Easier way to control access to AWS regions using IAM policies
Update on February 20, 2019: We updated the policy example to remove the “iam:AttachRolePolicy” permission. We also added a reference to the permissions boundaries security blog post to show how to grant developers the permissions to create roles they can pass to AWS services.
We made it easier for you to comply with regulatory standards by controlling access to AWS Regions using IAM policies. For example, if your company requires users to create resources in a specific AWS region, you can now add a new condition to the IAM policies you attach to your IAM principal (user or role) to enforce this for all AWS services. In this post, I review conditions in policies, introduce the new condition, and review a policy example to demonstrate how you can control access across multiple AWS services to a specific region.
Before I introduce the new condition, let’s review the condition element of an IAM policy. A condition is an optional IAM policy element that lets you specify special circumstances under which the policy grants or denies permission. A condition includes a condition key, operator, and value for the condition. There are two types of conditions: service-specific conditions and global conditions. Service-specific conditions are specific to certain actions in an AWS service. For example, the condition key ec2:InstanceType supports specific EC2 actions. Global conditions support all actions across all AWS services.
Now that I’ve reviewed the condition element in an IAM policy, let me introduce the new condition.
AWS:RequestedRegion condition key
The new global condition key supports all actions across all AWS services. You can use any string operator and specify any AWS region for its value.
|aws:RequestedRegion||Allows you to specify the region to which the IAM principal (user or role) can make API calls||All string operators (for example, StringEquals||Any AWS region (for example, us-east-1)|
I’ll now demonstrate the use of the new global condition key.
Example: Policy with region-level control
Let’s say a group of software developers in my organization is working on a project using Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS. The project requires a web server running on an EC2 instance using Amazon Linux and a MySQL database instance in RDS. The developers also want to test Amazon Lambda, an event-driven platform, to retrieve data from the MySQL DB instance in RDS for future use.
My organization requires all the AWS resources to remain in the Frankfurt, eu-central-1, region. To make sure this project follows these guidelines, I create a single IAM policy for all the AWS services that this group is going to use and apply the new global condition key aws:RequestedRegion for all the services. This way I can ensure that any new EC2 instances launched or any database instances created using RDS are in Frankfurt. This policy also ensures that any Lambda functions this group creates for testing are also in the Frankfurt region.
Note: It’s a best practice to use a specific role in this scenario to ensure the services get only the required privileges.
The first statement in the above example contains all the read-only actions that let my developers use the console for EC2, RDS, and Lambda. The permissions for IAM-related actions are required to launch EC2 instances with a role, enable enhanced monitoring in RDS, and for AWS Lambda to assume the IAM execution role to execute the Lambda function. I’ve combined all the read-only actions into a single statement for simplicity. The second statement is where I give write access to my developers for the three services and restrict the write access to the Frankfurt region using the aws:RequestedRegion condition key. You can also list multiple AWS regions with the new condition key if your developers are allowed to create resources in multiple regions. The third statement grants permissions for the IAM action iam:PassRole required by AWS Lambda. To grant developers permissions to create roles to pass to EC2 and Lambda securely, please see Delegate permission management to developers by using IAM permissions boundaries on the AWS Security blog. For more information on allowing users to create a Lambda function, see Using Identity-Based Policies for AWS Lambda.
You can now use the aws:RequestedRegion global condition key in your IAM policies to specify the region to which the IAM principal (user or role) can invoke an API call. This capability makes it easier for you to restrict the AWS regions your IAM principals can use to comply with regulatory standards and improve account security. For more information about this global condition key and policy examples using aws:RequestedRegion, see the IAM documentation.
If you have comments about this post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have questions about or suggestions for this solution, start a new thread on the IAM forum.
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