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How to secure your email account and improve email sender reputation

How to secure your email account and improve email sender reputation


Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service that enables customers to send email from within any application. You can send email using the SES SMTP interface or via HTTP requests to the SES API. All requests to send email must be authenticated using either SMTP or IAM credentials and it is when these credentials end up in the hands of a malicious actor, that customers need to act fast to secure their SES account.

Compromised credentials with permission to send email via SES allows the malicious actor to use SES to send spam and or phishing emails, which can lead to high bounce and or complaint rates for the SES account. A consequence of high bounce and or complaint rates can result in sending for the SES account being paused.

How to identify if your SES email sending account is compromised

Start by checking the reputation metrics for the SES account from the Reputation metrics menu in the SES Console.
A sudden increase or spike in the bounce or complaint metrics should be further investigated. You can start by checking the Feedback forwarding destination, where SES will send bounce and or complaints to. Feedback on bounces and complaints will contain the From, To email addresses as well as the subject. Use these attributes to determine if unintended emails are being sent, for example if the bounce and / or complaint recipients are not known to you that is an indication of compromise. To find out what your feedback forwarding destination is, please see Feedback forwarding mechanism

If SNS notifications are already enabled, check the subscribed endpoint for the bounce and / or complaint notifications to review the notifications for unintended email sending. SNS notifications would provide additional information, such as IAM identity being used to send the emails as well as the source IP address the emails are being sent from.

If the review of the bounces or complaints leads to the conclusion that the email sending is unintended, immediately follow the steps below to secure your account.

Steps to secure your account:

You can follow the below steps in order to secure your SES account:

  1. It is recommended that to avoid any more unintended emails from being sent, to immediately pause the SES account until the root cause has been identified and steps taken to secure the SES account. You can use the below command to pause the email sending for your account:

    aws ses update-account-sending-enabled --no-enabled --region sending_region

    Note: Change the sending_region with the region you are using to send email.

  2. Rotate the credentials for the IAM identity being used to send the unintended emails. If the IAM identity was originally created from the SES Console as SMTP credentials, it is recommended to delete the IAM identity and create new SMTP credentials from the SES Console.
  3. Limit the scope of SMTP/IAM identity to send email only from the specific IP address your email sending originates from.

See controlling access to Amazon SES.

Below is an example of an IAM policy which allows emails from IP Address and only.


"Version": "2012-10-17",
"Statement": [
"Sid": "RestrictIP",
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": "ses:SendRawEmail",
"Resource": "*",
"Condition": {
"IpAddress": {
"aws:SourceIp": [


When you send an email from IP address apart from the IP mentioned in the policy, then the following error will be observed and the email sending request will fail:


554 Access denied: User arn:aws:iam::123456789012:user/iam-user-name’ is not authorized to perform ses:SendRawEmail’ on resource `arn:aws:ses:eu-west-1:123456789012:identity/’


4.  Once these steps have been taken, the sending for the account can be enabled again, using the command below:

aws ses update-account-sending-enabled --enabled --region sending_region


You can secure your SES email sending account by taking the necessary steps mentioned and also prevent this from happening in the future.