters across AWS services without exposing the values as plain text in commands, functions, agent logs, or AWS CloudTrail logs.

  • You want to control who has access to sensitive data.

  • You want to be able to audit when sensitive data is accessed (AWS CloudTrail).

  • You want to encrypt your sensitive data and you want to bring your own encryption keys to manage access.


Only the value of a SecureString parameter is encrypted. Parameter names, descriptions, and other properties are not encrypted.

AWS KMS encryption and pricing

If you choose the SecureString type when you create a parameter, then Parameter Store uses an AWS Key Management Service (KMS) customer master key (CMK) to encrypt the parameter value. KMS uses either a customer managed CMK or an AWS-managed CMK when encrypting the parameter value.

There is no charge from Parameter Store to create a SecureString parameter, but charges for use of AWS Key Management Service encryption do apply. For information, see AWS Key Management Service pricing.

For more information about AWS managed and customer managed CMKs, see AWS Key Management Service Concepts in the AWS Key Management Service Developer Guide. For more information about Parameter Store and AWS KMS encryption, see How AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store Uses AWS KMS.


To view a CMK, use the AWS KMS DescribeKey operation. This AWS CLI example uses DescribeKey to view an AWS-managed CMK.

aws kms describe-key --key-id alias/aws/ssm

IAM permissions for using AWS default keys and customer managed keys

Parameter Store SecureString parameters are encrypted and decrypted using AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) keys. You can choose to encrypt your SecureString parameters using either a customer master key (CMK) or the default KMS key provided by AWS.

When using a customer managed key, the IAM policy that grants a user access to a parameter or parameter path must provide explicit kms:Encrypt permissions for the key. For example, the following policy allows a user to create, update, and view SecureString parameters that begin with "prod-" in the specified Region and account.

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "ssm:PutParameter", "ssm:GetParameter", "ssm:GetParameters" ], "Resource": [ "arn:aws:ssm:us-east-2:111122223333:parameter/prod-*" ] }, { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "kms:Decrypt", "kms:Encrypt", "kms:GenerateDataKey" ], "Resource": [ "arn:aws:kms:us-east-2:111122223333:key/1234abcd-12ab-34cd-56ef-12345EXAMPLE" ] } ] }

1The kms:GenerateDataKey permission is required for creating encrypted advanced parameters using the specified customer managed key.

By contrast, all users within the customer account have access to the default AWS managed key. If you use this default key to encrypt SecureString parameters and do not want users to work with SecureString parameters, their IAM policies must explicitly deny access to the default key, as demonstrated in the following policy example.


You can locate the ARN of the default key in the AWS KMS console on the AWS managed keys page. The default key is the one identified with aws/ssm in the Alias column.

{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Deny", "Action": [ "kms:Decrypt", "kms:GenerateDataKey " ], "Resource": [ "default-key-ARN" ] } ] }

If you require fine-grained access control over the SecureString parameters in your account, you should use a customer managed CMK to protect and restrict access to these parameters. We also recommend using AWS CloudTrail to monitor SecureString parameter activities.

For more information, see the following topics.

Create a SecureString parameter using the default AWS managed key

If you create a SecureString parameter by using the AWS-managed AWS KMS key in your account and Region, then you don't have to provide a value for the --key-id parameter.

The following AWS CLI example shows the command to create a new SecureString parameter in Parameter Store without the --key-id parameter:

aws ssm put-parameter \ --name parameter-name \ --value "parameter-value" \ --type SecureString
aws ssm put-parameter ^ --name parameter-name ^ --value "parameter-value" ^ --type SecureString

Create a SecureString parameter using a customer managed CMK

To use a customer managed CMK instead of the AWS-managed CMK assigned to your account, you must specify the key by using the --key-id parameter. The parameter supports the following KMS parameter formats.

  • Key ARN example:


  • Alias ARN example:


  • Key ID example:


  • Alias Name example:


You can create a customer managed CMK by using the AWS Management Console or the AWS KMS API. The following AWS CLI commands create a customer managed key in the current Region of your AWS account.

aws kms create-key

Use a command in the following format to create a SecureString parameter using the key you just created.

aws ssm put-parameter \ --name parameter-name \ --value "parameter-value" \ --type SecureString \ --key-id arn:aws:kms:us-east-2:123456789012:key/1a2b3c4d-1a2b-1a2b-1a2b-1a2b3c4d5e
aws ssm put-parameter ^ --name parameter-name ^ --value "parameter-value" ^ --type SecureString ^ --key-id arn:aws:kms:us-east-2:123456789012:key/1a2b3c4d-1a2b-1a2b-1a2b-1a2b3c4d5e

You can manually create a parameter with an encrypted value. In this case, because the value is already encrypted, you don’t have to choose the SecureString parameter type. If you do choose SecureString, your parameter will be doubly encrypted.

By default, all SecureString values are displayed as cipher-text. To decrypt a SecureString value, a user must have permission to call the KMS Decrypt API action. For information about configuring KMS access control, see Authentication and Access Control for AWS KMS in the AWS Key Management Service Developer Guide.

Using SecureString parameters with other AWS services

You can also use SecureString parameters with other AWS services. In the following example, the AWS Lambda function retrieves a SecureString parameter by using the GetParameters API.

from __future__ import print_function import json import boto3 ssm = boto3.client('ssm', 'us-east-2') def get_parameters(): response = ssm.get_parameters( Names=['LambdaSecureString'],WithDecryption=True ) for parameter in response['Parameters']: return parameter['Value'] def lambda_handler(event, context): value = get_parameters() print("value1 = " + value) return value # Echo back the first key value

Related topics

For an example of how to create and use a SecureString parameter, see Walkthrough: Create a SecureString parameter and join an instance to a Domain (PowerShell). For more information about using Systems Manager parameters with other AWS services, see the following blog posts.