How to Grant Another SES Account or User Permission To Send Emails
Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a bulk and transactional email sending service for businesses and developers. To send emails from a particular email address through SES, users have to verify ownership of the email address, the domain used by the email address, or a parent domain of the domain used by the email address. This is referred to as an identity and is treated as a user-owned resource by SES.
For example, to send an email from email@example.com, the user must verify ownership of the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, the subdomain mail.example.com, or the domain example.com. Only identity owners are allowed to send emails from email addresses covered by their identities.
Why use the sending authorization feature in email?
This post will show you how you can grant another account or user to send emails from the identity that you own . By using sending authorization , you can authorize other users to send emails from the identities that you own using their Amazon SES accounts . In this blog post I’d like to walk you through how to setup sending authorization and addressing common concerns regarding the same.
With sending authorization, you can verify the identity under a single account and then grant the other accounts/users permission to send emails from that verified identity.
Let’s look at the below use case :
For example, if you’re a business owner who has collaborated with a email marketing company to send emails from your domain but you would like that only the domain you own should be verified in your account whereas , the email sending, and the monitoring of those emails ( bounce/complaint/delivery notifications for the emails) should be taken care by the email marketing company itself.
With sending authorization, the business owner can verify the identity in their SES account and provide the necessary permissions to the user of the email marketing company in order to send emails using their domain .
Before we proceed further , there are two important terms shared below which you should know that are used throughout the blog:
Delegate Sender : The user that will be using the verified identity from another account to send email.
Identity Owner : The account where the identity is verified . A policy is attached to an identity to specify who may send for that identity and under which conditions. You can refer the SES developer guide to know more
Overview of solution
- If you want to enable a delegate sender to send on your behalf, you create a sending authorization policy and associate the policy to your identity by using the Amazon SES console or the Amazon SES API.
- When the delegate sender attempts to send an email through Amazon SES on your behalf, the delegate sender passes the ARN of your identity in the request or in the header of the email as you can see from the Figure 1 shared below. Figure 1 shows the architecture of the sending authorization process.
3. When Amazon SES receives the request to send the email, it checks your identity’s policy (if present) to determine if you have authorized the delegate sender to send on the identity’s behalf. If the delegate sender is authorized, Amazon SES accepts the email; otherwise, Amazon SES returns an error message. The error message is similar to error message :“ AccessDenied: User is not authorized to perform ses sendemail”
In this section, you’ll learn the steps needed to setup email sending authorization:
- Create a IAM user in Delegate Sender Account with the necessary email sending permissions.You can read more about the necessary email sending permission in our developer guide
- Verify Identity in Identity Owner Account which will be used by the Delegate Sender account later to send email.
- Set up Identity policy to authorize the Delegate Sender Account to send emails using an email address or domain (an identity) owned by Identity Owner Account. The below steps illustrates how you can setup the identity policy .
- In order to add the identity policy , go to the Verified-identities screen of the SES console, select the verified identity you wish to authorize for the delegate sender to send on your behalf.
- Choose the verified identity’s Authorization tab. Please refer the below screenshot for reference :
You can use both policy generator or create a custom policy .
In the Authorization policies pane, if you wish to use the policy generator to create the policy then you can select Use policy generator from the drop-down. You can create the sending authorization policy depending on your use case . The below screenshot demonstrates the policy generator view :
You can also create the policy using the option “create custom policy ” . Please see the below screenshot for reference for a sample policy :
Add the identity policy to the verified identity in Identity owner account . Check the sample policy below for reference :
“AWS”: “<write ARN of user belonging to Delegate sender account>”
“Resource”: “<write ARN of the identity verified in Identity owner Account >”
Note: Please make sure to write the ARN’s for the Principal and the Resource in the above given sample policy.
3.Click on Apply policy after you have reviewed the authorization policy.
You can use the policy generator to create a sending authorization policy or use Amazon SES API or console to create a custom policy . This policy can also restrict usage based on different conditions . A condition is any restriction about the permission in the statement. A key is the specific characteristic that’s the basis for access restriction .
For more information , you can refer Sending-authorization-policy-examples.
4. Send email from Account B using the source ARN of the identity of Account A .
Here we will be sending emails using the send-email api command using AWS CLI . When you send an email using the Amazon SES API, you specify the content of the message, and Amazon SES assembles a MIME email for you.
This blogpost assumes that you have installed and configured AWS CLI on your terminal. For more information on Installing or updating the latest version of the AWS CLI, refer this link.
aws ses send-email –source-arn “arn:aws:ses:us-east-1:XXXXXXXXX:identity/example.com” –from email@example.com –to firstname.lastname@example.org –text “This is for those who cannot read HTML.” –html “<h1>Hello World</h1><p>This is a pretty mail with HTML formatting</p>” –subject “Hello World”
Replace the From address , To address and source ARN (identity ARN from identity owner account) in the above command.
Once the email request is sent to SES , SES will acknowledge it with a Message ID. This Message ID is a string of characters that uniquely identifies the request and looks something like this: “000001271b15238a-fd3ae762-2563-11df-8cd4-6d4e828a9ae8-000000” .
If you are using SMTP interface for delegate sending, you have to add the authorisation policy in the SMTP user and include the X-SES-SOURCE-ARN, X-SES-FROM-ARN, and X-SES-RETURN-PATH-ARN headers in your message. Pass these headers after you issue the DATA command in the SMTP conversation.
Notifications in case of email sending authorization
If you authorize a delegate sender to send email on your behalf, Amazon SES counts all bounces or complaints that those emails generate toward the delegate sender’s bounce and complaint limits, rather than the identity owner. However, if your IP address appears on third-party anti-spam, DNS-based Blackhole Lists (DNSBLs) as a result of messages sent by a delegate sender, the reputation of your identities may be damaged. For this reason, if you’re an identity owner, you should set up email feedback forwarding for all your identities, including those that you’ve authorized for delegate sending.
For setting up notifications for Identity owner , refer the steps mentioned in the SES developer guide
Delegate senders can and should set up their own bounce and complaint notifications for the identities that you have authorized them to use. They can set up event publishing to to publish bounce and complaint events to an Amazon SNS topic or a Kinesis Data Firehose stream.
Note : If neither the identity owner nor the delegate sender sets up a method of sending notifications for bounce and complaint events, or if the sender doesn’t apply the configuration set that uses the event publishing rule, then Amazon SES automatically sends event notifications by email to the address in the Return-Path field of the email (or the address in the Source field, if you didn’t specify a Return-Path address), even if you disabled email feedback forwarding
Cleaning up resources:
To remove the resources created by this solution:
You can delete the verified identities from Idenitity owner account if you no longer wish to send emails from that verified identity. You can check the SES developer guide for steps for deleting the verified identity .
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1 If my delegate sender account is in sandbox, can I send emails from the delegate sender account to non-verified addresses ?
Sanbox Restriction : If delegate sender account is in sandbox mode then you need to submit a limit increase case to move the Delegate sender account out of Sandbox mode to “get rid of the Sandbox limitations“. The AWS account of the delegate sender has to be removed from the sandbox before it can be used to send email to non-verified addresses.
If delegate sender account is in sandbox mode, you will face the following error while email sending to unverified identities :
An error occurred (MessageRejected) when calling the SendEmail operation: Email address is not verified. The following identities failed the check in region US-EAST-1 email@example.com
However , you can sent email to verified identities successfully from the delegate sender account in case of sandbox access .
Q2. Is it necessary to have production access in identity owner account ?
It is not necessary to have the Identity owner account to have production access for using Sending authorization.
Q.3 Will the delegate sender account or the identity owner get charged for the emails sent using sending authorization ?
Billing : Emails sent from the delegate sender account are billed to delegate sender account .
Reputation and sending quota : Cross-account emails count against the delegate’s sending limits, so the delegate is responsible for applying for any sending limit increases they might need. Similarly, delegated emails get charged to the delegate’s account, and any bounces and complaints count against the delegate’s reputation.
Region : The delegate sender must send the emails from the AWS Region in which the identity owner’s identity is verified.
By using Sending Authorization, identity owners will be able to grant delegate senders the permission to send emails through their own verified identities in SES. With the sending authorization feature, you will have complete control over your identities so that you can change or revoke permissions at any time.