I'm getting an Access Denied error when I try to connect to Amazon RDS for MySQL using IAM authentication

Last updated: 2021-08-20

I'm trying to connect to my Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MySQL instance using AWS Identity Access Management (IAM) authentication. However, I keep getting an "Access Denied" error:

ERROR 1045 (28000): Access denied for user 'root'@'' (using password: YES)

How do I troubleshoot this?

Short description

If you can't connect to an Amazon RDS for MySQL or Aurora DB instance using IAM authentication, then check for the following reasons:

  • IAM authentication is disabled
  • Insufficient IAM role permissions
  • Database user is improperly configured
  • Incorrect connection string


IAM authentication is disabled

By default, IAM authentication is disabled. Review your configuration settings for your Amazon RDS for MySQL cluster and make sure that IAM authentication is enabled. From the Amazon RDS console, you can modify the instance by choosing Database Authentication. Then, choose Password and IAM database authentication and Continue to update your configuration settings.

Note: If you choose Apply Immediately when updating your cluster configuration settings, all pending modifications are applied immediately (instead of during a maintenance window). This action can cause an extended outage for your Amazon RDS for MySQL instance. For more information, see Using the Apply Immediately setting.

Insufficient IAM role permissions

To successfully connect to your Amazon RDS for MySQL instance using IAM database authentication, you must have access to the rds-db:connect action. The rds-db:connect action allows connections to the DB instance.

For example:

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        "Effect": "Allow",
        "Action": [
        "Resource": [
            " arn:aws:rds-db:region:account-id:dbuser:(DbiResourceId or DbClusterResourceId)/db-user-name"

Note: Replace db-user-name with the database account user that's associated with the IAM authentication.

Additionally, make sure that you're using the correct resource ID (instead of only specifying the ARN). To find a DB instance's resource ID, choose the Resource tab in the AWS Management Console. Then, choose the Configuration tab to view the resource ID.

For more information about the elements listed in the example IAM policy, see Creating and using an IAM policy for IAM database access.

Database user is improperly configured

With Amazon RDS for MySQL, IAM authentication is handled by AWSAuthenticationPlugin. Therefore, to connect to your Amazon RDS for MySQL instance using IAM authentication, you must use AWSAuthenticationPlugin. To confirm that this plugin is associated with your IAM role, run the following command:

select user,plugin,host from mysql.user where user like '%db-user-name%';

Your output will look like this:

| user | plugin | host |
| root | AWSAuthenticationPlugin | % |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

If the IAM role is restricted to using a specific host, make sure that you're using the correct hostname. Also, make sure that you have proper permissions to access the specified database.

To view the permissions granted to a user, use the following command syntax:

show grants for <user>;

To grant privileges to another user, use the following command syntax:

grant select on <mydb>.<mytable> to <user>;

Incorrect connection string

When you connect to the Amazon RDS for MySQL database, you must use the --enable-cleartext-plugin option in your connection string. The --enable-cleartext-plugin syntax is used for passing the password, acting as an authentication token.

For example:

$ mysql -h <endpoint> -P 3306 --enable-cleartext-plugin --user=RDSConnect --password=$

The --enable-cleartext-plugin syntax also indicates that AWSAuthenticationPlugin must be used for the database connection. The plugin is required when configuring the database user, and is required for IAM authentication to work. If AWSAuthenticationPlugin is incorrectly configured, then IAM authentication doesn't work. As a result, you'll get an Access Denied error when you try to connect to your database.

Also, because authentication tokens consist of several characters (which can be unwieldy on the command line), save the token to an environment variable instead. Then, use that variable when you connect to your MySQL DB instance. For example:

TOKEN="$(aws rds generate-db-auth-token --hostname $RDSHOST --port 3306 --region us-west-2 --username db-user-name)"
mysql --host=$RDSHOST --port=3306 --enable-cleartext-plugin --user=jane_doe --password=$TOKEN

For more information about how to connect to a MySQL DB instance using an environment variable, see Connecting to a DB instance.